Alex Miller and EmiSunshine Stay Country on ‘American Idol’ Stage With Johnny Cash Duet [Watch]
American Idol's Hollywood Week continued on Monday night (March 22) with its Duets Challenge episode, bringing contestants together in pairs to perform for judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
Two of this season's country-leaning hopefuls — Alex Miller and EmiSunshine — stayed in their comfort zone, selecting Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line" for their duet and delivering a faithful rendition of the country classic, despite the fact that Bryan had previously encouraged them to pick a song that would stretch them a little more as performers.
In his feedback after Miller and EmiSunshine finished their performance, Bryan gave the pair "kudos" for sticking with a song despite his doubts. "You were getting pushback on 'Walk the Line' because American Idol wouldn't do you any good if we don't push you," Bryan explained.
Still, he went on to say, a Cash cover was low-hanging fruit for the two artists, who have both already proved their skills in classic country to the judges.
"Alex, you had Johnny Cash knocked out of the park when you were eight years old, I would imagine," Bryan continued. "I wanna see what Alex Miller morphs into. So throw us a curveball. Pick a pop song. How you play this thing, you're gonna become a legitimate artist and not just the kid from Kentucky."
Bryan then offered praise to EmiSunshine for the power and personality she brought to the duet. "If we can just iron out some of that vibrato, you really carried a lot of that performance," Bryan noted. "Your high end made it a lot more exciting. He could have overpowered you, and you went toe-to-toe with him."
Despite the critiques, the two contestants' duet was enough to carry them through to the next round of the show. "With all that said, country little bumpkins, you're going through to the next round, both of you," Bryan concluded.
Monday night's installment of Idol follows the Genre Challenge performance, during which Miller performed bluegrass classic "Freeborn Man." Though EmiSunshine auditioned for her spot on the show with an out-of-genre song — Hozier's "Take Me to Church" — the singer has a long history with the country genre, even appearing on NBC's Today back in 2014 as a then-9-year-old yodeling sensation.
American Idol airs on Sunday and Monday nights on ABC at 8PM ET. After wrapping Holllywood Week, the show will move on to its Showstopper/Final Judgement rounds on Sunday, March 28.
Where Are They Now? Country's Biggest American Idol Stars: