Luke Bryan ‘Proud’ Of Colin Stough’s Risk-Taking Performances On ‘American Idol’

Stough found a fan in the country superstar.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 15, 2023


11:47 am

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Colin Stough, American Idol; Photos by ABC/Eric McCandless

American Idol returned on Sunday (May 14) with an exciting Disney night featuring the Top 5 contestants. The remaining contestants also delivered heartfelt tributes to their moms in honor of Mother’s Day. 

Colin Stough, who has been a standout contestant throughout the season, first took the stage to perform Sheryl Crow’s “Real Gone” from Disney’s Cars. The performance was a tribute to his mom, Nara.

He Sang A Song From The Movie Cars

Ahead of his performance, Stough, who hails from Amory, Mississippi, visited Cars Land in Disneyland in California with his mom. While there, he provided some insight into his performance.

“So for this round, I’m actually singing ‘Real Gone’ by Sheryl Crow and it’s actually in my favorite movie, Cars. Growing up I just always watched Cars and I mean, I still do. I probably watched the movie twice a month,” he revealed. “I connect to the lyrics of the song. There’s one line ‘mama taught me wrong from right’ that’s a standout line to me.” 

He went on to open up about his mom. 

Colin Stough With His Mom, Photo by Disney/Kent Phillips
Colin Stough With His Mom, Photo by Disney/Kent Phillips

“My relationship with my mom means everything. It means even more that she got to come out to Disneyland with me and enjoy this,” he said. 

His mom was equally excited to have the opportunity to visit Disneyland to spend some quality time with her son. 

“Spending time with him is very sentimental to me right now cause we never really been apart,” his mom explained. “Colin, when I see you on that stage it makes me so proud of you. I see how much you’re growing every week after this you can accomplish anything.” 

“Me and you’ve been through a lot so it’s kind of hard not being home, but I know it’s worth it,” Stough told his mom.

Quality Time With His Mom

She was quick to share her unwavering support for the contestant, telling him, “Well, we miss you and we’re all pulling for you to bring home the win.” 

Stough revealed that his mom is actually the one who signed him up to compete on American Idol. “My mom’s a big reason why I’m here,” he shared. 

“I think America ought to know that I love my mom pretty well. I have big dreams for my mom and I just want to give her everything she deserves in her life because I felt like she spent so much time working for me and her that she hasn’t really gotten to live life a lot and get to explore and go to places like this,” the former HVAC technician wrote.

Nara appeared to be overcome with emotions as she shared, “This is probably the most special day that I’ve had and I will remember this day forever.”

Colin Stough; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Colin Stough; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

A Risk That Paid Off

Donning a black fringe jacket and jeans with a black cowboy hat, Stough rocked the stage and showcased his impressive vocals as clips from the Cars film were shown in the background. He also allowed the Idol judges and viewers to see how he can work a stage without being attached to a guitar.

His performance earned a standing ovation from the American Idol judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, as well as the live audience. 

“We’ve been wanting you to get real comfortable all year and I didn’t realize that a Cars’ song was going to get you that pumped. That’s the most you really let loose, had fun… great song choice,” Bryan told him. “I’m proud of everybody, y’all are growing… all of the contestants are getting better and better every week and man that was maybe my favorite performance that you’ve done. It was great!”


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Richie told Stough that this was his favorite performance from him so far this season.

“I mean it when I say this, the comfort zone was perfect, your attitude and more importantly I think your confidence… your confidence was sitting right out here so we could all see it,” the “Hello” singer told him, adding, “Let me just say to everybody, this is the hardest thing in the world, but you got to vote if you love this man. If you love these contestants you got to vote. You are stepping on fire right now my friend.”

Perry told Stough she thought he “sounded great” and complimented his showmanship. 

“Colin, you came out looking like an electric guitar and you started behind the microphone stand and I was like ‘please God, just let him get out of that’ and you did. You did, you took that risk. You finally did exactly what we’ve been wanting and it looked so good on you.”

Before Stough left the stage, host Ryan Seacrest asked him, “Luke said best for you so far, did you think it was going to be that for you?” 

“Not really because I don’t go anywhere. I just kind of stay at my home and I got to explore a little bit,” Stough said honestly, referring to the fact that he typically doesn’t leave his mic stand. 

Colin Stough; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Colin Stough; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

Later in the show, Stough returned to the stage to perform “Nobody Knows” from Pete’s Dragon. This was a smart song choice for the 18-year-old. 

Luke Bryan complimented his ability to hold the attention of the room, while Katy Perry said “you could hear a pin drop” during his performance. 


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Finale To Air Next Sunday

Ultimately, Colin Stough’s performances earned him a spot in the Top 3 alongside Megan Danielle and Iam Tongi. 

Each of the final contestants will release their debut singles on Friday, May 19.

They will face off for the title of American Idol during the three-hour season finale of American Idol on Sunday, May 21 at 8 pm ET. Live from Hollywood, the finale will feature performances by the judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, as well as guest performers Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, Ellie Goulding, James Blunt, Jazmine Sullivan, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban (who is also mentoring Top 3), Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon, Kylie Minogue, Lainey Wilson, Lauren Daigle, Pitbull, and TLC.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.