American Idol 2023 Showstoppers: Emma Busse “Chasing Pavements” into the Top 26
American Idol 2023 Showstoppers continued on Monday night, revealing the season 21 Top 26. Several dark horses emerged, including a singer who I have enjoyed from the start, but the judges, especially Katy Perry, had doubts about. That is Emma Busse. She is a musical theater graduate from Vancouver, and she illustrated that she is no joke when it came to her super impressive cover of one of Adele’s first hits. (Read our Recap)
Emma’s audition ended up going somewhat viral on Tik Tok with 1 million views as Katy attempted to shake the theater out of her which had many people, especially people in the musical theater community disagreeing. And in Hollywood, she intrigued, showing a more contemporary side, with an intricate cover of “My Mind” by Yebba. This was a good performance, but up until tonight, she had yet to deliver something that made viewers think that she could be a contender. That is, until she delivered this amazing showstopper which was in my top 3 of all the aired showstoppers.
“That’s Top 10 material”
She took on, “Chasing Pavements,” the song that put Adele on the map back in 2008. Right off the bat, Emma sang with confidence, pulling off the almost yodel-esque vocal that Adele is known for while still putting her own spin on it. It had Katy exclaiming, “that’s top 10 material” early in the performance. This was a big breakout moment for Emma as she even showed some pop-rock angst on this number. It was all topped off with a beautiful fluttery ending note.
Emma has a slight theatrical sound to her due to her past of being a theater student, but she seems to use it as an advantage as she emotes the lyrics and uses her technical prowess to combine for a very complete vocal. It does not thwart her like Katy suggested earlier in the season. She has one of the more compelling voices due to the unpredictability in her stylistic choices, by deviating from the melody.
“The fact that I’m going to be in the top 24 is pretty wild”
In the Top 24 deliberation, Lionel Richie tells Emma, “the challenge before you is to carve out your identity”. The judges tell her she is advancing to the Top 24 (which we now know as a Top 26). Emma had one of the most genuine reactions to the news, saying, “oh my god, actually.” She was in utter shock. She goes on to say, “The fact that I’m going to be in the top 24 is pretty wild.” In a full circle moment, Luke Bryan says, “she’s kind of an artist.” The judges never doubted her as a singer, but they once had doubts about her as an artist as they saw her as too theater. Emma is one to watch as the season continues.
Other than Emma, a few other dark horses emerged tonight. Elise Kristine’s “Feeling Good” and Nailyah Serenity’s “Superstar” both showcased whistle registers on classic songs and had me wondering why producers didn’t showcase them more earlier on in the season. And as always, Iam Tongi wowed with simplicity with his cover of “Sound of Silence”. This is a very strong top 26. The voting rounds will be brutal, but I’m hoping the talent continues to wow.