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American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 4 Performances


By: Rosanne Simunovic

This week, our Top 4 celebrated the music of Barry Gibb and the Bee Gees. As much I love and respect the music of these legendary performers, I just found this to be a strange thematic selection for everyone. This music is very difficult to perform as a soloist and, by the nature of their composition, present vocal and performing challenges that are difficult to overcome.

Blake, Jordin, Lakisha and Melinda really tried to add their unique and distinctive artistic spin on this periodic music and, throughout the evening, about 50% of the performances rang true and held my interest.

All in all, it was not an exciting evening of Top 4 performances. The genre was just not adaptable to the style of the individual singers.

I just wish that, at this stage of the competition, the performers could be allowed to select and perform their preferred genre of music. Personally, I am becoming tired of specific genres being shoved down the singers’ throats. Who does this in the real world, anyway? Some may be capable to sing in two or three different genres, but, in reality, a singer is marketed to a specific brand of music- be it pop, country, classical, jazz, hip hop, rock or Broadway.

Somehow I think the performance outcome would have been a different one if the singers were encouraged to showcase songs that highlighted their specific brand of music. Also, I am almost certain that the variety of song choice would have been appreciated and embraced by the viewers

Here are my evaluations and, remember, I am reviewing each singer in (first name) alphabetical order. Your comments are always welcome.

To quickly access individual singers, simply click on the singer’s link below.

Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks, Lakisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle,

Blake Lewis: “You Should Be Dancing” and “This Is Where I Came In”

Strengths: Blake – I loved the beat boxing format of both numbers this week. However, if I had to pick a favorite, your first number, “You Should Be Dancing” was absolutely the star of the show here. I just placed my pen on my lap during this number and watched the vocal magic unfold. What was there not to like or appreciate? Obviously the judges were on some other wavelength because I thought this was a brilliant and meticulous performance.

From the opening pitch centered falsetto singing- a signature element in all of the Bee Gees musical arrangements- to the additional scat and beat boxing components intermingled throughout this number, this was a very entertaining, thoroughly unique performance. My favorite vocal element was the staccato beat boxing effect in this number. It was rhythmically secure and solid. Your musicality was so palpable during this number, giving testament to the fact that you are an extremely talented and gifted artist.

As always, you moved with rhythmic ease and security during both selections, nicely balancing the vocals with the stage choreography. Vocally, however, your technique was more solid and better formulated during the first number. I found that your head position remained consistently level with the camera angle and your mouth was circular and your jaw relaxed during the sustained singing segments of this number.

Your second number, “This Is Where I Came In”, although not as successful as the first, had some special characteristics that were not as evident in the first number. For instance, the melodic line in the opening bars of this number highlighted your beautifully resonant lower range. As I said in your Top 6 performance during the Idol Gives Back showcase, you really should travel this vocal journey more often, Blake, as your baritone range is really gorgeous and begs to be developed and showcased in a more consistent manner.

And although I noticed the “head raising” issue a couple of times in the second number, I also noticed you quickly pulling your head down back into position, It was actually quite cute and made me realize that you are really trying to correct and improve on your vocal technique with each passing week.

Also, your classical approach to diction was so appreciated, particularly in the second number. It was oh so British and correct – pure vowels and classical “r” and “l” consonants all the way! Excellent work Blake. Kudos!

Critique: Blake – as previously stated, I really loved your first number, “You Should Be Dancing” and found it entertaining, creative and downright flawless. I sat with my mouth open when the judges basically trashed it. I thought they would be “into contemporary music and innovative interpretation”, but I guess I was wrong.

However, that being said, I am going to be so daring as to suggest that their comments affected the perfect ten performance of your second number, “This Is Where I Came In”. In the first number, you came out fighting; the second number, you looked defeated. Hmm – I wonder why? Additionally, your eyes lost its spark and you looked anxious, almost second guessing everything throughout your performance.

As a result, although that beautiful lower range was produced through stellar technical support, your upper range sounded very tense and constricted – certainly less open and pure than I have heard in the past.

You must always remember to keep the throat open and relaxed, allowing the powerful diaphragmatic breathing muscles to place and resonate your voice in your vocal masque. However, sometimes, all of this techno mumbo jumbo is easier said than done when you are “under the judging gun”.

However, what you must never do, Blake, is second- guess your talent and the superb skills that are so unique to your specific brand of talent. Stay positive and focused on your personal artistic mission, as I believe that you are an exclusive entity in the music business. In case anyone disagrees, when in the past six seasons of Idol, have we ever seen a performer remotely similar to Blake? I rest my case.

Share your comments about Blake’s performance

Blake Edward’s Idolforums.Com Masterclass Discussion

JORDIN SPARKS: “To Love Somebody” and “Woman In Love”

Strengths: Jordin – of the two songs performed by you this week, your first number, “To Love Somebody”, was far superior. During this song, your confident and radiant vocal timbre was a viable presence throughout this performance. You displayed the depth and variety of your vocal and dynamic range, expressively communicating the words with authenticity and conviction.

You did have some level of diaphragmatic support when you performed this number, Jordin, and managed to project your voice quite well, allowing it to resonate with a certain level of freedom in your vocal masque. Additionally you exuded a wonderful charisma on stage, moving on stage with a relaxed and composed demeanor.

Also, I enjoyed your ability to creatively mold and sculpt your phrases, subtly varying the melodic line in a way that reflected your emotional commitment to the story line. You added a distinctively new interpretative sound to this song and this highlighted the sophistication and maturity of your musical talent.

Your second number, “Woman In Love” was a great song choice, actually a better choice than the first. I did love the beautiful “piano” (soft) beginning of this song; it allowed me to enjoy and appreciate the lovely head voice that is presently buried far too often in many of your performances. That being said, you did indeed run into many technical and performing issues with this song, which I will discuss below.

Critique: Jordin – let’s focus on the problems you encountered during your “Woman In Love” performance. First of all, as I have mentioned before, your posture needed to be realigned. You must remember to elevate the rib cage so as to allow the diaphragmatic muscles room to fully expand and contract with efficiency during the inhalation and exhalation process. Your body language appeared very closed and withdrawn; you needed to open and suspend your lower body when you vocalized and provide more buoyancy in the supportive process.

As a result, your shallow breathing was, once again, a ubiquitous presence throughout both numbers actually, as you tended to intake your air by raising the chest cavity – an absolute “no-no” in vocal technique.

Also, this tension in your upper body was transferred to your face; throughout this song, your mouth was so spread – so horizontal – that it encouraged you to sing with far too much chest voice throughout your vocal register. I could truly feel the tension in your throat when you navigated the powerful upper level singing.

That beautiful head voice component that was so evident at the beginning of this song was left in the dust when you entered the forte (loud) section of this song. As a result, your pitch was really compromised, as the pure ringing quality that is essential to creating an aesthetically correct vocal sound was absent. Your power dynamics had no centre – it was “push” all the way. As in previous weeks, your overall vocal timbre was less resonant and had little ring or transparency.

Also, I think the key selection for this song was problematic – perhaps a tone lower would have been the way to go, Jordin, so as not to over tax your upper range. However, in the long run, it was mainly a technical issue of chest vs. head voice, as I believe you have quite an admirable vocal range. It just needs to be crafted and produced through the correct technical process.

Your first number, “To Love Somebody”, showed evidence of the same problems you encountered in “Woman In Love”, but to a lesser degree. It was obvious that, of the two songs, you were more relaxed and confident with the first number. Therefore, the technical deficiencies were not as problematic, given the less anxious approach to this number.

In closing, I was wondering why you didn’t choose an upbeat number to contrast with one of your ballads? I think that you needed to do this, if for no other reason, than to provide balance and variety to your Top 4 showcase. However, two power ballads in one night added immense pressure to your still developing breathing skills and, unfortunately, drew far too much attention to your problematic areas in vocal development.

Good luck with next week’s performances, Jordin! And stand tall, young lady! No more slouching!

Share your comments about Jordin’s performance

Lakisha Jones: “Stayin’ Alive”, and “Run To Me”

Strengths: Lakisha – I thought that, overall, you rendered two solid performances, although, if I had to pick a personal favorite, your “Stayin’ Alive” number was The One. What was not to like in this number? You added so many creative twists and turns during the performance of this great song classic and the result was an absolutely entertaining, thoroughly engaging performance.

Personally, I loved the relaxed tempo of this number and it was very wise to go this route, as it allowed you to balance the choreographic and vocal elements in a cohesive fashion. The song never sounded rushed – it was a brilliantly well-paced performance. Any faster, and you would have encountered some vocal and/or choreographic problems.

Also, the slower tempo gave the listener time to enjoy and appreciate the additional rhythmic creativity of this number. My favorite part? The echo effect between you and the background vocalists during the “ah, ah ah ah stayin’ alive” portion of this number. I loved this. So much fun to see and hear. It added to the entertainment aspect of this song performance and certainly made the song more interesting to the listener.

Your vocals were excellent during this number and they did “stay alive” and animated throughout this excellent performance. I though that, generally, your maintained a wonderful mix of head and chest voice throughout your range. Certainly your pitch was pitch centered and true, attesting to the fact that, through that circular mouth position, you were implementing the ringing head tone quality that is so imperative to superb singing.

Your second number, “Run To Me”, was a beautiful and inspired song choice. I felt that, through your naturally theatrical personality, the song truly soared and, despite, some technical issues toward the end of the song, I thought the emotional delivery of the song was very good indeed.

I have always loved how you “stay in the moment”, Lakisha. You truly immerse yourself in the storyline of each song, delivering the message of the song to your audience in a believable and memorable fashion. You have the ability to move and stimulate your audience and this is a gift in and of itself.

Also, I have noticed that you are highlighting that beautiful lower range and so you should. Your contralto range has a smooth, creamy texture that warms the ear of the listener. However, what is more important, it allows you to alleviate some tension and stress from your upper range, providing balance and dimension in your vocal showcases.

Excellent work, once again Lakisha!

Critique: Lakisha –I was so confused with the technical issues in your second song choice, “Run To Me”. Your voice sounded very hoarse and just, generally, “out of sorts” and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was happening. Perhaps, you were ill – a cold? Congestion? And what was even weirder was the fact that, during the performance clip at the end of the show – which is taped at the rehearsal on the same day – your voice sounded radiant and focused during this song.

So, obviously, something happened in a matter of a few hours to cause this change in your usually superb vocal timbre.

One thing I did notice was a discernible level of tension in your second number, “Run To Me”, particularly in the more powerful portions of this number. Even though it appeared that all the technical elements in the face were in place, I felt and almost heard a push from the throat. Now, whether you didn’t have the energy to access the diaphragmatic breath support in the correct manner or just misinterpreted the chest vs. head voice blend, something clearly was not in perfect symmetry for you during this number.

Vocal fatigue happens to the best, most seasoned classical artist, so it can happen to pop artists as well. This is why rest and meticulous preparation are of the essence on the day of a performance and, somehow, I can’t imagine this to be a viable option on Idol performance days.

I suspect that the stress and hectic pace of this competition finally caught up with you, Lakisha. However, I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the rehearsal performance, as it sounded like you “hit this song out of the ballpark.” A vocal home run!

At any rate, I absolutely loved watching you every week on this show and you must take comfort in the fact that you gave absolutely spine tingling, vocally superb performances each and every week. You shall be missed, Queen Lakisha!

Share your comments about Lakisha’s performance

MELINDA DOOLITTLE:
“Love You Inside and Out” and “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”

Strengths:Melinda –generally, I thought both song selections were performed with artistic professionalism and vocal dexterity. You added a distinctive touch to both of these contrasting songs and your meticulous attention to detail was so appreciated and welcomed by this writer.

However, your second song, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” was the most successful performance of both your selections this week. In this number, you allowed the depth of your dynamic range to shine in a continuous way, highlighting the multi-layered expressive quality in your voice. The contrast between the softer dynamic in the first half of this number and the more powerful resonant dynamic in the latter half was seamlessly and brilliantly executed.

When you moved into the key change and added some muscle to your voice, the song really soared, once again emphasizing the fact that pacing the level of vocal sound throughout a performance adds a more interesting component to the overall showcase.

Additionally, your vocal technique was splendid in this number and all the technical elements were beautifully implemented. Your vocal timbre was clean, pure, pitch centered and resonant, highlighting the fact that those powerful diaphragmatic muscles were part of the vocal process.

Your first song selection, “Love You Inside and Out”, was well formulated and I loved the unique flavor you brought to this song classic. I suspect that your experience as a background vocalist has really allowed you to understand the intricacies of the rhythmic and harmonic components necessary to a successful song arrangement, allowing you to blend some of these elements into a solo performance.

At times, I think we all take for granted what is happening in the background vocals and instrumentation. It really makes all the difference in the successful rendition of a solo performance. However, your knowledge and expertise in this field allowed you to easily work within the complexities of this difficult theme and render two solid vocal performances this week.

Brava Melinda!

Critique: Melinda – I really had no issues with your second song this week, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”. I thought that this was an expressive and brilliant vocal performance, one of many that we have enjoyed from you during this year’s American Idol season.

However, I do feel that you ran into some technical issues this week in your first number, “Love You Inside and Out”. First off, you seemed very apprehensive in the opening strains of this number, as your voice just didn’t have the “kick” that I usually hear when you perform. If so, then I suspect that the diaphragmatic breathing process was not working as it should, thus discouraging you from projecting your voice in your vocal masque. Your voice seemed to resonate in the back of your mouth rather than in the forward position. It didn’t penetrate the background orchestration.

Also, your mouth formation was extremely spread and very horizontal in formation. Sometimes, a singer can “get away” with this in pop music; however, in the long run, the sound becomes strident and poorly centered. I just found that your voice lacked the ringing, bell like quality that is so essential in really good singing. There was too much chest voice and not enough head voice.

Also, this mouth formation wrongly encouraged you to sustain your vocal sound through every vowel in the diphthongs contained in some of your words. This was most noticeable in the “eye” diphthong when you vocalized the word “inside” and other words that were similar in sound. In true bel canto singing, singers learn to sustain their vocal sound on one pure vowel in the diphthong – the first – which, in this case is the “ah” vowel”. Also, by sustaining on the pure vowel, you will ensure that the head tone element is central to the overall vocal dynamic, thus ensuring a ringing, aesthetically pleasing vocal timbre throughout your vocal range.

However, all in all, both showcases were obviously well prepared and well rehearsed. You are a joy to watch every week and I congratulate you on your great success during this year’s competition.

Share your comments about Melinda’s performance

For all the latest American Idol News, visit SirLinksalot: American Idol or the American Idol Official Site

Your comments are always welcome

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About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

44 Responses to “American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 4 Performances”

  1. Another great article. I wonder if the Idols know about your site; if not, the producers should definitely point them to it!

    I am pleased that you liked Blake’s first performance as much as I did, because I was getting quite disillusioned after hearing the judges’ comments and reading people’s opinions about it. Almost everyone seems to think it was his worst night and that he is overusing the vocal acrobatics. To me the latter is similar to Paula’s ridiculous comment to Melinda that she should “throw her technique away”.

    Thanks again for the wonderful insight!

    Like

  2. Kworb – not sure who reads this, excpet those of you who post comments. haha.

    I was not liking all the Blake bashing. Just another game Idol was playing. What can you do?

    He will be a signed artist. though. No doubt about it.

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  3. I have never responded to you before, but I read all the time. :) I too, amd so glad you gave Blake the kudos he deserved. I was appalled at the criticism he received from the judges about his first performance..and it REALLY affected his second performance. I was beginning to think I was crazy for enjoying it so much. Thank you!

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  4. MCL, I love your critiques each week. I look forward to hearing your comments about each contestant.

    I strongly agree with you that this week gave the singers poor song choice and really limited them. I hope they never do another Bee Gees week!

    I guess I just don’t appreciate Blake’s style. To me, the beat boxing was distracting. I find him very appealing, but I don’t enjoy the “vocal acrobatics.”

    It is pretty evident that The Powers That Be have chosen Jordin to win this year. I hope the others have a fair chance.

    And, I couldn’t believe Paula’s comments to Melinda, either. Throwing out the technique?!!

    Anyway, thanks so much for your knowledgeable remarks every week.

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  5. I think the judges are aware of this site. How could they not be? After Melinda sang “There Will Come A Day” Simon told her “that really was a vocal masterclass”. I’ve heard the masterclass comment several times from the judges.
    Blake is interesting and different but I don’t think his voice is that strong.
    Lakisha made the mistake of singing songs from previous idol winners (the kiss of death). She also consistently ignored the advice of the guest mentors. Jordin has beautiful voice and the youth appeal.
    I think Melinda rightfully deserves to win but I wouldn’t be surprised if Jordin does.

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  6. I’m so tired of hearing people say Lakisha ignores the mentor’s advice! Can’t anyone see that she is edited to appear that way? Sheesh.

    Even if she did – and I could give you exampleso of where she did NOT – what would be the harm in going with her instincts? They spend all of TEN minutes with these people! And Blake has ignored them all, including Bon Jovi who hated his arrangement. Barry Gibb told him to do Jive Talkin’. He didn’t. So why does Lakisha have to have the “she ignores the mentors!” thrown at her all the time? It makes her sound like such a diva, when she is actually a soft-spoken and intelligent woman.

    She’s a gifted, classy lady who went out with true sass last night. I’ll miss her.

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  7. I, too, will miss Lakisha. I thought Blake performed very well Tuesday night, although his performances were not as exciting for me as the Bon Jovi performance was. He was still solid, though. And I LOVE his creativity and applaud him for it. I was also shocked when the judges trashed his first song.

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  8. MCL, I always look forward to your reviews. Thank you for taking the time to write this, especially with the tough week you are having.

    I appreciate your balanced reviews–and thank you for letting us know the positives and negatives of those contestants the judges only seemed to bash.

    I was not surprised by the judges’ put downs, though, as I outlined in my post in the discussion thread.

    Thank you for helping us focus on the singing!

    Like

  9. Sorry about the “test” post. I’m having trouble posting for some reason.

    I’m so so glad that you liked Blake’s performances. I really felt for him. I honestly felt like the judges showed their lack of knowledge about music when they gave him such awful critiques. Yes, they’re big into pop music, but I would appreciate an attempt to understand that some people might do things a bit differently than a typical pop artist. From what I understand, Blake came from the underground music scene. I guess I would have thought the judges would have at least understood that or had more of a clue about what type of artist Blake might be.

    Related sidenote: This article makes me giggle and smile. All these underground musicians in Seattle are voting for Blake! http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/artsentertainment/2003697258_blake08.html

    I was especially frustrated with Randy for saying he doesn’t need to beatbox every song. Blake hasn’t been doing that! And wasn’t it Randy who told Blake at the beginning of the competition that he should beatbox MORE?

    I just feel awful for the guy. He has NO CLUE how the judges will receive things at this point, I’d bet. He was innovative with Motown, Bon Jovi, and the Bee Gees, and the judges hated three of them and loved one of them. It’s got to be confusing for the guy.

    I’ll admit, these performances weren’t my favorite – but goodness…..Bee Gees songs are GROUP songs. What a horrible theme choice. I was happy that Blake did the falsetto – it rang true, considering it was Bee Gees night. And it’s interesting to hear his innovation – it’s neat to watch someone be creative on stage right in front of you, you know?

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  10. Ok, I don’t know why I can’t get my long messages to post – but lets try a short one.

    Glad you liked Blake. I’m really feeling for him right now. He’s in a tough spot.

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  11. SUCCESS! Finally.

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  12. Randi – I have had trouble with the longer comments and I have no idea why. They are caught in my spam folder, so they are easy to retrieve, but, obviously, your comment is not spam material at all. It’s so weird.

    Anyway, I will delete your comment without the Seattle Times link – I think that link is important and thank you for being so persistent in finally getting your comment to appear.

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  13. zazzy – thank you so much. The writing was actually therapeutic. My dear friend Franca always said to me “Carpe Diem” Rosanne – maening: “Seize The Day”.

    She always lived her life to the fullest – spiritually, intellectually, personally.

    I love her so much – she was my greatest champion – always beamed about “Rosanne and her music”. You cannot find a better friend than that anywere.

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  14. Don’t most singers implement some sort of chest/head blend as they sing past the passaggio? I’d think it would be virtually impossible to sustain such a high pitch in pure chest voice. Beyond a certain point, isn’t there always SOME head resonance incorporated, even if it’s just a small amount? I know I’m frequently told that I’m singing in chest voice when I in fact FEEL the resonance shift higher up in my body, as to the head. Is it possible that poor breathing and posture is throwing off the “cycle of air” and causing me to constrict my vocal cords, thus giving it a very “chesty” sound? I also have a problem of sustaining the “mix,” so I feel that I sometimes have to overcompress my cords so as to keep the connection. I notice that problem in Jordin Sparks as well, and it’s especially evident with all of the subtle “breaks” in her voice as she transitions from pure chest to a coordination of chest and head. That’s something I can identify with. I’ve noticed in Carrie Underwood, as well as Jessica Simpson in the song “I Wanna Love You Forever.” Can you explain this?

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  15. I know absolutely nothing about the technical aspects of singing, i.e., head/chest, etc., but what I do know is that I find the obvious breathing by Jordin very distracting. So even though she has a beautiful voice and seems like a lovely girl, she’s definitely not tops on my list.

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  16. Thanks so much! I thought maybe it was the link that was messing it up, so that’s why I tried posting without the link.

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  17. Melissa – you are correct. Poor posture realy affects breathing. If you allow your rib cage to collapse, then the air supply is diminished, causing you to tense your throat muscles in an effort to push out the vocal sound.

    You do indeed need a mix of both chest and voice, but, the higher you sing, the more important it is to add head voice to this area of your range.

    It helps to sing sustained notes in your higher register – first by starting with a piano(soft) dynamic and then adding more sound -from the diaphragm of course -to this softer, “headier vocal sound.

    Make sure your piano vocal sound is pure and resonant – placed in the higher area of the vocal masque – and then increase the level of sound (adding chest voice) from the diaphragm without disturbing the placement of the original sound.

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  18. 3. Melinda
    2. Blake
    1. Jordin

    I love Blake – I’m an a cappella guy too – but I’m thinking Jordin will take it all at this point. She has the best voice of the three.

    As for why they chose a Bee Gees theme: Who knows? But, if they didn’t have themes, then everyone would do stuff that they personally liked and/or what would get them the most votes, which inevitably would turn into some combination of the current stuff (hip hop, alt rock, etc.), which requires little vocal talent whatsoever. They need the themes.

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  19. Thank you so much for the fine critique of Blake’s performance. I thought perhaps I was crazy because I thought they were incredibly brilliant. I think he is the most creative talent ever on the show.
    I think the judges are playing terrible games with these fine young talents. They are told to be unique then get put down for it (Blake). Some are praised for choosing mature material(Jordin), then told the material is too mature(again Jordin).
    It was obvious to me that the studio audience loved Blake’s You Should be Dancing and I think that set off the judges, sometimes I think this whole show is far more scripted than they admit,

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  20. The Final 3, Melinda Doolittle, Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis have a busy weekend ahead.

    Season 5’s #3 contestant, Elliott Yamin will also be on hand Wednesday to perform. That’s gotta be sweet, ’cause a year ago he was eliminated from the competition at 3rd place. Thank you TPTB for finally bringing back an Idol to perform on a results show. That will make up for being force-fed Simon’s X-factor winner, Leona Lewis, who is also slated to perform on Wednesday. Bleah.

    -snip-

    WOO for Elliott!

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  21. Robert – had to retrieve your comment form the spam folder. It certainly is not a spammy comment and many bloggers here at WordPress.Com are experiencing the same problems.

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  22. jordin ROCKS and she should totally WIN this competition
    huge fans,
    mikaela & jess
    phx arizona

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  23. I agree. Choosing their own genres would showcase their true talent. Remember though, this show isn’t really about finding the next super star, it’s all about entertainment.

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  24. Thank you for the reply. Yes, I have no trouble applying the “mix” in the piano dynamic, but my troubles start when I raise the soft palate to secure a “louder,” more resonant sound. I especially encounter a lot of difficulty singing on the “eeeeeee” vowel and sustaining a resonant quality at the same time.

    Also, is my lack of a smooth transition from “chest” to “head” causing me to overcompress the air as I try to sing into the mixed coordination? At this point, I feel that is the only way for me to sustain my middle voice. As a result, the quality of my tone sounds very “closed” and constricted when I apply it.

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  25. Okay, I’m going to be the bad guy here, and I’m sorry for that.

    I have no musical talent beyond my ability to play a kazoo with tremendous mediocrity, but I can appreciate a good performance, and I can tell a “star” when I see them.

    IMO, Blake should win the contest by a mile. He won’t, but that’s how it works out. He has been original in all cases, and even though I generally don’t like the beat box thing, I often sit spell-bound when he does it. He will be signed, and I think he will be big. He is easily the most dynamic and versitle performer out there.

    Jordan, (who will probably win), is a solid performer, and I’m sure she will move on to be the most powerful and successful Idol yet. She is young, vibrant, pretty (without affectation), and she has some good pipes. The world won’t be any worse off with her instead of Blake as the winner.

    Lakisha, (this is where everyone starts checking the rottenness level of tomatoes) should have been gone a few weeks ago. She is not as good a singer as several who went before her. I put her in the same group as Fantasia Barino, who gets by on the pity of those who see a young, single mother, who enjoys singing, and is somehow “beating the odds”. I’m even more glad to see her gone after seeing comments attributed to her that her focus now is on getting a (record) contract and buying a house. This is a personal issue, but I would have expected her focus to be on spending some time with her child, maybe even buying a house so her child could have a comfortable place to grow up. I’m sorry that the most appropriate opportunity to make mention of her child was ignored.

    Melinda is a great backup singer. Technically, she is a good singer, but there is a difference between a backup and a star. The fake humility and astonishment that they “really like her” was tiresome from the beginning. All one had to do was see her face when the judges actually offered criticism (weak though it was), and one would see shock that they would be so presumptuous. She felt that her method was the best out there, and if they didn’t get it, that was their fault. All of her songs sound exactly the same. She is boring. The judges were her biggest downfall. By not offering any real criticism, she got lazy, and needs to go.

    Overall, the judges really owe it to the contestants to not play king-maker. I thought that the reason they were on there was to critique the performers on merits. Each of them has experience in successful music careers, but from the first day, they annointed Melinda and Lakisha to go all the way, and have cost better performers their 15 minutes. They do it every year, but this is the first that it really irked me.

    Of course, this is all my completely uneducated opinion. Sorry for the long comment, but I couldn’t keep it inside any longer.

    Thank you for the venue to vent a little.

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  26. Blake is the only one that I would actually pay to go see in concert. The other women are all good, but don’t have that special uniqueness about them like Blake does. Plus…lets face it…the boy is sexy.

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  27. About the genres–Ken Warwick (executive producer of AI) in an interview with TVWeek ( http://www.tvweek.com/executiveBriefing.cms ) said outright that one reason for the genres was to catch contestants out–basically, they do this so that contestants will look bad. Sigh.

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  28. rereader – why am I not surprised?

    This Bee Gees theme was a suicide mission for the singers. It just does not work – at all – for soloists. Really difficult to pull off.

    I think this time, AI did not do ANY of the singers any favors and the show suffered another credibility issue once again this season.

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  29. Will – great comments, although I really think Lakisha is a tremendous singer. She needs to find her “place” in the music industry 0 be it Broadway or cabaret. She is so theatrical and dramatic and these genres would work well for her.

    And Melinda is quite amazing. I think that she is so good every week, that everyone has become complacent with her performances.

    I love her and she really researches her music so as to present a classy and professional showcase.

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  30. I hope melinda comes out of this ok, they really are pushing her harder than the other finalist. From EW.Com

    Was Bee Gees week nearly as good as anyone thought it would be? Hell no! Blake beatboxed our ears till they hurt, Melinda left us feeling flat, Jordin failed in her effort to take on on Babs Streisand, and LaKisha…well, as we know, things went bad enough to send her packing. Let’s hear what Idol’s musical maestro Michael Orland has to say.

    ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I thought Bee Gees week would be the absolute high point of the season. What went wrong?
    MICHAEL ORLAND: Bee Gees week looked a little better on paper than it did in reality, when it came down to it. I thought the show would be really fun, but once the judges started with their negative comments, it brought everyone down. The kids came out there almost defeated. You couldn’t please Randy this week. I thought it wasn’t as bad as they made it out to be.

    I was surprised that out of all the songs in the Bee Gees songbook, those were the ones the contestants chose to sing. Did LaKisha really have to do ”Stayin’ Alive”?
    With LaKisha, it had to do with her lack of knowing any of those songs. Yeah, everyone got a three-CD set in advance, with the 50 best Bee Gees songs on it. But she had no frame of reference with any of that music. She struggled a lot with those song choices. She changed her mind a lot. And then Barry Gibb told her not to change the key, and she did, and she wasn’t sure about it. When you’re feeling not as secure about a song, you flounder back and forth about what to do. Plus, something happened to her outfit at the dry cleaners.

    Really? Because I thought she looked her best all season this week.
    Yeah, I’m a big, huge LaKisha fan — I have been since the beginning. I’ve seen what she can do more than she even shows it on TV. She was the one from the whole group who was more secretive than any other. She realized it was a competition. People would say, ”What are you singing?” and she wouldn’t tell anybody. She was nice to everyone, but secretive. It was great. She was in it as a competitor. I hope some great, big things will happen for her.

    I almost never agree with Paula, and yet I understood what she was saying about Melinda needing to do a ”wow” performance. What’s your take on that?
    Since day one, Melinda gives 150 percent every week. I had that conversation with her right after the performance. I said, ”I thought that was great.” She said, ”I don’t know. I gotta give more.” I don’t know what else she can do. She’s had nowhere to go…because she started so high up.

    I just wonder if she needs a performance like Blake’s ”You Give Love a Bad Name” to get her to the finals. Does she need to get out of her comfort zone?
    She’s done all different styles of music and I’ve never seen her out of her comfort zone. It’s crazy how she can sing anything. When Paula said that to her, my initial reaction was ”I get it. Maybe she does need it.” But then I was like, ”I don’t know what else she can do.” She’s great and she started out great. We’ve watched other contestants grow and change. They’re all up to where Melinda is as a performer now, but they’ve become that, whereas Melinda started that way.

    You worked with Jordin this week, so you must have been disappointed to hear the judges pan her rendition of ”Woman in Love.” Do you agree it was off-key?
    When we were watching it back, I was like, ”It wasn’t off key!” I don’t get it. I think she was tired. They were feeling like maybe she was pushing it a little bit. That is a powerhouse song, and at the dress rehearsal we were like, ”Oh my God, this girl is out of the ballpark!” But it’s a long day on those Tuesdays. Maybe they picked up on her fatigue. I thought it was definitely her night, though. She picked two really great songs.

    Could you believe it when Barry Gibb predicted she would be ”one of our greatest female recording artists”?
    After she did ”To Love Somebody” with Barry Gibb at rehearsal she was all teary-eyed because she was so moved by his reaction to her singing. He was blown away, especially because it’s a male vocal [with] a male vibe.

    I was so annoyed that, after a stellar performance during Bon Jovi week, Blake felt compelled to beatbox through not one but two songs this week.
    I think he would probably agree with you, now that it’s over. Maybe he had such a great week on Bon Jovi week that he opted to do it. That second song he picked [''This Is Where I Come In''] — maybe one of the most obscure Bee Gees songs — I thought he did a great job with it. But maybe he felt like he needed to give it his treatment for people to respond.

    Was Barry into the Blake rendition?
    Barry was into it. He loved that Blake was doing that second song. I guess it was the title of one of their albums and they wanted it to be a hit and it wasn’t. He was excited that Blake could do it and make it a hit.

    So this week the finalists are doing three songs each. How do you prepare them to conserve their energy and voices?
    They definitely learn how to conserve. But for the first run-through, they sing it out to test it so the sound people know how big the song is going to get. And during dress rehearsal they have to sing it out because the recap clips [at the end of the show] come from there. Beyond that, you have to make them be quiet. These three are in it to win it, though. Any one of them could be in the finale, and any one of them could win. All three of them have huge groups of people into them, and all three of them are completely different performers. Now it’s just high drama. I wouldn’t go to Vegas right now to bet on anyone.

    You’re working with Jordin again this week. How are you both feeling about her judges’ choice song?
    I thought it was an interesting choice. We took it and made it work for her. At first she was like, ”Really?” But now I love it and she loves it.

    So you’re feeling good about Jordin’s chances?
    Let me just say that I don’t know what will happen. Any of them deserves to be in the finals, but I don’t think I’ll be out of work before the end of the season.

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  31. Your blog is great!

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    You can get it listed by checking out Blog Potato’s Blogroll.

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  32. Just want to wish you and others a “Happy Mothers Day”! MCL, you do such a fine job of reporting. I have learned so much about singing from your written words!

    I feel the producers want Jordin to win and it is becoming more obvious with each passing week!

    Take care.

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  33. Does anyone know why Michael Orland is working only with Jordan this week? Seems they all could benefit. And, I’ve listened to Blake’s latest performances repeatedly. They’re really good. And, I thought he sang the national anthem beautifully on Friday. He’s so talented and humble. I think Simon mistakes his quietness after a critique for arrogance. All you have to do is watch videos of his appearances to see what a sweetheart he is. Also, did you notice how he opened the door for the girls as they were entering the theater on last week’s show. And, how he rushed to help LaKisha down the steps. He’s a gentleman, like Elliott. Chris and Taylor didn’t open doors for Kathryn last year. Melinda and Jordan are wonderful singers, and are very likeable. But, Blake is so talented all around, and he’s the one whose albums I’ll buy, and whose concerts I’ll attend.

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  34. MCL, do you think Melinda is a Mezzo-soprano or a true alto?

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  35. Supposedly Blake, Jordin, and Melinda are going to be guests on the Leno show tonight (May 14). AND supposedly Taylor Hicks is going to perform.

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  36. Dear MCL,

    I just found a web site which lists the following judges song choices for the three finalists:

    Simon has chosen “Wishing on a Star” by Rose Royce for Jordin Sparks.

    Paula has chosen “Roxanne” by The Police for Blake Lewis.

    Randy has chosen “I Believe in You and Me” for Melinda Doolittle.

    If these choices are correct, what do you think of them?

    Like

  37. elaine – thank you so much. I heard Jordin’s song and did not like it at all. I will have to listen to “Roxanne” and “I Believe In You and Me” (I think I know this song – it’s great for Melinda).

    I will definitely DVR Leno tonight -that sounds exciting and it will be wonderful to see Taylor again.

    Chris – I think that Melinda is a true contralto. She sings more consistently in that area of her range, but she has mezzo -soprano range – just doesn’t really use it as effectively as she does her contralto range.

    Kari – thanks for the Mother’s Day wish and your kind comments.

    Sherry – do you know who will be coaching Blake and Melinda? Seems strange that Michael Orland is only working with Jordin, but, maybe they are bringing in three separate coaches/arrangers for the singers.

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  38. MCL – I don’t know who’s helping Blake and Melinda. I only know that from what I’ve read and heard, Jordan seems to be the only one he has coached this week and last. It now occurs to me that perhaps he’s helping her with the arrangement of her song(s). Blake does his own, and maybe Melinda does as well. That would explain why he would work with one and not ther other(s). I just hope that they’ve all been given the same opportunity for assistance. I see more and more how the producers are pushing for a Jordan win. Don’t know if they have an in with TV Guide, but their cover of the Top 3 has Jordan in front of Blake and Melinda…literately.

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  39. Melinda was absolutely amazing on How Can You Mend a Broken Heart!!! The second part of that song was INCREDIBLE!!! After that performance, I STILL don’t understand why she didn’t win. I couldn’t imagine anyone else winning this past season except Melinda. She is my favorite contestant ever.

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  40. This past week Melinda finally finished the vocals on her CD! All of that happens quickly then we will see her CD on shelves this Fall! Also, keep your eye out for her first official single that should be hitting airwaves in the coming weeks. Melinda is going to be throwing a lot of music at us in the coming months so get ready!
    New website to support Melinda Career. http://www.mdstreetteam.com come join us and get to the forum to read what Melinda have to say. She is a amazing singer.

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  41. Melinda Doolittle’s Debut Album Coming Back to You Drops 2/3/2009 – Listen to her Single “It’s Your Love” at http://myspace.com/MelindaDoolittle

    A release date has been set for her upcoming album. Coming Back To You will drop on February 3, and it promises to be an eclectic mix of blues, classic R&B and jazz.

    The first single, “It’s Your Love” will be released to radio soon.
    Keep updated about Melinda’s career at melindasbackups.com

    Coming Back to You by Melinda Doolittle (Audio CD – 2009)

    Available for Pre-order. This item will be released on Jan 27, 2009.
    at Amazon.com

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    [...] American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 4 Performances By: Rosanne Simunovic This week, our Top 4 celebrated the music of Barry Gibb and the Bee Gees. As much I love and […] [...]

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