The Journey Of A Star: Celebrating Colin Stough’s Thrilling Ride On ‘American Idol’

Re-live Colin Stough’s memorable run on ‘American Idol.’

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 21, 2023

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Colin Stough, Photos Courtesy American Idol, ABC

Colin Stough left a lasting impression on American Idol viewers with his down-to-Earth demeanor and impressive vocal skills. 

The 18-year-old Mississippi native tried his hand at the show after his mom, Nara, decided to sign him up for the competition. 

When he sang Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” in front of Idol judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry, it was clear why she forced her son to pursue American Idol. 

Colin Stough; Photo by ABC, American Idol
Colin Stough; Photo by ABC, American Idol

“That’s what American Idol is about, right there!” Bryan shouted following his performance as Richie chimed in exclaiming, “I love it!”

“Colin, you’ve got the magic in you… 100% and you got the stardust,” Perry told him. 

“You really do have the stardust,” Richie added. 

Stough earned a “yes” from all three of the judges and got himself a golden ticket to Hollywood. 

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

For the next round, he performed “Stone” by Whiskey Myers. He also joined forces with Megan Danielle to cover Ed Sheeran’s “Dive.” His solo performance featured a cover of “Cold” by Chris Stapleton.  

When in Hawaii, Stough once again impressed with a performance of “Midnight Train to Memphis” by The SteelDrivers. He advanced to the next round and for his Top 20 performance, he sang “Pretty Heart” by Parker McCollum. 

In celebration of advancing to the next round, he performed “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn. 

Colin Stough; ABC/Eric McCandless
Colin Stough; ABC/Eric McCandless

After performances his Top 12 performance of “Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Band, Stough earned a spot in the Top 10 where he took the stage to perform “It’s Been Awhile.” 

Next up, he had the opportunity to work with guest judge Alanis Morissette. 

“Making it this far in the competition is still really hard to believe,” he admitted to her. “There’s nowhere else I really want to be in life than the Top 8 of American Idol. I was really nervous to sing her song in front of her, I’m either going to fail or fly, you know? I didn’t know how it was going to go.”    

He took the stage to perform Morissette’s iconic “Hand In My Pocket” and earned praise from the judges. 

Colin Stough; ABC/Eric McCandless
Colin Stough; ABC/Eric McCandless

“I love how you really rocked it at the end, but also how you gave it a different spin at the beginning because obviously it’s a song that everyone knows and you’re doing it in a way that makes it your own and then rocking out. So, yeah, it was brilliant,” guest judge Ed Sheeran told him. 

He teamed up with Megan Danielle to perform an Ed Sheeran song as well. 

During Disney Night, he turned heads by taking a risk with his performance of  Sheryl Crow’s “Real Gone” from Disney’s Cars. 

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

“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,” Luke 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!”

Additionally, he sang “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. 

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

Ahead of the Idol finale, Colin Stough released his debut single, “I Still Talk To Jesus.” 

Co-written by Francisco Martin and Hank Compton, “I Still Talk To Jesus” finds the American Idol finalist leaning on his faith in the midst of a breakup. As he faces the intense loneliness in the aftermath of a love gone wrong, Stough turns to his relationship with Jesus to help him navigate this difficult time in his life.   

“I still believe in the things that I make in my head / I still believe every word that you said / I know I’m better off without you / But I hate knowin’ it’s the same for you / I tell myself that I still need it / I just want something to believe in / I still talk to Jesus,” Stough sings on the tune’s chorus.

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Colin Stough will face off against Megan Danielle and Iam Tongi for the title of American Idol champion 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.

Re-live Colin Stough‘s American Idol journey below.

Colin Stough’s American Idol Audition

“Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

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Hollywood Round

“Stone” by Whiskey Myers

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Duets Round

Countrified rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Dive” with Megan Danielle

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Solo Performance

“Cold” by Chris Stapleton

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Top 26 Hawaii Round

“Midnight Train to Memphis” by The SteelDrivers

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Top 20

“Pretty Heart” by Parker McCollum

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In Celebration

“Dancing on My Own” by Robyn 

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Top 12

“Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Band

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Top 10

“It’s Been Awhile” by Staind

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Top 8

“Hand in My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette

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Top 5 (Disney Week)

“Real Gone” from Disney’s Cars

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“Nobody Knows from Disney’s Pete’s Dragon

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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 Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. 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.