• Laine Hardy is a country singer best known for winning “American Idol” in 2019 at 19 years old
• He started playing guitar at 8 years old and began singing at 14
• “American Idol” has spawned many successful singers such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, and Katharine McPhee
• The show has faced a few scandals over the years, including contestant disqualifications and lawsuits
• The show has raised almost $200 million for its Idol Gives Back charity event, and will premiere its latest season on 19th February 2023
Who is Laine Hardy?
Born in September 2000, Laine Hardy is a country singer best known for winning “American Idol” at just 19 years old. The musician was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but raised in the nearby city of Livingston. His parents, Barry and Cindy Lou, work as a general contractor and a real estate agent respectively; Laine was brought up alongside his siblings Kyle and Brittany.
Laine began learning to play the guitar at just eight years old and started by performing in a family band at the age of 14 with his brother and cousins. The youngster performed in local bars and restaurants, and Laine began singing when he was encouraged to do so by his brother. The Louisiana native matriculated from French Settlement High School in 2018.
2018 brought with it Laine’s reality TV debut, as he auditioned for the 16th season of “American Idol”; surprisingly, he only made it to the top 50 before being eliminated. The following year, a friend of Laine’s named Ashton Gill asked him to accompany her to play the guitar in her audition; this time round, the judges encouraged Laine to audition again, and against all the odds, Laine made it to the final and eventually won, with the runners-up being Alejandro Aranda and Madison VanDenburg.
Some of the songs Laine performed while in “American Idol” include the Beatles hit “Hey Jude” and Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right”. Unsurprisingly, Laine was hugely popular amongst the show’s female audience thanks to his charisma and good looks. Prior to winning the contest, he had already released his first project “In the Bayou”, a three-song EP which was followed up by the single “Blue Christmas”.
After winning “American Idol”, Laine wasted no time in releasing the single “Flame”, which he performed in May 2019 during an interview with “The View”. In September of the same year, the Baton Rouge singer announced a national 13-date headline tour which would take place in November and December. Despite not having a debut album at the time, Laine’s tour was wildly successful and sold out immediately.
In April 2020, Laine released new songs: “Let There Be Country” and “Ground I Grew Up On”. After recovering from COVID-19, he also released “Tiny Town” in summer of the same year, and a holiday single a few months later. These songs were accompanied by televised performances such as a mini-concert which took place at the 2020 National Tree Lighting Ceremony.
“Memorize You”, one of Laine’s latest singles, was released in May 2021 and became surprisingly popular after a performance on “The Bachelor” series. The follow-up single, “Authentic”, helped drum up publicity for the announcement of his debut album, “Here’s To Anyone”. After eagerly waiting for two years, fans were thrilled to finally hear Laine’s debut album, which was released in mid-September 2021.
Shockingly, Laine was arrested by the Louisiana State University Police Department in April 2022 amongst claims that he had planted a recording device in the university dorm room of his supposed ex-girlfriend. According to the arrest warrant, the woman and her roommate found the device in a futon, and she began suspecting Laine was the culprit when he shared details about her private life that she’d never told him. Laine also allegedly confessed to his ex-girlfriend that he’d bugged the room but had thrown the device into a pond.
The arrest did nothing to help Laine’s public image, as fans were shocked that he would be seemingly abusive to his ex-girlfriend. The female student claiming to be Laine’s ex-girlfriend stated that she and the country singer dated from November 2021 to February 2022; news outlets later reported that Laine was co-operating with investigators.
Despite being notoriously private about his love life, sharp-eyed netizens managed to track down two other women who could be Laine’s possible ex-girlfriends. One of them, Gracie Lee, appeared to have dated Laine on and off for two years before they finally called it quits in 2021. At the same time, Laine was reportedly seeing pageant queen Sydney Taylor in 2020, meaning that there was an overlap in both relationships.
These days, Laine is working on new music and revamping his image. In October 2022, he announced via Instagram that he would be taking his career in a new direction, having seemingly cut ties with 19 Entertainment and Disney Music Group. “I had to grow up quickly, and I’m still learning more about myself every day,” Laine wrote. “Stay tuned for what’s coming next.” According to reliable sources, Disney Music Group dropped Laine following his April 2022 arrest.
It remains to be seen what 2023 has in store for Laine; however, his last Instagram post was in late December 2022 and hinted at new music on the way.
The singing competition series “American Idol” is known for birthing Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and other household names. Having first aired in 2002, the show returned in 2018 after a two-year hiatus. Some of its spin-offs include “The Next Great American Band”, “American Juniors”, and “An American Idol Christmas”, which have all enjoyed varying degrees of success.
The show’s first season was meant to have four judges: Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and DJ Stryker, however, the latter dropped out at the last minute as he feared that the show didn’t align with his professional image. Despite entering negotiations, the Bronx rapper Angie Martinez also turned down the opportunity to be a judge.
With that said, the three-judge format worked well for the show for several years. Other judges over the years include Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi, until, eventually, the original panel was replaced. There have also been scripted feuds and spats between judges on many an occasion, with Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey’s dislike for each other becoming a bigger storyline than the contestants themselves in season 12. After just one season, Mariah announced that she’d be leaving the show to focus on her upcoming concert tour, whereas Nicki claimed to be working on projects. As of early 2023, the judging panel is made up of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.
Since 2002, “American Idol” has faced – and weathered – almost every scandal possible. One contestant named Joanna Pacitti was disqualified from the show in February 2009 when news outlets began reporting her connections in the music industry. As the golden rule of the show is that contestants must be unsigned, Joanna’s recording deal led to her being unceremoniously kicked out after just four performances.
While the public agreed with Joanna’s disqualification, many wondered how the producers of the show had somehow overlooked the singer’s five-year record deal. It was also rumored that many of the more successful contestants were connected to the show or the network in some way, despite being unsigned.
In early 2015, the season 12 winner, Phillip Phillips, lodged a petition with the California Labor Commissioner in which he claimed to have been manipulated by 19 Entertainment – the show’s production team – and its affiliate companies. Phillip accused 19 Entertainment of breaching its fiduciary duties and violating California’s Talent Agency Act; when “American Idol” was cancelled in 2016, 19 Entertainment filed for bankruptcy, and retaliated by filing a $6 million lawsuit against Phillip.
When 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia Limited inked a deal to reboot “American Idol” on the ABC channel, the production company confirmed that it had reached an amicable resolution with Phillip. Some sources claim that 19 Entertainment paid Phillip up to seven figures to drop the lawsuit, to avoid negative publicity before the show’s relaunch; however, both parties declined to share details.
In season two, contestant Frenchie Davis was disqualified from the show due to risqué topless photos that she’d had taken a few years prior. Frenchie informed the producers about the photos beforehand, but during the competition, the production team decided to drop the singer in case the racy snaps were leaked, which would negatively impact the show’s family-friendly brand. Luckily for Frenchie, she has flourished without help from “American Idol”, and is working as a Broadway actress, and professor.
Season 19 brought fresh drama, as a compromising video of contestant Caleb Kennedy seen sitting with someone dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit went viral. Caleb, a top 5 contestant and a fan favorite, was 16 years old at the time. and released an apologetic social media statement in which he said: “I was younger and didn’t think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse. I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I’ve let down.” An “American Idol” representative confirmed that Caleb would not be advancing in the competition, whereas the aspiring singer took a social media break in an attempt to reverse the damage.
However, it’s not all negative, as “American Idol” has raised almost $200 million thanks to its Idol Gives Back charity event, which began in season six, aiming to help underprivileged youth from all parts of the world. With a plethora of fundraising activities and celebrity performances, the charity event was held in 2007, 2008 and 2010, organized by Simon Fuller and Richard Curtis. To avoid criticism in the face of the economic crisis, the event wasn’t held in 2009; it remains unknown why it was cancelled after 2010.
Unlike many reality shows which focus on entertainment rather than advancing the contestants’ careers, “American Idol” has spawned many subsequent Grammy winners, musical moguls, and seasoned celebrities. Jennifer Hudson, for example, shot to fame despite coming in 7th place during the show’s third season – and in June 2022, she joined the exclusive group of “EGOT” winners, meaning that she’s taken home Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
Jennifer came from humble beginnings, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She matriculated from Dunbar Vocational High School in 1999, and less than three years later, signed a recording contract with Righteous Records, but the independent record label released Jennifer from her five-year contract when she expressed her desire to audition for “American Idol”; at the time, the musician also worked as a cruise ship singer for Disney Cruise Lines.
After “American Idol”, Jennifer was signed a record deal with Arista Records, and cast in the film adaptation of “Dreamgirls”; her critically acclaimed performance as Effie White won her over three dozen awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and was instrumental in Jennifer’s breakthrough.
Despite suffering the tragic losses of her mother, brother and nephew, who died after being shot by her estranged brother-in-law William Balfour in late 2008, Jennifer’s career continued to go from strength to strength. From hosting her own talk show to being hailed as the next Aretha Franklin, the Chicago native is frequently dubbed one of the greatest success stories to come out of “American Idol”.
The singer-songwriter Katharine McPhee – born in March 1984, in Los Angeles, California – also rose to fame after coming in second place in season five of “American Idol”. Her debut album was released in January 2007, and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 charts, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Her other projects include “Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You”, “I Fall in Love Too Easily”, and “Hysteria”.
Look at the material, you can be the judge of it: https://t.co/00Lu3lwgqd
— Kat McPhee (@katharinemcphee) September 10, 2020
Similar to Jennifer, Katharine is also an established actress, who has co-starred in “Shark Night 3D” and “The House Bunny”. From 2014 to 2018, she had a starring role as Paige Dineen in the CBS series “Scorpion”, and upon leaving the show, Katharine made her Broadway debut, and has since performed in London’s West End and other illustrious venues.
As recently as November 2022, Katharine released a new Christmas EP entitled “Christmas Songs”, which she recorded with her husband David. The musical heavyweight shows no signs of slowing down despite having been in the industry for almost two decades, and additionally, in the same month, she launched her jewelry line, KMF Jewelry..
As for “American Idol”, the show’s latest season has a confirmed premiere date of 19th February 2023.