American Idol Season 7 Top 7 Vocal Masterclass: The Music Of Mariah Carey


American IdolBy: Rosanne Simunovic
The Top 7 singers performed exceptionally well this week, and, on a couple of occasions, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the performances. I thought Mariah Carey was absolutely wonderful with the singers, providing constructive and positive support to all of them.

It cannot be easy to work with this year’s crop of vocalists -they are so diverse in style and substance. So I highly commend Mariah Carey for her fine work with these singers. I think that all of them flourished under her guidance and advice

Brava Mariah!

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.

Brooke White, Carly Smithson,
David Archuleta, David Cook
Jason Castro, Kristy Lee Cook,
Syesha Mercado

BROOKE WHITE: HERO
Strengths: Brooke- first of all, I absolutely loved your song choice. I have coached a few singers over the years in the preparation of this song and have always found the lyrical and melodic elements of this song to be very challenging for the artists. I think that we take for granted how truly talented a singer must be to correctly interpret this inspiring song classic.

Generally, I felt that the emotional elements of the song beautifully complimented your sincere and genuine demeanour. I always enjoy watching you perform at the piano – I feel that the combination of piano and vocals lies in your veritable comfort zone.

Additionally, the key selection of this song highlighted the strength and presence of your mid and lower range. You have always been very meticulous in ensuring that the melody line is absolutely perfect for the inherent strength of your singing range. Good for you!

This was a lovely performance, Brooke. Thank you for singing one of my favourite “Mariah” songs.

Critique: Brooke – oh dear, where to begin. Well, I guess at the beginning, where I noticed that your breathing was extremely shallow and very emaciated. The audible gasps for air accentuated the fact that you were inhaling in an ineffectual manner, not allowing the diaphragmatic breathing to take full effect.

Therefore, because the diaphragmatic breathing muscles were not properly accessed, you exhibited extreme tension in the throat, signifying that your vocal projection was being controlled from the muscles in your upper body rather than the stronger and more effective support from the diaphragmatic breathing system located within your rib cage and back muscles

In addition to and because of the ineffective breathing process, I could hear a strong push from the throat in the vocalization process. This problem continued throughout the song, actually worsening as the song progressed because of other problems that you encountered during this performance.

Then, when you hit the bridge of this song, you ran into greater difficulty. As you were vocalizing into your upper singing range, the lack of technical support became more evident. Where you needed to access the pure, pitch-centered ring of head voice in this area of your singing range, you were forced –literally and figuratively-to carry the full complement of chest voice.

The result was a reedy, poorly focused vocal, one that did not in any way resemble the natural timbre of your lyrical singing voice.

Add to this, the problematic incidents in your piano accompaniment (misplaced chords and incorrect notation) and the combination noticeably increased your anxiety level to the max. Your panic was evident in the increased tempo of the song, a sort of “I want to get this over with” decision that overtook your thought process. This accelerated tempo caused the final portion of the song to unravel and that was truly a shame.

Always remember to remain calm and “in the moment” – because mistakes inevitably happen in any performance; you have to make split second decisions on how to handle the faux-pas – and then move past it. As a performer, you must remember to stay in control and just perform. It’s not easy, but meticulous attention to detail in the rehearsal process will tremendously heighten the confidence level.

And speaking of the piano accompaniment, I noticed that you were playing block chords throughout the entire song. I think this stilted piano accompaniment impeded the natural flow of this song. It would have been more beneficial to adopt an arpeggio-like style in the piano accompaniment, thus initiating a forward momentum to the entire song presentation.

If an orchestra was supporting you, then, perhaps, the linear chord progression would have been fine, as the orchestral background would have filled in the musical gaps.

However, with a pure acoustic piano accompaniment, you needed to adopt a rhythmically fluid arrangement on the keyboard, one that would have also encouraged and inspired you to sing with creative passion and artistry.

Also, I was also wondering if you devoted a generous block of rehearsal time on the technical support of your vocals? Apart from your work with Mariah Carey, did you practice this song away from the piano or did you always rehearse while seated the piano? I suspect the latter statement was true.
Both instruments – voice and piano – needed your undivided attention – so that you could focus on the areas of difficulty that need to be refined and/or corrected. Always remember that excellence is in the details and there is a plentiful supply of details in any song performance.

Preparation is key here Brooke, as it will allow you to approach your future performances with confidence and assurance. You have much to offer as an artist, but you must make certain that you are adopting a structured approach in your rehearsal regime. This will allow your vocal artistry to grow as it should.

Best of luck next week, Brooke!

CARLY SMITHSON : WITHOUT YOU

Strengths: Carly – I thought this was an exceptional song choice for you and I loved and appreciated the breathtaking nuances you vocalized throughout this lovely performances. You produced a crisp, resonant timbre throughout your range and this important vocal aspect, combined with your outstanding technical ability, allowed you to present an exciting showcase that glimmered with vibrant scope and dimension.

The gentle bending of the melodic line in the opening section of this song was just beautiful and added to the depth and beauty of your lower and softer vocals at this stage of the song.

Additionally, your vocal artistry was further punctuated by the brilliant 8ve jump in the melodic line when you sang the heartfelt refrain: “Can’t live, if living is without you etc.” It colourfully highlighted both the seamless, even quality of your vocal range from top to bottom, as well as your exceptional ability to retain the head voice component throughout your extensive vocal range. As a result, your pitch was immaculate and centered. Good for you!

As observed in last week’s performance, I noticed that your mouth retained an increased circular position, coupled with a relaxed jaw, when you vocalized through your upper range– a technical element that is showing vast improvement with each passing week.

This signifies that you have been working very hard to refine this technical component and, boy, does it ever make a difference in the timbre of your upper vocals! The clarity and transparency is significant. Gone is the strident and abrasive vocal sound from previous weeks.

And the purity of your vocal timbre beautifully complimented the pure, raw emotion you displayed during this performance. It was heartfelt and real and you exceptionally demonstrated that you are more than capable of internalizing the emotional components of this- or any –song. The communicative elements in this number were stellar.

Also, your fashion makeover appearance was more refined this week and I cannot tell you how much of a difference it made in the overall presentation of this performance. You exuded star-quality and professionalism all in one lump sum. It was quite the transformation, so do not modify this new stylistic direction. It was just perfect!

Brava on a brilliant and well rehearsed performance!

Critique: Carly –last week, I wrote a detailed critique for you but you flipped it around on me this week! It just goes to show how things change on this show, depending on song choice, level of fatigue and stress, technical advancement, correct stylistic choices – physically and vocally etc.

I thought this was a gorgeous performance and, apart from the fact that, yes, your mouth did wander over to the horizontal side at times, you truly presented a strong showcase brimming with artistic style and substance.

I hope that you continue to rehearse in this meticulous manner and I suspect that you most definitely will. You have a strong and powerful career ahead of you and a voice that will lend itself to a variety of musical styles.

Kudos Carly!

DAVID ARCHULETA: WHEN YOU BELIEVE

Strengths:David A. – the first thing I noticed when you began this song was your strong and distinct articulation skills. Even while singing within the restricted confines of your lower register, you made absolutely certain that the words were clearly understood. The consonants were crisply articulated, allowing you to initiate a springboard motion toward the purely sustained vowels. This was an important technical component that never faltered throughout this showcase.

And what a showcase! You planted your feet firmly on the stage, one foot slightly ahead of the other, and made certain that your knees were very relaxed, especially for the more dynamic singing that was yet to come. And, when that moment did arrive, your high range once again sounded so fortified, so brilliant, indicating the proper resonation of your voice in the masque (facial features).

And need I say anything more about your stellar mouth formation? It is a constant in each of your performances, always round and ready to grab and sustain those beautifully pure bel canto vowels.

I also liked the fact that you walked forward in a relaxed manner while singing the opening strains of this number. Not only did this increase the communicative aspects of this performance, but also the gentle movement energized and freed your body. This is a great technique that all singers should utilize. It prevents the occurrence of a stiff and rigid deportment that can, obviously, hinder the correct vocal projection.

And where did that falsetto come from? Thank you Mariah Carey! It was wonderfully supported –crystal clear, similar to the vocal sound you would hear in a young treble voice. Never lose this pure head tone element, David. It furnishes your voice with its distinguishing ring and clarity, while at the same time ensuring that your pitch is beautifully centered and true.

This was such a multi-dimensional performance in so many ways. Your ability to alternate the sustaining elements with the outstanding classical runs highlighted the depth of your technical skills and demonstrated your flawless, meticulously rehearsed ability to incorporate a multi –layered texture to this song.

Finally, I loved the arrangement of this song, as it so beautifully fortified the “believe” emotion, thus encouraging you to be fully immersed in the soul of this song. You displayed the most passionate singing to date, adding a rawness and grit that I haven’t seen in previous performances.

Through this performance, your technical skills were only surpassed by your genuine and heartfelt emotion – and that is saying a lot! You took quite the artistic risk with this song and it paid off in a huge way.

The final result truly resembled a classical-pop style of vocalization that afforded an exciting glimpse of what the future holds in your development as a vocal artist.

Bravo David and congratulations on a stellar artistic showcase!

Critique:David – as I mentioned last week, you still possess a youthful airiness to your sound when vocalizing in your baritone range – all within the normal developmental limitations for a young male voice.

This vocal problem will diminish with time and practice; as your body develops, so will your voice. Your vocal instrument will grow with you and the natural timbre of your voice will become deeper, more resonant and lush.

However, at the beginning of this song, your breathing was more audible than in previous weeks, indicating that your air intake was not as deep as it should be. It appeared that you were inhaling from your chest cavity instead of utilizing the proper diaphragmatic breathing apparatus located below your waist.

Perhaps the airiness in your lower range was compromised because the air was escaping with the vocals instead of supporting the vocalization process. Only when the diaphragmatic breathing muscles are properly inflated and then slowly released will the support process be truly effective.

Shallow breathing from the chest will not only close the throat cavity but also will result in wasted air, so be careful that you consistently access the diaphragm for the lower and/or softer sections of your song material.

However, overall this was an absolutely stellar, consummate performance. Kudos once again, David!

DAVID COOK: ALWAYS BE MY BABY

Strengths: David C. –as I listened to and watch you deliver another distinctively stellar performance, I came to a sudden realization: You always manage to harness the emotional center of a song and then musically expand from this center to find exciting new dynamic levels in the song’s basic harmonic and melodic structure.

You took this Mariah Carey song and artistically shaped the original musical sculpture, creating a 21st century replication of the original model. This requires intelligence, creativity and, most of all, courage, because an artist is at definite risk when he takes on the challenge of arranging an original song by an extremely famous artist like Mariah.

Nevertheless, the song gained new life through your superb interpretive ability and was delivered in a confidently passionate and expressive singing style. This was indeed a significant performance and the technical pros or cons became less important as the song progressed. This performance was about creating a musical memory that could and would stand the test of time.

However, this week your vocals were indeed back on track and I could see and hear the open quality of your vocal projection. Back in full force were the relaxed jaw and circular mouth formation, as you grabbed the vowels in your lyrics with a renewed sense of tenacity. Good for you!

The vocal technique was superb and it honed and crafted your voice to achieve remarkable depth in this performance. Your voice still had traces of fatigue when you were singing, but your technical foundation was your saving grace. I suspect that, like so many of the other singers, last week’s Idol Gives Back three-day extravaganza greatly exhausted your natural resources.

Hopefully, you will be able to pace yourself more evenly as this season quickly approaches its final weeks. Bravo, kudos, bravissimo and more, David Cook!

Critique: David C. – I am pleased and proud to grant you a critique-free Vocal Masterclass evaluation. I thought the artistry far surpassed any vocal flaws that were evident in this week’s performance.

I felt very comfortable knowing that you were vocalizing with a more disciplined and accurate technical approach. However, watch that fatigue does not impede the energy necessary for powerful and consistent support from the diaphragmatic breathing muscles.

Warm-up your entire body before you sing. Sit-ups to strengthen the abdominal muscles are extremely beneficial, as is some kind of aerobic activity, such as running, power walking, cycling or swimming (the absolute best)

I do look forward to your performance from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s songbook. There is a plentiful supply of musical goodies from which to choose, so enjoy the ride and see you next week.

In closing, I have to say that I was deeply and enormously touched by the poignant vision of your courageous and loving brother in the audience. What a special memory for the entire Cook family. Please know that my thoughts and my prayers go with you at this very difficult time.

JASON CASTRO: I DON’T WANNA CRY

Strengths: Jason–you are full of surprises aren’t you? Technical issues aside, I thought this was an extremely good performance this week. I loved the relaxed calypso-styled vibe in the arrangement of this stellar song choice. It encouraged you to perform with a comfortable and genuine demeanour, thus creating a more pronounced visual and aural presence throughout this showcase.

I thought your singing was extremely expressive, brimming with a variety of nuances and speech-like inflection. There was a wonderful forward momentum to the entire performance – a comfortable ebb and flow within the melodic structure – that accented your high degree of relaxation throughout this showcase.

Visually, you were absolutely “in the moment” and, while watching you, I sensed the direction that your musical inclination will follow as the years unfold. You are truly a throw-back to a simpler time in musical history, very acoustic and intimate in your artistic delivery.

Quite frankly, I welcome and embrace this folk-style revival, simply because the musical center embraces the pure vocals of the singer and his or her ability to establish a strong rapport with his or her audience.

You established this palpable connection with the audience this week, Jason, and in doing so, many of your vocal deficiencies became blurred in the process. This is not to say that you should ignore the technical development of your singing voice –on the contrary.

However, in the end, a memorable showcase always boils down to the art of performing with sincere conviction, one that establishes strong communication with and respect for your audience. Therefore, in this respect, you were truly successful and I congratulate you on your excellent work with Mariah Carey this week. Kudos!

Critique: Jason –last week, I gave you a plethora of technical advice for you to follow. So, I welcome you to click back to last week’s performance and continue to refine the technical problems that are adversely affecting the full extent of your vocal ability.

As you are presently immobilized in the earliest stages of your vocal development, I sincerely hope that you do yourself the important favor of finding a strong vocal technician to harness the true potential of your singing ability. You have a very good vocal instrument living inside your young body, but it needs to be developed and protected as methodically as an athlete would do if he or she wished to expand his or her potential as a runner or swimmer.

Natural talent will only take you so far. You need to develop a more disciplined and structured approach in the development of your vocal range. By doing so, you will increase the possibilities of your vocal artistry, creating more expansion and diversity in your stylistic approach.

Presently, your biggest problem lies in your poorly defined breathing skills and this is being further aggravated from the tension in your mouth and jaw. Only when your mouth retains a circular position and the jaw feels relaxed and free, will you be encouraged to breathe more effectively from the diaphragm.

Until then, you will continue on your rocky road in your vocal approach, pushing the vocal sound forward from your upper body muscles – particularly your throat – thus increasing your chances of causing permanent harm to your vocal cords.

Once you sense the liberating effects of supporting your vocal sound from the diaphragm, you will kick yourself for not pursuing this approach earlier in your career.

However, you are still young, Jason, so make certain that you attempt to open up your vocal sound in the correct fashion – if not during a performance, then in the rehearsal process.

It takes a long time for the technique to become ingrained in any singer, so be patient and continue to work hard. The more diligent you become in breaking those bad habits, the more progress you will notice in the coming weeks.

Good luck next week, Jason and, as I said last week, drop your jaw!

KRISTY LEE COOK: FOREVER

Strengths: Kristy Lee –once again, you selected the perfect song for this performance, highlighting the unique strengths in your vocal delivery. This song contained an anthem-like component in the lyrical and melodic structure, something that has worked so well for you in past weeks.

Throughout this compelling performance, I became conscious of the fact that you are exceptional at delivering the powerful musical statement behind these signature songs –from God Bless the USA to Martina McBride’s Anyway and, presently, to Mariah Carey’s Forever.

As in previous weeks, you transmitted this song with conviction, lending credibility to the fact that you are a very intelligent young performer with strong musical instincts, very much in touch with the emotional core of each and every song you perform.

Vocally, you exhibited a wide range of dynamics throughout this song. It was beautifully expressive and meaningful.

And again, your consistently elevated posture not only complimented the strong delivery of this performance, but also assisted you in accessing the full extent of your diaphragmatic breathing skills. Your exceptional breathing skills were wholly accented toward the end of this song, when you carried your final phrase with sustaining brilliance, allowing your voice to freely resonate in your vocal masque.

To me, this was the highlight of the entire performance – it took me by surprise, but what a pleasant surprise to receive at the close of this song. You left nothing on the stage when this showcase was completed – you sang with passion, with stellar vocal ability, with sensitivity and with grace.

This was just a beautiful showcase, Kristy. Congratulations!

Critique: Kristy-Lee –thanks to the excellent observation of one of my faithful readers (thanks KatharinesMom), I noticed that you maintained a slight elevation of your chin when you performed this week and in weeks past.

Therefore, make absolutely certain that you keep your chin level with the audience. By raising your chin, you are actually causing tension in your throat muscles, which is never good of course, and, additionally, we lose eye contact with you while you are singing. A singer communicates with her/his eyes, so we need to fully distinguish the emotion in your eyes when you sing.

Also, by elevating the chin/head, you diminish the forward projection of your voice, as some of the vocalizing moves upward instead of forward toward your audience.

Also, as I said last week, make absolutely certain that you are enunciating you consonants and supporting your voice with energy and momentum when vocalizing within the softer/lower part of your vocal range.

If I may quote from last week’s critique: Don’t save your energy for the louder and higher dynamics, Kristy. You have to ensure that the diaphragmatic support is as energetic and as buoyant in the softer/lower sections of your melodic line as in the louder/higher segments.

Additionally, you have to spin those consonants crisply and cleanly on to the vowels, thus ensuring that the words are understood and/or expressive at every dynamic level.


Also continue working on the correct position of your mouth when you sing. You possess a very bright vocal timbre, one that allows you to sing with pitch-centered security. Lots of head voice in your vocal mix, so you are one lucky lady! However, the circular formation of your mouth will add necessary depth and color to your voice, allowing you to discover further nuances when you explore the dynamics of your voice.

Additionally, the round mouth and relaxed jaw combo will allow your breath support to work to full efficiency. Your voice will enjoy even more freedom than you are currently experiencing.

However, I was still so moved by this wonderful performance, Kristy. I wish you only the very best in your musical career. It has been an immense pleasure to evaluate your performances each week!

SYESHA MERCADO: VANISHING

Strengths:Syesha –you presented a very sophisticated and complex bluesy rendition of this Mariah Carey classic. As always, you challenged your vocal gift to go to places that were truly remarkable. Your vocal delivery was exceptional and you beautifully instilled a multi-dimensional format throughout this showcase.

No one can challenge you on the high standards you have generated in the artistic components of any of your songs. This week, as in past, you established yourself as a consummate artist, bringing impeccably rehearsed musical and stage skills to this performance.

Your upper level vocal turns on the word “vanishing” were brilliantly executed and were truly the highlight of the song for me. It was different from the usual ascending and descending runs we normally hear from singers and, therefore, added an element of artistic surprise to the entire performance. I loved it! Do it again! (smile)

However, the relaxed and haunting mood you established at the beginning of this song was just perfect and provided such an unbelievable contrast to the louder, passionate dynamic vocals midway through the song. You paced this number extraordinarily well, Syesha, and I always sensed that you had full control of the many musical components in this number.

I also loved the controlled intensity you established when singing within your lower range. Unlike some of the other singers this week, you managed to support this area of your range extremely well, while, at the same time, to articulate the lyrics with clarity and sensitivity. Good for you!

Once again, this was a strong visual and aural performance. Congratulations once again. Bravissima!

Critique: Syesha– as I said last week, you must be very careful to maintain a circular mouth formation. This week, especially when you increased the dynamic level in your voice, your mouth position moved to that extremely inefficient horizontal position. As a result, I thought that your upper level singing was compromised.

Spreading the mouth only encouraged you to add far too much chest voice into your vocal mix and your overall upper level vocals sounded less centered, lacking clarity of focus. Additionally, you lost full support from the diaphragm, as the throat muscles were far too active in the vocalization process.

You really have to make certain that you ease into those dynamically strong phrases – allowing the head tone to center and purify your vocal sound. Otherwise, you will encounter pitch problems and lose the inherent beauty of your natural vocal timbre.

However, I did detect a hint of vocal fatigue, very understandable of course, and this aspect quite possibly hindered you in accessing the full support system located in your diaphragmatic breathing muscles. You need energy to sing with true efficiency and, under these very stressful circumstances, it would seem like an impossible situation to overcome.

In the end, though, the artistic merit of this performance truly impressed me. Hopefully, you can power nap in between rehearsal sessions and refuel your energy resources to the max! Good luck next week, Syesha!

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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

42 Responses to “American Idol Season 7 Top 7 Vocal Masterclass: The Music Of Mariah Carey”

  1. Great review, as per usual, MCL!!

    I can’t help but wonder if Brooke had been singing away from the piano, if her technique would have been much better? I just think that Mariah’s songs are so difficult to sing, that you almost need to be away from accompanying yourself and just focus on the singing aspect–although I could be completely wrong.

    I love how you encourage David C to exercise those abdominal muscles…I honestly would never have thought of that..but of course, it makes sense! (something for me to keep in mind as I try to find my singing voice again–I had it a long time ago, but unfortunately, just got away from singing it!)

    One another really strange note…I can’t believe I have just realized that David and Kristy-Lee have the same last name…oh where oh where have I been???

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  2. THanks Bizzee. I think Brooke should have performed this song without the piano. On the other hand, her vocals are not strong enough for this song. You need outstanding breathing skills and she is really green in this area of technical development.

    Yep – two Cooks! haha.

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  3. I think Brooke & Jason are going to be in trouble next week w/the theme being broadway songs simply b/c they don’t have big enough voices to tackle them. The others should have no problem if they pick good songs.

    On another note, I noticed David Cook also did the knee bend when going into his upper range…seems to be a great technique indeed. : )

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  4. If the theme is Broadway songs (rather than Andrew Lloyd Webber songs), then both Brooke and Jason might bear in mind that Sondheim wrote a number of songs specifically for singers who had less-than-strong voices, like “Send in the Clowns”…

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  5. No, the theme is just Andrew Lloys Webber songs.

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  6. Thanks again for the great insights into the singer’s technical styles. It’s very obvious who has had prior vocal training and who has not……..but those who haven’t are learning and will have the chance to improve. I can see every one of these finalists recording a CD with radio-friendly songs. It’s a great and talented group. Still believe the final will be David vs David and that is going to be such an interesting choice as they are so very different.

    I’m glad they will all have the chance to work with Andrew Lloyd Weber and although it’s Broadway, there are plenty of songs Brooke and Jason would be able to sing well. I’d love to hear Brooke sing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar, for example.

    As always I enjoy your thoughts, this is one of my favorite American Idol websites and I have been reading since Season 2. :)
    Terry

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  7. It’s nice to read that the “rasp” I hear in David A.’s voice is airiness due to his age. Yay, no vocal stress! I also thought his falsetto was an unexpected surprise, in a good way. Talk about taking a risk- attempting such a jump on the AI stage and succeeding!

    Upon reading the MCL notes, I think all the contestants could use work on their abdominals to help with their support. Mainly because you want this core to be stable and secure especially under the glaring lights of the AI stage.

    I am beginning to be a firm believer that this is truly the strongest group of AI finalists. All the singers have talent and I look forward to hearing them sing every week. (Ah, coffee- it makes katherine so happy!)

    I agree with erin, though, about the fact that Brooke and Jason might find ALW/Broadway a bit tough this week. Andrew L. Weber does seem to write for “big” voices (and lacks a little in the songwriting dept., but that’s another opinion). Typical Broadway songs (unless character numbers) are usually very challenging with tricky intervals and a need for a good, if not great, vocal range. Where Brooke and Jason might shine is in the delivery of the “character” of the piece, esp. if it’s in their emotional ranges. Choose wisely, idols!

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  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to do all these reviews, It must be so much work !! You really do have a great ear and are fantastic.

    When you said this:

    “However, at the beginning of this song, your breathing was more audible than in previous weeks, indicating that your air intake was not as deep as it should be. It appeared that you were inhaling from your chest cavity instead of utilizing the proper diaphragmatic breathing apparatus located below your waist.”

    Davids Vocal Coach said that David had been sick again this week, I just wanted you to know about that. and that is probably what was going on with his breathing. a yahoo search on “Archuleta’s Coach Reviews His Performance” will get you the interview.

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  9. I think Jason and Brooke can be okay–after all, not all Broadway stars have been belters. Fred Astaire, who was a major Broadway stage star before heading for Hollywood, had a limited range and a rather small voice, but Irving Berlin was know to say that he’d rather have Astaire introduce his songs than any other performer! We know Jason can adapt big-voice songs to suit himself, as well as finding versions that suit him–remember, he chose to do a version of Over the Rainbow, and certainly didn’t embarrass himself. And, as MCL pointed out in the last thread, ALW did produce The Sound of Music, and Brooke would be great with several songs from that, if it’s allowed. (If it is–David A. singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”?)

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  10. I have a feeling that this ALW night is going to be superb. Lots of music to choose from for every singer. Maybe someone will sing something from his “Requiem” -now that would be something. :) But, I doubt it. Too classical and much too hard!

    Mark – thanks for letting me know about David A’s ill health this week. He was really sounding raspy and, of course, the quieter sections of the song would make this problem more noticeable. Hope he is resting – he is such a small guy and needs to pace himself.

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  11. Another great review! I’ve again shared this with idolforums.com to read. :)

    I, too, greatly admire David Cook’s artistry and musicianship. He’s not JUST a great singer. He always infuses such genuine, raw emotion into each performance, making the audience FEEL it. I know I do, every single week. This artistry is also very apparent in his studio recordings (do you get to listen to those every week?) and his pre-Idol solo album (which you should also get a copy, it’s available on amazon.com, titled “Analog Heart”, and is the #1 digital album on the whole site!).

    Sorry for the plugs there, haha, I couldn’t resist. But yes, David Cook is brilliant. I can’t wait to see what he chooses for ALW week!

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  12. I totally agree with David A’s breathing and such. It must be so hard for all these constestants, they are under so much pressure to perform well. Not only are they busy rehearsing songs, they are also busy in many other aspects of the entertainment industry!

    Anyway, I am definitely looking foward to ALW night! I absolutely love musicals and especially his songs!!I think that David C would definitely sound good singing Jesus Christ super star or a song from Phantom! I picture David A doing a song from Joseph! I hope someone chooses “Memory” from Cats…so many songs to choose from!

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  13. I posted this on the previous entry, but now that we’re talking ALW songs, I’ll move it up to this topic (not to mention, I kinda stopped in the middle of my thoughts, as we had the earthquake in the middle of my typing! LOL!)

    Kristy Lee said in a farewell interview that she planned to sing “Dont’ Cry for Me Argentina” from Evita (I can’t EVEN imagine! LOL!). So, I get the impression that they are to sing ALW songs – yipee!

    I’m thinking:
    ‘Benjamin Calypso’ for Jason (from Joseph);

    ‘Gethsemane’ for David C (from JCS) if he has the ‘religiousness’ in him to do it justice (one of my ALL time favorite songs, if done well)

    ALW produced Sound of Music in 2006, so I don’t know if that counts, but if so, I could see Brooke doing ‘My Favorite Things’ … I mean, she IS our favorite Nanny, right?!

    David A’s voice would be beautiful in ‘Edelweiss’ (SoM) or ‘Close Every Door’ (Joseph)

    Sayesha – “Memory” from Cats

    Anita

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  14. On a side note, please don’t flay me, but I can’t STAND Mariah. She is SUCH a Diva (with a capital D) and just comes across as such a snot. Did you hear that last night (I think) she had a signing set up and the first 1000 people were to get their CD signed personally. They waited and waited, as she was 2 hours late! Then, took a longggg time with each person (which can be nice, but with 1000 people waiting…). Then with 200 people left in line, she got up and left with no notice, no ‘thanks for coming,’ no nothing. Those last 200 had been in line for 8 (count em’ eight!) hours (the 2 when she was late and 6 while she signed the first 600 people’s CDs) and then she just buzzed off. Bad, bad news. Ugh.

    Off my soap box,
    Anita ~ Indianapolis

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  15. Oh, and I also read that David Cook is ‘dating’ Lacey Schwimmer (who came in #4 in So You Think You Can Dance last year … she is also Benjy Schwimmer’s sister; he won SYTYCD the year before). They met during practice for Idol Gives Back night (remember all the dancers that came out 2 (?) different songs?) and he has been skipping out at night to see her. I’m happy for them, BUT, this is NOT the time to wear oneself down by playing around … all the AI ‘kids’ look and sound exhausted already and David doesn’t need to push his luck! Not to mention he also looked carefully into the camera and told all the wishful women in American that he is not taken! LOL! Take care of yourself, David C. and don’t become over confident!

    Anita

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  16. I’m pretty sure that the David and Lacey rumor is just that – a rumor. Let’s not get too carried away about reports from OK magazine, as their main goal is to create buzz and sell papers. ;)

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  17. I thought Mariah sounded bleh on results night. Didn’t she used to be a good singer? Ha! And to leave those fans stranded after 8 hours? That is beyond rude – it’s stupid. she probably alienated 200 or more fans from her fanbase.

    But, she seemed very genuine and supportive to the Idols, so that was nice to see and hear.

    I think David C. is far too smart to throw his career away for a fling. He and Lacey may have “hit it off”, but between his Idol commitments, his health problems and and his brother’s health problems, I think he is managing not too shabbily.

    I love that David C.’s CD is ahead of Mariah’s in Amazon downloads. Hopefully it stays that way. :)

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  18. Oh – Analogheart – thanks for sharing my Top 7 Vocal Masterclass article with Idolforums.

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  19. MCL, I have also provided links here (with a space) so others may see how accurate and professional you are in your analysis. We just luv ya!

    I believe all the contestants are experiencing a high level of stress and fatigue . MCL, your advice to David Cook was excellent, as was the suggestion to Syesha about taking power naps in between rehearsal sessions. This happens every year and I wish TPTB would let up and let them get more rest.

    “I sincerely hope that you do yourself the important favor of finding a strong vocal technician to harness the true potential of your singing ability.” This advice will surely help Jason reach his potential. He already has the raw talent and engaging charisma. I hope he takes your advice and gets a good vocal teacher. I hope he’s there for Neil Diamond ‘s night.

    wadahoot, I join you in your opinion of Mariah Carey. It kills me to hear her name mentioned in the same sentence with ELVIS PRESLEY!

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  20. Kariann – MCL loves you too – all of you. I cannot tell you how neat it is to see such a lively exchange of information on this site.

    Now – the links – where are they? Did you try to post them here on on another site?

    Also, I really think Jason will be there for Neil Diamond. He is starting to sing with more confidence – minus the technique – but he is still improving nonentheless.

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  21. Do I dare compare Mariah C to Ray Emery of Hockey?? I think they both have let fame and fortune get the better of them. It seems to me that they both only care about one thing…the money that they have made, a pretty harsh statement, but it’s just my opinion. How rude of Mariah to leave her fans standing there!!! But MCL, you are right, she was great help and guidance to the AI constestants, now why can’t she be like that with her fans! Anyway, enough of that….

    I love the show SYTHYCD! That would be neat of David C and Lacey…but hopefully he doesn’t ruin his time on AI or let it affect him at all!

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  22. Bizzee – I agree with the Mariah fiasco. It shoudl not have happened. Her loyal fans deserve better.

    However, sometimes a performer’s “people” make the decisions. The performer has little or no say in the matter. Still doesn’t make it right.

    Bleh – i wouldn’t stand in line for 8 hours for anyone. But, hey, that’s just me. :)

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  23. Nice review…

    I agree with all of your comments but out of all the people that I think need to hear your criticism the most it would be Syesha. She is a good singer(I’ve seen the site Idolranges.com and she consistently picks some of the most difficult songs) but I feel if she heard what you say and picked more melodic and relatable songs she would be great.

    As of right now I feel that the top 3 will be David Archuleta, David Cook and Carly Smithson. David A. will be in because of popularity(I feel Like he’s a tiny bit overrated though). David Cook will get in because he is IMO the best “Idol contestant” on there. Carly will get in the top 3 because I think she is overall the best singer in the competition.

    Before I go MasterClassLady I have to ask you a question that perplexes me. Where does emotion come from? How does a singer give off that wave of emotion and that hypnotic feel to the listeners/audience? What does the audience really want to see and hear?

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  24. >>I’m pretty sure that the David and Lacey rumor is just that – a rumor. Let’s not get too carried away about reports from OK magazine, as their main goal is to create buzz and sell papers<>LOS ANGELES — Mariah Carey made her way to the CBS lot on Wednesday afternoon as the guest mentor on “American Idol.” And true to her rep, our girl was quite the diva.

    Donning a (typical) tight-fitting outfit, Mariah worked the press area backstage — but it took a little longer than expected. Tech and camera guys apparently were made to put in the extra effort putting up lights and having them angled perfectly, with Carey’s people “double checking” that she was positioned perfectly at all times.

    “We had to reshoot one of the questions,” one cameraman told Tarts. “I had to change the lighting and alter the position and do it again because we went off angle slightly. She has a director of photography with her at all times and can only be shot from the waist up.” <<

    :::eyeroll:::

    Anita =)

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  25. well, THAT was weird … apparently the arrow symbols I put for quotes took away part of my post. What I was saying about David Cook, is that hopefully he won’t goof around, but with the physical, mental, emotional and career stress he’s been under, I could see him saying, “Self, you can let loose a little!” Just as long as he doesn’t let loose too much! LOL!

    Also, I was agreeing with you AnalogHeart, that OK! is hardly the gospel! I just thought it was an interesting piece to post between shows.

    Lastly, I found the little Mariah tidbit (above post) on FoxNews.com. She’s a doozy!

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  26. Well MCL today’s news has a true testament to the absolute need for vocal training and on using proper technique while singing………….I’m sure you’ve read by now that Jordin Sparks had to cancel some appearances already due to an acute vocal cord hemorrhage condition. I wonder if she will even be able to open for Alicia Keys on her tour? What could cause something like this to happen? I feel so sorry; she’s such a youngster and I dearly hope this does not hurt her budding career.

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  27. Oh dear….I just read about Jordin! The poor thing! I also wonder what could cause this?

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  28. Poor Jordin. But, to tell you the honest truth, her voice sounded really strained a couple of weeks ago when she appeared on the Results show.

    I just wish these young singers would realize and understand the fragility of their vocal cord muscles.

    Poor technique, coupled with overuse, fatigue and so on, has caused her vocal cords extreme damage.

    This probably all started with the appearance of vocal nodes and, when she should have rested her voice, she added insult to injury and kept singing with poor technique.

    It’s like scraping a wound over and over again until inflammation mounts.

    This is so sad, really sad.

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  29. I’m not a fan of Jordin at all but I feel so bad for her that she has damaged her vocal cords. I hope she does get better soon b/c she is doing pretty well w/her album & all. On the other hand, she never really sang w/good technique when she was on Idol…maybe she could learn from David A. : )

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  30. I have read your articles since last year and enjoy them tremendously. Thank you for taking the time to write them. I was wondering if you listen to the studio recordings of the contestants. I have been listening to them and, technology aside, I find many of them much better than the live versions. For example, I happened upon Brooke’s studio version of “Hero” and as she had such a difficult week this past Tuesday, I was quite surprised at the difference in the studio recording. Of course, I do not have your ear or your skills, so this is the opinion of a “layperson”!

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  31. It is not that sad, she isn’t dead.

    I’m glad that you give an objective approach to your criticisms though MasterClassLady. I enjoy reading your critiques.

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  32. Vote for the Worst.com is saying “You know VFTW knows everything before anyone else does. So listen up when we say some news is going to come out that affects Jordin Sparks’ career. And it actually made us feel kind of bad for her. Keep your eyes peeled in the news for this one.
    HINT: The news about Jordin needing to rest her vocal chords is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not all out yet.”

    I know it’s a trashy site (with their mean-spiritedness) but they do tend to know things. I wonder what’s up with Jordin? Surely not 2 awful things at once, poor kid?

    Anita

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  33. Njnauticalnut – thanks for your kind comments. I appreciate it very much.

    I haven’t had the time to listen to the studio recordings and have no doubt that the recordings are much better than the live performance.

    In a studio, the singers are more relaxed and can concentrate on the vocals as opposed to the overall performance.

    Also, a great recording engineer has tons of bells and whistles to clean up the final product and, additionally, the arrangement is an enhanced longer version than the live performance.

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  34. Hmm Wadahoot – what’s going on with Jordin? I guess we have to wait it out.

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  35. “As of right now I feel that the top 3 will be David Archuleta, David Cook and Carly Smithson. ”

    I have sort of accepted this and it is what TPTB want. I like the David’s in the Finale but have not warmed up to Carly.

    MCL, the link I left is what is the current URL. Is there a better link we should use when recommending your blog?

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  36. KariAnn, you could just put http://masterclasslady.com/ and that will take you to the main page of all of MCL’s posts (and not just this week’s).

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  37. I’m not so sure about Carly being in the top 3. I don’t know who would replace her, but I just don’t get the feeling that “America” is behind her personally.

    But, Jason seems to mostly have teeny-bobs, and sooner or later they will have to line up behind him or David A.

    Brooke seems to be getting more emotional and I’m concerned (truly) that she is falling apart. She seems to be loosing a lot of weight and getting tearier (tearyer?!) each week. I adore her, and don’t want her to fold under the pressure.

    Syesha seems to just ‘be there’ … I haven’t really warmed up to her and can’t tell who she is. When she doesn’t screech, I love her warm, mellow voice, but we can tell that she thinks (or likes to be) associated with the big, high, long notes. Frankly, that’s not the beauty I hear in her voice.

    So, we’re back around to Carly! Maybe you were right! =)

    Anita

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  38. Blake took Jordin’s National Mall gig http://tvwatch.people.com/2008/04/20/blake-lewis-replaces-jordin-sparks-at-earth-day-celebration/

    As for Jordin, some readers have speculated about an eating disorders, as some, like bulimia/purging can cause cord damage … can it cause bleeding?

    And Kelly, Kelly, Kelly …. you amazing girl! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cj6PXYp0Ds She sang for the Pope and it was lovely! The video is by Pope-TV, so it doesn’t show Kelly much, but the Pope. I’m not Catholic, so I get to ask a couple of ‘dumb’ questions LOL! Do you ever wonder if a Pope (not just this one) would really like to hear something non-religious?! What did that man give her as she was shaking hands with the Pope after singing?
    This HAS to be the biggest AI accomplishment ever … could it get any bigger?! Great job, Kelly!

    Anita

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  39. Hey guys just to remind everyone no need for bashing. Half of what it takes to getting their is believing in yourself if “you” think someone is delusional then maybe action and practice will make their delusion a reality!!!

    I really do think that “anyone” thus far can make it to the top 3 with good performances and luck. Some might not be my cup of tea though (Brooke and Jason), I don’t think they are as good of singers/ performers as some of the other people but some might think otherwise.

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  40. Hi MCL! This is my first comment on your blog. First of all: I LOVE your reviews of AI! I’m not a US resident, so I can only watch AI on youtube, which – as you surely can imagine – kills some of the performances’ aspects (you know, using a very small screen to watch it, then bad video quality, bad sound quality etc.), so I love your in-depths reviews and take on each contestant. Thank you!

    I have a question: You mentioned David Archuleta’s more audible/louder breathing. I’ve been wondering for a while now if his vocal paralysis has anything to do with that? I’ve carefully looked for signs of poor breathing technique – such as do his shoulders move when he’s taking a breathe for instant? Except for a few times e.g. during Angels (right before the glorious run at the end), I couldn’t spot too much such hints that he’s breathing too high. Eitherway, whether he does or not his breathing always seems quite audible, especially for someone with such refined vocal skills. Do you think it’s an aftereffect of his vocal chord paralysis? And if so, how can he ever get rid of that? And does he need to get rid of it? I know a lot of people, especially his haters (how anyone can hate that kid – or anyone for that matter – is beyond me!), are bothered by it. Personally I’m not bothered by it at all from a listener’s point of view; actually I think it makes him more recognisable. I’m only concerned it’s hinting at fatigue or poor technique (and we all know where that can lead to, see Jordin Sparks!). But if it’s just a little “quirk” his vocal chords developed when he went through his paralysis, that doesn’t have any consequences, it wouldn’t bother me at all to hear him breathe. He’s human, he needs to breathe after all! ;o) And while proper breathing technique surely is important, it’s only one aspect of it all, right?

    P.S.: I just wanted to say, I really love David Cook, too. But personally I think it is a little unfair towards the other contestants that he currently has an album on sale. As I understand it is a re-release he decided to do while already being in the competition? If this is true, I’m quite disappointed. He should have waited with the re-release until after the show, imho. Does anyone know if that is true?

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  41. Me again. Did some research and found out David Cook’s album was released long before the compeition – in 2006. So: Phew! All’s good then. :o)

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  42. Hi there Anys77 and welcome to the MCL site. I appreciate your kind comments and I hope you stop by often.

    Now, in regard to David A’s breathing difficulties, I understand that he was ill last week, so that would explain the huskiness in his voice.

    I know that part of his problem is due to his past history with vocal paralysis, but last week’s breathing was very labored during the first part of his performance. Then he settled down and started to breathe more efficiently from the diaphragm.

    He is such a smart kid. He really knows how to pace himself during a performance and initiates technical decisions on the fly.

    He really knows and understands the technical process extremely well.

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