Laine Hardy, an 18-year-old Louisiana native with a warm, raspy voice, was named the Season 17 winner of American Idol. The singer bested Alejandro Aranda in Sunday night’s finale, an all-star affair that featured more than a few country-music cameos.
Chief among them was Jon Pardi, who participated in a duet with the night’s eventual winner. The California country singer joined Hardy for a medley of two Pardi hits, “Dirt on My Boots” and “Night Shift,” with both artists trading lines on the Idol stage in front of a farm backdrop.
Dan + Shay also performed their own back-to-back hits, leading off with their current single “All to Myself.” The CMA and ACM Award-winning duo then welcomed finalist Madison VanDenburg to join them on “Speechless.” It was a full circle moment for VanDenburg, who originally auditioned for Idol with the song, accompanying herself on piano to perform it for the judges.
Carrie Underwood, who won American Idol‘s fourth season when the series was still in its early days on Fox (ABC rebooted the franchise in 2018), also returned to the show. Currently in the midst of her Cry Pretty Tour 360, the vocalist sang her upbeat summer anthem “Southbound,” the latest release off her Cry Pretty album.
Following his victory, Hardy released his debut single “Flame.”