American Idol 4 finale begins tonight.

Tonight is the beginning of the end of American Idol 4, as Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice enter the ring and punch each other in the head. No, wait, that’s The Contender. As they sing their final songs of the competition, you’ll notice that there are dramatic differences between the two remaining contestants: one has long, straight hair, the other has long, straight hair; one is from the South, the other is from the South; one says their idol is their mother, the other says their idol is their mother; one was supported by Simon Cowell, the other was supported by Simon Cowell. Seriously, Carrie and Bo do have dramatically different singing styles (it’s country versus rock), and Bo has eight years and a lot of professional performance experience on Carrie. After their sing-off, the phone lines will open, and the results will be revealed Wednesday evening after an horrifyingly long two-hour finale.

This season has been filled with scandals and problems, from phone number errors to Mario Vasquez’s mysterious departure to Corey Clark’s ABC News infomercial. But the show hasn’t really been affected, and Newsday’s Verne Gay argues that’s because the show “has officially become the rarest of the rare–a TV show that feeds off of its own blunders, silliness and miscues, becoming even stronger in the bargain. … They happen because people care passionately about their show, and that then amplifies everything else–the good, the bad and the ugly.”

‘Idol’ ending on a high note [Newsday]
American Idol 4 [FOX]