Who is Taylor Hicks’ blonde girlfriend? It’s a simple question, though one most Americans probably (hopefully) haven’t given much thought to. Since his surprise victory in the fifth season of cultural juggernaut American Idol, Hicks, 31, has more or less slipped out of the spotlight. Gone are the three-record deal with Sony BMG and his gig as a Ford spokesperson. He’s no longer one of People magazine’s “Hottest Bachelors.” The sold-out, 60-city tour Hicks headlined in the summer of 2006 has been supplanted by the occasional gig for “30-something yuppies” in the Philippines.

Yet online, members of the Soul Patrol, as his borderline obsessive fans are known, continue to carry the torch, arguing about the identity of the blonde woman he’s been linked to over the past eight months. The debate is so intense that an item we wrote about her two weeks ago generated an astounding 457 (and counting) comments.


EARMUFFS! Hicks gives a radio interview in happier, post–American Idol days (Photo: Courtesy of

An abbreviated version of the debate, for those of you with neither the time nor patience to wade though the comments: In May 2007, TMZ posted photos of the doughy-framed crooner frolicking incognito in the Hawaiian surf with a pixie-cut blonde hard-body. The photos were remarkable only in that they represented the first visual proof that Hicks was, in fact, a heterosexual. (He’d never been linked to a female before.) Hicks’ camp quickly identified the woman as one Caroline Lyders, a news anchor on a Milwaukee television station.


Simple enough, right? Not exactly. Shortly after Lyders was named, Hicks fans with a seemingly endless supply of free time on their hands started analyzing photos of the woman on the beach and on-air shots of Lyders, eventually coming to the conclusion that they were two different people. Among the reasons trotted out to buttress the claim were that Lyders and the beach bunny had different mouths, earlobes, ankle birthmarks, and neck sizes.