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Who Won American Idol 2019? Laine Hardy or Alejandro Aranda?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 20, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 20, 2019 |


I have not watched American Idol since season six, back when Paula Abdul was still a judge on the series and Jordan Sparks won (I barely remember her, but I do remember novelty act Taylor Hicks winning season 5). I have practically forgotten that American Idol still exists, although it is now on ABC instead of Fox and the judges are Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry, and someone named Luke Bryan. Ryan Seacrest is apparently still the host, having successfully buried all the MeToo allegations against him.

Anyway, I ran across a news headline saying that The American Idol finale aired last night, up against Game of Thrones, so, uh, yeah: No one is talking about American Idol this morning. Nor do I believe anyone has been talking about American Idol in at least a decade. But hey! It’s still on. And I was naturally curious to see who won. I read about the two finalists, watched a few of their clips, and then was kind of dumbstruck by who actually won the competition.

So, in the interest of taking you on the same journey I just experienced, here are the two finalists. Can you guess which one won?

The first guy is someone by the name of Laine Hardy. He was actually on American Idol last season but was cut early in the process. He returned this year to accompany his best friend’s sister in her audition, and the judges were so taken with the man that they kind of ended up disregarding the woman who actually came to audition (she did receive a golden ticket) and found themselves basically begging Laine Hardy — who apparently fixed his teeth and gained some confidence — to return for another season of Idol (the woman, Ashton Gill, was eliminated early on, during the Hollywood round).

The other guy was Alejandro Aranda, a homeschooled kid from California who is self-taught, and he performs a lot of original songs. Here’s his audition, where he left the judges speechless, and for good reason.

I think you can probably guess from the auditions alone who deserves to win between the two, but here’s one of Laine Hardy’s finale performances. Here he is doing a sort of rockabilly version of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home,” which is borderline sacrilege. No one in the history of mankind not named Aretha has done themselves any favors by drawing comparisons between their own voices and that of Sam Cooke’s.

Meanwhile, here’s Alejandro Alandra, who plays four original songs in the finale. He sounds kind of like a cross between John Legend and John Mayer. For that brand of acoustic and piano soft rock, it ain’t bad.

If you want to get an idea for who these people are, here’s Laine’s home visit. He’s a Louisianna kid, and no shade, but he seems like the kind of guy who is gonna get the backing of all of red state America.

Alejandra Aranda is from Pomona, CA, and his following is a little more diverse. It’s around the 2:00 mark when I sort of fell in love with this kid, whom I’d never heard of until about half an hour ago.

Anyway, I don’t want to say that everyone with decent musical tastes and a fondness for a genuinely good story was watching Game of Thrones last night during voting, but it’s really the only way I can explain why Laine Hardy ended up winning American Idol 2019.

Seems like a nice enough kid, but my limited knowledge of the music industry suggests that this is probably the last we’ll ever see of him. Alejandro, on the other hand? He could actually make it.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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