Laine Hardy walked into the Season 17 audition room on American Idol not expecting to come away with a golden ticket. He simply came back to help one of his friends, Ashton Gill, by playing guitar during her audition. Instead, the judges extended an invite to Hollywood Week to him, along with Gill.
He took the opportunity — one year after being eliminated in the Top 50 — and ran with it… all the way to finale night. Hardy completed his redemption tour in the final episode as he was crowded the Season 17 winner ahead of Alejandro Aranda.
"I hesitated to take the golden ticket, and then I figured I'd give it another try and see how far I could get," Hardy said in an interview with USA Today. "Throughout the season I had second thoughts about it because it's been really tough, but I just kept doing what I was doing; stressing out every day and pulling through it."
Ever since, the Louisiana native has had quite a hectic life, but has yet to put out his debut album.
Hardy has been actively working on his record amid all of the shows and media events he has done over the past year. Season 16 winner, Maddie Poppe, dropped her debut album Whirlwind, one year after she won, which would suggest Hardy’s premiere is quickly approaching with the new season underway.
A recent Instagram post of his further confirmed his album is coming shortly.
"I'm just hearing some mixes for the new music y'all!! I'll have some news about what's going to be going on this year and on the new music really soon," he wrote in the caption.
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He spoke with The Boot about what fans can expect when he makes his debut on the charts.
"I'm more of a traditional kind of artist," he shared. "I would probably blend all my classic and country influences into my music."
Hardy also added that he relocated to Nashville after winning and linked up with top producer, Michael Knox, who discovered Jason Aldean. Knox also has worked with Idol judge, Luke Bryan.0comments
On finale night, the 19-year-old sang and later released his debut single, "Flame." His winning track climbed to No. 8 on the Billboard Digital Songs chart. The song also strayed away from his usual country roots, which is something he is expected to tap back into on his first studio album.
American Idol will makes its Season 18 premiere on Sunday, Feb. 16 with a two-hour special beginning at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.