Laine Hardy Wins 'American Idol'

Laine Hardy, an 18-year-old from Louisiana, was crowned the winner of American Idol on Sunday night’s Season 17 finale.

“I can’t believe it. I don’t know what to think right now,” Hardy said, before performing his debut single “Flame.”

The “Bayou Boy” beat Alejandro Aranda, a gifted musician devoid of charisma, to land a record deal with Hollywood Records.

“Your glow up has been somethin else,” pop star Katy Perry, an Idol judge, tweeted. “If you keep up this hard work, you’ll be a SUPERSTAR in 5 years.” 

Hardy auditioned for Season 16 with “Hurricane” by Band of Heathens and impressed the judges but was eliminated in the early rounds of competition.

After graduating from French Settlement High School last year, Hardy went to Nashville to co-write and record an EP with country artist Jamie O’Neal, according to his website.

Hardy showed up at the Idol auditions in Idaho last October to accompany his friend Ashton Gill and was – if you believe the narrative – convinced by the judges to audition again. "He got good,” Perry gushed.

He is the third Idol winner to have competed on a previous season of the show – Season 13 champ Caleb Johnson was on in Seasons 10 and 11; Season 12 winner Candice Glover was on Seasons 9 and 10.

Whether or not Hardy can turn his Idol victory into real-world success remains to be seen. The show that gave the world Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood has more recently turned out winners like Trent Harmon and Nick Fradiani.

Last season’s winner Maddie Poppe released her debut album, Whirlwind, this month with little fanfare.