By: Rosanne Simunovic
Last week was a stellar opening showcase for many of the Top 12 female singers. Some of these singers gave outstanding premiere performances and indeed solidified the depth of talent in this year’s crop of female talent.
So, I waited for this night with great anticipation, wondering if our ladies could exceed their Top 12 performances or, at the very least, replicate the high standard they set during last week’s showcase.
Here are my evaluations and, remember, I am reviewing each singer in performance order. Your comments are always welcome.
GINA GLOCKSEN: ALONE
Gina- as I said last week, you have an absolutely gorgeous lower register and that area of your voice sounded absolutely radiant at the beginning of this number. It had focus and a pitch centered purity that was perfectly supported from your diaphragm.
Your upper register needed some of this technical focus and support when you entered the more powerful phase of this song. I found that your vocal timbre sounded extremely over extended and strident, probably due to the constriction in your throat.
I did, however, appreciate your efforts in trying to maintain a circular mouth formation on your sustained vowels. Your main problem is that you carry too much chest voice into your upper register, not allowing the head voice to add shine and brilliance to your higher range.
Additionally, I truly feel that this was an uninspired song choice, as it drew attention toward the weaker elements in your voice: ie: your upper range. A song that highlighted the natural beauty of your contralto voice would have been perfect at this stage in the competition. Always remember that excellence is not always about powerful upper vocals. It is, however, about choosing songs that truly reflect the depth and dimension of your unique vocal talent. Choose wisely in the future and be meticulous when you research your repertoire.
ALAINA ALEXANDER: NOT READY TO MAKE NICE
Alaina- I thought that you created great emotional impact right off the top of this number. You created a strong impression and came out fighting. Your voice sounded beautifully focused and resonant throughout the entire number. Additionally, your camera work was very skillful and highlighted your communicative abilities.
However, that being said, the song choice left a lot to be desired. The melodic line did very little to highlight the extent of your vocal abilities and, even more, your interpretive abilities lacked the ingenuity to turn this song into a showcase for your vocal talent.
The repetitive nature of this song needed to be addressed in a more artistic manner. It would have been great if you had been more inventive with the melodic line, allowing you to reach for a new twist or turn on this well known song.
Also, during the cyclic passages of this number, you did encounter some minor pitch problems. You must be ever so cautious when you sing repetitive notes, as there is a tendency for the technical support system to unravel and lose consistency. It helps to think of placing each note a little higher, so that the pitch of each successive note doesn’t flatten.
However, your performance was miles ahead of last week’s performance and your energetic and buoyant approach to this song actually assisted you in resonating your vocal sound in a more seamless manner. Great improvement, Alaina.
LAKISHA JONES: MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GEORGIA
Lakisha – you can take any train you want and I will make sure I hop on board. Your voice is like a magnet; it lures the listeners in and never fails to captivate.
You selected a great song to highlight your marvelously soulful voice. Also, I thought you paced this song extremely well, allowing the bluesy feel of this song to be exposed and highlighted with ease and comfort. Your dynamic vocal range is extremely broad and you utilized nuances very effectively when you performed this number.
It was such a change from last week’s performance and the slower paced tempo allowed you to expose another component of your performing personality. Therefore, you were very wise with the song selection process this week. Brava.
You began the number a bit on the tentative side – a product of your initial nervous energy. However, it was a testament to your level of technical expertise that you managed to remain completely focused in order to ensure the successful overall performance of this song. You allowed the technical formula to assist the vocalization process and, as a result, your vocal sound blossomed and became more resonant as the song progressed.
Great work, Lakisha!
MELINDA DOOLITTLE: MY FUNNY VALENTINE
Melinda – I am speechless. You took this very familiar, very popular classic and twisted and molded the melodic line into a vocal work of art. It was quite the masterclass in singing and, perhaps, you should be my masterclass model when highlighting the steps to correct singing and performance in these articles. (smile) .
Everything worked, Melinda – the song selection, the inventive and creative interpretation, the technical and performing skills – all of these elements were primed and concrete. This song was meticulously rehearsed and well paced throughout the showcase.
Also, this performance emphasized your innate ability to perform a wide variety of genres, as this style of singing was very different from last week’s more soulful genre of music. Therefore, this was a very intelligent, very timely song selection. Additionally, this song was also a clever choice, because you performed it on the final day of February, which is known as “heart month”.
You compressed so many vocal elements into this 90- second showcase – the beautifully sustained singing, the impeccable phrasing, the melismas interspersed with your legato line, the depth of your vocal and dynamic range. It was all there and the result was a thoroughly captivating and inspiring performance.
Finally, I loved your descent into your lower range. You “dip down” instead of up; this fact I noticed last week and I loved it. It was different than the more common ascent into the upper range and, additionally, we heard the absolute depth and beauty of that lower voice.
Loved this performance and loved you. You are a genuine and veritable artist and, even more important, a really kind and generous person. It doesn’t get better than this.
Here is a clip of Melinda’s first audition.
ANTONELLA BARBA: BECAUSE YOU LOVED ME
Antonella – as always, you exuded a beautiful presence on stage. I felt that this performance was miles above last week’s performance. Your voice sounded more resonant and you radiated a level of confidence that I felt was absent during last week’s performance.
This is not my favorite song in the world; it is very repetitive in the melodic line and the cyclic nature of the melody can cause problems for the singer. I felt this was the case in the early stages of this song, Antonella. Your voice, at times, suffered some tuning issues, as you failed to support the repetitive lower notes, not allowing a forward progression to phrase your melodic line. You have to be very aware of this inherent pitfall in this song, making certain that you are truly accessing your diaphragmatic breathing skills to support and place all of the lower voiced notation.
However, that being said, I thought the latter part of the song was effectively vocalized. You exposed your beautiful, pitch centered head tone; it was absolutely lovely and wonderfully centered. Now, what you need to remember is to incorporate some of this head tone into your lower range and not allow the chest voice to fully invade this area of your vocal range. You do indeed need chest voice for the depth of vocal sound, but head tone adds brilliance and luster to the lower part of the range and ensures a pitch -centered purity in your vocal sound.
JORDIN SPARKS: REFELECTION
Jordin – once again you showcased the maturity and sophistication of your vocal and performing style. You have an amazingly developed voice for one so young in age and experience. Your technical gifts have allowed you to expand the intensity of your dynamic range. I loved how you alternated the hushed head tone intensity of your vocal sound in the opening bars of this song with the powerful vocals that evolved later on in the number.
However, I found the arrangement to be very strict and frantic in tempo and the rushed arrangement of this song did not allow you to breathe with expressive freedom. There was virtually no space in the structure of this song for you to deeply intake air with ease and effortlessness. I think this is why you carried so much chest voice into your upper register. You didn’t have enough air to freely resonate your upper register sound in your vocal masque (facial features) and, as a result, your upper voice sounded tense and edgy.
In the future, please make certain that these arrangements are allowing you to sing with ease and comfort on stage. I was amazed that you were able to add so much color and ornamentation in this song, given the fact that you were working within the confines of a very busy and hectic background arrangement. If anything, this negative element turned into a positive one in my eyes, as it demonstrated that you have the vocal talent and ability to stay focused and allow the song to evolve in the best way possible. Good for you, young lady!
STEPHANIE EDWARDS: DANGEROUSLY IN LOVE
Stephanie – I loved your song choice and it was indeed a difficult one. However, your innate artistry and highly refined vocal ability were indeed ready for the challenge. I sense that you are a secure and confident artist, who understands her musical identity. This is so important and, given that fact that you are only 19 years of age, very admirable indeed.
Your sustained vocals throughout this very busy melodic line were impeccable and seamless. It is a given that your technical expertise is highly refined, as your voice always sounds beautifully resonant and focused in your vocal masque. The head tone element is a viable presence throughout your vocal range, allowing your vocal timbre to radiate like a jewel. Just outstanding, plus I like the vibrato, as it added a nuanced dimension to your dynamic range. Additionally, unlike many other singers, you know how to use this element judiciously, allowing it to permeate your vocal timbre for expressive dimension within your song.
That last sustained note was killer, Stephanie. The pitch-centered ring and clarity were astounding and gave evidence to the fact that you meticulously rehearsed both the choreographic and vocal elements in this performance. Nothing was left to chance and, as a result, the pacing was excellent throughout. Even though the song was extremely difficult and complex, I always sensed that you were in complete, absolute control. Brava!
LESLIE HUNT: FEELING GOOD
Leslie –this week, we saw you in your vocal element, showcasing a song that truly spoke to who you are as an artist. I was very impressed with the smooth, pitch perfect a cappella beginning of this particular arrangement. It signaled your intelligent, creative artistry and, of course, provided a wonderful contrast to the upbeat portion that followed later on in this song selection.
However, I think that, in an effort to create a fully jazz-induced vocal experience, the scat singing became a bit problematic for you. Although I suspect on another day the jazz idiomatic structure would have sounded superb, this week, it sounded very manufactured and anxious. I suspect your nerves blocked the natural flow of this element and, perhaps, you would have been wise to adopt the phrase “less is more” when adding this feature to your melodic line.
Additionally, your pitch suffered during this segment of the song, as your technical support system collapsed. Remember to keep the classical support regime front and center when singing these quick passages; all of the notes need an equal amount of support, or you will lose vocal control and/or pitch will start to falter. This is what was problematic for you this week.
However, what did work for you was your wisdom in showcasing the beauty and depth of your mid and lower range. You understand the strength of your vocal abilities, Leslie, and use these strengths wisely in the song selection process. As I said last week, you have a light lyricism to your voice that distinguishes it from the rest of the pack and you never attempt to sing beyond your vocal boundaries.
You bring a different dimension to this competition and I hope to hear more from you in the coming weeks.
HALEY SCARNATO: QUEEN OF THE NIGHT
Haley – so the Broadway baby decided to try a little R&B and it worked. You are yet another singer trying to showcase different genres of music each week. This was a very formidable performance, Haley, and your voice was brilliantly focused and even throughout your showcase.
Additionally, you moved with artistic ease and purpose on the Idol stage. I thought that the choreographic and vocal elements were beautifully synchronized and carefully rehearsed. The communicative elements during this song selection were outstanding and you worked the television camera with great expertise.
As I said last week, your vocal sound had a seamless quality and you sustained your vocal sound on the pure vowels in an impeccable manner. All of this created a confident and secure vocal sound and stage demeanor.
I can’t say that I was in love with the song selection, but I thoroughly appreciate and applaud the successful way you showcased this au courant number. However, in the future, try to select songs that really highlight the strength and power of your vocal range and avoid songs, such as this, that are have a repetitive melodic line. You have the vocal capability to perform songs that contain some complexity and layers in the melodic structure, so research your song material carefully in the future.
SABRINA SLOAN: ALL THE MAN THAT I NEED
Sabrina – you ended this week’s performance showcase with stellar artistic composure and vocal brilliance. What a voice! What a performer! Once again, you highlighted the technical dexterity of your formidable vocal range. Your voice sounded supremely even and focused throughout this song and you are, indeed, an intelligent and creative vocal artist.
Then came the ending! Oh my! That was off the radar, Sabrina. The vocal run followed by that beautifully sustained note in your melodic line was absolutely breathtaking. This is why one studies the art of vocal technique – so that you can utilize your technique in ways that were totally unimaginable before the training process.
You have great presence when you sing and you are a genuine and believable artist of great passion. Please continue selecting songs that highlight the diversity of your artistry. This is the secret to success on this or any show. I suspect you already understand this, Sabrina, as you have made wise decisions that have successfully escorted you to this point in the competition.
This was an impressive end to an impressive showcase. Brava Sabrina and I have no doubt that I will see you next week.
Your comments are always welcome.