Laine Hardy is heading back to American Idol! The Season 17 winner is set to perform during the Sunday, May 10 episode of the competition show, where he will sing his version of "Life Is a Highway" as part of the show's Disney Night. A cover of the song was recorded by Rascal Flatts for the 2006 Pixar film Cars. The episode airs at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and will include the Top 11 contestants performing at home, a format the show switched to beginning in late April due to the coronavirus.
Hardy was crowned the winner of American Idol after previously auditioning for Season 16, where he was eliminated in the Hollywood round. "I remember watching it when I was younger, and I would've never thought I'd be on it twice and then win at the same time," the 19-year-old recently told PopCulture.com. "I had no intentions whatsoever of that when I was a kid. I'm just very grateful for winning the show and all the people that voted for me. But it's just, I'm still processing it because it's so crazy."
In April, Hardy released his first new music since winning the show, debuting "Ground I Grew Up On" and "Let There Be Country," two country-aimed songs that celebrate the singer's roots in Louisiana. "That song, when I listen to it, I think of some memories I have growing up," he said of "Ground I Grew Up On." "Like running across the driveway barefooted on limestone and just getting callouses on the bottom of my feet, climbing trees, playing hide and seek at night, and accidentally setting woods on fire." "I don't recommend doing that, that was a accident," Hardy clarified with a laugh, adding, "We were mostly outside growing up and that's what I think of, just the dirt and stuff, getting muddy and riding four-wheelers."
Hardy is currently supporting his new music with a virtual tour through May 20 as a way to connect with fans during the coronavirus pandemic, explaining that he wanted to share new music "because the fans had been waiting a good while for them and they've been really patient with me. So, everybody's at home right now and I really wanted to release them for them because I felt bad making them wait so long," he said. "I want my fans to really hear the songs and know that I'm just a down to earth person and I'm just like anybody else. These songs have a sound of traditional country with some rock in it. 'Let There Be Country' has some rock, and 'Ground I Grew Up On' is more of a traditional country, and it's a simple, simple song."