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12. Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez (season 11)
The totally different performers were like two blobs of subjective talent that never interacted. The season's soul had exited stage right with a dramatic flourish along with Joshua Ledet.
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11. Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox (season 9)
Crystal had some niche appeal, but looking back, it's crazy that these two represented the best Idol had to offer. I always have to rack my brain to think of any contestant from this season. Did it even happen?
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10. Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina (season 10)
Haley Reinhart's Top 3 elimination sucked the life — and artistic variety — out of the season at the last minute, leaving 'The Boy Country Singer' vs. 'The Girl Country Singer'. Who'd win? Who cared?
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9. Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis (season 6)
When a season is remembered more for something called a Sanjaya than the winners, you know it's lacking buzz. We give it a few points in the creativity department for allowing a beatboxer to get into the top 2. But overall? It was a l-l-l-l-l-l-let down.
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8. Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo (season 3)
A little season 3 perspective: Eventual Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson was voted off during the top 7. Yes, this season suffered from lack of good sense and a general lack of interest.
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7. Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee (season 5)
Hicks was a showman — the dancing, the voice, the hair — and could have squashed the more subtle McPhee on stage had it not been for a nation hit with McPheever. But it actually turned out to be a good battle (that Hicks, did eventually win). As Randy would say, it was ''a'ight''.
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6. Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice (season 4)
Bice had an interesting Jesus-is-singing-me-the-blues quality about him, but Underwood's down-home southern demeanor cast a shadow he never quite had a chance of escaping. Easy as the decision was, it was still fun to watch unfold, for fear of a major upset.
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5. Kree Harrison and Candice Glover (season 12)
Chances are if you like one, you appreciate 'em both, which makes for pleasant but low-stakes finale anticipation. In a season mired by fallen ratings, low chemistry among the judges, and blatant producer manipulation, at least the two most talented vocalists made the finals.
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4. David Cook and David Archuleta (season 7)
Seacrest's pregnant pause after announcing the winner as ''David?.'' ALONE made this finale between 'Brother Bear' and 'Younger Brother Bear' (talent runs in the family) worth watching.
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3. Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini (season 1)
Though it seems like an easy choice now (Kelly, FTW), this intense first battle for the crown set the stage for more than a decade of Idol. We remember it being nothing but nail-biting.
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2. Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken (season 2)
A vote for either the lovable teddy bear Studdard or the geek with golden pipes meant one would walk away a loser. Talk about Sophie's Choice — and good TV.
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1. Kris Allen and Adam Lambert (season 8)
Can't beat this. It was voting for apples or oranges, and all you wanted was an apple-orange smoothie option.