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Top 12 American Idol Season 7 Vocal Masterclass Article: The Lennon-McCartney Songbook


American IdolBy: Rosanne Simunovic

Is there a more exciting way to begin the much anticipated Top 12 performances of American Idol Season Seven than with performances from the legendary songbook of John Lennon and John Paul McCartney? What a night!

Welcome everyone to another Vocal Masterclass season of American Idol. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be able to critique the vocal performances of these very talented 12 singers and, when you add the Lennon-McCartney musical element to this mix, then the experience is all the more delectable. I cannot for the life of me even fathom that these singers would have a difficult time finding a song to suit their vocal style and substance. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote music of consequence – extremely melodic, musically contagious and very sophisticated (classical orchestras around the world have showcased their music)

So, let`s move forward and examine if these singers did indeed grab the reins and score a surprise or a curve ball this week in their race toward the Idol crown.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.

Amanda Overmeyer, Brooke White, Carly Smithson,
Chikezie, David Archuleta, David Cook
David Hernandez, Jason Castro, Kristy Lee Cook,
Michael Johns, Ramiele Malubay, Syesha Mercado

AMANDA OVERMEYER: YOU CAN’T DO THAT
Strengths: Here comes our rocker chick –Ms. Amanda. I loved your raw, earthy voice during this number and I did indeed hear some head voice in the mix which really centered your pitch beautifully.

You maintained a circular mouth formation and relaxed jaw and throat, evidence perhaps that, behind the gritty vocals, there was some technical assistance from below the waist aka the diaphragmatic breathing muscles.

Certainly your ubiquitous knee bends were an asset to your vocal production, allowing your soft palate to be raised and your throat less constrained by closure.

Your energy was contagious throughout this song and you brought an individual artistry to this week’s showcase. Your communication skills were excellent, as you energetically took your audience on one wild ride.

The Southern take on this song was a good call and highlighted your ability to pattern songs to suit your genuine persona, while still maintaining the emotional and melodic core of the original composition.

Brava Amanda!

Critique: Amanda – as Simon correctly noted, your words were intermittently incoherent throughout this number. However, as much as I am a stickler for crisp articulation of the consonants, you have to tread a fine line between allowing your words to be clearly understood and adopting a too classical approach in the enunciation process.

Try to pronounce your vowels in a purer fashion. When you adopted the Southern drawl in this number, the diphthongs in your words really obliterated the clear communication of the lyrics. Add to this the less than clean articulation of the consonants and it is no surprise that the pronunciation of the text was less coherent.

Also, as you sing with a ton of chest voice throughout your vocal range, be mindful to continue to blend the appropriate amount of head tone to ensure a beautifully focused and even vocal timbre throughout your vocal registers. This will ensure good vocal health throughout this competition.

Good work, Amanda!

BROOKE WHITE: LET IT BE

Strengths: Brooke- yours was a beautiful and poignant interpretation of this Lennon-McCartney classic. As you accompanied yourself at the piano, your quiet and sincere demeanor never detracted from the emotional intensity of this number. In fact, the harmonic build as the number moved forward was just lovely and added to the dynamic variation within this showcase. It was just the perfect mix of acoustic piano and orchestral accompaniment – so beautiful in its simplicity.

You sang in a very real and very raw manner. Your voice had a sweet tender quality that, not only complimented your charming and genuine persona, but also spoke to the emotional core of this song.

It doesn’t get better than this. Your voice was seamless throughout this song and I fully appreciated the fact that you did not attempt to over sing or overstate the original melodic and lyrical line.

You exhibited flawless phrasing throughout this number, breathing in comfortable areas within the melody so as not to disturb the natural flow of the gentle rhythm. And the execution of that pitch centered head tone note at the end of this number was a perfect way to finalize a stellar and heartfelt performance.

Excellent work, Brooke!

Critique: Brooke – I should caution you to make certain that you are fully accessing your diaphragmatic breathing skills in a more systematic fashion. You had a full plate –playing the piano and singing – but make certain that you breathe deeply from the diaphragm so that your voice can be further stabilized in future performances.

Once in a while, throughout this performance, I heard a discernible crack in your vocal veneer and, although it added an organic dimension to the song that seemed to work, part of me was wondering if you were having problems with the sustaining process of your vocal sound.

Inflection is important when singing, but always if there is a technical support system in place to assist the process. So, keep that throat open and relaxed and curve the mouth in a circular fashion when you grab and sustain those pure vowels.

Great work, Brooke.

CARLY SMITHSON : COME TOGETHER

Strengths: Carly – you have an absolutely beautiful voice, so resonant and so secure. You exhibited stellar vocal and stage technique, moving and singing with ease and security throughout this song. The rhythmic and melodic elements of this song were wonderfully cohesive.

You truly lived your lyrics and I loved your free and creative style throughout this funky number. Additionally, your vocal arrangement was brilliant – good for you for re-inventing the wheel. Brava in fact!

You appeared to be having the time of your life, just moving about the stage in an effortless and free manner. The full power of your talent was reinforced with this new and improved American Idol stage – just a joy to behold.

This was a very well -rehearsed and well- paced showcase. Both the performing and vocal elements were perfectly synchronized and you truly looked like a star on that stage.

Excellent work, Carly

Critique: Carly – a word of caution. Although your vocal technique is quite solid, you must be very careful not to spread your mouth when vocalizing through your upper range This is something I noticed, not only this week, but also within your Top 24 performances.

A round and relaxed mouth on all the vowels is the way to go, as this will avoid undue stress on your vocal cords. Let the air do the work and let head tone rule the day as you move into your upper range.

Also make certain that your facial features, also known as your vocal masque, are open and relaxed throughout your range. Your face became more constricted and your jaw was very tense when you sang through your upper range toward the end of this song. This diminished the ringing presence of your upper voice, as it is presently hiding within the confines of your constricted throat.

You need to work on accessing your upper range in an aesthetically resonant manner, thus challenging your vocal potential to new heights.

CHIKEZIE: SHE’S A WOMAN

Strengths:Chikezie – this was one smokin’ performance and I have to admit I did not see this one coming. How I love breakout performances like this! You were just fantastic, Chikezie, and, because of your talented determination and hard work, your Top 12 performance was one of the highlights of this very competitive Top 12 showcase.

There was so much to love about this song – from the folksy beginning, where you were seated with three bluegrass musicians, to the segue where you “funked it up” big time with your rich vocals and inspired stage antics, finally ending with a strong and visible vocal presence, worthy of a standing ovation.

Your upper vocal range was produced with fine technical aplomb, reinforced by the pitch centered purity of your ubiquitous falsetto.

Now the question is: how did you come up with this entertaining choreographic and vocal arrangement? Like, Carly, it seemed like this newly formatted stage allowed you to fully expose the depth and maturity of your talent. The transformation was unbelievable.

Bravo, Chikezie

Critique:Chikezie – there is nothing to critique this time around, as the performance aspects of this song actually accelerated the technical process. The well paced, well rehearsed performing elements of this song gave way to an energetic support system from the lower body.

Now, you must carry this level of energy over to your ballads, allowing the voice to soar on the pure vowels with the same level of intensity. Your voice is a beautiful instrument and you need to ensure that you are always working to ensure that the technical process is always at the core.

Good work, Chikezie!

DAVID ARCHULETA: WE CAN WORK IT OUT

Strengths:David A. – your impeccable vocal technique is absolutely so impressive. You are so young and, yet, seem to have grasped every important element that is technically conducive to superior singing.

Add to this your innate stylistic approach to your soulful rendition of this Lennon-McCartney classic song and I felt that your performance was extremely good.

Also, I have to say that I am at odds with the judges. Even though you had problems remembering your lyrics, you moved past those moments and really worked hard to maintain focus throughout the remainder of the song.

I thought the arrangement was an excellent choice for you; it was merely compromised by the nervous tension at the beginning of the number. The evidence was still there that this was a good song choice, good rendition, good everything. I think that, under less stressful circumstances, your personal interpretation would have worked just fine.

Critique:David A. – so you forgot your words Big woop! You hopped back on the horse and really “worked it out” throughout this song. Good for you, David.

Always remember, you are not a vocal machine, you are a living breathing human being, perfectly capable of human error. The important thing is that you managed to stay in control as best you could and the second half of the song ended in a powerful manner.

So, hats off to you, and, as you work toward next week’s performance, remember to pace yourself judiciously and allow yourself the odd mistake or two. Work to the best of your ability and do not – DO NOT – allow the pressure of this competition to interfere with the art of pure entertainment.
Allow yourself to have fun on that stage. Here’s to next week and the following week and the week after that…:) Bravo David A.!

DAVID COOK: ELEANOR RIGBY

Strengths: David C. –well, the lights started flashing, so I knew that David Cook was in the house.:)

I absolutely had goose bumps throughout this song. From the quiet intensity at the beginning, to the soaring vocal energy when you entered the chorus of this song, it was an absolutely inspiring, star-making performance. You were “cook”ing, David.

The dynamic contrast provided such an element of surprise and this is why your song was such a success. You provided us with a real, genuine multi-dimensional interpretation of this great song classic and, in doing so, the song came alive. It lived and breathed.

Your superb raw rock vocals enhanced and complimented the emotional core of this song, but, still you maintained a solid technical approach. Your circular mouth formation, relaxed jaw and open facial features were impeccable and it also highlighted the confidence and determination in your face and body.

I have a feeling that you just created another live recording to compliment last week’s performance of Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello”.

Excellent, stellar work David C! Bravo!

Critique: David C. – this performance was brilliant and, apart from reminding you to keep on utilizing your rock-infused vocals in harmony with a consistently technical approach, I could not find any problem with your inspiring performance!

This is as good as it gets on this show – supreme artistry in combination with stellar vocals. Bravo.

DAVID HERNANDEZ: I SAW HER STANDING THERE

Strengths:David H. – I am not certain how much pre-Idol vocal training you have experienced, but whether nature or nurture was involved with the process, you have managed to adopt a very good technical approach to your vocal production.

Your circular mouth formation, coupled with you relaxed jaw and open facial features, stabilized the even legato quality of your vocal production. As a result, your voice enjoyed a rich and resonant presence throughout the showcase.

This was a super song selection –upbeat and fun –and I thought that the song suited your personal vocal style extremely well.

Good work, David H.!

Critique: David H. – although you adopted a nice edgy approach to this song, I thought that your mannerisms suggested that you were over-pumped from the start of the song, resulting in a very forced and almost anxious performance.

I love to see intensity in a performance at every level –fast or slow, sad or happy – but, in your case, the intensity was on overdrive. As a result you lost control of the showcase and, at times, your communicative efforts seemed less than genuine. This is through no fault of your own. I think that your nerves just did you in and that is quite understandable.

Also, the extra tension translated to your vocal projection and, as a result, your voice was poorly pitched and focused throughout this song. When a singer is anxious, it is almost a given that chest voice pushes the ringing presence of head voice off kilter and the result is a less centered, less pure vocal timbre.

Additionally, the aggressive choreographic movements superseded the vocals and, actually, pushed the vocals off balance. Always remember to practice the vocal and stage techniques slowly and judiciously, so that both compliment rather than detract from the overall performance. You must ease into a quick- paced performance and not give away too much too soon.

Hope this helps you in the future, David.

JASON CASTRO: IF I FELL

Strengths: Jason– this was a beautiful song choice for your personal vocal style and presence. I loved the fact that you accompanied yourself on guitar, as it was very reminiscent of the original cover. Good call, Jason!

There was a lovely hushed intensity throughout this song, emphasizing that you sing from an emotional core that is real and genuine. As well, you exuded a naturally charismatic presence when you performed, allowing your audience to truly believe what you were communicating through your song lyrics.

Critique: Jason – more than any other singer in this competition, you truly need to hone some serious technical skills in order to stabilize and challenge the breathing process when you sing. The song did become more secure as it moved forward, but your voice was suffering from some serious technical issues.

You looked nervous and 99% of this was the result of a lack of confidence in your vocal performance, stemming from little or no technical skills. I would be nervous too if I didn’t know how my voice was going to react from one note to the next. Technique gives you this security blanket plus ensures the longevity of your vocal gifts.

Presently, you sing with a horizontal rather than circular mouth position and there is no sustaining regimen happening when you approach the pure vowels within your lyrics. Additionally, your throat was tense – so of course your voice was not going to project as it should.

And breathe from the diaphragm – you need air to properly accomplish all of the above this. Keep your rib cage area expanded and elevated and, even if you plan to use the guitar, practice the song in a standing position, making certain that the lower body muscles are pumping and flexing the air in appropriate amounts toward your vocal cords.

I feel that you have much to offer this competition, but we are not going to see or appreciate your inherent artistry unless you hone and cultivate you vocal skills.

KRISTY LEE COOK: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK

Strengths: Kristy Lee –you exuded a lovely presence on stage and I did appreciate the fact that you attempted to stay true to your country flavoured style of singing. You lend diversity and interest to this competition and this is extremely important for the success of the show.

Your overall vocals were lovely and the head tone ending was just great. You looked like you were having a blast on stage and, given a different arrangement and different set of circumstances, this could have been a star- making moment for you.

Critique: Kristy-Lee – it was very difficult to get past the obtrusively bizarre, country-style arrangement of this song classic. The change from the original cover was just too radical and did not suit this song by any stretch of the imagination.

And that irritating percussive beat was so distracting and so wrong. It was like I was hearing a Lennon-McCartney arrangement in the bizarro world. I was in some kind of shock and denial for half of the number, then realizing that this arrangement was a “keeper”, I shook my head in disbelief.

I would be interested to know how you felt about this song arrangement. Perhaps you felt that you were lending a new twist to an old favourite, but sometimes, less is more. I feel that singing the song at the original speed, but with your own personal style, would have sufficed and certainly would have been a more credible performance.

Best of luck to you in your future performances, Kristy.

MICHAEL JOHNS: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Strengths: Michael- it seems to me that you are a very sensitive and caring vocal artist. I absolutely loved everything about this performance. You sang this beautiful number with a quiet dignity and with sincerity; no flashing lights or fancy stage moves – just a lovely and heartfelt performance.Your superior vocal talent effortlessly embraced the haunting melodic line of this song and highlighted the superior technical and artistic skills that your bring to this competition.

Vocally, you used all the correct technical skills to augment and center your voice –cementing your melodic line on the pure vowels and avoiding those messy diphthongs, maintaining a circular mouth formation and relaxed jaw and, finally, accessing the depth of your diaphragmatic breathing skills.

Additionally, you exuded a fabulous presence on stage and this, coupled with your naturally gorgeous vocal instrument, resulted in a very memorable and inspiring performance. Your vocal style, although comfortable in many genres of music, is clearly at ease when singing the classical pop genre and, given that the Lennon-McCartney music has been revered by classical musicians around the world, then you are very well suited to this style of music.

This was a superior vocal performance. Congratulations!

Critique: Michael – no critique for you. When it works, it works! Maybe a couple of the judges were bored, but I certainly was not. Your vocal gift was magnified through this song and I can only anticipate the wonderful surprises you have in store for us in the coming weeks.

Kudos and bravo!
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RAMIELE MALUBAY: IN MY LIFE

Strengths:Ramiele – this is an absolutely beautiful song –one of my favourites –and, overall, I thought the song choice for your voice was a good call.

You exuded a lovely charisma on stage; the camera certainly does love you. Also, in the latter half of this song, I felt that your true vocal potential was highlighted. You have a naturally resonant voice that I feel has been generally augmented through the correct technical process.

Critique:Ramiele – be ever so careful of your key selection in future performances. In this week’s case, I felt that the tonality of this song was situated too high. The harmonic and emotional mood of this song warrants a lower key selection and a lower melodic line would have highlighted the depth and richness of your lower range. Additionally, the lower key selection would have increased the resonance of this song by complimenting the melancholy nature of the lyrics.

Also, your nervous energy hindered some important technical aspects of vocalization, thus diminishing the full extent of your vocal capabilities.

First of all, try to remember to keep your head level with the audience and the camera. In many instances, you were “reaching down” in order to access your lower range, when in fact this was creating additional tension in your upper body.

Also, the tension in your throat adversely affected the ringing quality of your middle range, thus creating a very strident and less focused vocal quality than in previous performances.

Also, the song never achieved a forward momentum and your phrasing lacked an imaginative process that was so necessary for the slower, more sustained tempo of this song.

Also, I wish you had lived the lyrics to a fuller extent, thus communicating to your audience with increased efficiency. You were very detached and this detachment resulted in a very wooden performance and less memorable performance.

Also you stage posture exhibited a less confident demeanor than in past weeks – probably due to nerves- and this aspect most definitely affected the projection of your voice. Your breathing was severely compromised, as your rib cage was totally collapsed. You needed more expansion in this area of your body, allowing deep diaphragmatic breath support to take root.

Finally, in fairness to you, Ramiele, I have to say that the pedantic, non-imaginative musical arrangement of this song did nothing to enhance or assist the vocal process. It was just awful and, to my ear, the instrumentation sounded poorly tuned and harsh.

I look forward to seeing you progress in this competition, Ramiele. Your voice is good one but could be excellent given the correct circumstances. Now remember to breathe deeply next week and, remember – key selection is tantamount. Make certain that the melodic line of the song rests naturally and easily in your vocal range.

Good luck next week!

SYESHA MERCADO: GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE

Strengths:Syesha –this was a great song selection, but not one of the easiest. Lennon-McCartney wrote deceptively simple tunes but within this simplicity rested a level of sophistication that can create problems for the singer.

However, I am a huge fan of your vocal talent and feel that you have much to offer in this competition.

You exuded a lovely charisma on stage and you moved easily and smoothly throughout the song. You appeared to have a lovely grasp of the importance of head tone in a singer’s voice, as the ending of this song was vocally strong and showcased the perfect blend of head and chest voice.

Now, I needed more of this is in the rest of the song, so let’s jump to the “critique” portion of this article and try to sort through some of the technical problems you encountered during this number.

Critique: Syesha– right off the top, you had a great deal of trouble negotiating that wicked octave interval. And, of course, this wide interval was ever-present throughout this song and, although you did improve on handling this pitfall in the second verse, the upper note of the interval was very flat.

Your mouth was very spread when you sang the upper note on the word “there”, thus encouraging you to carry far too much chest voice into the upper part of your range. Also, the break between the lower and upper note of the octave indicated that your breathing muscles were not being accessed in the proper manner.

For future reference, try to practice these difficult intervals by connecting them through the diaphragmatic process while singing the pure vowels within your lyrics. Also, when moving toward the upper note, ease on to it very softly, making sure you are centering the pitch with crystal clear head tone and then quickly crescendo to access a louder dynamic.

Also, make sure that your mouth maintains a circular position when you sustain your melodic line on the pure vowels. This will create a seamless, even sound throughout your range and will encourage you to utilize your diaphragmatic muscles to greater effect.

See you next week, Syesha, and best of luck in the rehearsal process.

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

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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

39 Responses to “Top 12 American Idol Season 7 Vocal Masterclass Article: The Lennon-McCartney Songbook”

  1. I agree with your review. David Cook seems to have a great technical approach when singing rock music, something I never seemed to noticed with Chris Daughtry (although I happen to be a huge fan of him as well). And I also admire you for giving David A. kudos even when he messed up his words. He really does seem to have all the important aspects of vocal technique covered. And truthfully, the only person last season that had stellar technique was, you guessed it, Melinda Doolittle! Everyone this year seems to be amazing, with the exception of maybe one or two people. : )

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  2. As always, amazing review of the vocal performances. I read that the AI contestants are advised to stay off the internet but your critiques should be mandatory reading! The finalists could really make progress in leaps and bounds if they heeded your advice.

    I only know a very little about the techniques of singing. So I’m giving myself a little pat on the back because I noticed Carly not maintaining a nice relaxed, rounded mouth shape on some of her notes way back when. I agree 100% that as charming as Jason can be, his vocal technique is the least developed of all the finalists. Will he be able to gain skills in the coming weeks? If so, will it take away from his naive persona? I guess change is inevitable but I’m not sure if I’ll welcome any professional veneer Jason might attain.

    I really felt for David A. when he forgot the lyrics. I do chalk it up to nerves, no matter his professional background. He is still a kid! I am seriously going to stop reading internet reviews as the singers as really torn apart. First he’s too polished and professional! Now he’s too unformed and amateurish! Sheesh…

    Thanks again, Masterclass Lady, for your informed, critical yet positive recaps.

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  3. Erin – I have yet to listen to Melinda’s “Funny Valentine”. I truly need 36 hours in one day. I have never been so crazy busy in my life. I will download her single ASAP. She had stellar technique as does David A. But, he is so young and I just feel the stress of this competition can be difficult to handle at a young age, no matter how accomplished you are.

    Katherine – hello again and good for you for noticing Carly’s horizontal mouth. She is stretching her sound in the upper range, rather than funneling out the purity and ring of the natural head tone quality.

    I appreciate your kind words. Thanks for stopping by and voicing your opinion.

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  4. Hi Rosanne.

    Thanks for the GREAT review; as always, I really enjoy reading them.

    So we say goodbye to David H. I honestly thought it would have been Ramiele going home and therefore was quite suprised when she was “safe”.

    I am definitely eager to see how the contestants respond to the judges’ critiques next week!

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  5. I think David is remarkably handling the stress of the competition despite being so young. He is just amazing and he is one of my picks to win this season. I don’t want to see another girl winner. Jordin was good, yes, but she still doesn’t have the stellar vocal technique Melinda had or most of the contestants this season have.

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  6. Great review as always, Masterclass Lady! The only thing I’ve noticed about David A.’s performances that you didn’t mention here was his breathing – it almost sounds like he’s panting after every phrase. It wasn’t so noticeable this week, but it was during his “Imagine” and “Another Day in Paradise”. Others have said that he’s breathing through his mouth – have you noticed/can you resolve this?

    Also, next week, the contestants are singing Beatles songs once again! I hope they get a bigger list to pick from this time (they only had a list of 25 this time around), and while I’m eagerly anticipating what some will do next (Chikezie, Brooke), others need to shake off the nerves (Ramiele, David A.), but I think they’ll give their all with their second chance, especially since their spot on the tour is dependent on their performance next week!

    Looking forward to it.

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  7. Tomboy- thanks for letting me know that they will be performing Beatles’ songs once again. Now that’s a first, isn’t it? Two weeks in a row with the same artist/theme?

    Also, David A.’s breathing problems stem from his past health issues – or he could have allergies or asthma.

    He controls his air exceptionally well when he sings, so it is a problem with the inhalation process.

    He certainly has a lot of vocal and physical stamina considering his young age and previous (or present) health problems.

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  8. Masterclass lady, just to clear things up. David A. had been battling strep throat for the past week so that could have been the issue from his breathing problems. But I really don’t think he has any at all when he is well.

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  9. Oh dear, strep throat? That cannot be easy. He really should’t be singing at all. He could ruin his voice. But, I guess, under the circumstances, that is not an option. Hopefully, antibiotics will clear up the infection.

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  10. I think he is better now or it could have just been his nerves. All in all, though, he is just so amazing and probably the best young contestant to ever be on the show. No other young contestant in the past had the same kind of vocal skiils he has (not even Jordin!)

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  11. I am sorry but how can you say that David Archuleta has impeccable vocal technique, have you not seen the lip licking, heard the gasps for breath and the lisping? How can one have impeccable vocal technique while licking ones lips over and over while singing?

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  12. luvmaxine – obviously you are not a David A. fan, but anyway….

    David was licking his lips because his mouth was dry from nerves and tension. I know this from personal experience with my own students. The lisp can be a result of a very dry mouth as well. The breathing is from well documented health issues.

    The end!

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  13. Re: forgetting lyrics. I *am* a David A. fan and I really felt for him when he stumbled a bit over the words. Did you know that all the finalists recorded a “studio” version of last week’s songs? Apparently during the same time that they were working on the “live” version for the telecast? I know from experience that when you have 2 versions of a song in your head, it’s very easy to get confused.

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  14. Yes, I am sure that David A., as well as the other singers, must be quite overwhelmed now. Two versions of a song? No wonder the poor kid was confused, but I think the hectic schedule that all the singers are experiencing must be very tiring. Exciting but tiring.

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  15. Masterclass lady, my pick for the final 2 is the two Davids with either one of them winning. I really think David C. has a great shot at winning now.

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  16. Erin – maybe that is what will happen.

    But, you can’t rule out anyone yet. Still too early in the season and there will be many breakout performances with this group of singers. Time will tell.

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  17. Masterclasslady, I could not agree with you more on David A and how age may affect his nerves. He apparently forgot the words during auditions as well. He has a beautiful voice, but his age must make some of the emotional and pressure stuff more difficult to handle. So although he may be one of the best singers, he may not necessarily perform the best for this reason. I think it also merits mentioning that he did not look comfortable with the song choice, and that may have been a factor…..someone with experience, I believe, would be less likely to choose a song they are uncomfortable with.

    I think experience and age will be a factor this year. It’s very clear from watching which of these performers have a signifcant amount of experience playing live. For instance, it’s very clear that David C is the pro of the bunch. Love him!

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  18. Yes, Idolina, I agree. David Cook is going to keep everyone on their toes.

    He really was bit of a dark horse during the audition rounds, but, personally, I prefer, his style, presence and voice to Daughtry’s.

    I always thought that Chris Daughtry look detached in his performances. Not David though!

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  19. Hi MCL, if you want to check out Melinda’s My Funny Valentine, you can go here:
    http://mjsbigblog.com/american-idol-extra-david-hernandez.htm It’s awesome to see her again! And her album is gonna come out in June, can’t wait! :D

    Btw, thanks so much for your “premiere” commentary on Season 7, really fun to read your perspective on these contestants! What do you think about Ramiele and Brooke? I thought Ramiele was great during Top 24 but has lost her ‘spark’ ever since. Could the eliminations of her close friends affecting her? Brooke on the other hand just seem to shine each and every week. Do you think she has a chance to win this? It’s just that it seems the audience always love a woman who can “belt”, and it’s no coincidence that all our girls Idol winner and runner up can certainly “belt” :D

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  20. Masterclass lady, as much as I love Daughtry, I am totally going to have to agree with you about David C. He sings with a more solid technical approach than Daughtry, who often was thought to push his sound from the throat and sing w/too much chest voice. It is so important to have a great technical foundation when singing rock music and David Cook certainly has it under his belt. : )

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  21. Son of Bill Brasky March 14, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Not even going into the underlying cultural problems that AI showcases..
    American Idol is what is wrong with pop music. It’s completely over produced and fabricated. It, like so many kareoke bars, lacks soul and any semblance of creativity. The performances are consistently over the top making it a contest of who can yell the loudest.

    When will people realize they’re being sold on a inferior product? This is just mass marketing.. take someone with a decent voice (not to be confused with an actual ARTIST) and have someone write them songs, put them in a studio, and pop out an album in the short time that the AI audience can remember who they are.

    Thankfully crappy product like this usually spawns rebellion within the REAL music industry. If there’s any consolation to American Idol it’s that maybe we’ll get another Ramones, Sex Pistols, Pearl Jam or Nirvana out of it.

    Something creative, new and real.

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  22. Masterclasslady, I guess David is nervous every week because he has licked his lips on every song he has sang. Sorry, but this is something I have NEVER seen a singer do and to me it all goes to poor technique and vocal maintenance.

    You are correct I am not a David A. fan because I find him highly overrated and the lisping, breath gasping and lip licking make him both unlistenable and unwatchable.

    I used to find your analysis good, but in the past few years I am not hearing what you are apparently.

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  23. I noticed David A. doing the lip licking too and as a former singer, I have to say that it does happen! I found it use to happen to me during the “big” shows, like recitals/concerts where the pressure was really on me! It does not mean that one has poor vocal technique!

    I don’t know if you have ever heard Idna Menzel sing..she played Elphaba in Wicked when it first opened on Broadway, she also plays Maureen in Rent. Anyway, there is a performance of her on youtube performing “Defying Gravity” (from Wicked) and you can quite noticeably hear breathing…however she has incredible vocal talent…just a side note and another example of an incredible singer who sometimes has the same problem as David A.

    Looking forward to Lenon-McCartney next week and reading the reviews again…Thanks MCL!!

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  24. Thanks for the input bizzee. Nerves can be displayed in any number of ways and it doesn’t mean the technique is deficient. It is an anxiety related problem and it is not fun.

    However, as you pointed out, several singers have battled this problem and overcome it to great success. I really credit them – it is a difficult hurdle to face during a performance and, in many cases, it can be crippling.

    However, young David is still managing to keep the technical aspects at the core of his performance. Good for him – anxiety or no.

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  25. In defense of those who do not write their own music…..

    Not everyone is lucky enough to be blessed with singing and writing talent. Brilliant songwriters often need singers to sing their songs – otherwise, their songs would never be heard. Brilliant singers often need to get songs from songwriters – otherwise, their voices would never be heard.

    I do love people who can do both. And if I can feel the heart and emotion of a singer, I often find that I don’t care as much about how good they sound in a more technical way, especially when they have written the words to the song – but sometimes even when they haven’t.

    It really grates on me when people say that singers aren’t artists if they don’t write their own music, and that opinion is SO prevalent. A great singer IS an artist, because he or she still has to connect with the song and find a way to make it mean something to those who are listening. That takes artistry.

    I know that the comment above that was dealing with artistry was more directed at American Idol than at the singing/writing issue in general, but it reminded me of my feelings about the singing/writing issue in general.

    I think American Idol THE SHOW has made great strides in allowing people to show artistry. They are allowing and encouraging more and more experimentation, and that is great. There has been some regression in the aspect that they started the Top 24 with theme nights instead of allowing more freedom to choose songs. But overall, it’s so much more exciting now than it was in the past.

    I do agree that American Idol THE FINISHED PRODUCT when packaged into CDs tends to lose some of the artistry. I purchased Bo Bice’s first album, but I haven’t been able to make myself listen to it after learning that it was not what he wanted to produce. To this day, I still haven’t heard it. I loved Taylor on AI, but when I heard that his album wasn’t what he wanted, I didn’t purchase that one either. It’s so disheartening to cheer on contestants who are showing me what I want on the show and then be discouraged about their albums afterwards.

    I don’t think the American Idol concept is terrible – I love that the public gets to let “the powers that be” know what they want to hear. There are flaws, but I’ll take what I can get in this case.

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  26. Kelsey41 – I totally agree with your comments that pure vocalists are demeaned and not credited for their artistic contribution to the music industry.

    This has been a real stickler for me as well. So many songwriters – David Foster, Burt Bacharach, etc. would never have made a name in the music business were it not for great singers like Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Dionne Warwick and so many more.

    Singers should be judged on their own merit, not whether or not they can carve out and tune or two.

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  27. I’d like to add to the artist vs. singer discussion. I think ultimately it’s about the “whole” rather than the “parts”. Sometimes singers may be weak in one area, but compensate in other areas, rendering the weak stuff irrelevant. And sometimes the weak parts are just too distracting, cancelling out the good. It can work both ways. For me, someone like Jason C (who is a little more creative) just doesn’t sing well enough. So although I am biased toward the more artistic talents, I still have a singing threshold, and he happens to fall too short in the singing department for me to be a fan. In contrast, Masterclasslady, you may remember Brian Melo who although was not the best singer in CI S5, more than made up for it in artistry, charisma, stage presence and performance, making the vocal flaws irrelevant. So while someone like Greg Neufeld may have sounded better, ultimately Brian Melo was more enjoyable because artistically and performance-wise he was miles ahead of Greg. Again, it’s about the whole. Hope this makes sense.

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  28. Great contributions, idolina. :)

    I took singing lessons once upon a time, but it’s hard for me to recognize technique in other people – which is why I come here to this site. I love reading the analysis of the singers because Rosanne can pick out so many things I would never see or hear.

    Even with the things I do notice, though, I tend to be pretty forgiving. I can’t help but love Jason Castro, despite the bum notes. Although I admit that I am probably more forgiving with him because, as someone on another site said, “he brings the pretty in truckloads.” I can’t help it. ;-)

    But my musical tastes are pretty broad – I love Clay Aiken and I love punk music – and one has to be pretty forgiving regarding technical singing in order to love punk.

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  29. I always take artistry into major consideration when evaluating the singers. Very important and, yes, Idolina, Brian Melo was a great example of this.

    So was Taylor Hicks. He didn’t have the strongest voice, but was a master at interpretation. Also, he really knew how to entertain and stimulate his audience. He had great respect for the music and the listeners.

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  30. Yeah masterclasslady: Taylor Hicks was another great example. I’d throw Jacob Hoggard in there too. All 3 contestants are so very exciting to watch, even if they didn’t always hit all the notes. You just know the minute they hit the stage that you are in for a treat. Boy can they lift an audience!

    I like the fact that you take artistry into consideration (and I’ve seen you do it)! I love your reviews and have learned a lot from them. Keep em coming!

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  31. Yay, the reviews have started. I was looking forward to these. Thanks :)

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  32. I’m just leaving a message for kelsey41, regarding Taylors album. You should give it a listen if you haven’t. Taylor did have alot of input and in fact, the early reviews said at least they let him be himself more than previous Idol winners. I personally love the album, its the same feel good vibe I always get/got from him, and he was allowed to have three of his own songs on it if you count the Wal-Mart bonus. And what he did with that album in concert was really extraordinary.

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  33. Thanks, madaboutu. A lot of the reviews I had seen seemed to say exactly the opposite, so I really wasn’t sure about it.

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  34. I wonder what is happening with Taylor? I feel so bad that American Idol has not supported him. It all seems a little weird to me. He was – and is – so popular.

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  35. Taylor did not deserve to win Idol at all. It is pretty obvious that Daughtry is the clear winner of his season with his huge album sales. Taylor is practically nowhere now.

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  36. I am wary of saying that anyone does not deserve to win American Idol. Viewers have different tastes. I loved many of the men from that season. Daughtry was my favorite, but it wasn’t because I believed he was more talented than anyone else. It was because he happened to sing my favorite style of music.

    As much as I love Daughtry and am glad he got the support of Clive Davis and the record company, it does frustrate me that Taylor and many others have not gotten the same level of support.

    I think that the music industry is much too slow to realize that nurturing smaller artists can be beneficial and profitable. It’s a shame that they let former AI artists go so easily just because they don’t have multi-platinum numbers.

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  37. MCL,

    I was wondering what was going on with David A. Does he have asthma or a palate issue? Love the kid and most of his singing, but it is a bit jarring with the breathing thing.

    Chikezie was great last week – I was having flashbacks of Taylor. Speaking of Taylor, I too wish AI had supported him, but he is doing quite well without them. Made a few millions with his tour and is working on his 2nd post-AI album. He has a DVD coming out soon from the Warfield concert playing his git, piano and of course harmonica. Good stuff. Anyway, I hope Chikeze will continue in that vein, he is quite the performer.

    I like David C – a real rocker, not a poseur. I also like Brooke, Amanda (Joplinesque), Michael, Carly and Ramiele when she is “on.” Hope she will conquer her nerves.

    P.S. I am distressed to say that I am channeling Simon on the critiques. Scares me LOL.

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  38. Xena – I think he does have a medical vs. a technical breathing problem. It sounds like asthma/allerigies or it could be related to the vocal paralysis he experienced some time ago.

    Glad to hear that Taylor is doing so well. Something tells me that he will be on Idol in the future – maybe not this year- but it will happen. He does serve a wonderful purpose in the music business.

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  39. Little late to the party, but so glad to see your reviews once again this year! You critiques generally inform me why I was captivated by, neutral over, or ambivalent to a performance. So just my two cents worth:

    On Amanda: like many, she reminds me of Joplin–only I’m thinking she’s missing the head tone during most performances. When the judge’s told her that she needs to mix it up with a ballad or two, she didn’t seem to understand that not all ballads are saccharine. I felt like screaming “Bobby McGee!” Joplinesque, yes, but impassioned and sensitive. Maybe it’s Amanda’s dedication to image/age that blinds her to this?

    Chikese: blew me away with that performance. I love the tone of his voice, his energy and his attitude.

    Kristy Lee actually said on stage that she “really liked” the arrangement. You can work on technique and you can be taught to “perform”, but you can’t teach taste. To me, this is her greatest draw back.

    Wasn’t surprised to see David H. go. He was far too hyper on stage to ever do his best.

    I do wish Ramielle was a little older/more experienced; she has such a beautiful voice. I hope she lasts long enough to choose her own songs—that’s where I think she’ll shine.

    Looking forward to your next review!

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