By: Rosanne Simunovic
The Top 8 female singers finalized this segment of the competition with their artistic flourish and professionalism. It has been an exciting competition among the females, as their collective talent showcased their eclectic, musically gifted and technically proficient vocal ability during the majority of their performances over the past three weeks.
I hope that all of these talented young vocalists enjoy future success, as their career advances through the experience they gained by their participation on American Idol Season Six.
Brava ladies! Standing ovations all around!
Here are my evaluations and, remember, I am reviewing each singer in performance order. Your comments are always welcome.
JORDIN SPARKS: HEARTBREAKER
Jordin – you may be only 17, but you have been a vocal dynamo during these semi-final showcases. This week, your confidence and maturity combined with your stellar vocal talent were highlighted in this great song selection. You exuded a memorable charisma on stage and your natural vocal timbre was rich and powerful.
You commanded the stage, Jordin, and your communicative skills were excellent throughout this performance. You moved easily and skillfully on the stage and displayed great passion and conviction throughout this number.
However, be very careful to keep your technical skills at the core of each performance. I found that you were pushing too much chest voice into your vocal production, thus putting great strain on your vocal cords. This is a very busy, very aggressive number and it was easy for you to become overwhelmed with the percussive nature of this song. The chanting, repetitive nature of the melodic line encouraged you to “let down your guard” when applying your technical skills.
Also, your mouth formation was very horizontal throughout this number, thus preventing you from vocalizing your louder dynamic in a technically efficient manner. The circular formation adds focus and pitch centered beauty to your vocal sound at every dynamic level, so don’t abandon this important technical element in future performances. You do have the skills and the knowledge, so try not to abandon them when singing up-tempo selections such as “Heartbreaker”
Additionally, similar to last week’s performance, you encountered some pacing problems. However, last week, it was due to the rushed nature of the background accompaniment. This week, I felt, you adopted a frantic pace right out of the gate, not allowing yourself any room for growth during the course of this number. As I have said to many singers over the years, practice your fast paced songs at a slow tempo, thus allowing yourself time to solidify and refine the vocal and stage technique. I can assure you that, by doing this, you will gain more control and feel more composed when singing these rapid song selections.
SABRINA SLOAN: DON’T LET GO (LOVE)
Sabrina – as always, I loved the charismatic presence that you exuded during this song selection. You possessed a wonderful sense of style and confidence during this showcase, something that I have always come to enjoy and respect from each of your performances.
Here comes the “however” part, Sabrina! Like Jordin, I felt that you were vocalizing far too much chest voice in this week’s song selection. Your voice sounded very tense and very over extended and was lacking the inherent beauty and radiance of the head tone element. Always remember that the louder dynamic levels within a song must contain the appropriate balance of head and chest voice.
Additionally, head voice ensures stability in the tuning throughout your melodic line, something that was slightly problematic in your showcase this week. When your voice is produced in a forced, less resonant manner, the sound becomes harsh and then the pitch loses its core and sounds less true and accurate.
Also, similar to Jordin’s comments, practice these fast numbers slowly and methodically, in an effort to refine and hone your technical and stage skills. It really helps to slow down the process, allowing you time to think about all the performance elements, thus allowing you to pace yourself accordingly.
Finally, be careful of your song selections, Sabrina. The first two weeks, you selected great songs; however, this week, the song was not very melodic and I feel this less structured melodic line encouraged you to sing in a technically inefficient manner. You have excellent vocal skills and are capable of so much more than this song was able to showcase.
ANTONELLA BARBA: PUT YOUR RECORDS ON
Antonella – right off the top, I have to say that I loved this song selection. It was refreshingly current and I thought that, stylistically, the song suited you to an absolute “t”. You exuded a relaxed and poised charisma throughout this song selection and I have come to appreciate your natural ease and composure throughout this competition.
Vocally, you have a beautiful, lyrical vocal quality that just works so well with the slower or mid tempo numbers. You generally incorporated the head tone element throughout the melodic line of this song and, wisely, exposed the smooth and creamy texture of your mid range voice.
However, at times, your technique wavered, particularly when you moved into your higher range. Your voice sounded forced and lacked clarity and focus. Therefore, make certain that your access and utilize the diaphragm in a consistent and disciplined manner when you sing, incorporating head tone to ensure a lustrous and radiant vocal sound.
Artistically, this performance needed more refinement and, more important, more genuine passion. I thought that you appeared tentative throughout this song and didn’t fully internalize the poetic emotion of the lyrics. As a result, the song never really moved forward to create an emotional impact on the audience.
I always tell my singers to recite the lyrics expressively, in an effort to work on the communicative elements in the lyrical structure of a song. Singing is, after all, sustained speech, and you must learn to add nuances and inflection in your singing voice, as you would when you speak the words.
Best of luck, Antonella.
HALEY SCARNATO: IF MY HEART HAD WINGS
Haley – this was an absolutely superb song choice. It was very evident that you had rehearsed this song in a very meticulous and disciplined manner. I thought this was a stylistically excellent performance, showcasing the refinement of your technical skills.
Additionally, the ascent from your lower range into the upper range was negotiated in a smooth and seamless manner. You know how to balance head and chest tone, as your voice sounded radiant in every area of your vocal range.
You have great instincts as an artist, I feel, and know how to select songs that will highlight your distinct and unique vocal skills. And, oh yes, I loved the Broadway vibrato that you judiciously exposed in your upper range. For me, it added a distinct and unique timbre to your voice while at the same time adding nuance and dynamic variation to your vocal sound.
However, one final note before I sign off here: make certain that you consistently maintain a circular mouth on all your vowels. This will ensure the correct placement, focus and resonation of your vocal sound in your vocal masque.
Good work, Haley!
STEPHANIE EDWARDS: SWEET THING
Stephanie – your lower register voice sounded superb and fabulous in the opening bars of this number. The hushed intensity at the beginning of this song contrasted beautifully with the more passionate and louder dynamics later on in this number. This utilization of nuances in a vocal performance adds dimension and interest to a successful showcase, and you understood this concept extremely well, Stephanie.
As in previous weeks, you incorporated great style and artistic passion into this week’s performance. You commanded the stage with artistic confidence and really strived to communicate the lyrical message of the song. Brava!
However, you encountered some technical problems along the way and, frankly, it surprised me. I always felt that you possessed wonderful technical skills. However, this week, for whatever reasons, you were singing in a technically inefficient manner. Your chest voice was too prominent throughout your range and you were pushing your vocal sound beyond the capabilities of your vocal gifts.
Noticeably absent was the pitch centered ring and clarity of the head tone element that has been a vital part of your previous performances. As a result, your pitch was compromised and your voice cracked under the pressure at various points in this song. Perhaps anxiety was factored into this week’s performance. This emotion can wreak havoc on the vocal cords, causing you to over sing and over compensate in an effort to cope with and bypass the nervous energy.
However, overall, you are a strong and committed performer, with unbelievable potential and promise. Good luck, Stephanie!
LAKISHA JONES: I HAVE NOTHING
Lakisha – this song has been performed numerous times on Idol, but I thought you added your own signature to this very authoritative song. You thrive and blossom when you sing these very passionate, very dramatic songs. You truly internalize the lyrics and vocally proceed to tell a story in a believable and genuine manner. Your emotion was so intense and so convincing and your voice wrapped around the melodic line in a compelling and confident manner.
Technically, despite the slight show of nervous energy, you were in perfect control. Always present was the circular mouth formation as you sustained those pure vowels, thus allowing the melodic line to flow freely and easily throughout your range. There was a seamless, smooth quality to your vocal timbre and the head tone component was a viable presence throughout this song.
You paced this song extremely well, Lakisha, allowing it to unfold in a disciplined, yet heartfelt manner. You truly understood how to “live in the moment” when you performed, as you never sounded rushed or panic stricken when showcasing this song.
Finally, that sustained “piano”(soft) head tone note at the end of your song was the icing on the cake. I wonder if anyone realizes how difficult it is to sing softly, after such a powerful dynamic sound. Not easy, people! It requires great control and focus.
Lakisha, you possess all of these elements and more and I wish you great success in your future performances. Select wisely and leave nothing to chance. Brava once again!
GINA GLOCKSEN: CALL ME WHEN YOU’RE SOBER
Gina- the rocker chick is alive and well and living on the Idol stage. Obviously, this was great song choice for you, Gina, as it addressed and revealed your artistic vision as a performer. You sang this song with obvious joy and comfort, while at the same time, exposing and challenging your vocal ability. Therefore, you picked the right song at just the right time in this competition. Good for you!
Your technical support appeared to be very good at the beginning of this song. Despite the frantic pace of this number, you were obviously attempting to secure many components that are vital to stellar vocal technique – the circular mouth, the relaxed facial features, the sustained vowels etc.
However, you encountered some problems as the song moved along that, unfortunately, affected the tuning of your voice. Like so many other performers this week, you carried too much chest voice throughout your range thus affecting the inherent natural beauty and clarity of your vocal timbre.
Even though you were trying to keep the facial features relaxed, you were pushing the sound from your throat, not allowing the strong and powerful diaphragmatic breathing muscles to support and resonate your vocal sound. In the future, try to remember to keep the throat open and relaxed and you will surely have no choice but to correctly support your voice from the diaphragm.
MELINDA DOOLITTLE: I’M A WOMAN
Melinda – thank you for making my job easier this week. Once again, you gave a powerful performance and emphasized to all of the listeners why you are one of the front-runners in this competition. You know how to select songs and you have proven to be superbly comfortable when performing a variety of genres and styles.
Once again, the song selection was totally diverse from last week’s performance and, as a result, the viewers have come to appreciate the elements of surprise and excitement in each of your performances. Expect the unexpected when Melinda sings – this should be your anthem!
You were a convincing, well rehearsed bundle of talent on the stage this week and the contrast between your “on stage” and “off stage” personality brought a smile to my face. However, I am not surprised. Often times the singers who are the most shy and timid in social settings, are absolutely and totally in their comfort zone while on stage. The stage is your home, Melinda; this statement is transparently obvious.
Your stage technique and vocal technique were excellent. You obviously have worked very hard to secure and refine your stage and vocal skills, so continue to be meticulous and studious when choosing and rehearsing your song selections.
Your comments are always welcome