Laine Hardy will return to American Idol this week, nearly one year after the teenager from Louisiana won Season 17. His appearance will also feature a performance of "Life Is a Highway."

The cover song fits in with Sunday night's (May 10) Disney theme, as the Rascal Flatts version was used in the 2006 animated movie Cars. While on American Idol in 2019, Hardy proved capable of mixing country music and rock, but since winning he's been focused on his own original material. Last month he dropped two songs digitally, "Let There Be Country" and the new single, "Ground I Grew Up On."

The 19-year-old spoke to Taste of Country about his new music and his path since winning, admitting to splitting time between his home in Louisiana and Nashville until the coronavirus pandemic locked him in until further notice. He's had the opportunity to write with several A-list country songwriters and was planning a slate of shows with Toby Keith in 2020.

Wow! Garbage Man Doug Kiker Doesn't Look Like This Any Longer: 

“I was thinking I’d be left behind and I’d just be sitting there not doing anything, and I got all into it and started coming up with melodies and they loved it," Hardy says. Later he'd talk to Taste of Country Nights about the new music and winning American Idol. Find the full interview and performance on Facebook.

Sunday night will find four more contestants heading home after another round of eliminations. Last week the show went from 20 finalists to 11. This week American Idol will be trimmed to seven finalists, based on fan votes. The Season 18 finale is slated for May 1,7 with all contestants' performances coming from their home studios. Hardy will also perform from home.

See Who's Left On American Idol, Season 18: