New Orleans-based bluesy teen singer Laine Hardy beat out laid-back EDM iconoclast Alejandro Aranda on Sunday night for the 17th season “American Idol” crown.
Hardy, 18, became the ninth male winner in the past 11 seasons.
The three finalists entering Sunday night also included a pure pop singer in 17-year-old Madison Vandenburg, who was the first to be eliminated.
Hardy has a feel-good story. Last year, he missed the finals because the judges felt he wasn’t ready. He came on the show this year to accompany another singer, and the judges convinced him to try out. And it was clear he had matured well. His charm, good looks, raspy vocals and quirky fashion sense all added up to voter catnip.
No doubt like the season 8 Kris Allen/Adam Lambert matchup, Hardy had broader appeal and garnered more votes than the 24-year-old Aranda, who had a deeper, more fervent fan base.
Notably, Aranda did not sing a single cover song solo in Sunday's finale. Rather, he crooned four originals over the three hours, a first in “Idol” history. There’s no doubt he has built a following and, like Lambert, can carve out a potentially successful career.
Sunday's show also featured performances from country stars Dan+Shay, Jon Pardi, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood and Kane Brown. The rock contingent was all nostalgia: Weezer with '80s hits and Lambert doing a Queen classic. R&B acts included Lionel Richie, Andra Day and Kool & the Gang, while pop performers included Katy Perry and Daddy Yankee.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.