Tonight, the 2019 finale of American Idol aired live, from coast to coast, with the winner results airing during, as well as at the end of the show. Going into the finale, the top 3 finalists were Madison VanDenburg, Laine Hardy, and Alejandro Aranda. In the midst of the performances, based on America’s real-time votes, one of the contestants was eliminated, leaving two in the mix. Read on below for the live updates and spoilers on what happened during tonight’s show, as well as who won. Results are highlighted in “bold”.
Lionel Richie kicked off the finale by performing his classic hit song “Dancing on the Ceiling”, even venturing out through the crowd to hype up the crowd. Then, the show went down memory lane, with a video package showcasing each of the contestants’ journeys throughout the season.
Up first for the performances, Laine Hardy performed the song “Home” by Marc Broussard and show mentor Bobby Bones seemed confident that it was a great, gritty song for Hardy. Donning a pink, shimmery blazer and a guitar, Hardy killed it. Judge Katy Perry’s critique was that if Hardy keeps applying himself, he is going to become a huge star. VanDenburg was up next and she performed “Shallow” from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born. The judges weighed in on her performance and the young singer was so excited and nervous that she started shaking. Host Ryan Seacrest revealed that “Shallow” was a last minute choice and that VanDenburg was originally going to perform Whitney Houston’s song “I Have Nothing”. Seacrest then said, “Well, a star was born right here on this stage.”
Alejandro Aranda was the third of the top 3 to deliver his first performance of the night. The talented dishwasher sat on stage, playing the guitar and delivering a soft yet soulful performance. Judge Lionel Richie gushed over Aranda and said that the show has been lucky to have him. Judge Luke Bryan also said that he will never forget the day that he met Aranda and that he loves him from the bottom of his heart, along with the other judges. Aranda talked about his “millenial love,” like in his song and Seacrest gave him praise for his performance.
And, that wrapped up round 1 of the performances. The judges then weighed in on who they thought dominated the round. Bryan said that VanDenburg may have taken the win for round 1, as her voice is just “so big”. Meanwhile, Richie said he’s a “sucker for a song-writer”. In turn, Richie said Aranda had his vote and Perry said she agreed with Richie.
For round 2, each of the contestants were followed home by the cameras, shown in their hometowns. Hardy was taped getting emotional with his family, before taking the stage in another snazzy blazer, to deliver the song “Jambalaya”. Luke Bryan said that he loved Hardy stuck to his roots with his song choice.
Madison VanDenburg was the next singer to go back home and she got to perform for her entire high school, as well as sing her family. For her performance, she picked the song “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson. Bryan said he is always so impressed by VanDenburg’s range.
And then it was Aranda’s turn to perform, wrapping up round 2. After a short video package, showing Aranda returning to Pomona, California for support from his community, Aranda took the stage once again. Judge Katy Perry said that, in the past, Idol has been called a karaoke kind of show but that contestants like him have changed that.
With round 2 over, it meant that it was almost time to hear the results on which contestant would be eliminated half-way through tonight’s finale. But, before the show could deliver the elimination results, former Idol superstar Carrie Underwood took the stage for a lively performance of her song “Southbound”. Underwood won American Idol back in 2005 and went on to become an A-list country music artist.
And then it was time for the third place reveal … The contestant being sent home in third place was … Madison VanDenburg. So, it was now down to Alejandro Aranda and Laine Hardy for the top 2, with an hour and 40 minutes left in the live broadcast.
With the delivery of the first results complete, it was time for some more star-studded performances. Montell Jordan took the stage, followed by Katy Perry and Daddy Yankee … and a giant wig worn by Perry.
Contestant Alejandro Aranda then took the stage again, accompanied by an orchestra. And soon, former Idol contestant and current Queen frontman Adam Lambert took the stage to give a performance of his song “New Eyes”. But, that wasn’t all. Then, Lambert teamed up with top 10 finalist Dimitrius Graham for a brilliant performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The two of them crushed it and their vocals were flawless.
Dan + Shay then joined the celebrity lineup to deliver a performance of their song “All to Myself”, followed by a performance of the song “Speechless”. For the second song, the duo was joined by top 3 contestant Madison VanDenburg, who had just found out she was eliminated a half hour before the set.
In between performances, outtakes and video footage of the judges was shown in a compilation video for the crowd. Then, judge Luke Bryan performed for the fans. After one of his own songs, he was joined by cast-off Laci Kaye Booth, who sang “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.
After a commercial break, country artist Jon Pardi took the stage to perform “Dirt on My Boots” with top 2 artist Hardy. The two then transitioned into the song “Night Shift”.
A video package dedicated to judge Perry then played, as she prepared for her beautiful performance of “Unconditionally” with cast-off Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon. It appeared that the performance may have been pre-taped. In any event, next up was a performance of “Africa” with cast-off Wade Cota, who was accompanied by Weezer. The band then transitioned into the song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, followed by “Take On Me”, featuring Walker Burroughs.
Country artist Kane Brown was the next celebrity to perform and he also delivered multiple songs. And, at one point, cast-off Alyssa Raghu joined Brown in his performance. Judge Lionel Richie was then put on the spot in a video package, for his kindness and his many hugs that he gave out this season.
Cast-off Shayy then took the stage to deliver a powerful rendition of Andra Day’s song “Rise Up”. Soon into the set, Day actually joined her on stage to execute the performance.
Kool and the Gang then took the stage to celebrate their 50th anniversary. In the performance, the iconic group was joined by cast-off contestant Uche, as well as other members of the top 8 from this season of Idol.
And finally, it was time for the top 2 finalists to perform again, individually, for America’s votes. Laine Hardy was up first and his fellow cast-offs were recorded poking fun at him for some of his mannerisms and habits. Hardy’s parents watched from the crowd and sang along with him, as he performed “Bring It on Home to Me.” Judge Luke Bryan was the first to talk about Hardy’s performance and he gushed over Hardy’s tone. Perry said that last season, Hardy wasn’t ready but this time he is definitely ready.
Before taking the stage, a video package about Aranda was also displayed. Again, Aranda chose to perform an original song for his big moment and this piece was titled “Out Loud”. Crowd members cheered for Aranda and Luke Bryan thanked Aranda for “the experience”.
With the performances over, it was time for the live results.
And, the American Idol‘s 2019 winner is … Laine Hardy.
Closing out the show, Hardy performed the song “Flame” with a huge smile on his face, and his fellow cast-offs surrounding him.