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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Idol" fans waited with bated breath on Wednesday to see whether musical theater actor Adam Lambert or laid back acoustic guitarist Kris Allen will take home the coveted "Idol" title in the TV talent show's eighth season.
Although Lambert went into Tuesday's three song apiece finale as the apparent front runner and was all but anointed the winner by judge Simon Cowell, the race appeared to be neck and neck.
Web site DialIdol.com, which tracks "Idol" voting trends by measuring the number of calls to voting lines that result in busy signals, said the result was too close to call.
The Web site has accurately predicted the winners of "American Idol" in past seasons.
The results will be announced at the end of a two-hour finale ton Wednesday that will include performances by Carlos Santana, Cindy Lauper, Queen Latifah, Lionel Richie, Black Eyed Peas, and some surprise guests.
Lambert, 27, a showy Californian who wowed audiences throughout the season with his off-the-charts vocal range, was widely considered the favorite for the title and a recording contract heading into Tuesday's finale.
Cowell told him at the end of Tuesday's show. "The whole idea about doing a show like this is that you hope you can find a worldwide star -- I genuinely believe with all my heart that we have found that with you."
Cowell was less effusive with Allen, 23, saying that the low key Arkansan student had earned his spot in the finale and that his parents should be very proud of him.
His comments followed the performance by both contestants of an original song co-written by new judge Kara DioGuardi that will become the winner's first single.
The song, called "No Boundaries," was clearly in too high a key for Allen's vocal range. Cowell also poked fun at the "mountains and hurricanes" in the song's lyrics.
"American Idol" began as a cheesy summer talent show in 2002 but quickly morphed into a cultural phenomenon that attracts tens of millions of viewers a week to News Corp's Fox network. Ratings have sagged about 7 percent this season, but it remains the nation's top-rated TV show with some 26 million viewers.
"Idol" has generated a long list of stars from its winners and losers, including singers Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.
Editing by Jill Serjeant