Laine Hardy returned to the “American Idol” stage for “The Great Idol Reunion” on Monday, days after his high-profile arrest stemming from accusations made by his ex-girlfriend that he eavesdropped on her without her knowledge.
Hardy, the 2019 winner of the nationally televised singing competition, kicked off the show’s 20-year anniversary celebration when he took the stage alongside fellow Season 17 contestant Laci Kaye Booth.
Together, the duo performed a cover of the 1981 hit “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around” by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty. Noticeable at the bottom of the screen was a disclaimer that read “Previously Recorded.” The episode was reportedly taped last month.
The two drew rave reviews from Idol judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan, much like they did during their star-turning runs on the show three years ago.
“I was slayed when you came on the stage, Laine,” Perry said to the 21-year-old singer. “I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ Was he in ‘A Star Is Born'?”
Richie said the singers “both sound amazing,” and Bryan thanked them for continuing to be “part of the ‘American Idol’ family.”
“Thank you for making ‘Idol’ so proud,” host Ryan Seacrest told Hardy and Booth afterward.
Hardy, a Livingston Parish native, was arrested April 29 for eavesdropping on his ex-girlfriend, an investigation authorities launched after learning Hardy admitted to recording “very candid” conversations from his ex-girlfriend with a voice-activated recording device.
Hardy was booked in East Baton Rouge Parish on one count of interpretation and disclosure of wire, electronic, or oral communication, a felony.
The singer could face a fine of up to $10,000 and 2-10 years in prison.
According to an affidavit, Hardy had recorded several of his ex-girlfriend’s conversations without her knowing. Those recordings included her conversations with her roommate and her mother which detail their breakup and even her suspicions that he was spying on her.
In a statement released the night before his arrest, Hardy said he has been and will continue to be “fully cooperative” with authorities.
“I have the utmost respect for the law and will assist in their investigation as needed moving forward,” Hardy wrote.
Hardy, a 2018 graduate of French Settlement High, rose to fame in 2019 when he was crowned the winner of American Idol’s 17th season. Known for his flashy suits and gravelly voice, Hardy became an early frontrunner and rode that popularity all the way to the top, consistently impressing the judges and creating a dedicated legion of fans.
Hardy became the first Louisiana-born singer to win the popular singing competition that has discovered many pop culture stars, such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson. At 18, he was one of the youngest to ever win the show.
Last year, Hardy released his debut album, “Here’s To Anyone,” which includes many nods to his home state. He was also named an official Louisiana Ambassador by the Office of Tourism and performed on the state’s debut float in the annual Parade of Roses.
In his statement Thursday, his only public comments since the investigation came to light, Hardy “humbly” asked for privacy due to the “sensitive” allegation.
“I understand that 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,” Hardy wrote. “However, due to the sensitive nature of this allegation, I humbly ask for privacy at this time.”