‘American Idol’ Fans Are Surprised to Discover Top 3 Finalist Colin Stough’s Past

Can you believe American Idol is almost over? It feels like the 2023 season just started a week ago, and we’re already down to the final three contestants who are gunning to win it all! Each week, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie guide the aspiring musicians, and viewers are continually shocked by the talent each one brings to the table.

One such competitor making waves this season is Top 3 finalist Colin Stough, joining Iam Tongi and Megan Danielle in the coveted spots. Folks first met him in the season premiere, while learning that his mom was the one who signed him up for the show. As she stood outside of the audition room, the Mississippi native quickly surprised the judges with an acoustic version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” Bryan loved it so much, he declared that the 18 year old is “what American Idol is about.”

Fast forward, a few months later, and Stough has the ability to succeed 2022 winner Noah Thompson and become this year’s winner. Apart from his musical talent onstage, folks still want to discover who he is away from it.

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While TV-goers know Stough primarily as a country singer, he wasn’t always one. Before he auditioned for the series, he worked at a local burger joint in his hometown of Amory, Mississippi. What’s more, he was employed alongside fellow contestant Zachariah Smith, who was recently eliminated on American Idol after being in the Top 5.

‘American Idol’

'American Idol'

In addition to working in the fast food industry, Stough was busy carving out a music career in his own way. He uploaded his first cover of Chris Stapleton’s “Cold” on TikTok in November 2020, and it amassed over 15 thousand views. He quickly garnered a large following on the app, with close to 300,000 people keeping up with his unique takes on tunes from the likes of Elvis Presley and Luke Combs.

Speaking of unusual musical twists, Stough keeps wowing the judges with his versions of pop and rock songs. For his Top 12 performance, he countrified Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and caused a visceral reaction from the judges. What’s more, he performed Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket” for the vocalist herself, giving her “chills” when she was a guest judge in early May.

“I did not see that coming,” she told him after his performance. “You brought the lower kind of, inward looking, and then built it up to this big bombastic beautiful mess. So, beautiful work.”

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Just like the judges’ reaction to his covers, Stough got a similar taste when he shared that he’s releasing new music. On April 11, he revealed on Instagram that his new single “Bad Day” was officially out on all streaming platforms. He also made sure to thank everyone who supported him on his unexpected journey.

“My song Bad Day is now out!!!!! ON ALL MUSIC PLATFORMS!!!” he wrote. “I told y’all I would get it done and I did thank you guys so much for all the love and support!!!!!”

Despite all of his recent success, Stough is still humble about how he got to the position that he’s in today. He mentioned so in a new video posted to TikTok, expressing his gratitude to fans who have voted for him throughout his trajectory on American Idol.

“Thank y’all so much for the support and love that I’ve gotten through this American Idol journey,” he said in the clip. “Let’s hope to keep it going, go to the Top 3 and get to come back to the ‘sip and play a little show!”

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Editorial Assistant

As the entertainment and news editorial assistant for Good Housekeeping, Adrianna (she/her) writes about everything TV, movies, music and pop culture. She graduated from Yeshiva University with a B.A. in journalism and a minor in business management. She covers shows like The Rookie, 9-1-1 and Grey’s Anatomy, though when she’s not watching the latest show on Netflix, she’s taking martial arts or drinking way too much coffee.

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