As the nation held its breath on Sunday night, the newest “American Idol” was crowned during ABC’s 2nd season of hosting the singing competition.
And The New ‘American Idol’ Is… Laine Hardy!
Hardy, an 18-year-old native of Livingston Parish, Louisiana has become the American Idol for season 17. Hardy is the first person from the Pelican state to win the competition.
The singer bested the other two contestants that were also vying for the title in the three-hour finale. Alejandro Aranda, who originally appeared to be favored to win, was named runner up and Madison VanDenburg placed third.
He said his “mind went totally blank,” when his name was called. The win, he said was “unbelievable,” adding that it felt “unreal.” He also said his mind was “going in like five thousand different directions.”
His performances included Mark Broussard’s funk-tinged swamp-rock anthem Home as well as Jambalaya (On the Bayou) by Hank Williams and Bring It On Home to Me by Sam Cooke. All were apt choices for a Louisiana native.
He also teamed up with Jon Pardi for a medley of the country star’s hits Night Shift and Dirt On My Boots.
Amazingly, Hardy first appeared in the competition last year during the 16th season, where he made it into the top 50 before being voted off.
After auditioning, he made it to Hollywood but was eliminated just three weeks in.
Though he said it helped him overcome his shyness, he wasn’t originally considering trying it a second time. Instead, not wanting to give up, he started playing plenty of local gigs to stay active.
However, this year, while accompanying a friend to her audition, judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie asked Hardy if he would be willing to audition again and were able to encourage him to give it another shot.
He didn’t even know he could try out more than once until he got to the auditions.
The second time around turned out to be the charm for Hardy, who not only wowed the judges and fans with his singing talent and raspy vocals, but also with his southern charm.