‘American Idol’ Finale Recap: Who Was Crowned The Winner?

Jill O'Rourke | Talent Recap

Sunday’s American Idol finale marked the first time live coast-to-coast voting has been used on the show to determine the season’s winner. It was down to the Top 3 — Alejandro Aranda, Laine Hardy, and Madison VanDenburg. But only one could be crowned the 2019 American Idol.

The show opened with an energetic performance of “Dancing on the Ceiling” from judge Lionel Richie, who was joined by the Top 10 contestants. Then the Top 3 performed two songs each for America’s vote, before one of them was eliminated.

The episode also featured footage from the contestants’ hometown visits earlier this week, as well as appearances from past contestants and big names. Read on for the finale recap and results.

Laine Hardy

Laine’s first song was “Home” by fellow Louisiana native Marc Broussard, accompanied by an electric guitar. Katy Perry said he could be “one of the biggest stars on this planet.” Lionel Richie accused him of stealing his look, and said it was a “nasty song” (in a good way).

Madison VanDenburg

Madison performed the Oscar-winning song “Shallow” from A Star Is Born, sung in the film by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Luke Bryan said it was amazing to witness her growth over the season, while Lionel marveled that she’s only 17 years old. Katy said she has “greatness” inside her.

Alejandro Aranda

Alejandro performed an original song called “Millennial Love,” accompanied by his guitar. Lionel told him it was “love at first sound” when Alejandro joined the show. Katy said she sensed so much “reverence and respect” from the audience when he sang.

Laine Hardy

Laine returned to his home state of Louisiana, where he met with the governor and hung out with his family. He later rode in a parade and performed a live concert. Back on the show stage, he performed Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” as a tribute to his state. Luke said it was a “great song choice,” while Katy said she wanted him to take her fishing.

Madison VanDenburg

Madison headed back to her hometown in New York, where students at her school threw a pep rally for her. She later rode in a parade. Back on the Idol stage, she performed Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway.” Luke complimented her “range,” and Katy told her she’s “come so far” while complimenting her “work ethic.”

Alejandro Aranda

Alejandro was welcomed back to his hometown of Pomona, California, with a parade and a children’s choir singing his song “Out Loud.” He also got to hang out with Ben Harper, who gave him a guitar as a gift. Back on the stage, he performed another original song called “Tonight.” Lionel encouraged viewers to vote, and Luke predicted he would be on the cover of Rolling Stone one day.

The Top Two

After the first two rounds of performances, the show determined which of the Top 3 contestants would be eliminated based on America’s vote. That contestant turned out to be Madison, meaning the final two were Alejandro and Laine.

Montell Jordan, Margie Mays, & Austin Michael Robinson

Following a recap of this season, Montell Jordan showed up to perform “This Is How We Do It,” which judge Katy Perry famously danced “the worm” to during auditions. The performance featured backup dancers dressed like Katy, as well as cameos from eliminated contestants Margie Mays and Austin Michael Robinson.

Alejandro Aranda

American Idol made Stevie Nicks’ prophecy come true as Alejandro performed his original song “10 Years” with an orchestra. Judges Lionel and Luke looked on proudly as he sang.

Dimitrius Graham & Adam Lambert

American Idol favorite Adam Lambert returned to the show to perform his new track “New Eyes.” He then teamed up with Season 17 contestant Dimitrius Graham to perform Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The pair’s operatic voices went together well.

Madison VanDenburg & Dan + Shay

Dan + Shay took the stage to sing their track “All to Myself,” and then they welcomed third-place contestant Madison to sing “Speechless.” It was the song she performed in her audition for the show, so things really came full circle for the young singer.

Laci Kaye Booth & Luke Bryan

Judge Luke Bryan performed his song “Knockin’ Boots” on the finale stage. He then welcomed Top 5 contestant Laci Kaye Booth for a performance of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police.

Laine Hardy & John Pardi

It was a literal Pardi with the Hardy when country singer John Pardi joined Top 2 contestant Laine Hardy to sing “Dirt on My Boots.” Maybe these two should team up to sell some punny merch.

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon & Katy Perry

Fellow pastor’s kids Jeremiah and Katy teamed up for an emotional duet of Katy’s ballad “Unconditionally.” The performance followed a montage of Katy acting goofy during this season of the show.

Alyssa Raghu & Kane Brown

Kane Brown appeared to sing his song “Good as You,” before welcoming contestant Alyssa Raghu to the stage to perform “Lost in the Middle of Nowhere,” featuring Becky G.

Shayy & Andra Day

Shayy touched the judges and viewers earlier this season with her story about losing her sight and her audition performance of “Rise Up” by Andra Day. During the finale, Shayy performed the song with the woman herself.

Uché & Kool & the Gang

Who better to help Kool & the Gang celebrate their 50th anniversary than contestant Uché? The band kicked things off with “Hollywood Swingin’,” followed by “Ladies Night” and “Celebration.” The performance also featured several other contestants from this season.

Laine Hardy

Laine sang Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me” for his final performance of the night. He started it off slow, and then brought it up tempo for the second half. Luke complimented his “identifiable” tone, and Katy called him “authentic.”

Alejandro Aranda

Alejandro brought things full circle by performing his original audition song “Out Loud,” complete with his crazy guitar skills. Lionel said he’s instantly recognizable, and Katy said she was happy to see someone like Alejandro “shine.”

Who Is The Winner?

It was down to Alejandro Aranda and Laine Hardy in the final moments of the show. Ryan Seacrest announced the winner to be … Laine Hardy! Talk about a comeback. Laine celebrated his win by performing an original song called “Flame.” His fellow contestants joined him on stage for the performance.


Jill O'Rourke
Jill O'Rourke

Jill O’Rourke is a contributor at Talent Recap, writing news stories and recaps for shows like ‘AGT,’ ‘The Voice,’ and ‘American Idol.’ She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and Film Studies, and has been writing about pop culture since 2012, with previous bylines at Crushable and A Plus. Jill spends her free time binge-watching sitcoms and daydreaming about life as a hobbit

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