Stephen M. Silverman
May 24, 2005 07:00 AM

American Idol finalists Bo Bice and Carrie Underwood both have Southern charm and a Southern sound – his rockin’ like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s, while hers more reflective of Nashville.

Come Tuesday night on the FOX talent hunt, both will get their last chances to woo the voting public, with the chosen one to be crowned on the live, two-hour season finale Wednesday.

Bice, 29, from Helena, Ala., is due to sing “Inside Heaven,” “Long, Long Road” and “Vehicle,” while Underwood, 22, from Chekotah, Okla., is slated to deliver “Inside Heaven,” “An Angel Brought Me Here Today” and “Independence Day.”

Some observers are calling this competition the toughest since Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken fought for the hearts of the American public two years ago. (Ultimately, Studdard won the vote, but Aiken won the sales charts.)

Still, portents continue to look good for Bice. Judge Simon Cowell told him in early March that the race was his to lose, while Randy Jackson has said: “I would love to see a rocker win this this year.”

Putting icing on the cake, last week BMG North America CEO Clive Davis told Bice on the show: “I’m going to make a prediction. We are going to have a great time making a very special album together.”

Not that Underwood should be discounted. Without naming names, Cowell has likened her to Aiken, suggesting that although she may not win on the show, she can be expected to prove her staying power as time goes by.

Yet, whatever the outcome, Bice, Underwood and the other Idol finalists will tour the country this summer.

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