DeGarmo or Barrino to be crowned tonight.

Is Diana DeGarmo or Fantasia Barrino this season's "American Idol?"

With all the notes sung, the judges' opinions rendered and the votes cast, the only thing left is the announcement, which will come tonight (May 26), wrapping up the two-night finale of Fox television's third annual singing contest.

Last night was devoted to letting viewers have one last, long look at DeGarmo, a 16-year-old from Snellville, Ga., and the 19-year-old Barrino of High Point, N.C., before casting their votes over the telephone.

Each performed three songs before a live, nationally televised audience from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, home of the Academy Awards. Then the balloting began and went on for four hours, instead of the usual two.

If viewers follow the lead of the judges -- who help winnow the field but have only an advisory role in the final rounds -- Barrino will walk away the winner.

"The stage is yours -- it's your night, my dear, it's your night," Paula Abdul said after Barrino's final song, titled "I Believe."

Barrino seemed to believe, too. Tears streamed down her face and she heaved with sobs.

"I think you are, without question, the best contestant we've had in any competition," Simon Cowell said, comparing her to the approximately 70 singers who've won "Idol" contests worldwide.

To DeGarmo, who stumbled in the middle of Melissa Manchester's "Don't Cry Out Loud," Cowell said: "I think you had one last chance to come and nail this competition, and I don't think you did."

But she received high praise from Randy Jackson after wrapping up her rendition of "No More Tears" by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer. "You're singing your face off tonight," Jackson told DeGarmo.


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