The native of Iowa was one of the fans favorite of her folk voice and became a winner of the reality show singing contest revived by ABC in March.

A sensitive songwriter or country crooner?

This is the choice that viewers had to make Sunday night in the final of the season "American Idol", which seduced Alejandro Aranda, a long-time favorite, a minor viral sensation for his original compositions, and Laine Hardy, a idol to teenage girls with Elvis style movements.

Hardy, 18, clinched a close win in the final minutes of the episode, winning the "Idol" title and winning a record deal with Disney's Hollywood Records. He closed the show with his new edifying single "Flame", after impressing the judges earlier in the night with his gritty charismatic appearances on Hank Williams' "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" and Marc Broussard's "Home".

The new winner of "American Idol", Laine Hardy, 18, returned to the competition after being eliminated last season. (Photo: Eric McCandless, ABC)

"Every week, Laine, your hair seems to be getting higher and higher, you seem to be taking vitamins from the pop star," said Katy Perry, a native of Louisiana, known for her pompadour and colorful and elegant costumes. "If you apply yourself … you will be one of the biggest pop stars on the planet."

Hardy's victory was somewhat surprising for fans of Aranda, 24, considered the favorite for weeks before the final, according to online polls. Even Perry predicts he could win everything at his first audition, when he showed off his skillful guitarist skills by playing the heartbreaking song "Out Loud", which he reported in Sunday's final (along with three other originals).

The last female singer in the competition, 17-year-old Madison VanDenburg, was eliminated from the Top 3 at mid-show, after her acrobatic but fragile rehearsals of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's "Shallow" and Kelly's "Breakaway" Clarkson.

As usual for the finals of the "Idol" season, the judges and the top 10 finalists occurred during the three-hour episode, which was recorded in Los Angeles. Lionel Richie opened the show with his hit "Dancing on the Ceiling" of 1986, while Perry took the stage twice: the first to sing his remix "Con Calma" with the success of reggaeton Daddy Yankee, then for a hypnotic duo of his ballad "Unconditionally" with Top 5 candidate Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon.

Last year's winner, Maddie Poppe, who was not invited to participate in the season finale, made a brief appearance to hook up her new album, "Whirlwind", released on Friday.

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