'American Idol' crowns Laine Hardy champion over Alejandro Aranda and Madison Vandenburg
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/20/2019
American Idol crowned Laine Hardy its Season 17 champion, defeating runner-up Alejandro Aranda, during Sunday night's three-hour live finale on ABC.
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced Laine, an 18-year-old musician from Livingston, LA, had won the season at the end of the broadcast following three rounds of competition in which home viewers voted in real time for the first time in Idol history.
"I don't know what to think right now! I'm so thankful," Laine gushed.
While Laine and Alejandro, a 24-year-old dishwasher from Pomona, CA, each took the stage with three songs, the third-place finisher, Madison Vandenburg, a 17-year-old high school student from Cohoes, NY, was knocked out of the competition in third place after Round 2.
For winning American Idol, Laine will be signed to a contract with Hollywood Records. He also got to debut his brand new song "Flame" at the conclusion of the finale.
Laine initially kicked off the show with a performance of "Home" by Marc Broussard.
Katy joked Laine had taken some "pop star vitamins" and if he applied himself over the next five years as he had throughout the competition, he'll be "one of the biggest stars on the planet."
Luke said he felt honored and proud to see Laine in the finale, and Lionel added "it was a nasty song" and he's "well on [his] way."
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Lionel complimented Madison's gift and noted she's truly on her way.
And then Katy said "the greatness" was coming out of her and the panel knew she was great from the very first moment she had auditioned for the show out of thousands and thousands of people.
And Alejandro sang an original song called "Millennial Love" for Round 1.
"It was love at first sound for you," Lionel told the artist.
"Every once in a while, something comes along that captivates your imagination and your soul -- that you know what you're looking at is the next level of something amazing. You, my friend, you are on that journey."
Katy said there is so much reverence and respect when he sings, and Luke pointed out it was a special moment when he first met Alejandro and the judging panel was "spoiled" by him "week after week."
After the first set of performances, Seacrest asked the judges which artist had won Round 1 and Luke replied, "I think Madison won the round... Her voice is just so big and it was pretty impressive."
Lionel, on the other hand, admitted he's "a sucker for a songwriter" and thought Alejandro touched his spirit and soul.
Luke acknowledged she had conquered an "amazingly tough song" and her range is "so impressive."
Lionel congratulated Madison on a job well done, and Katy expressed how Madison must continue to nurture and grow her gift because she's about to spread her wings in the real world. Katy asked her to maintain her work ethic and fly.