Who Is Laine Hardy? 10 Facts About ‘American Idol’s Comeback Kid

Jill O'Rourke
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Laine Hardy American IdolERIC MCCANDLES/ABC

One of the biggest surprises to come out of this season of American Idol is the return of Laine Hardy. The 18-year-old competed last season but was eliminated before the live shows. Now he’s back and better than ever.

Laine’s method of returning to the show was unconventional, and some might even question if it was fair. He showed up to his friend Ashton Gill’s audition to play guitar. The judges asked him to sing, and offered him a golden ticket to Hollywood. Ashton was eliminated during Hollywood Week, but Laine is now in the Top 20.

Thanks to a newfound confidence and a great voice, Laine has a chance of going very far this season. You might not know much about him, so check out 10 facts below.

1. Laine Hardy was born and raised in Louisiana.

Laine is so proud of his Louisiana roots that his Instagram name is “Louisiana Born and Raised” with an alligator emoji. He told the judges during his audition last season that he’s hunted alligators before, and has even been “a foot or two” from one.

2. He started playing guitar at just 6 years old.

He said in an interview last year that his mom got him a kids’ guitar from Walmart for Christmas when he was 6. After playing it for a while, he asked her to get him a real one. He only started singing shortly before he auditioned for American Idol last season.

3. He made it to the Final Judgment last year.

Laine chose to sing “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” by Lynyrd Skynyrd for his solo. He was brought before the judges with his friend and fellow Louisiana native, Garrett Jacobs. Ultimately, the judges chose to send Garrett through instead of Laine. “We don’t know if we’re making a mistake,” Luke Bryan said at the time. Laine’s fans would probably say yes.

4. He overcame shyness on the show.

Laine’s parents said before his audition that he was “very shy,” and would go into the woods to perform when he first started singing. “It’s just hard to step out of the shell,” Laine said, saying he needed to be “confident” on stage. He’s definitely found that confidence this season, as he’s reinvented his style and upped his stage presence.

5. Laine performed at his high school graduation.

Laine graduated from French Settlement High School in Louisiana last spring, and joined his classmate to sing the National Anthem for his class’s commencement ceremony. Check it out in the video above.

6. He loves Elvis Presley.

Laine said on Instagram that he grew up listening to music from the ’50s to the ’70s. One of his favorite artists is Elvis Presley. He even dressed up like him when he was a kid. “Oh how I wish I coulda met this guy,” he wrote on Twitter. He even released a cover of “Blue Christmas” last year.

7. He’s recorded music since last season.

Laine released an EP last year called In the Bayou. It featured the title song, as well as tracks called “Louisiana Lady” and “Hurricane.” The official music video for “In the Bayou” has over 400,000 views on YouTube.

8. You can buy his merchandise online.

One of the things the judges noticed about Laine when he returned this season was that he was wearing a hat with his own name on it. He actually sells that hat (plus T-shirts, guitar picks, and drink koozies) on his website. He even got his little niece to model the cap.

9. He calls his fans the Hardy Party.

“Y’all ready to party with the Hardy?” Laine asked the crowd in Hawaii before his performance of “Come Together” by the Beatles. The catchphrase has apparently stuck, since he asked his fans last week if they liked the nickname #TheHardyParty. He later tweeted, “Welcome to the #HardyParty.”

10. He wouldn’t be the first comeback contestant to win.

If Laine emerges victorious this season, he’ll be the third American Idol winner to have appeared in a previous season. As GoldDerby points out, both Season 12 winner Candice Glover and Season 13 winner Caleb Johnson were eliminated in past seasons. Second chances really can turn into victories.

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