Warning! The following contains spoilers for the finale of American Idol Season 17. Read at your own risk!
American Idol Season 17 has reached its end, and what a season it's been. The ABC singing competition played host to some of the most talented bunch in the series' long history, and even before the group was whittled down to its final three, it was clear many in the top 20 could achieve super stardom from their time on the show.
Yet, only one could win, and after much pageantry and many performances it was down to Laine Hardy and Alejandro Aranda. The two most popular contestants went head to head and when it was all said and done, it was Laine Hardy that was crowned the winner of American Idol Season 17.
To say the win was a surprise is about the understatement of the season. Sure, it was known that Laine Hardy was a talented country singer and had a shot to win, but all season this had felt like Alejandro Aranda's season to lose. Yet Hardy continued to find his way to the next round, and the suit-wearing good ole' Louisiana native ended up toppling the man everyone (including Katy Perry) believed was going to win American Idol.
Of course, there's really no loser between the two as Alejandro Aranda already had big names like Ben Harper and Stevie Nicks in his corner on his way into the finale. His stardom will rise regardless of his loss on American Idol, and the two-time contestant Laine Hardy can launch his own successful solo career now that he's captured the big prize. It truly is exciting to see how each man will climb following this momentous night.
Beyond the winner's announcement, the Season 17 finale appeared to be a celebration of everything American Idol. There were performances from the season's past contestants, the talented judges, and famous alumni like Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and last season's winner Maddie Poppe. There was some question whether the latter would be involved, after voicing her displeasure she was not invited to perform despite her album's release days before the finale.
Overall, Season 17 of American Idol was proof positive this reality singing competition still has a lot left in the tank, and could attract a new breed of talent in the wake of this exciting and refreshing season. Perhaps next season will bring more singer/songwriters and the ABC series will continue to shake the stigma its gotten for being, as Katy Perry stated, "a karaoke show."