Last year’s american idol winner

‘American Idol’: Southern heartthrob Laine Hardy pulls off stunning win over Alejandro Aranda


Laine Hardy eked out a narrow win over Alejandro Aranda on the finale of “American Idol.” USA TODAY


Sensitive songwriter or country crooner?

That’s the choice viewers had to make Sunday night on the season finale of “American Idol,” which came down to longtime favorites Alejandro Aranda, a minor viral sensation for his original compositions, and Laine Hardy, a teenage heartthrob with Elvis-style moves.

Hardy, 18, eked out a narrow win in the episode’s final minutes, taking the “Idol” crown and earning a recording contract with Disney’s Hollywood Records. He closed out the show with his uplifting new single “Flame,” having impressed the judges earlier in the night with his gravelly, charismatic takes on Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” and Marc Broussard’s “Home.”

“Every week, Laine, your hair seems to be getting higher and higher. You seem to be taking some pop star vitamins,” Katy Perry said to the Louisiana native, who is known for his jet-black pompadour and sleek, colorful suits. “If you apply yourself … you’re gonna be one of the biggest pop stars on the planet.”

Hardy’s victory was somewhat surprising for fans of Aranda, 24, who has been considered the front-runner for weeks leading up to the finale, according to online polls. Even Perry predicted he could win the whole thing during his first audition, when he showed off his guitar skills performing his heart-rending original song “Out Loud.” He brought it back for Sunday’s finale (along with three other originals).

The competition’s last-standing female singer, 17-year-old Madison VanDenburg, was eliminated from the Top 3 midshow, after her vocally acrobatic but shaky covers of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.”

As is customary for “Idol” season finales, judges and Top 10 finalists alike performed during the three-hour episode, which was taped in Los Angeles. Lionel Richie opened the show with his 1986 hit “Dancing on the Ceiling,” and Perry took the stage twice: first to sing her “Con Calma” remix with reggaeton hitmaker Daddy Yankee and later for a mesmerizing duet of her ballad “Unconditionally” with Top 5 contestant Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon.

Last year’s winner, Maddie Poppe, who was controversially not invited to perform on the season finale, made a brief appearance to plug her new album, “Whirlwind,” released Friday.

“American Idol” has had its share of winners, first for 15 seasons on Fox and now on ABC. We look back at each season’s champion. Kelly Clarkson was the first-ever winner, beating out Justin Guarini for the title. Clarkson has gone on to have a successful musical career, winning multiple Grammys. Lucy Nicholson, AP Ruben Studdard, right, after winning Season 2 of ‘American Idol’ in 2003. He beat out Clay Aiken. Kevork Djansezian, AP Fantasia Barrino won the third season of “American Idol.” Kevork Djansezian, AP Carrie Underwood kicked off a blockbuster musical career with her win on Season 4. Fox Taylor Hicks was the Season 5 “Idol” winner. Vince Bucci, Getty Images Season 6’s winner was Jordin Sparks. Kevork Djansezian, AP David Cook won Season 7 of “American Idol” in 2008. Mark Mainz, AP Images for Fox Kris Allen was named the winner of Season 8. Frank Micelotta, AP Lee DeWyze was crowned Season 9 “Idol” champ in May 2010. Frank Micelotta, AP Scotty McCreery won the 10th season. Chris Pizzello, AP Phillip Phillips was picked as the 11th “American Idol” winner in May 2012. Mark Davis, Getty Images “Idol” crowned Candice Glover the winner in Season 12. Kevin Winter, Getty Images Ryan Seacrest, right, announced Caleb Johnson as the 13th “Idol” winner in 2014. Paul A. Hebert, Invision/AP Seacrest helped congratulate Nick Fradiani the winner for Season 14. Frank Micelotta, Fox On Season 15, the show’s last on Fox, Trent Harmon was the winner. Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images After a two-year layoff, ABC picked up “American Idol” in 2018. Maddie Poppe was crowned the winner. ABC Laine Hardy was named the winner of the second season of “Idol” on ABC on May 19, 2019. Eric McCandless, ABC

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‘American Idol’ Winners: Which Singer Won Each Season?

From Kelly Clarkson to Maddie Poppe, here’s a list of every winner in “Idol” history.

American Idol’s 17th season premiered March 3, with Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie returning for their second year as judges on the rebooted reality singing competition, which moved from Fox to ABC last year. This season’s auditions kicked off in cities ranging from New York and LA to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Louisville, Ky., in search of the next Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia or Carrie.

Since its premiere in summer 2002, the original reality star-making juggernaut has launched the careers of dozens of superstars and spawned countless imitators and competitors. While alums Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson have opted for the spinning chairs of rival The Voice on NBC, as host Ryan Seacrest would say, there’s only one American Idol.

Check out the complete list of every season’s winner below.

Season 1

Winner: Kelly Clarkson

Runner-Up: Justin Guarini

Judges: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell

Nearly two decades after ushering in the age of reality TV singing competitions, it’s hard to remember that the original iteration of American Idol was a major gamble. Launched in the summer of 2002 and based on the hit U.K. TV show Pop Idol, the nationwide search for a superstar with a mean British record executive and an ’80s pop star on the judging panel turned into an unexpected hit, providing a weekly dose of comfort, hope and optimism to the bleak post-9/11 cultural landscape. The inaugural season of the show also introduced millions of viewers to a then-unknown 20-year-old waitress from Burleson, Texas, by the name of Kelly Clarkson, who would go on to superstardom and forever remain America’s first Idol.

Season 2

Winner: Ruben Studdard

Runner-Up: Clay Aiken

Judges: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell

Striking while the iron was hot, Fox quickly renewed the show for a second season in January 2003. The sophomore season saw R&B singer Ruben Studdard triumph over big-voiced balladeer Clay Aiken. In 2018, the pair would reunite for a three-week Broadway run of Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show.

Season 3

Winner: Fantasia Barrino

Runner-Up: Diana DeGarmo

Judges: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell

Season 3 saw a top 12 filled with powerhouse women, including the holy trinity of Jennifer Hudson, LaToya London and eventual winner Barrino. While Fantasia took the crown over 16-year-old Diana DeGarmo in the finale with an iconic performance of coronation song “I Believe,” J-Hud’s controversial elimination in the top seven was the biggest shock of the season. Thankfully, the unexpected exit did nothing to deter the future Oscar winner (and two-time coach on The Voice) from continuing to chase her dreams of stardom.

Season 4

Winner: Carrie Underwood
Runner-Up: Bo Bice

Judges: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell

Season 4 found one of Idol’s brightest stars in winner Carrie Underwood, who went on to rival Kelly Clarkson as one of the show’s greatest success stories. The reigning queen of country music is a seven-time Grammy winner with more than 16 million albums sold in the U.S. over her lengthy career. Her 2005 debut album, Some Hearts, went eight-times platinum and remains the best-selling debut album in the show’s history.

Season 5

Winner: Taylor Hicks

Runner-Up: Katharine McPhee

Judges: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell

With silver-haired Taylor Hicks besting ingenue Katharine McPhee in the finale, season 5 became the first to have a male winner and female runner-up. Though McPhee’s career eventually eclipsed Hicks’ thanks to starring roles in NBC’s Smash, CBS’s Scorpion and Broadway’s Waitress, he remains the oldest winner in Idol history at 29. The 2006 season also launched the careers of rocker Chris Daughtry — whose fourth-place finish was met with controversy — and country singer Kellie Pickler.

Season 6

Winner: Jordin Sparks

Runner-Up: Blake Lewis

Judges: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell

In 2007, America crowned Jordin Sparks, a 17-year-old high school senior, over beatboxer Blake Lewis. Sparks would go on to deliver such top 10 pop hits as “Tattoo,” “Battlefield” and “No Air,” featuring Chris Brown, throughout the rest of the 2000s. The season also introduced the first-ever songwriting competition, which yielded Sparks’ coronation single “This Is My Now.”

Season 7

Winner: David Cook

Runner-Up: David Archuleta

Judges: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell

It was David vs. David in the season 7 finale, as host Ryan Seacrest had to use the last name to declare rocker David Cook’s win over golden-voiced Utah teen David Archuleta. (Notably, both Archuleta’s debut album and lead single “Crush” would peak higher than Cook’s respective entries on the Billboard charts once the competition was over.) The season also featured teen Danny Noriega in the semifinals, who would eventually go on to become fan-favorite drag queen Adore Delano of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame.

Season 8

Winner: Kris Allen

Runner-Up: Adam Lambert

Judges: Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi

Season 8 saw the first change to the judging panel in the show’s history with the addition of hit songwriter Kara DioGuardi. With Kris Allen emerging victorious over glam rocker (and future Queen collaborator) Adam Lambert, the season also continued the streak of wins by guys with guitars — a pattern that would continue for multiple seasons.

Season 9

Winner: Lee Dewyze

Runner-Up: Crystal Bowersox

Judges: Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Ellen DeGeneres

Paula Abdul announced she would step away from the show that reignited her career prior to season 9, prompting a rotating door of guest judges to join Simon, Randy and Kara during the audition rounds. Eventually, Ellen DeGeneres joined the panel full-time beginning in the semifinals, but the talk-show host was an ill-advised fit for the show, as Lee Dewyze beat out Crystal Bowersox for the title.

Season 10

Winner: Scotty McCreery

Runner-Up: Lauren Alaina

Judges: Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler

After nine seasons as Idol’s resident bad guy, Simon Cowell departed the series after season 9 (along with DioGuardi and DeGeneres) and was replaced by Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler in the biggest shake-up to the judging panel yet. With feisty soul singer Haley Reinhart eliminated in the top three, the season 10 finale was all country — and all teen — as Scotty McCreery faced off against Lauren Alaina. The former may have won the crown, but both stars have since carved out respectable careers in Nashville.

Season 11

Winner: Phillip Phillips

Runner-Up: Jessica Sanchez

Judges: Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler

The entire revamped judging panel returned for a second round in season 11, which saw singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips win over Jessica Sanchez, the first recipient of the judges’ save to ever reach the finals. Phillips’ debut single, “Home,” became the best-selling coronation song in Idol history and sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. after being used in promos for the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.

Season 12

Winner: Candice Glover

Runner-Up: Kree Harrison

Judges: Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban

Season 12 is perhaps best-remembered for the bitter, season-long feud between brand-new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, whose verbal sparring and bad blood behind the scenes dominated nearly every episode. Mariah later described the saga as the “worst experience of life” and all the drama threatened to overshadow Candice Glover’s victory as the first female Idol winner since Jordin Sparks in season 6. It’s especially unfortunate considering Glover’s top six performance of The Cure’s “Love Song” — by way of Adele — was so sublime that it remains one of the best performances in the show’s history, and even earned a reverential glitter toss from Mimi herself. (On a similar note, Glover’s 2013 debut album Music Speaks is also a criminally underrated gem in the Idol catalog.)

Season 13

Winner: Caleb Johnson

Runner-Up: Jena Irene

Judges: Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr.

After the contentious panel of the previous year, Mariah and Nicki both exited the series, and even Randy Jackson took his final bow as a judge — opting instead to shift roles as the show’s in-house mentor. Jennifer Lopez returned after a season away along with brand-new judge Harry Connick, Jr. to join Keith Urban in coronating Caleb Johnson as season 13 champ.

Season 14

Winner: Nick Fradiani

Runner-Up: Clark Beckham

Judges: Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr.

In season 14, pop-rock singer Nick Fradiani beat runner-up Clark Beckham for the title in the show’s fourth all-male finale. His winning single, “Beautiful Life,” was written by Dashboard Confessional frontman Chris Carrabba and was used by Fox as the official promo song for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Season 15

Winner: Trent Harmon

Runner-Up: La’Porsha Renae

Judges: Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr.

Billed as “The Farewell Season,” American Idol took its final bow on Fox with country singer Trent Harmon edging out R&B powerhouse La’Porsha Renae for the season 15 crown. The star-studded finale featured performances by dozens of Idol alumni, including nearly every champ and notable finalist in the show’s 15-year run.

Season 16

Winner: Maddie Poppe

Runner-Up: Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Judges: Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie

Just two years after the pomp-and-circumstance-filled send-off on Fox, its rival network ABC rebooted the franchise with a brand-new judging panel of Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. Though the show’s ratings were nowhere near the unbeatable levels of its heyday, teen folk-pop singer Maddie Poppe was voted as the new American Idol over future boyfriend Caleb Lee Hutchinson just two years after failing to secure a single chair turn on NBC competitor The Voice.

Maddie Poppe Wins Season 16 of American Idol — and Is Dating Runner-Up Caleb Lee Hutchinson!

Congratulations, Maddie Poppe!

The 19-year-old Iowa native — known for her soothing voice and strong artistic ability — was crowned the winner of American Idol‘s 16th season during Monday night’s finale.

And not only did she win the title of American Idol, but she also walked away from the experience with a new boyfriend: runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson!

The final two announced their relationship during the last 15 minutes of the show, with Hutchinson telling Ryan Seacrest, “Well, Maddie is my pal and I’ve known her since the beginning of Hollywood week. And she actually happens to be my girlfriend.”

RELATED: Katy Perry Calls Romance Between Idol‘s Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe ‘Divine Intervention’

Image zoom Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe

❤️❤️❤️ #AmericanIdol #IdolFinale

— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) May 22, 2018

Judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie were completely surprised and Perry even spun around in her chair multiple times.

After revealing the big news, the couple performed Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” together and even held hands! After their song, the pair was surprised with a free trip to Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii.

RELATED: New Year, New Love! The Hottest Celeb Couples of 2018 — So Far

Image zoom Maddie Poppe and Ryan Seacrest Eric McCandless/ABC Image zoom Maddie Poppe with the finalists

Following the show, Lee Hutchinson sweetly celebrated his girlfriend’s big win.

“MY GIRLFRIEND WON AMERICAN IDOL!!! No one deserved it more than you babe. I am honored to know you and even more honored to call you mine. Don’t forget about me. I love you,” he wrote on Twitter.

RELATED: American Idol Contestant Caleb Lee Hutchinson Details Amazing 70-Lb. Weight Loss

MY GIRLFRIEND WON AMERICAN IDOL!!! No one deserved it more than you babe. I am honored to know you and even more honored to call you mine. Don’t forget about me. I love you ❤️

— Caleb Lee Hutchinson (@calebleemusic) May 22, 2018

Poppe, meanwhile, was still coming to terms with her big win.

“I don’t have any words to describe this really. I can’t believe people believed in me this much just to make it to the top two with Caleb. To actually have been named the winner of this show is incredible,” Poppe told reporters after the show.

“I got to be who I wanted to be and the fact that I am here and I can tell you that I won the show is doing exactly what I wanted to do and I didn’t have to change myself for anybody is pretty incredible,” she said.

Before being crowned the champion, Poppe shared her nerves and hard times during the competition.

“There were definitely so many moments where I was going to give up,” she said at the semifinals on Sunday. “I wish I could go back and tell myself, ‘It’s going to be all right, you just wait!’”

Throughout the season, Poppe won the hearts of millions — including judges Perry, Bryan and Richie.

Image zoom Maddie Poppe Eric McCandless/ABC

After her last performance on Sunday night, instead of critiquing her rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” Perry pulled out her phone and said, “I’m voting for you.”

“No one said I couldn’t,” Perry told reporters after the show.

Image zoom Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe

The star wowed the audience week after week with her highly anticipated and entertaining performances of classics including Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound,” Prince‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and Carrie Underwood‘s “I Told You So.”

Congratulations, @MaddiePoppe ! What a fun finale! You all should be so proud! Can’t wait to catch you out on the road! Lots of @AmericanIdol ❤️ tonight!!!

— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) May 22, 2018

Image zoom Gabby Barrett, Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe

Monday’s finale included performances from the three judges, as well as Bebe Rexha, Darius Rucker, Gary Clark Jr., Nick Jonas and Mustard, Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams, Kermit the Frog, and the top 10 finalists.

RELATED: Katy Perry Confirms Relationship Status with Orlando Bloom, Says She’s ‘Not Single’ During Idol

With the Idol revival guaranteed a second season, the judges previously opened up to PEOPLE about what fans can expect this time around.

“It’s very constructive criticism,” Perry previously told PEOPLE of their judging styles. “Personally, I’m a straight shooter. I’m very cut and dry sometimes. You know, it seems a little not soft — I do try and watch myself because I do know how it feels to be in their shoes. I was in their shoes 10 years ago… I’m inspired by all of their stories. I know it wasn’t an overnight success for me; it’s not going to be for them. They still have a long way to go. We’re really real with them.”

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“We really encourage them,” she added. “There’s no dismissing and just sending off and saying, ‘You suck.’ That’s not how we roll. I think in the past there was some of that and maybe taking advantage of people their actual skill sets for comedy. We don’t do that anymore but we still laugh just as much.”

Caleb Lee Hutchinson verified_user

Two years ago I met someone very special to me. When I first saw her I was immediately drawn to her. Little did I know the amount of joy, laughter, good times and love that we’d share together, or the painful times of us being apart. Never in my life did I think i’d be with someone who made me feel like myself, when often that is such an abstract concept to me. It’s not just sunshine and rainbows all the time, this relationship comes with its own unique types of challenges and struggles, but with her even the bad times are good. There have been many periods in my life where I questioned what it all meant and what is was all worth. This woman is a constant reminder to me from God that whatever darkness you may deal with, there are always better days ahead and you simply have to trust in God and keep the faith during those times. I could go on forever but honestly I hate even posting personal things out there on the internet. I mainly wanted to share with y’all to keep going even when it’s tough, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and you might just get as lucky as I did. And of course to remind this gal what she means to me. There’s no one else I’d rather be constantly questioned about by strangers. Thank you for making my world so much brighter in these two years Maddie, I look forward to many many more with you. …

The Sunday May 5 episode of “American Idol” spotlighted the Top 6. Each of these half dozen finalists sang two tunes: one from the summer of 1969 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock musical festival and another chosen as inspirational by Grammy-winning Christian singer Lauren Daigle, who got her start on the show.

As the show was seen live from coast-to-coast, America cast votes for their favorites in real-time. The results were revealed by host Ryan Seacrest at the end of the two-hour episode. The top four vote-getters — Alejandro Aranda, , Wade Cota, Laine Hardy and Madison VanDenburg — moved on in the competition to be crowned winner of season 17.

The bottom two — Laci Kaye Booth and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon — were to be eliminated unless the judges chose to use their single save of the season. After a nerve-wracking few moments, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie opted to throw a lifeline to Laci. Do you think this was the right decision or was Jeremiah robbed of a place in the Top 5?

Take a look at the list of songs that each has sung throughout the competition and then cast your ballot as to who should have moved on to the Top 5 on May 12.

Laci Kaye Booth
Top 40: “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles
Top 20 Solo: “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick
Top 20 Duet: with Brett Young on “Mercy” by Young
Top 14 Song 1: “I Miss You” by Blink 182
Top 14 Song 2: “As Long as You Follow” by Fleetwood Mac
Top 10 Song: “I See the Light” from “Tangled”
Top 8 Song: “Love of My Life” by Queen
Top 6 Song 1: “Open Arms” by Journey
Top 6 Song 2: “To Love Somebody” by Janis Joplin

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Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
Top 40: “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac
Top 20 Solo: “(To) Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan
Top 20 Duet: with Cynthia Erivo on “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
Top 14 Song 1: We All Fall in Love Sometimes” by Elton John
Top 14 Song 2: “Almost Heaven” (original song)
Top 10 Song: “Candle on the Water” from “Pete’s Dragon”
Top 8 Song: “Who Wants to Live Forever” by Queen
Top 6 Song 1: “Somewhere” by Barbra Streisand
Top 6 Song 2: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” by Joan Baez

DISCUSS All things “American Idol” with TV insiders in our notorious forums

‘American Idol’ finale: Who won — Alejandro, Laine or Madison?

LOS ANGELES — They were “Dancing on the Ceiling” for the opening of the “American Idol” season finale.
Judge Lionel Richie got the crowd and the top 10 up on their feet from the very start of the three-hour music-filled extravaganza.
Alejandro Aranda, Laine Hardy, and Madison VanDenburg sang their hearts out trying to win the title. And in between, there was plenty of all-star filler.
Laine was first up and he sang “Home” by Marc Broussard. Judge Katy Perry said he’s on his way to being one of the biggest stars ever. Luke Bryan said he’s earned his place in the finale.

Madison sang the Oscar winning tune “Shallow.” Luke complimented her on her growth and how she’s been showing them she has a “next level” voice. Lionel reminds everyone Madison is only 17 years old and already has such power.
Alejandro sang an original song, “Millennial Love.” Lionel said he’s a sucker for the singer-songwriter, and it felt like “love at first sound,” and that he’s been captivated by Alejandro from the beginning. Luke agreed and said he’ll never forget the first time they met and that the young singer has been spoiling them with his talent all season. Katy said there is something other-worldly about what Alejandro can do.
We get a recap of all the hometown visits with parades, city officials, marching bands and signs of support for all the finalists, from Louisiana to New York to Pomona, California. In the live performances after each visit, we saw Laine sing “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” by Hanks Williams; Madison sang season one “Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson’s hit “Breakaway”; and Alejandro did another original, “Tonight.”
Almost half way into the three hour show we learned which artists were voted into the top two: Alejandro and Laine.
That left plenty of time for the all-star concert: Adam Lambert, Dan + Shay, Daddy Yankee, Jon Pardi, Kane Brown, and Weezer, to name a few. And the judges all performed as well.
Alejandro took the stage to play a third original song, “10 Years,” this time fronting a full orchestra. Laine’s third song was a duet with country star Jon Pardi, “Dirt on My Boots.” The judges did not offer comments after a third performance.
For the two finalists last performances, we saw Laine return to his country guitar roots to sing Sam Cooke’s “Bring it on Home.” Luke thanked him for returning and going for a second chance on the show; Lionel praised Laine’s attitude and perseverance; and Katy said he’s always been authentically Laine and now he is ready for what’s ahead.
Alejandro did yet another original: “Out Loud.” The crowd went wild with an extended ovation, including the chant of “Homie”. Luke said sometimes it’s best to let the fans talk, and added that he wanted a postcard from the planet Alejandro came from; Lionel said Alejandro has an instant identity, and Katy said it’s been an honor to have the opportunity to give him a boost and find his place in the music world.
Host Ryan Seacrest asked the crew to dim the lights one last time. And in the end, fans voted Laine Hardy as the next “American Idol.”

  • The American Idol 2019 finale aired last night on ABC, and included a special performance from past winner Carrie Underwood.
  • During Carrie’s song, the camera panned over to judge Luke Bryan, who had the most hilarious expression on his face.
  • Now, the internet is theorizing about what Luke’s expression meant.

Laine Hardy being crowned the winner of American Idol 2019 aside, the real highlight of last night’s finale was brought to you by judge Luke Bryan.

Chances are you missed it if you blinked and/or are human and had a hard time staying put for three-hour long finales. But to sum it up, Luke had the absolute best reaction to Carrie Underwood’s performance during the finale. The season 4 Idol winner took the stage to sing her new single “Southbound.” While belting out the number, Carrie looked drop-dead gorgeous in a floor-length sequined dress.

About 30 seconds into her song, the camera randomly flashed over to Luke — and, in retrospect, thank goodness it did. Totally caught off guard, Luke was spotted full-on starring at Carrie while having the most mesmerized look on his face. Hop to :32 in the video above to see what we’re talking about … or just LOL over this screenshot of the moment:


Now, it’s hard to tell what was going through Luke’s mind in that moment, but folks watching at home believe they have a pretty good idea.

Carrie met her biggest fan, Luke #AmericanIdolFinale #AmericanIdol

— KATIE💕 (@Tatiedid1997) May 20, 2019

i know i’m not the only one who just saw how Luke Bryan looked at Carrie 😂😳 #AmericanIdol

— m o r g a n r e n e e (@morgan_renee_) May 20, 2019

“Luke’s face hahahaha it’s like he was meeting his first love for the first time and he was speechless 😂😂,” one Idol viewer joked. “CARRIE Luke was looking at her like “I’m about to risk it all…” another quipped. On a totally different note though, one person theorized that Luke was shooting Carrie a look because he didn’t approve of her outfit.

Of course, that could just be his I’m-enjoying-this-performance-so-much face, but that’s just not how the collective internet’s mind works. Whatever the reason behind the expression, the moment is definitely bound to become a viral meme once more and more people see it.

Just in case there was any doubt that Luke didn’t enjoy Carrie’s performance, the country singer tweeted, “Great job to #AmericanIdol alumni, @carrieunderwood.” The tweet also included a hilarious GIF of the judges having a blast during Carrie’s performance:

We’re just trying to crash the girl party ha. Great job to #AmericanIdol alumni, @carrieunderwood. #IdolFinale

— Luke Bryan (@LukeBryanOnline) May 20, 2019

Luke’s reaction was just one of the many amazing moments from last night’s finale. During the event, top 3 finalists Laine, Alejandro Aranda, and Madison VanDenburg took the stage multiple times and performed a few duets with some famous faces. Laine partnered with Jon Pardi to sing a special medley of “Night Shift” and “Dirt on My Boots” while Madison linked up with Dan + Shay to attempt “All to Myself” and “Speechless.” Alejandro, meanwhile, stuck to his original songs, which were equally amazing.

Alas, finale night means that another season of American Idol is behind us. But at least we’ll have Luke’s facial expressions to look forward to when Idol returns in January next year … hopefully.

Kayla Keegan News and Entertainment Editor Kayla Keegan covers all things in the entertainment, pop culture, and celebrity space for Good Housekeeping.

American Idol wrapped its 17th season on Sunday, delivering a three-hour extravaganza filled with live music, familiar faces and, as always, crippling disappointment.

In addition to the three remaining contestants — Alejandro Aranda, Laine Hardy and Madison VanDenburg — a number of eliminated singers also returned to perform in the finale. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon joined forces with Katy Perry, while Laci Kaye Booth shared the stage with Luke Bryan. Dimitrius Graham also came back to sing with Adam Lambert, while Alyssa Raghu performed with Kane Brown, and Uché got his dance on with Kool & the Gang.

We even got a triple-decker of a performance when Weezer teamed up with Wade Cota and Walker Burroughs. (I’m not even sure it’s worth mentioning that Montell Jordan performed alongside this season’s “most viral” Idol contestants… but I guess I just did anyway.)

As for this season’s top three, the finale featured collaborations between Dan + Shay and VanDenburg, as well as John Pardi with Hardy. Not to be outdone, however, Aranda came through with an unforgettable solo performance of his own.

Prior to Sunday’s broadcast, TVLine readers predicted that either Aranda or Hardy would win, with both singers getting 44 percent of the vote. But when it came to which singer should win, Aranda led by a mile, proving that even fans of Idol believe that the show’s results often don’t match up with the contestants’ talents. VanDenburg, meanwhile, was expected to finish in third place.

So, how accurate did our readers’ predictions turn out to be? Let’s gets to the results… VanDenburg was the first to be eliminated, as predicted, though I thought it was a little cruel to make her perform with Dan + Shay after getting the boot. (Maybe the producers should have planned all of these duets to happen earlier?)

As always, the final elimination was saved for the bitter end, with Kieran Healy dimming the lights on Aranda and Hardy one last time. After a nationwide vote, your new Idol is… Laine Hardy.

Do you think the right person won American Idol Season 17? Weigh in via the poll below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on the finale.

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‘American Idol’ Confirms Finale Dates & Shortened Season

American Idol will go out with a bang, expanding to a three-night finale in a shortened season, the Fox show confirmed Wednesday night (Jan. 6). The show’s final season will be four weeks shorter than last, as Billboard exclusively reported last month.

The three-night grand finale will kick off April 5 with American Idol: American Dream, a one-hour retrospective episode, featuring Ryan Seacrest, current and former judges, contestants and the behind-the-scenes team sharing their Idol memories.

‘American Idol’: All Our Coverage

Then, the remaining finalists will battle it out live from the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday, April 6, at 8 p.m. The winner will be crowned Thursday, April 7, at 8 p.m. The series will end with a “farewell celebration” and the crowning of the 15th and final American Idol winner.

‘American Idol’ Final Season to Be Four Weeks Shorter Than Last

Hollywood Week kicks off Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. The “showcase” round will debut Feb. 4, with the top 24 being revealed that night.

The semifinalists will be narrowed down by the judges on Feb. 24, with the top 10 being announced the next night, along with their first performances. Live performances will kick off March 3 at 8 p.m., with one show a week until the grand finale.

Days before the 2019 American Idol finale, ABC announced the show’s renewal for a third season (18th season overall).

Since first premiering in 2002, the competition show has discovered hidden talent all across the country, and fans will soon have a new round of singers to vote for.

From what we’ve gathered so far, here’s the full scoop on American Idol season 3:

When is American Idol coming back for season 3?

It’s official: American Idol is returning in February 2020. Although an exact premiere date hasn’t been announced yet, this season will be returning earlier than the past two (season 1 aired on March 11 and season 2 returned on March 3).

American Idol shared the exciting news in early November with a fun video showing everyone’s favorite judges on the search for “one SHELL of a voice!”

Are judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie returning?

Yes, and so is in-house mentor Bobby Bones. Even though Variety reported in May that Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie had not yet inked new deals with ABC, it looks like over the summer they all ultimately decided to come back to the competition series once again.


“We are delighted to have our judges Katy, Luke and Lionel as well as in-house mentor Bobby back on American Idol,” executive producer and showrunner Trish Kinane said in a statement. “They are all credible, hugely successful artists and will bring their expertise, passion, and energy to the search for America’s next superstar.”

According to Variety, ABC and series producer FreemantleMedia North America were looking into possible new talent deals with the judges in an effort to cut the show’s costs (Katy reportedly had a $25 million a year salary from the show).

Okay, but is Ryan Seacrest going to host?

Yes, you can count on Ryan’s return. Ryan signed a new deal to continue on the show in September, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ryan has been on American Idol since the series first started back in 2002.

When and where are American Idol auditions for season 3?

American Idol auditions for the 2020 season took place over the summer and early fall with more than 20 stops throughout the U.S. Idol hopefuls had the chance to audition in-person or online with the requirement of being between 15 to 28 years old:

  • Mobile, AL
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Macon, GA
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Columbia, SC
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Waco, TX
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • Washington D.C.
  • Wichita, KS
  • San Jose, CA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Springfield, IL
  • Spokane, WA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Nashville, TN
  • Chicago, IL

Who is returning from American Idol’s past seasons?

In a recent episode of Dancing with the Stars, ABC revealed that three former Idol contestants will have a second chance at stardom. Layla Spring (season 16), Logan Johnson (season 17), and Shawn Robinson (season 17).

Switching up the audition process, the three singers will each tape their audition at West Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go nightclub. Then, Idol will air the auditions during the American Music Awards on Sunday, November 24 at 8 p.m. ET, and viewers will vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced the following day during the season finale of Dancing with the Stars.

How can I watch season 3 of American Idol?

If you aren’t able to watch the episodes live on ABC, you can always catch up on

There’s also the ABC Go App. If you download the app, you can watch American Idol and countless other ABC shows whenever you want on your iPhone, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and more.

Streaming-wise, Hulu Live is a great option, too. If you’re not currently a Hulu user, it’s $5.99 per month with limited ads or $11.99 per month for no commercials — that is, after your free week trial.

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The American Idol finale names the ABC show’s winner live. Here’s how to watch American Idol season 17, episode 18 live, on TV and online.

It’s time for the American Idol finale, so find out how to watch American Idol online or live tonight, because the ABC singing competition will be choosing its next winner.

Sunday’s episode will pick a winner, but TV fans will want to be tuned in because who wins will be decided during the episode — which is going to air live no matter what time zone you’re in. Viewers will get to choose between the three finalists, who will all perform again in one last attempt to get votes.

Of course, like every singing competition, the last episode will be packed with guest performers, including last year’s winner Maddie Poppe, fan favorite Adam Lambert, and previous winner Carrie Underwood. Judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry will all perform, too.

Below is all the information you need to watch American Idol online and live Sunday to catch the last episode of the season and find out who the winner is.

Here’s how ABC officially describes the episode:

American Idol rounds out its second season on ABC with an epic grand finale event, featuring Idol’s Top 3 contestants Alejandro Aranda, Laine Hardy and Madison VanDenburg. For the first time in Idol history, America’s live coast-to-coast vote will determine the winner of the iconic singing competition series, with all voting taking place during the show.

The crowning moment will be preceded by special performances from music legends, including Idol’s very own superstar judges, the return of fan favorite contestants from the current season and a special visit by last season’s winner Maddie Poppe.

And here’s how you can watch “218 (Season Finale)” live, on TV or via live stream:

For the latest American Idol season 17 spoilers and news, plus more on everything happening in TV, follow the Television category at FanSided.