“Party with the Hardy!” exclaims Gold Derby senior editor Marcus James Dixon, announcing that Laine Hardy had been crowned the Season 17 “American Idol” winner. “We all kind of thought that Laine would win,” Dixon continues, “but still a part of me wondered, ‘Is Alejandro Aranda gonna pull this off?'” Dixon is joined by fellow senior editor Susan Wloszczyna and Gold Derby contributor Denton Davidson to discuss Laine’s victory, whether they think judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie wanted Alejandro to win, Madison VanDenburg‘s nerves and the greatest performances of the finale. Watch the video above to hear their full thoughts.
“I had Laine winning,” Davidson responds. “But as the show went on, I started to really think Alejandro was going to win. It just seemed like the momentum was going in his favor and the crowd was on his side. By the end, I thought there could be an upset.” As for Wloszczyna, she has a few gripes with how Madison was presented. “They keep dressing her so old,” she spouts off. “It’s like she’s an opening act in Vegas or something. It wasn’t that she’s not youthful. She shouldn’t be dressing like Cher! She should be dressing her age, she’s the youngest contestant and she looked like the oldest. But I think the nerves got to her. Her voice wasn’t as supple sounding as it can be.”
Dixon then asks, “Was it a mistake that Madison sang Kelly Clarkson? When we heard her doing that song it made me realize, ‘Oh Kelly is better than her,’ because they’ve been comparing them all season.” Wloszczyna responds, “Well there’s a pressure you have on that particular night that you don’t have throughout the competition. She wasn’t the favorite for most people. I give her props, but it was clear she wasn’t as relaxed as she has been.”
As for Alejandro, Davidson is certain the judges were hoping he’d pull off a victory. “I think it was more than obvious that the judges wanted Alejandro to win,” he states. “I think they’re happy for Laine, but over and over they said there was no one like Alejandro and he changed ‘American Idol.’” Dixon then jokingly reminds everyone, “Katy was excited to be in the same lifetime as Alejandro!” Wloszczyna mentions how Alejandro was a trailblazer, stating, “It’s partly because he got to do all these original songs (seven in total). But he didn’t have a backstory like [many of the others]. He was able to keep his story to himself. He let his music speak for him.”
As for some of the best performances of the night? “I really loved the Katy Perry and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon performance of ‘Unconditionally,’” says Dixon. Wloszczyna responds, “Dimitrius Graham was hot and cold for me, but he finally stepped up with Adam Lambert. I enjoyed seeing him get that.” One of the most memorable moments for Davidson was the return of viral sensation Shayy singing “Rise Up” with Andra Day.
For a whole lot more including if they think Laine will be one of the most memorable Idols in history, which finalists could rise to fame without a singing career, and general thoughts on the season, watch the full video above.