Country duo Sugarland joined pop artists like Andy Grammer, Luis Fonsi and Train's Pat Monahan on American Idol on Monday, sharing the stage with the show's contestants for a pair of duets in the Top 24 round.
Appearing first with 16-year-old country singer Layla Spring, the duo's Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush traded time on "Stuck Like Glue," a sunny 2010 anthem to forever-young romance. Spring's raspy vocals and bubbly stage antics stood out, and so did her effortless delivery of the song's reggae-rapping bridge.
"How much energy does she have?" Nettles asked after the performance.
The show's celebrity judges agreed, with Katy Perry advising "Layla Spring, you are springing full of joy, and I think that's kind of the making of a star – someone who has both talent and personality – and you've got it."
Later on in the night, Nettles and Bush returned to sing "Stay" with vocal powerhouse and Pittsburg native Gabby Barrett, giving the emotionally complex cheater's ballad a vibrant new spin. With stunning close harmonies that played Barrett's brighter sound off Nettles' deep-soul timbre, the rendition provided judges with a lot to like.
"I don't know if we've seen somebody today nail it from top to bottom, and you didn't miss one thing," said Luke Bryan.
"I know exactly what it's like to sing with Jennifer," added Lionel Richie, who sang with Nettles for his 2012 Tuskegee country album. "You can almost follow the dots, she walks you right through it. It's one thing to follow the dots, it's another thing to hit the points."
Five singers were slated to be sent home, though, and ultimately Spring was one of them. Barrett will stay on, and the round of 24 continues next week. Sugarland's first single in six years, "Still the Same," is out now, and a new album titled Bigger is expected on June 8th. The duo will embark on their Still the Same Tour beginning May 25th in Augusta, Georgia.