When “American Idol” airs Monday night, Laine Hardy will breathe easy.
He’s already made the next round.
After a soulful performance with singer Elle King during Sunday’s “All-Star Duets” episode, the 18-year-old Livingston singer was one of seven contestants the judges selected to advance to the Top 14 of the nationally televised singing competition.
During the episode, 10 contestants were paired with a celebrity singer and tasked with performing a duet in front of a live audience. Following all the performances, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan advanced seven of the contestants and eliminated the three others.
The judges advanced six singers before Hardy heard his own name called, a nerve-wracking waiting game he’s gotten used to during his two seasons on “American Idol.”
This time, he’s hoping for a different ending.
“This is my second time on this show. It’s a big difference,” Hardy said during the episode. “I don’t want to mess it up again. I’ve worked really hard for this. Since last year, I’ve grown a lot. Each round that I’ve been through, I’ve started to realize I want this and I don’t want to go home.”
Thanks to a rocking performance with King, Hardy isn’t going home yet.
With his family dancing among a screaming crowd, Hardy and King brought down the house with a powerful rendition of “The Weight,” the same song Hardy sang for judges during his audition in Idaho.
Perry, Bryan and Richie praised Hardy following the performance. Perry said the suit-wearing Hardy “looked liked a rock star,” and Bryan lauded him for “that rasp and growl and grit” in his voice.
All three remarked on Hardy’s growth as an artist from last season, going from a shy beginner to an experienced performer finally discovering his voice.
“I applaud you for developing into an absolutely wonderful artist,” Richie said.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for Hardy came after the judge’s comments, when host Ryan Seacrest called Hardy’s older brother Kyle to the stage.
“I thought you weren’t coming,” a confused Laine asked his brother.
“I had to make my way here for you man,” Kyle answered before planting a big ol’ kiss on his younger brother’s cheek.
The other half of the Top 14 will be chosen during Monday night’s episode of American Idol, which airs at 7 p.m. locally.
After that, Hardy and the 13 remaining contestants will sing for America’s vote.