The following is a list of all the special performances, with notes on some of them. Josh Gracin and Corey Clark were not at the Finale. Josh didn't appear because he had to return to active duty in the Marines and Corey because he disqualified. When it says Top 12 it is excluding them. The songs sung were:
Top 12 and Kelly Clarkson-"One Voice" by Barry Manilow
Kelly Clarkson-"Miss Independent" After her performance, Clive Davis came out and presented Kelly Clarkson with a plaque to represent her certified platinum debut album. She did it in just 5 weeks.
The Top 12 sang a medley in honor of the guest judges this season, with each song being either performed or written by one of them. The songs in the medley were: "Let's Groove" by Earth, Wind & Fire (band member Verdine White was judge on Disco (first Top 8) week), "Baby Love" by The Supremes (written by Lamont Dozier who was guest judge on Motown (Top 12) week), "Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson (guest judge on Billy Joel (Top 7) week), "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight (guest judge on Movie songs (Top 11) week), "Words" by Neil Sedaka (guest judge on 60's/Neil Sedaka songs (Top 5) week), "Physical" by BeeGees (band member Robin Gibb guest judged on BeeGees (Top 4) week), "That's Where The Music Takes Me" by Olivia Newton-John (guest judge on Country Rock (Top 10) week), "Hello" by Lionel Richie (guest judge on Billboard #1 (second Top 8) week), and "Rhythm of the Night" by DeBarge (written by Diane Warren who was guest judge on Diane Warren songs (Top 6) week).
The Top 3 performed a medley. Ruben Studdard performed "Superstar" by The Carpenters, Kimberley Locke performed "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland, and Clay Aiken performed "On the Wings of Love" by Jeffery Osborne.
Ruben Studdard-"Flying Without Wings" by Westlife
Clay Aiken-"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkle
Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken-"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden & Whitehead
Ruben Studdard-"Flying Without Wings" by Westlife
After winning Ruben sang "Flying Without Wings" which would become his first single.
There were 24 million votes. Ruben got 50.28% and Clay got 49.72%
Early in the episode, Ryan says that Clay and Ruben were separated by 13,000 votes. Later he says that only 1,330 votes separated them. Later, on the news, it was stated that both of these numbers are wrong and 135,000 votes actually separated the two performers, still causing there to be less than a 1% difference between them.
After the recap Paul Anka came out and sang a rewritten version of "My Way" while clips from the season played behind him, including the very embarrassing photos of Simon. This is the first time that someone other than an American Idol contestant (be it current or alum) sang on the Idol stage, and the first time they didn't open the phone lines right after showing the recap.
After all three performances by each before they recapped them Ryan went to the red room and introduced the finalists, after saying Ruben's name there was a flash and for half a second there was a different screen, then it went back to Ryan in the red room.
Unlike last years finale, the judges sat where they had all season, and gave a critique after each performance.
Again, Ryan only read out numbers after the third performance by each contestant
The Top 12 (minus Corey Clark and Josh Gracin) sang "What This World Needs Now is Love" and also "God Bless The U.S.A." one final time. Clay and Ruben also each sang a song from the season that was special to them. Ruben sang "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" which he sang during 60's/Neil Sedaka week, and Clay sang "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" which he sang during Wild Card week.
Just like last season there is no Bottom 2/3 it is just mentioned that Kimberley has been eliminated. This makes the first all male finale.
The Ford music video was "She's a Lady" by Tom Jones. The guys are getting ready to go on a date. Separately Kimberley is also getting ready for a date. Kimberely arrives at the hotel where both Clay and Ruben go to greet her. She walks right past them to Ryan and they go on a date leaving Clay and Ruben shocked.
The Group Number was a medley of three random songs, to signify the Top 3. They were: "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jenifer Warnes, "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb and "Solid" by Ashford and Simpson.
Tamyra Grey performed "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and Justin Guarini performed "Unchained Melody".
There were over 19 million votes. Also it was mentioned that between all three of them there was only a 4% difference.
Clay Aiken made a very apparent mistake while singing "Vincent".
Actress Brooke Burke and Director Quentin Tarantino were in the audience.
The first song and last song had video clips before them, while for the second song Ryan just asked a judge what song had been picked for them. This is the first time that there was a video clip after more than just one song.
Ryan did not read out the numbers until the final round.
The Bottom 2:
2. Kimberley Locke
1. Josh Gracin
Eliminated: Josh Gracin
The Ford music video was "Ride wit Me" by Nelly Ft. City Spud. Ruben, Kimberely and Josh ride to Clay's all pimped out. Ruben knocks on the door and Clay answers it dressed like a nerd. They hand him some clothes then he comes out all pimped out too.