“American Idol” winner Laine Hardy is slowly making a comeback after a rocky few months. The country singer, who’s remained pretty quiet since his arrest in May 2022, just shared a new love song he wrote, as signs mount that he may have reconciled with his former girlfriend.
Here’s what you need to know about what the rising star’s been up to…
Hardy Shares New Love Song, ‘Me Meeting You’
In a widely-publicized fall from grace, the winner of “Idol’s” season 17 was arrested on April 28, 2022, by Louisiana State University (LSU) police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for allegedly bugging an ex-girlfriend’s dorm room. According to USA Today, Hardy was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for “interception and disclosure of wire, electronic or oral communication,” an offense that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
At the time, LSU’s school newspaper reported that the accuser said she dated Hardy from November 2021 to February 2022, but she has not been named.
Until his return to Instagram in late July 2022, Hardy had all but disappeared from social media after his last public appearance, which was a pre-recorded duet with fellow “Idol” alum Laci Kaye Booth, which aired during ABC’s reunion episode on May 2. Hardy released a statement at the time, according to WAFB in Baton Rouge, saying that he was fully cooperating with authorities.
“My career has thrust me into the public spotlight, and I embrace that wholeheartedly as my entire world belongs to my music and my fans,” the statement said. “However, due to the sensitive nature of this allegation, I humbly ask for privacy at this time. I have the utmost respect for the law and will assist in their investigation as needed moving forward.”
Hardy then went dark on social media for nearly three months but reemerged on Instagram on July 25 with a scruffy beard and a new acoustic song for thrilled fans. In the five weeks after that post, he posted just twice more; one image was a throwback to playing at the Grand Ole Opry in 2021, and the other was to promote an upcoming performance at the Darke County Fair, opening for country singer Riley Green in Ohio on August 21.
Hardy, who will turn 22 on September 12, has not made any other formal statements about his arrest or the case. He did multiple performances at fairs and bars over the summer, and on September 2, he appeared in a new Instagram video, clean-shaven and holding his acoustic guitar.
“Hey y’all, I just wanted to come on here and show you a song I just wrote recently,” Hardy began the video. “It’s called ‘Me Meeting You.’ Let me know what you think!”
He then played an upbeat love song about meeting a girl who feels like his perfect match, with the chorus comparing other perfect pairs.
He sings, “Hot meeting chocolate, cold meeting beer, turkey meeting dressing, happy meeting new year. Fish meeting water, sky meeting blue, like birds meeting the bees, honey that’s me meeting you.”
Former Girlfriend Gracie Lee Hits the Road With Hardy
Hardy didn’t say whether his new song is based on personal experience, but it’s looking like his on-and-off relationship with former girlfriend Gracie Lee may be back on. In the comment section of his posted love song, she wrote “U!!!” and added a heart-eyes emoji.
Diehard Hardy fans may recall that the singer has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Lee, who first appeared on social media with him in October 2019, according to Country Thang Daily. In June 2021, Hardy shared several photos with her on Instagram, writing, “Just wanted to say I’m very thankful for this woman right here.”
Media speculation that Lee might have been the ex-girlfriend who reported Hardy’s recording device to the police was quickly debunked, since she was not an LSU student. Lee graduated in June from the Aveda Institute with her certificate in esthiology, which includes the ability to perform facials, waxing, and makeup application.
On August 21, Lee posted Instagram photos of herself on a tour bus, wearing a Laine Hardy lanyard, and geotagged the post to show her location as Darke County, which is where Hardy performed that night. She quoted lyrics from a country song by Riley Green — the concert headliner — in her caption: “we do things a little different round here, isn’t that what Riley said?”
Lee liked many of the comments on her post, including a Laine Hardy fan who wrote, “lucky girl and Laine’s a lucky guy.”
She also liked a comment that said, “Hopefully Laine has finally come to his senses and realizes that he has had the right girl all along! You’re absolutely beautiful, Gracie!!”
She’s also popped up at other performance locations, according to fan pages dedicated to Hardy. On September 4, she posted a black and white photo to her Instagram stories with a closeup of her hand holding someone else’s, though she didn’t say who it was.
During his run on “American Idol,” Hardy dated Sydney Becnel, but the couple broke up after the show and she graduated from LSU in 2021. In 2020, The Advocate in Baton Rouge reported that Hardy was seeing pageant queen and LSU student Sydney Taylor, and that the couple got COVID at the same time. She has since moved on with LSU baseball pitcher Trey Shaffer.