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Mississippi residents Zachariah Smith and Colin Stough advance to ‘American Idol’ top 8

Zachariah Smith (left) and Colin Stough (right) have advanced to the top 8 of American Idol Season 21

In what turned into a nail-biter of an episode, both Zachariah Smith and Colin Stough were able to survive another round of American Idol on Monday night.

Smith, of Amory, kicked the “Judge’s Song Contest” round off with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” which he later found out was selected for him by judge Lionel Richie.

“First of all, the attitude was perfect. It was exactly what I imagined. The edge in [your] voice was incredible,” Richie told Smith afterward. “Fantastic job.”

Fans across the Magnolia State had to wait until the show’s final performance to see the second of Mississippi contestants perform when Colin Stough took the stage with “It’s Been Awhile” by Staind.

While the song choice – the only non-country song offered by the judges – strayed away from Stough’s typical genre, the Gattman resident explained beforehand why he chose the nu metal track.

“This song makes me think of home. We used to play that when we worked all the time. 4 o’clock in the morning, getting a gas station biscuit, an energy drink, and going to work,” Stough said. “I kind of relate it to the show. It’s been a while since I felt this good… We’re at a point in the competition where I need to sing songs that mean something to me.”

“I’m happy because you’re a star,” judge Katy Perry, who nominated the song for Stough, said. “You took yourself out of that box. You listened to your intuition. All we’re trying to help you do is listen to your higher self. And you listened, so stay listening.”

Following the final commercial break, host Ryan Seacrest returned with the results of Monday night’s vote.

The fifth person he announced as heading to the top 7 was Stough, leaving just Smith and three other contestants – Marybeth Byrd, Oliver Steele, and Tyson Venegas – on stage with just one spot remaining.

As Seacrest kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, he finally revealed: “The final person into America’s top 7 after the nationwide vote is Zachariah. Congratulations.”

While the judges ultimately decided to save Steele, taking the top 7 to the top 8, both Smith and Stough will be back in action when Idol returns Sunday, May 7 at 8/7c.

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