Top 13 American Idol Season 8 Vocal Masterclass Article: The Music Of Michael Jackson


American Idol

By: Rosanne Simunovic

Well, this was quite a night! American Idol listeners were treated to fantastic performances highlighting the musical repertoire of Michael Jackson and, for the most part, all of the Top 13 finalists delivered admirably well.

Welcome, everyone, to another Vocal Masterclass season of American Idol!

I have to say that this year’s crop of singers are quite the diverse group! And to be given the opportunity to select songs from Michael Jackson’s songbook must have been such a fulfilling musical experience for these young artists.

This was an absolutely brilliant way to “kick off” the eighth season and, additionally, it showcased the current elements that permeate MJ’s music. His music has easily withstood the passage of time -after all, genius is genius at any point in time.

Now, let us move forward to my Vocal Masterclass evaluations and I welcome your commentary and suggestions after the read!

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.

Also, I am experiencing some technical issues with the inclusion of YouTube videos for the various performers.

When I updated my article, some of the videos were “stripped” from the  final copy.

Is this a forecast of things to come? Probably not, but I just wanted to explain that the lack of a video for some of the performers was not intentional.  I will try to remedy this problem ASAP!

Adam Lambert, Alexis Grace, Allison Iraheta,

Anoop Desai, Danny Gokey,

Jasmine Murray, Jorge Nuñez, Kris Allen,

Lil Rounds, Matt Giraud,

Megan Joy, Michael Sarver, Scott MacIntyre

ADAM LAMBERT 27-years-old:  “Black And White”

   

Strengths: Adam-you are a consummate performer and your enviable background in musical theatre equipped you with a solid foundation for this week’s Michael Jackson theme.

Throughout this number, you provided the viewers with an extraordinary visual and aural experience. This was a strong performance in every respect – expressive vocals, fantastic stage skills and authentic communicative ability.

Your strong theatrical background obviously prepared you for this phenomenal moment in time. You waited for the right time and place to audition for this show and the wait was well worth it – for you and for us.

The key to success is realized when preparation and opportunity collide and you are a stellar example of this statement. You have obviously worked extremely hard to hone your craft and to develop into the confident performer we have recently had the privilege to meet.

I feel you will be an unstoppable force in this show, as you are like a chameleon and wear a coat of many colors in your singing style. A true Cabaret Idol! How I have been waiting for this day!

Bravo and congratulations on bringing such a high level of disciplined artistry to the American idol stage!

Critique:  Adam-over the coming weeks, be very careful that you “rein in” the screaming aspect of your vocal delivery. You have strong diaphragmatic breathing skills, so I feel that you understand the fundamental aspects of solid technical singing.

However, you do not want to over-extend the natural capability of your vocal gift, so always make certain that the more potent sections in your songs are delivered through the support of your diaphragmatic breathing muscles.

And, make absolutely certain that you practice both the vocal and choreographic elements slowly and meticulously, in order to ascertain that one performing element is not over-powering the other. We never want your voice to take a back seat to your stage performance nor do we want you to perform like a robot. Ha!

However, you are a stellar performer and I do look forward to what you have to offer in the weeks ahead.

Congratulations Adam!

ALEXIS GRACE 21-years-old: “Dirty Diana”

Strengths: Alexis-this was a phenomenal performance, respendent with artistry and vocal excellence. What a star you are on that stage!  Your vocal skills were generally technically solid and, unlike Paula’s critique, I did not feel that you were over-stepping your singing boudaries at all!

I thought that you were in complete control of the stage and really solidifed the power of your natural singing voice with superb technical skill.

The very naughty communicative aspects of this song were well done – you characterized the song exceptionally well and played the role to perfection.

I also love the bright timbre of your voice – it is resplendent with natural head voice and, as a result, your pitch and focus always remained centered.  You sustained your melodic line on the pure vowels, thus rendering a seamless quality throughout your entire range.

Excellent work, Alexis. Kudos!

Critique: Alexis-I found little to critique in this performance. However, just make certain that you work on your articulation skills. At times, I found it difficult to understand your words, especially when you vocalized within your lower range.

Make sure you spin out those consonants quickly and crisply – before and after you grab those beautiful bel canto vowels.  Also, make certain that your mouth remains perfectly round at all times. There were a few moments, albeit brief, that I noticed a stretch to your mouth position, thus causing some intermittent tension in your voice.

Remember: round mouth, relaxed jaw and liberated diaphragmatic breathing skills are key to a successful vocal delivery.

ALLISON IRAHETA  16 -years old:  “Give In To Me”

Strengths:  Allison-what a great song choice. This was a very strong, very confident performance. I loved your vocal presence and fire – it was absolutely phenomenal with a capital “P”. You possess strong technical skills and a rustic artistry that I am growing to love more and more with each performance.

Additionally. your “look” suited your rockstar persona . Your voice is ridiculously strong and potent – so muscular, in fact,  that it defies logic given your young age.

I was so impressed with this performance because I was expecting less. Well, you showed me, didn’t you?  You have an “Avril Lavigne” quality about you which is something quite different for this show. Most 16 or 17-year old female singers on American Idol have leaned toward the pop genre, but you? You are rockstar all the way and I am loving it!

Critique:  Allison – don’t push the chest voice, sweetie. Easy does it!  At times, the clarity of the head voice element was obliterated by too much chest voice in the vocal mix and, as a result, your voice lacked the ringing quality that I look for in each and every singer, regardless of the style of music.

Make certain that you channel that choirboy quality in your voice and then allow the vocal sound to increase through the application of pressure from the diaphragmatic rib cage muscles. Never push from your throat – the throat must remain open and free, so that your voice can project freely in and toward your vocal masque (facial muscles).

Great work, Allison. I was very impressed. Brava!

ANOOP DESAI 22-years-old: “Beat It” 

Strengths:  Anoop-you snagged one of Michael Jackson’s best-known and most successful songs. It was a good move on your part in the sense that the entertainment value of this particular song is extremely high.

Overall, I thought you made a great effort to deliver this song with a saucy and angry stage persona. Good for you! You moved around the stage quite well and used the area to create some visual dimension to your performance.

I especially loved the clarity of your upper register voice; it was so transparent – pure head voice.

Good work, Anoop!

Critique:  Anoop- because you needed to apply a great deal of choreography for this song, your vocals were diminished in the process. Although the song held a high degree of entertainment value, it was not the best selection to highlight your vocals.

There is a great deal of repetition in this song – in the melody and in the lyrics – and if the vocal delivery is not expressive and resplendent with nuance, the song will fall flat. And it did!

In order to have created a more convincing performance, you needed to work slowly and meticulously with the vocal and the choreographic aspects of the song, so that one element complimented and elevated the other.

Also, never rely on the natural markebility of a song to sell your performance. Sometimes these songs are the most difficult to convey to your audience, as it allows the singer to  relinquish his artistic guard in the rehearsal/performance process.

As much as you did your best to internalize the attitude and passion of this song, it was not the correct fit for you in a stylistic sense and, as a result, the performance felt less than genuine.

Hopefully, you will select a better song for next week’s showcase, so that we can truly hear the vocal artistry in your voice. Tap into your artistic identity, Anoop, and choose songs that mean something to you – to which you can relate.

Good luck!

DANNY GOKEY  28- years old :  “PYT”

Strengths: Danny – from the opening notes of your terrific song choice, your voice and presence commanded the stage. You moved with absolute ease and professionalism. What is there to say but “wow, man!” Who knew? I have goosebumps here. This was an incredibly potent performance – in.cre.di.ble!

Your powerful, muscular vocals  projected the absolute depth of your technical strength.  And, I loved the dancing – it’s truly “who you are” – and I wouldn’t change a thing.

This was natural and effortless performance and meticulously rehearsed. How I admire this level of discipline in a performer.  You remind me of Season Five Top 3 Finalist Elliott Yamin and that has to be a good thing, given his great success post-Idol. You appear to be channeling both his R&B style of singing and his genuine persona. Great combination – nothing could be better than this!

Also, the resonant quality of your voice was consistent and true. You grabbed those pure vowels and adhered your vocal sound in the true “bel canto” vocal style of singing. As a result, your voice sounded rich and robust throughout this showcase.

Excellent work Danny and truly inspiring!

Critique: Danny – I found no fault in this performance. It was excellent all the way. Your nuances were perfect, the technique was concrete and the communicative aspects genuine and meaningful. Bravo! I look forward to next week’s showcase very much.

JASMINE MURRAY 17 -years old: “I’ll Be There”

Strengths: Jasmine – this was a stellar song choice, perfect for your voice and your gentle style of singing.  I particularly adored the beautiful use of your head voice at the end of this song.  You looked radiant on stage and I was extremely impressed with your level of professionalism at this young age.

Vocally, your voice is quite developed for your young age and you appear to have some evidence of proper diaphragmatic breath control.  You approached your melodic line in a musical way and really added some wonderful expressive moments to this song.

 Critique: Jasmine – be careful that you do not push that chest voice  when producing your power vocals. When you did so, this allowed the notes to flatten. Too much chest voice does this time and time again.

Remember to ease onto your upper notes, accessing the head resonance in your voice and then creating a stronger dynamic sound by applying pressure and support from your diaphragmatic muscles. Never push and never attack the upper and/or louder notes. You will always fall short if you do and the pitch will suffer immensely.

A little trick that I have used seems to always work: when singing through your upper range, slightly or dramatically (this works for the louder dynamic)bend your knees and squeeze your butt muscles.  However, while doing so, make certain that you have maintianed a circular mouth position and a relaxed jaw, thus allowing the rib cage muscles to begin the supportive process in a liberated manner. 

And remember to fully breathe from your diaphragm – allow the stomach muscles to expand during the inhalation process and contract/flex during the vocalization process. Good luck, Jasmine!

JORGE NUNEZ  21-years-old: Never Can Say Goodbye”

Strengths: Jorge -this was a great song choice for you. You are quite the romantic presence on stage and you moved with ease and effortlessness on that stage.

I love the dark, expressive timbre of your voice; as your vocal cords mature, I sense you are going to develop a very strong, very potent vocal range. With proper vocal training and conditioning, your true vocal potential will be realized in a monumental fashion.

I loved the rhythmic motions you added to this song via your hands and facial expressions. I wait for the day when you can really break free and sing a song that is more up-tempo and rhythmically challenging. I suspect you are a great dancer, therefore, you need to find songs that heighten both aspects of your performing ability – dance and voice.

Great work. Jorge! Bravo!

Critique: Jorge- watch that you do not implement too much chest voice into your vocal timbre. This recurrent problem caused some poorly pitched notes throughout the majority of your melodic line. 

Additionally, be very careful to avoid undue tension in your upper body – your shoulders were very constricted and your facial features extremely tense. You need to adopt a more relaxed approach in your upper body and allow the rib cage muscles to support and direct your vocal sound.

Always remember that the energy for proper vocal support occurs in your lower body; your upper body has to be open and free, so that the air can spontaneously vibrate the vocal cords to whatever frequency or dynamic you desire. Upper body tension will impede the process.

Additionally, your facial features as well must be open and relaxed – this is where you want to focus your vocal sound and if there is tension in your vocal masque (face), your voice will sound diminished and poorly centered.

Also, I wish that the composers could have been more inventive in the arrangement of this song  – it sounded very pedantic at times and almost robotic. It gave you no room to expand your vocal delivery and/or deliver a more nuanced approach in your singing style.

Hope this helps Jorge. Good luck!

KRIS ALLEN 23- years old: “Remember The Time”

 Strengths: Kris -I thoroughly enjoyed watching you perform with your guitar. You are as cute as a button and, although you have a light timbre to your voice, you generally use it technically well.

Performance-wise, this was a good and solid showcase and it is obvious that you and that guitar are meant to travel together on that stage. You are an engaging performer to watch, very genuine and real. Although I still do not have a sense of who you are as a performer, I feel that this will become evident with time and patience.

Good work, Kris!

Critique: Kris -there was so much tension in your mouth and jaw;  you need to learn to relax these muscles ASAP.  As you have a light timbre to your voice, you would most definitely gain more depth to your vocal sound by maintaining a circular mouth position on all your pure vowels. Also, a relaxed jaw – and an extended one when you navigate your upper range – is crucially important to a cohesive, seamless vocal sound.

Allow the diaphragmatic muscles to hone and direct your vocal sound. However,  at the same time, make sure that your throat remains open and free from constriction so that your vocal sound can travel in uninhibited fashion toward your vocal masque. Once it reaches your vocal masque (facial features),  the resonation process begins as you glue your vocal sound to the pure vowels in your lyrics.

And relax your knees and “butt squeeze” your way to the top of your range. It’s a no-fail trick, as long as your upper body is truly liberated and you have inhaled the proper amount of air for solid diaphragmatic support.

All of this does require some solid effort on your part, but, with proper coaching, this is not as difficult as it seems on paper. Watch American Idol David Cook or Top 2 Finalist David Archuleta – they had the right technical  approach in their singing style last year, singing contrasting genres of music, and it worked in a huge way!   Watch their mouth position and listen to their vowels – very pure and always grabbing the melody.

You have so much potential Kris and I hope that this little bit of advice will assist you in realizing it!

LIL ROUNDS: 24- years old   “The Way You Make Me Feel”

Strengths: Lil -you possess such a resplendent vocal instrument, due to a wonderful compilation of your natural vocal ability and exceptional technical skills. And, this week, you exuded a relaxed, yet strong vocal and artistic presence on stage.   I loved the circular formation of your mouth during this great number; your exceptional diaphragmatic support allowed your voice to float effortlessly from your body.

I loved the relaxed choreographic elements your brought to this song -truly living and breathing the joyous aspect conveyed through the lyrics and bouyant melodic line. 

Additionally, you paced this song extremely well; I always had a sense that you were  in perfect control of this number from begining to end. Your rhythmic movements beautifully complimented your expressive vocals and it became obvious to my eyes and ears that this was one well- rehearsed performance. Kudos! I love singers who do their homework!

I also appreciated your expressive nuances – the revelation of your lovely head voice toward the end of this song provided wonderful contrast to the rich timbre of your mid-register voice.  

Wonderful work, Lil! Brava!

Critique:  Lil – you have a very solid technical approach to your singing style, so I could find little fault after this week’s performance. However, make certain that you consistently maintain  a circular mouth position on all your vowels. I did notice that you had a slight spread on the “ee” vowel when you sang the word “feel”   in your head voice.

Also, on your final note, your mouth and jaw were slightly trembling  on that upper note. Trust the  diaphragm  to harness and direct your vocal sound and always remember to relax that  jaw

MATT GIRAUD 23-years-old:” Human Nature”

Strengths:  Matt -what an absolute treat to watch you tickle those ivories while you sang this great number.  As a pianist myself, I truly admired your piano skills – the phrasing and the musicality were absolutely first-rate.  You really dig into those keys and  your aggressive, but expressive approach to your piano accompaniment signaled to me that you are a confident, well-educated musician.

I loved your bluesy, introspective approach to this song very much and the generous manner in which you exposed every possible layer in your vocal range and dynamic. You take risks, Matt, and I like that very much.  You obviously possess some gorgeous head resonance, as we could so appreciate toward the end of this song.

You, along with a few others, bring a new dimension to the Idol stage this year and, in your case, it is a relaxed, soulful style that looks and sounds folksy and contemporary at the same time. Very neat! Very distinctive! Very singular! And that spells success in my book.

Superb work, Matt!

Critique:  Matt-okay, we need to get you some vocal lessons stat!   Would that you could apply as much energy into your diaphragmatic support as you do when you play the piano!

Throughout this song, your voice  lacked direction.  You suffered some pitch problems and your overall vocal timbre was very vague, almost wispy in content. I completely understand that you are going for a very relaxed, carefee style here, Matt, but, yous till have to harness your vocal sound with potent technical skills.

You encountered some problems when you soulfully engaged your upper range and your voice, unfortunately, lacked the clarity and ring that is necessary in this part of your range. Therefore, your pitch was off-center and you lost control of the reins, even when you moved back to the lower part of your voice.

And your mouth! Oh my! The position of your mouth was far too horizontal; a circular mouth position while you focus your melodic line on the pure vowels is the way to go, Matt! And, drop that very tense jaw – loosen up those facial muscles and let your stomach and back muscles do the work. 

Remember to keep your throat open and free, thus allowing your voice to float effortlessly from your body. Of course, this means that the diaphragmatic muscles have to be thoroughly engaged to release the perfect amount of air to create the purest vocal sound possible at every dynamic level.

You are an extremely musical young artist and I hope that this advice will help you to advance and achieve your true potential on this show.

MEGAN JOY    years-old : ” Rockin’ Robin”

Strengths:   Megan-I love you so darn much! You are a signature artist.  I absolutely enjoyed this song and you certainly added a great deal of your sparkling and vivacious personality to this number.

This was a delightful showcase and provided a wonderful contrast to the other performances this week. Therfore, in a huge way, you distinguished yourself from the “rest of the pack” and that is always a good thing indeed at this stage of the competition.

And what a great song choice! It was a perfect fit for you, as the light-hearted aspects of this song complimented your naturally buoyant and carefree persona. You looked and sounded totally relaxed with this song and communicated the essence of this song in a genuine and real manner.

I loved the earthy, expressive quality in your voice; when you sang, I heard a wonderful array of nuance and inflection. Because of your jazzy and singular interpretive style, this classic song went through a renewal process and was the recipient of a new and refreshing “Megan” sound.

Great performance, Megan! Kudos!

Critique: Megan – make sure you continue to work on your stage skills. I actually love some of your quirky movements, but be very careful that the arms and hands do not become too busy in the process. Many times, excessive body movement can diminish the technical process when you sing, as it consumes energy that could be utilized in the diaphragmatic breath support system.

And, make certain that you diaphragmatically support your vocal sound. Presently, you use a great deal of chest resonance when you sing and I would like to hear a little more head resonance in the vocal process. I sense that there is some knowledge of proper voice technique, but want to make sure that you are using this knowledge on a continuing basis.

However, that being said, you are one clever lady, as you have made certain, this week and in past weeks, that the key selection of your songs lies in your natural mezzo singing range. Good for you!

Hopefully, we can hear a ballad from you next week, so as to better evaluate your sustained vocal ability. You have a musical way of phrasing your melodic line and a ballad would further highlight this element in your singing style. Also, a slower song would encourage you to provide further focus on the correct breathing process.

Congratulations once again, Megan! Great performance!

MICHAEL SARVER:  “You’re Not Alone”

Strengths: Michael – you exuded a relaxed presence at the beginning of this song which never dissipated throughout this passionate performance. And your vocal technique was generally good, especially when you sustained some of your longer notes in your upper range.

I also appreciated your subtle stage movements, starting from a seated position (which helps to set the mood and ground the singer) to a standing position where you were able to freely walk across the stage.

This enabled you to not only communicate your song more effectively to your audience, but also to create a multi-layered visual effect throughout this performance.

Also, the standing/walking element is such a “freeing” element for any singer that I am often surprised that more singers do not use this opportunity to liberate and relax the tension in their body. Also, it energizes the breathing muscles to work in a more efficient fashion.

Overall, I thought this was a very strong performance and your vocal instrument sounded extremely resonant and seamless throughout this showcase. Good work, Michael! Oh – and I loved your song choice very much. Kudos!

Critique:Michael -try not to raise your head for those upper notes. This increases vocal tension and you lose communicative attachment with your audience. Keep your head level with the camera and bend those knees when accessing your upper range. And a “butt squeeze” or two will not hurt. Try it – it works!

Also, be very careful to keep your mouth round and your jaw relaxed when grabbing those pure vowels. I saw a great deal of tension in your mouth when you performed this song.

For the most part, you adopted a horizontal position with your mouth, particularly when you vocalized the trickier vowels such as “ay” or “ee”. These vowels need to be sustained through a circular mouth position and relaxed jaw. This will add further depth and brilliance to your voice and relieve undue tension in your facial features and throat.

Also, make certain that you avoid singing all the vowels in your diphthongs. For instance, when you sing the “ay” vowel, focus and sustain your voice on the first pure vowel in this diphthong – “eh”. It is a great deal easier to sing when all you have to think of is “eh” instead of “eh -i -ee”.

In other words, adopt the more refined British approach when you sing, grabbing pure vowels and sustaining them for as long as possible while crisply articulating those initial, middle and closing consonants in all of your words.

So, there you have it! Masterclass homework just in time for next week’s country-theme!

SCOTT MACINTYRE 23-years-old:  “Keep The Faith”

Strengths:  Scott -I loved this song choice. It truly complimented your creative artistry. Your  voice sounded very controlled from the very beginning and your charisma on camera was absolutely stellar.

Also, your piano accompaniment skills were superb and it speaks volumes about the depth of your musicianship that you just learned the piano score this week. It looked and sounded as if you were playing and singing this song for a lifetime. Your piano skills were exceptional and further elevated the musical standard of this performance.

Vocally, you exhibited flawless elements in this performance. You moved effortlessly into the upper range, signaling a seamless quality thoughout your vocal range. You definitely have a sense of where proper vocal technique can take you and, with a little refinement, your voice will continue to grow and flourish.

More important, you communicated the inspiring essence of this song in a genuine and sincere manner and the expressiveness in your voice reflected this. The clarity of your diction, the musical and creative phrasing, the inherent passion in your voice and so much more added to the nuanced approach in this performance.

You are a consummate musician Scott and I look forward to hearing some more performances from you – with or without the piano. Now, how about we aim for an upbeat song next week? Let’s loosen you up a bit! :)

Great work Scott! Bravo!

Critique:Scott- my biggest concern was that horizontal postion of your mouth. Actually, it was somewhere in between a horizontal and circular position formation.

You have to make absolutely certain that you maintain a rounded mouth formation on all your vowels, especially the trickier ones such as “ay”, “ee” and “i”. Also, you need further work in the relaxation of your jaw. Your eyes are beautifully open and expressive; now we just have to relax and liberate the lower half of your face. Once this is achieved, you will have perfectly positioned every feature of the facial masque so that your vocal sound can resonate freely in that area.

Also, when seated at the piano, make absolutely certain that you are accessing full support from the diaphragmatic breathing muscles. Energize those elevated muscles and allow the lower half of your body to create sound in the upper half of your body, directing it always toward the vocal masque (facial features).

However, this was a great, great showcase Scott! Kudos!

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

32 Responses to “Top 13 American Idol Season 8 Vocal Masterclass Article: The Music Of Michael Jackson”

  1. Hey MCL. Nice one as always. My favorite line came from your Adam Lambert review and I have to repeat it here:

    “Your strong theatrical background obviously prepared you for this phenomenal moment in time. You waited for the right time and place to audition for this show and the wait was well worth it – for you and for us”.

    You captured exactly what I have been feeling about Adam. This is a great moment for Adam, and for us who will get to see his extraordinary talent. I understand that not everyone is going to like him, but for those who “get him” it is an extraordinary experience and such a treat to watch and listen.

    I know we are in for more astounding performances in the weeks to come. Sorry for being over-the-top, but I can’t help it. LOL.

    In closing, I just want to say that we have another great group of singers.

    Good job once again AI!

    Oh and btw…I also LOVE Alexis. :)

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  2. Thanks Masterclasslady !!
    Every year I come here to hear what you have to say, You are amazing.

    I really like Kris, You where talking about timber, For me it’s the timber in his voice that makes it very pleasing to listen to, I have replayed remember the time about 50 times today and still love it.
    I also liked Adam, Like you said and so did the judges He’s ready to go and I think the same thing.

    Like

  3. Adam Lambert is the talent on Idol this year. <3

    Like

  4. I like hearing from a person like you who knows “voice” and “singing.” I usually go reculantly to the message boards at the AI message boards but it is ahem….well, you know.

    Your response and critique to the singers of AI is intelluctual and thank you.

    I like them all. That is understandable, I am very hard of hearing (lifetime)..please no violins. But reading what you say brings a fuller range to music to what I totally see and what little I hear.

    You will hear from me. I will follow.

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  5. MCL, Thank you SO much for your insightful critiques! I clearly am not questioning your vast knowledge of vocal technique, but I still feel that Danny is pushing a bit too hard on some notes when he belts, and he risks going flat. I guess his “throatiness” is either a style he purposely uses or is just the way his instrument works (and is not indicative of poor technique). I feel he sounds strained at times and tries to belt some notes that are almost out of his normal chest voice. I do question his belting technique and if he will have vocal fatigue problems like Kelly Clarkson did down the road. I am surprised you don’t seem to think so. Just wanted to share my view with you. I do think it was a really strong performance, so don’t think I am “hatin on him.”

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  6. Excellent job as always, MCL! I really enjoyed reading your very in-depth critique of each contestant, and the advice you offer each one is spot on! I agree with you so much on Danny Gokey! There just wasn’t anything at all wrong with his performance! I was very proud of him, because (like you said) I can tell that he is such a disciplined performer! Also, did you know that he’s never had *any* vocal training? Certainly, his talent is a God-given gift! Didn’t you also love how he held his mike out to the judges halfway through his performance! That definitely was bold, even risky move that showed how truly relaxed he is on stage with the ever-scrutinizing eyes of the judges upon him. He has a peace about him that carries over in to everything he performs. I admire that.

    I also agree with how you encouraged Scott to sing something a little bit more upbeat next week. I loved his past performances, but I do think it is time for hom to sing something a bit less serious and a bit more fun.

    The only part I disagreed with was about Megan. I agree she can sing, but I just thought the song choice was way off. However, being as it is country week next week, I expect she will do very well. So, I have hope for her, but she didn’t impress me too much this week.

    Anyway, how about that Judge’s save, huh? Honestly, I really like it. In fact, I think it is a rule that should have been implemented long ago. Sometimes, due to various factors, America just plain gets it wrong! When that happens, someone needs to step in and say, “Whoa! Wait a minute! I don’t think so! Not gonna happen!” I bet poor Michael Johns wishes this rule would’ve been established last season! LOL

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  7. Masterclasslady, I’m not sure where you get this information: “proper vocal support happens below the waist” — appoggio happens from the descent of your diaphram and expansion of your ribcage. Can you cite where you found this information? Thank you.

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  8. Despite all the praise, I’m not on the Adam train. I know that he’s an excellent performer and singer, I’m sure that in person, it’s awesome. But I’m “just not that into him”. I think I prefer the lower voices, myself. About the only “higher” voice I can think I liked was that of the late, great Freddie Mercury. But as he is getting lots of kudos, he looks like the one to beat, for now.

    I think this will be one of the more exciting seasons as I can really believe that many could win the title this year: Lil, Adam, Danny, Alexis, and Allison. Although not top 5, imo, I am enjoying Scott, Anoop, Megan (a bit weird, but fun),and Kris.

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  9. Hey Katherinsmom. No worries from this Adam fan. I didn’t expect that everyone would love him; and expect that he’s the type of singer that you either love or hate.

    For those of us that “get him”, I can only tell you that Adam Lambert is a HUGE treat. It’s like he’s a work of art. LOL.

    I think Danny has an equal number of fans though. I also like Danny and hope he goes far, but Adam has that something special, IMO.

    I hope to see you keep posting here katherinesmom. :)

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  10. Allison’s song is called “Give In to Me”. But I’m glad you’re growing to like her, MCL!

    I also appreciate the fact that you aren’t swayed by the judges’ opinions at all – ha! Great critiques.

    Here are videos of the contestants’ studio recordings if you’re interested:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/iTunesPop

    Looking forward to Grand Ole Opry next week!

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  11. Wow! Sadly, I have been disengaged from Idol for the past few weeks, as I have been extremely “bizzee”..ha!

    MCL, I definitely appreciate this review and will be trying to follow more closely in the coming weeks – oy, a task that will be impossible, I think. I vote for Idol to stream the episodes online – and then leave it available after…or do they already do that? I don’t know anything anymore…ha!

    Anyway, thank you for this review. In reading it, I have to agree with most of your readers – Adam definitely gets my vote!

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  12. Adam is amazing!

    I felt Danny was shouting quite a bit. MCL I am surprised you didn’t mention this.

    Love Alexis and Allison.

    The rest not so much.

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  13. Hey Audrey. I completely agree with you on Adam. For those of us who “get him”, it is such a phenomenal treat to watch him perform.

    I don’t think Danny was shouting. I think that’s just his voice. Danny is in my top 3; however, Adam is my #1 by a significant margin. I think we have a good group of singers this year, but Adam is something special: He’s unique and a star. Simon was right in saying that Adam is in a different league. He is this year’s MAP- Most Anticipated Performer.

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  14. Audry: No, Danny was not ‘shouting’. His voice is a bit breathy, but that’s his style. His voice has a soulful texture to it, kind of reminds me of Joe Cocker and a little bit of Billy Joel did on his song ‘Baby Grand’.

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  15. There’s no doubt to me that Adam Lambert is a star in all respects. Whether or not he is #1 on American Idol ‘by a significant’ is debatable. I think he’s got some good competition. Personally, I don’t think he has the ‘best’ voice this year, but given he’s a great performer and has that star persona already, I think he’s got the total package and at this point this can only help Adam get more votes. So I’m definitely bullish on Adam.

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  16. Hey Gol:

    I agree that it’s always debatable, but for those of us who “get” Adam, it’s not debatable. LOLOLOL.

    I think he does have the best voice this. He’s singing some crazy stuff.

    The good thing about this board is that the disagreements are always respectful. There is some nasty stuff going on elsewhere on the net. LOL.

    I like your posts. :)

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  17. I am so upset, I lost several paragraphs because I didn’t fill out my name.

    MCL, I agree with nearly everything you wrote! I do enjoy reading your reviews. Thank you!

    I did write that I wasn’t on the Danny train. Maybe it’s his confidence that comes acroos as arrogant to me? I just don’t know why I don’t look forward to his performances. I’d rather see what Alexis will be singing. Sorry.

    Adam is a great entertainer – something we haven’t had since Taylor Hicks! He knows how to work a crowd and I think we will hear a beautiful ballad shortly.

    Anoop is still my choice and I hope he picks the right song and impresses the judges with his beautiful voice! I want him on the tour.

    A comment about Megan. Will she be able to understand what you wrote without vocal training or professional experience?

    Let’s see…oh, I hate this “Judge’s Veto”; what a way to further humiliate the contestants! I felt so sorry for Jasmine and Jorge. The judges have too much power, IMO.

    MCL, I agree the “Grand Ole Opry” theme should be a great week to showcase real talent!

    Enjoy your day!

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  18. Kariann, I respect what you said, but I just don’t understand how you think Danny is arrogant. Confidence is a very good thing on Idol, and without that vital element, a contestant will never win American Idol. I think that maybe what you see as arrogance, I see as peace. I think Danny is very comfortable with himself. His faith seems to be an anchor in his life that takes away any type of fear or inhibition when he gets on that stage. After losing a wife, American Idol must seem like practically no challenge at all to him, you know? He’s comfortable, not afraid to take risks, and he is someone who I think would be an EXCELLENT role model for younger people to look up to. That to me is an important part of being an American Idol as well.

    And, about the Judges’ Veto, I absolutely love it. I can see what you mean about it being a little humiliating to those the judges elect not to save, but to that ONE person it does save, I’m sure it will mean everything to them! Also, I think it sort of gives each person who is voted off a faint glimmer of hope to stay in the competition. It’s also motivation for the castaway to sing VERY well on the results show. I kind of see it as one final chance to save themselves. So, I see this Judges’ Veto as an act of mercy rather than an act of humiliation.

    Though we disagree on some things, though, I can see wisdom in some of what you said. Though your views don’t line up with mine, I do respect them.

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  19. Thank you for the wonderful reviews MCL. I’m a huge fan of Adam and think he really has a shot at making it in the industry at this point in time. Also love Megan and feel she has that Edie Brickell thing going on. With Danny I respect that he is a very good singer I just really do not like the tone…I’m not a fan of raspy voices (Bryan Adams,Kim Carnes) and although I don’t think his is anywhere near as raspy I’m just not a fan….the only other difference I have with you is Allison…maybe becuase I really didn’t know the song well but I had no idea what the words were she was singing…I found her diction to be terrible…again… maybe it was just me…Love so many this year for all different reasons…I think it will be a great season.

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  20. I just want to comment that it was quite refreshing to read Galen’s last paragraph. I read blogs but rarely comment, and the worst thing about them is the rudeness people show when they disagree with something someone else has written. It was wonderful to read his respectful comment.

    Of course, I happen to agree with Galen too about Danny. He’s been my favorite since I saw his audition, although I’ve certainly had an open mind and think many of the others are quite good this year. And I’ve never thought of Danny as arrogant at all. There is no denying that Adam is VERY talented, but I would purchase a Danny Gokey CD and would not purchase an Adam CD. I also prefer Alexis over Allison, although they’re both talented. It all comes down to one’s personal taste. And I enjoyed Matt’s performance this week as well as some of the others. Also I have a fondness for Anoop, but I was disappointed with his performance last week. I hope he chooses a better song next time.

    I’ve watched every year of AI since year two, and it often comes down to the most popular person winning, not necessarily the best singer. This was obvious the year that Taylor won over Katherine. I was a huge Taylor fan, but it was quite clear that Katherine was the superior singer. As you may remember, this was the year that Chris Daughtrey was voted off the show. He has been much more successful than Taylor. I was never a fan of Chris’s style on AI, but I think he made a good CD. And, of course, I can’t forget Elliott. I think he was the best singer of them all!!! I tried to attend an Elliott concert in late 2007, but before the concert my friends and I ate at a nearby buffet. Unfortunately I had an allergic reaction to something on the buffet and ended up in the emergency room instead of his concert. Talk about a disappointment!

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  21. Oh, I feel sorry for you, Louise. It must’ve been extremely tough to be so close to seeing Elliott perform live only to end up in a drab emergency room! I hope you get a chance to see him again. I wouldn’t mind seeing him myself sometime. “Wait For You” is one of my all-time favorite songs!

    Anyway, my mom, brother, and I went to see the Idol concert last summer and we had an absolute blast! We got to meet Archuleta, Brooke, Jason, and all of the rest (except unfortunately for Cook)! It was so much fun and we hope to go again this year if we can save up enough in advance for it.

    Oh, and thank you for your kind words as well. I know all too well what you mean when you say that some blogs can be very hostile and disrespectful. To be honest, that’s why I hardly ever post on the official American Idol forums. You feel like everyone’s just ready to snap at you, you know? But what I love about this place is that it is more laid back and everyone can have an opinion that is respected. Overall, an excellent place to discuss Idol!

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  22. MCL, in my previous e-mail, I should have thanked you for your wonderful words of wisdom to each of the participants. I discovered your column several years ago, and since I have no musical background, I always like to see if my likes and dislikes coincide with your comments. Have any of the AI contestants ever thanked you for your helpful suggestions?

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  23. Louise – yes I have had contact with some of the Idols. I met all the Season 7 singers last year and most were aware of my articles. Jason was really grateful as ws David Archuleta and his father. Coouldn’t get near David Cook – a group of people were overwhelming him and wouldn’t let him go. haha

    Plus, over the years, I have received wonderful emails from family friends and relatives of the singers. It’s a great feeling and I am glad that, in some small way, these articles have been beneficial to the singers.

    Thank you so much, Louise, for stopping by and posting your wonderful comments. I am glad that you enjoy this blog and I feel fortunate that the readers and contributors are such thoughtful, intelligent and caring individuals. Everyone here respects the singers and appreciates that they are all doing their very best each week on that stage. Kudos to all of you!

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  24. Thank you Galen, for your comments. We have been posting together for a few years (I believe) and often agreed on things.

    Oh, Louise how unfortunate to get sick and not see Elliott. He was a favorite of mine, as well as Taylor. You know, they recorded a song together. Having both of them appear on AI again (together) would be a special treat!

    Galen, I was so envious of you getting to meet so many of the Idols at the concert. My daughter took me there as a treat for my birthday. What fun we had that night!

    I haven’t seen any break-out performances this year. It’s funny because my Grandchildren “knew” Jason, Brooke, and the Davids. They also knew the guy with the Dreads was MY favorite. I haven’t felt that way about anyone YET this year.

    I will try to be more open to Danny’s performance this week.

    MCL, do you remember when I was Emailing Phil’s father and gave him your URL here? He passed along your advice to Phil. He has certainly improved.

    It was wonderful following your adventure of going to the AI concert and meeting most of the Idols, MCL!

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  25. First time posting. Thank you so much, MasterClassLady, for providing your fair and penetrating insights and this venue. This year’s crop of singers certainly offers something for everybody. While I strongly suspect that Danny will win this in the end, I thank the astrological alignments for bringing Adam to the AI stage. He is splendid, and my crystal ball shows me a great future is in store for this gifted actor and vocalist.

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  26. Hey Sylvia:
    I share your excitement about Adam. He is incredibly talented and something that we have never seen before, making him truly special. Lots of great singers this season, but only one Adam Lambert.

    I can only hope that America is ready for him and his extraordinary talent.

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  27. It seems that both Adam and Danny have a strong fan base. Wouldn’t it be something if neither one was the winner?

    Welcome, Sylvia!

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  28. LOL That’s certainly an interesting thought, Kariann! As much as I would love to see a Danny Vs. Adam finale, I know that nothing is a given on Idol. In my opinion, I thought Daughtry would definitely win Season 5 (Though I liked Taylor too), and I thought for sure that Archuleta had it in the bag last year (and he should have)! The point is, just because it makes sense for a contestant to make it to the finals or even win, nothing is written in stone. I suppose all we can do is vote our fingers off for our favorite, hope for the best, and try to be positive whatever the outcome!

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  29. So glad the MCL is back for another year. I love reading these write ups.
    I’ve been tuning in to these articles for years and have been looking forward to new ones. Thanks MCL.

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  30. To Find out more visit

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