More than an hour before the start of the show, Bucky Covington's twin brother, Rocky, signs autographs and takes photos with fans – some of whom mistake him for Bucky – in front of the Kodak Theater.
In the ladies' room, Camryn Manheim explains to a friend what it was like to walk through the throng of fans in the lobby: "They screamed at me so I screamed back!"
Heather Locklear is in the audience with daughter Ava, 8. "Ava's a huge fan," a friend of Locklear's tells PEOPLE. "She was so excited all day." Apparently, Ava's a McPhee fan while her mom is rooting for Hicks.
Primping in the ladies' room before showtime, Katharine McPhee's mom Peisha and sister Adriana gasp when Lisa Rinna walks in. The Dancing with the Stars runner-up tells them, "I'm a Katharine fan," and reassures Peisha: "Take it from someone who knows, sometimes losing is better than winning. … Tonight is about just having fun and celebrating."
Chris Pizzello / Reuters / Landov
David Hasselhoff tells PEOPLE, "I'm voting for Katharine because she's from Sherman Oaks and that's where I live. Taylor's good too." He later tears up when Taylor Hicks is named the winner.
BFFs Chris Daughtry and Ace Young share a long, warm hug during the commercial break after performing in the all-male medley.
After Hicks performs a duet with Toni Braxton, the two walk offstage together hand in hand.
Just before the results are announced, McPhee waves cheerfully to her fans while Hicks stands stiff. After Hicks is named the winner, McPhee's parents blow kisses to her while Hicks sings his final song.
Reporting by CARRIE BORZILLO-VRENNA, ALEXIS CHIU, KIMBERLY LANSING, MONICA RIZZO and CYNTHIA WANG