Best performance on American Idol‘s finale: Prince–preening, prancing and dancing.

Most astounding fact: 63.4 million votes were cast for the two finalists. Show host Ryan Seacrest boasted this was “more than any president in the history of our country has received. ”

One blogger semi-facetiously suggested that maybe we should just cast votes in the next Presidential election via cell phone and text messaging. (And what, have the NSA do the vote count?) Idol’s “elections” are already the focus of charges of fraud and voting manipulation. (In 2004, after millions of potential voters weren’t able to register their choices in the final round when regional phone systems were swamped by the number of calls, Broadcasting & Cable magazine called the Idol voting system “about as reliable as Florida’s in the 2000 Presidential election.”)

This year–with suspicion more muted–Alabama’s very own Taylor Hicks won. (Thereby confirming Judge Simon Cowell’s prediction and ensuring that Cowell will become even more delightfully insufferable next year. ) Hicks–who the Washington Post‘s Lisa de Moraes likens to Captain Kangaroo–fervently thanked his “Soul Patrol” supporters who rooted for him. His victory, which kept up the South’s winning streak on the show, has already inspired a wave of blogs like the one I read last night, ” Aladamnabama has all the kick ass people in it. This just helps prove it.”

Just what we need. Pop/rock culture Southern triumphalism.

Last night it was worth sitting through a cheesy celebration of high powered karaoke and corporate plugs to watch the grand talent assembled on stage to sing along with the Idols–Mary J. Blige. Toni Braxton. Al Jarreau. Live. Meatloaf. Burt Bacharach. Dionne Warwick. And, of course, Prince was in the building.