American Idol Season 8 Top 7 Vocal Masterclass Article: Disco Music


American Idol

By: Rosanne Simunovic

Disco night!  Time for the remaining seven singers to create a festive ambience and connect with the audience. But did they?

For the most part, I found this show confusing and not at all what I was expecting. This statement has both a positive and negative vibe attached to it in that, sometimes, the unexpected was a most pleasant surprise and at other times the reverse effect occurred.

As always, I am running late because there are only 24 hours in a day!  (tee hee).  Therefore,  I am anxious to share my views on the performances from Disco Night, so here we go! And please  keep checking my Twitter updates so we can stay in closer touch!

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.

 

Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta,

Anoop Desai, Danny Gokey,

Kris Allen, Lil Rounds,

Matt Giraud,

ADAM LAMBERT 27-years-old: “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman

Strengths: Adam- first of all, what a look!  I was not expecting the Glambert look for Disco Week, but then, with you, the credo is always “expect the unexpected“, isn’t it?  Whatever anyone else does, you do the opposite, don’t you?  

Last week, you were the only singer who did not sing a ballad, thus distinguishing your performance in both tempo and style.  This week, however, while the other singers sang upbeat numbers, you did quite the opposite and toned down your approach.   How you manage to stay one step ahead of everyone is quite another story and I would love to hear it some day. It is true genius on your part.

What an inspired modification of this classic number! And, although I am certain that you were responsible for the initial idea, how classy of you to extend credit to American Idol arranger extraordinaire, Michael Orland,  for his contribution to this finalized masterpiece.

Throughout this number, your voice sounded so controlled and so resonant, at times ringing with head voice  clarity and other times reverberating with dynamically strong, muscular vocals.   You are so knowledgeable in the manner in which you blend your head/chest mix – it allows you to explore vocal terrain rarely explored by other singers because you possess stellar technical accuity.  You are a tremendously refined singer and your hard work and diligence is truly something special.

 The emotion and the angst that you rendered throughout this number was so real, so genuine. We could hear it through your animated voice, especially when you expressed grief and unhappiness through your lamenting upper range vocals . For me, this was the highlight of the entire song. Your voice sounded so open and free, moving from pure head voice into a richer, fuller vocal sound. Ah – it was just so, so beautiful.

You can’t teach this -the technique perhaps – but not the emotion. It has to come from within the heart of a true artist who is not afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve.  All singers must learn that they must emotionally deliver a vocal number in the same manner as you would speak it; this is the way you extablish a powerful  connection with your audience – by grabbing their hearts, their souls with their vocal passion and sensitivity.

Technique allows singers to stretch their voice and truly use it as a powerful communicative instrument. And, throughout your tenure on American Idol, Adam, you have never ever disappointed us in this respect. You are a sensitive, emotionally driven and, yet, extremely intelligent artist – exceptionally creative and unique.

In closing, I would like to highlight the  little flirting you accomplished with your lower range – it was wonderful to hear the resonant depth and beauty in this area of your vocal range, as it provided such wonderful contrast to the ringing presence of your upper range. Next time, treat us to even more – your bottom voice is gorgeous, like velvet!

And, thank you so much for supporting your lower range -oftentimes this is not the case with singers. However, by accessing your diphragmatic support in a continuous manner, you were capable of creating a seamless segue in to your upper range.  Your melodic line was flawless and centered throughout this number – sheer perfection, really!

Congratulations and standing ovation from MCL! Brilliant showcase!

Critique: Adam – you are released from a critique this week. You mouth was round, your jaw was relaxed, the emotional artistry was impeccable and the whole performance was a magnificent adventure. I think this means that it was an A+++++++, wouldn’t you agree?  Bravo and congratulations on a phenomenal showcase.

ALLISON IRAHETA 16 -years old: “Hot Stuff ” 

Strengths: Allison -that was one sultry performance, young lady! Your vocals sounded resplendent in this number, a mixture of rasp meets head resonance. I feel that you are back on track with your technical skills. Good for you!

Your voice sounded very secure and clear in the more subdued opening section of this number and this signaled to me that you were accessing the powerful support existing in your diaphragmatic breathing muscles.

Then, once you moved into the faster tempo and louder dynamic portion of this number, your diaphragmatic muscles were already in motion and so you were most capable of adding punch and pizzazz to the remainder of this number with the correct technical support.

As a result, you gauged this number extremely well, never sounding breathless or thirsting for more air. Hurray for the diaphragm!

Also, you made certain that the key selection for this song was appropriate for your natural singing range. Once again we heard the resonating magic and beauty of your lower vocal range throughout the majority of this number. As this is the most comfortable area of your voice, you were able to perform with ease and effortlessness. Good for you!

Visually and aurally, there was great dimension throughout this performance showcase. By starting slowly, seated on the stairs, you were able to establish perfect pacing, so that once the faster, more aggressive tempo kicked in, your focus was secure, allowing you to move about the stage with control and confidence.

I loved the syncopated arrangement of this song. It was a wonderfully conceived arrangement and your performing skills reinforced the strong rhythmic aspects of this song performance.

Additionally, I have to applaud that circular mouth formation and the manner in which you grabbed and sustained your pure vowels. This makes such a difference in the aesthetic timbre of your voice, as we hear less of the rasp and more of the inherent beauty of your natural vocal instrument.

However, by the same token, I loved the rock-edged vocal inflections you used throughout this number – lots of raw, energetic vocal power that was managed through the proper technical regimen.

This was an excellent performance, Allison! Just super! Congratulations! 

Critique: Allison-be careful that you do not push your chest voice. Every so often I could hear a gulping sound from your throat and that signaled to me that you were pressing your voice through the constriction of your throat muscles, thus adding more chest and less head resonance.

Granted, this was an intermittent problem throughout your performance this week, but still you must make absolutely sure that you continuously keep your throat relaxed and free. Trust your diaphramtic muscles to do the work! Concentrate your athletic energy in the direction of those muscles, making certain that you have inhaled enough air to complete the technical production of your voice.

Also, you need to work on your articulation skills, Allison. You do have a slight tendency to mumble and, thus, your words never fully resonate on the ears of the listener. Also, once you learn to articulate the consonants with crisp precision, your voice will enjoy more presence, more energy and even greater focus.

Articulation actually increases the resonating power of the human voice, as along as the mouth remains circular. The jaw most only move upward to quickly grab the consonant and then return to a vertical, relaxed position. This way, the diaphragmatic support will remain intact.

However, overall, this was a strong showcase and your confident artistry, especially given your young age, was just exceptional! Great work, Allison!

ANOOP DESAI 22-years-old: “Dim All The Lights” by Donna Summer

Strengths: Anoop -I loved the fact that, like Allison, you started with a slow sustained tempo then segued into an uptempo groove. This is my favorite combo, not only for disco music, but also for many genres of music. Think of Michael Buble’s “Feelin Good” arrangement – it starts slow and easy and then we are hit with that hot, sultry, up-tempo music that continues for the remainder of the song.

It’s this particular element of surprise that adds aural and visual dimension to these numbers and this is what I felt when I watched you perform this week.

Once again, I was so impressed with the sustaining power of your voice throughout this number. However, it was particularly apparent in the beginning stages of this song – the slow, dreamy tempo allowed you to wrap your voice around the melodic line in seamless “bel canto” fashion. Your voice sounded so immaculate and the clarity and pitch-perfect focus was just sublime.

You have worked extremely hard to refine your technical skills, Anoop, and the improvement you have shown throughout this competition has been a joy to behold! As a result, your phrasing was musical and flowing and you made absolutely certain that the diaphragmatic breath support remained central to your performance.

And how about those clean, pristine, pure vowels, particularly when you vocalize the word “lights’? You successfully avoided the horrible diphthong in that word and focused your voice on the pure “ah” vowel. Kudos! That’s the way to do it – the pure vowel approach lends depth, ring and clarity to a singer’s voice because of the presence of head resonance in the vocal mix.

I also loved your precise articulation skills – you communicated your words so clearly and, yet, at the same time did not allow yourself to “chew the lyrics”. The vowels were always front and center, yet the crisp articulation contributed additional energy and focus to your melodic line.

As a result, Anoop, your voice sounded centered and uncluttered. And I loved the bend in your knees when you accessed your upper range. Good for you! This slight bending movement opens the throat and raises the soft palate, thus allowing the voice to flow freely from your mouth and into the hearts of the listeners.

Great work, Anoop! Congratulations!

Critique: Anoop – you exhibited a great deal of vocal substance in this performance, but the vocal style was extremely restrained. Personally, I would have accelerated the up-tempo portion of this song and encouraged you to add some simple choreography.

It seemed to me that there was not too much differentiation between the slow and fast portions of this song and, as a result, your voice sounded extremely one-dimensional throughout this showcase. I was waiting for a more buoyant and energetic sound in the second half of this song and was disappointed that it never happened.

Therefore, the performance crescendo that we always look for during a number never occurred, causing the song to end almost abruptly, lacking style and panache. Always remember that how you end – or begin – a number is as important as the central portion of a song.

However, in your case, the final moments of the song lacked drive and purpose and the audience was left with a less than satisfied perception of the overall performance. And that was really too bad because your vocals were truly quite wonderful.

Also, you did not appear as relaxed and liberated as I have seen in the past. Is the pressure getting to you? I know how hard this must be for you and for the other singers but always remember that you must sing each song as if it were your last.

You want the song to permanently resonate in the eyes and ears of the listeners in a strong and memorable fashion. Even if you were feeling some level of discomfort with song, you must find the strength and tenacity to make the song arrangement work, never allowing the audience to sense your level of unease or trepidation.

Good luck Anoop! You are an extremely talented, hard-working young man and I appreciate and applaud your enormous work ethic. Bravo!

DANNY GOKEY 28- years old : “September” by Earth, Wind And Fire

Strengths: Danny -this was another full-scale and vigorous performance. You poured your whole body and soul into this showcase, working extremely hard to establish strong connection with your audience. This is the one factor that I fully do appreciate in all your performances – your respect for your audience. You are an entertainer and a confident one at that, generously inviting your listeners to participate in your musical ride each and every week.

In this showcase this week, you came out of the gate fighting strong and hard, but in an entertaining way. Love the smile, Danny! I’m a big fan of the smile! And the confident presence you exuded throughout this performance was just wonderful. You lived your song and remained emotionally connected to the positive tone of the lyrics.

And, by the way, this was one of my favorite song choices of the entire evening. It was perfect for you -the mood, the key, the soulful vibe -all of these elements allowed you to effortlessly glide through this performance with rhythmic ease and abandon.

Technically there were some wonderful moments. I saw your determination to maintain a circular mouth position and relaxed jaw when sustaining the rounder vowels, such as “ah“, “oh” and oo“.  That is when your voice sounded truly liberated and free.  The resonance was so perfect and we gained a glimpse into the rich timbre of your natural singing voice. When you allowed the head resonance to remain at the core of your vocal sound, your voice radiated a sparkling ring – one that was free from tension in your neck and throat.

And, I loved how you used the stage as your personal dance floor! That’s what it’s there for and the right amount of movement is an important aspect to a solid vocal performance.  Not only does this add visual dimension to the number, but also, it enables the singer to sing without tension in his or her body. And, I think, for the most part, this I what I most enjoyed in your number this week – the look and feel of pure joy and exhiliration emanating from your persona.

Good work, Danny. Bravo!

Critique: Danny – you must learn to relax those facial muscles. For the most part, you exhibited a great deal of upper body tension and this truly hindered the clarity in your vocal timbre. The facial tension was the most obvious – your jaw was tight, your eyes were constrained, your mouth was horizontal and all these factors diminished the full resonating power of your voice.

You tend to add too much chest resonance into every area of your voice, almost punching out the sound from your throat muscles, rather than allowing the correct muscles -the diaphragmatic rib cage muscles – to project and focus your voice.

For example, in the inital stages of this song, your pitch on the word “away” was poorly centered, suffering from lack of diaphragmatic support and poor usage of the “ay” diphthong.

Instead of grabbing the purer “eh” vowel” and sustaining your voice on this one pure vowel, you vocalized through all the vowels, thus rendering less vocal stability to the melodic line. Your pitch wavered and was totally unsupported. There were many, many instances of this problem in your performance this week Danny.

Also, the tension in your eyes further impeded the full resonating quality of your voice. By closing off those resonators, you prevented your voice from resonating in a complete manner and, therefore, your voice sounded very rough and irregular throughout your singing range.

This is really such a shame, Danny, as you have a beautiful and powerful vocal instrument and must learn to use it wisely or you will cause harm to the delicate vocal cord muscles.

Good luck next week, Danny, and please, practice some vocal exercises to pure vowels only. And breathe and support from the diaphragm.

KRIS ALLEN 23- years old: “She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer

Strengths: Kris – you surprised the listeners with your acoustic rendition of this well-known disco number. This refreshing twist on a classic song was just wonderful – I loved the calypso meter that formed the rhythmic pulse of this number. It was innovative, distinctive and, more important, highlighted the essence of your artistic style.

You are most comfortable when you are strumming the strings of your guitar and I envision for you a career similar to last season’s Top 4 finalist, Jason Castro. Your talent is best served in an intimate environment, surrounded by a stellar group of instrumentalists similar to what we heard in your performance this week.

I believe that you are paving the way for what I hope will be a less intrusive brand of music and one that embraces solid, meaningful lyrics and simple, yet memorable melodic song structures. And you have the perfect voice for this brand of music – it is pure, clear, extremely communicative and genuinely expressive

Additionally, the acoustic ambience of this showcase further highlighted the inherent beauty of your natural singing voice. You possess a natural head voice component throughout your range – how lucky is that? There were no loud instruments or flashing lights to hide vocal flaws and this fact alone demonstrated the confidence you have as an artist and as a musician.

Great work once again, Kris! Kudos!

Critique: Kris -your technical skills are still so green. You need to read everything that was mentioned last week and, in fact, all the weeks since this Top 13 competition began.

The tension in your face, neck and jaw is just excruciating to watch – your light voice is presently lodged in your throat and barely projecting outward to the audience. Thank heavens for microphones! However, if you want to be a truly exceptional acoustic artist, you must learn how to project your voice without the benefit of electricity.

As a result, this one-dimensional aspect in your dynamic range does not make for inspiring or memorable performances.  Presently, you don’t sing with enough  nuance or vocal inflection. Your dynamic range sounds very linear and, as a result, I never feel that there is beginning, middle and end to your song. 

And when you did reach the finale of this song and vocalized a cappella style before the last instrumental fade out, you seemed vocally lost.  This was your perfect chance to add a vocal spin or even an ascending or decending run – something!  But, instead there was this awkward pause, almost like you were collecting your thoughts, between the words “treat her” and “right”.

I almost got the sense that you had, perhaps, planned to add more vocal inflection at this point and, like a skater that decides at the last minute to not do a quadruple jump, you lost your confidence.  As a result, the ending was very lacklustre – it lacked excitement and power. 

Solid technical skills could repair all of these vocal deficiencies, Kris and I hope that you find the motivation and opportunity to study with a teacher that can hone and develop your vocal skills to full potential. You are a talented performer and you need to ensure that your voice stays healthy and enjoys longevity.

Good luck, Kris and, remember, drop that jaw and flex those stomach muscles!

LIL ROUNDS: 24- years old “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Kahn

Strengths: Lil – this was  a great song choice and it truly suited your distinct dimension as an singing artist.  As always, you looked lovely, exuding the charisma of a star. 

Your choreographic work was quite good and it was wonderful to see you establish an even closer connection with your audience. You travelled the Idol globe during this number – on stage, off stage, to the judges’ table and then into the audience.  Brava!

You also worked extremely hard to emote genuine expressive elements in this performance, alternating spoken lyrics with vocalized lyrics. Double Brava!

Vocally , I felt that you sounded the most comfortable during the last portion of your song. It was during this segment that we finally heard evidence of your  lovely, pure head voice and, as a result this element allowed your resilient vocals to really sparkle.

Lovely work, Lil!

 Critique: Lil –  the first thing I noticed was the hunched position of your shoulders and your extremely deflated rib cage. The former caused undue tension in your upper body while the latter prevented you from continuously providing strong diaphragmatic support for your voice.

Therefore,  as your diaphragmatic support muscles did not establish powerful connection with your vocal cords,  your pitch was severely compromised throughout this number. Additionally, this technical deficiency encouraged you to add far too much chest resonance throughout your range, thus rendering a less than shimmering aspect to your vocal presence. 

Because you exerted so much energy throughout this song, this created a negative overall effect in your vocal performance.  You have to make absolutely certain, Lil, that you balance the choreographic and vocal elements. Quite simply, your erratic movements overwhelmed your vocal presence and diminished the continuity of your vocal technical skills.

There has to be  plan, a structure to your performance  and it never hurts to rehearse these frantic numbers at a snail’s pace during the rehearsal process.  It really works and it also serves as an opportunity to release anxiety. I call it vocal yoga and I love it!  The slower pace allows you to fully isolate and correct  problematic areas with your technique.

 Finally,  I had to agree with Simon about the lack of originality – however, in your defense, it would be difficult to imagine what more you could do with the song. Perhaps, you could have started the song at a slower tempo and then increased the pace later on in the number?    Or, why not sing the whole song as a ballad ? It would be one sultry ballad, I would think!

So, I suppose, with time and effort, a new concept for this song could have been successfully conceived.  Creativity and ingenuity play enormous roles in an artist’s success, so, hopefully, you will be able to develop these skills and/or surround yourself with innovative songwriters.

Good luck with your career, Lil!  It’s been a pleasure to watch you every week!

MATT GIRAUD 23-years-old:“Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees

Strengths: Matt -well, this was a total surprise in that everything seemed to come together for you this week.  I loved your song choice and it was strongly apparent that you did so as well.  You looked confident and well-prepared for this extremely energetic song, pacing your stage movements extremely well throughout this performance.

The visual and aural aspects of this performance were wonderfully blended – I thought that you had truly solidified your vocal skills before rehearsing your dancing skills and therefore the performance never looked hurried or frantic. The choreographic elements were well-conceived and I particularly loved the your playful interaction with the back-up singers. Super!

Unlike previous weeks, your vocals sounded unencumbered and carefree and, at the same time, benefited from the augmented level of diaphragmatic support. Your voice had increased presence and charisma and sounded extremely expressive and buoyant throughout this number. I also appreciated hearing the wonderful inflections you were adding throughout this song performance – they were just wonderful!

Although it may not have been an innovative take of the original cover, I still felt that you added signature style and substance to the performing and musical aspects of this song.

Also, it does not hurt to point out that this is a very difficult song composition. The musical line is extremely challenging for the singer and the lyrical line is very verbose. The singer is constantly moving from lower to upper and then back to lower voice in the blink of an eye and it takes tremendous control to administer these tricky intervals with ease and facility.

However, the naturally light quality of your voice, Matt, was a perfect canvas for managing the different melodic intervals, colors and shades that this song required. I feel that a more weighted voice would have sounded cumbersome and stiff – your voice was the perfect match for this song.

Kudos to you for finding your musical glass slipper as it were – it was a perfect fit!

Bravo and congratulations on a spectacular performance!

Critique: Matt- I have little to critique this week, as I thought both singer and song established a believable and artistically solid bond. You were obviously “in the zone” when singing this number – your head voice was clear and focused, thus rendering an uncluttered timbre throughout your entire singing range. Additionally, your pitch was wonderfully solid this week – just excellent.

However, that being said, you need to continue to work on the proper placement of your vowels in your melodic line, allowing your mouth to remain circular on all the vowels and letting the jaw relax and drop when moving through your upper range. And please, never reach for your upper notes, sing over them and bend those knees in the process.

The quicker tempo of this song was a good fit, because it did not draw attention to the problems you are currently experiencing within your technical development. So, in this respect and at this stage of the competition, it was a wise decision on your part to select this number for your performance this week.

However, I hope you will continue to work on the development and solidification of your diaphragmatic breathing skills so that you will be able to perform a wide spectrum of songs with ease and security.

Good luck next week, Matt!

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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

106 Responses to “American Idol Season 8 Top 7 Vocal Masterclass Article: Disco Music”

  1. umm….you do know that the contestants don’t read these, right?

  2. MCL, another nice one!

    Adam Lambert is the next big thing. So rare to see such talent and style. He is so riveting and captivating.

    I loved his classic sound this week. So gorgeous. It kinda reminded me of Freddie Mercury singing one of his slower numbers.

    Adam’s technique is superb and I thought this was a flawless performance. What an inspiration to your students MCL!!!

    Adam Lambert = my fave idol EVER!!!!!!

  3. MCL,

    Thanks once again for giving such an insightful analysis of this week’s performances. I particularly appreciate your thoughts on Kris, because I have been struggling to understand why his voice doesn’t work for me. Now I know that what my ear was hearing was accurate. The technical issues you discussed helped me to realize why I find his performances problematic.

    One thing I did want to ask you this week is why some critics online keep saying that Adam oversang this week. I didn’t understand that criticism at all. After reading your critique of his stellar performance, I am wondering if you might address some of this persistent carping. I simply don’t get it. I thought he did a power ballad the way it’s supposed to be done – impeccably from start to finish. Is it that some of these people do not have enough knowledge of vocal technique to grasp what he was doing in this performance? I also read that he lost the song when he opened up his voice and built to that wonderful crescendo.

    I just thought it might be interesting to hear your thoughts on this issue. People seem to be nitpicking, as though they have to find something negative to say. This was easily one of my favorite peformances from Adam.

  4. Mindy, what you are witnessing is frontrunner backlash at it’s finest. The better Adam is, the harder they respond. His performance this week was perfect.

    And forget about some of the other bloggers (like Slezak). He is notorious for supporting the underdogs. LOL.

  5. Rachel – I have heard from people who are friends and family of the contestants…. that they DO in fact read MasterClassLady .. many have said they are helped a lot by her suggestions

    and MCL…thank you again for some great critiques… I always write down my first impressions when watching the show and then I compare them to your critiques …I’m not doing TOO bad although I’m not as much a fan of Matt’s vocal style this week but that could just be opinion and not technique…. this was the first week you’ve commented on Alison’s diction and I had noticed it before but thought it might have been something to do with her braces on her bottom teeth.

    thanks again for your expertise

  6. Mindy…one more thing….the response to Adam this week was overwhelmingly favourable…we’re just getting down to the wire, so some backlash is expected. For those who know better, Adam was flawless this week. LOL.

  7. MCL, I was very glad to read your article this week. THIS is the critique I miss — pure, benevolent music teacher delight. :)

  8. ILoveIdol –

    Thanks for helping me to keep it in perspective. It’s bothering me quite a bit and getting under my skin. I despise it, but I guess I need to accept the reality of it. I find it incredibly mean-spirited.

    It has to be based on irrational backlash, because there really is nothing to criticize about Adam’s performance this week. As MCL herself said, she had no critique to offer, just A+++++++++++. I appreciate someone like Adam, because I know that it doesn’t happen very often.

    Kateri315 –

    I happen to agree with you about Matt. I just do not enjoy his performances, with one or two exceptions thus far. I did not like his take on Stayin’ Alive at all. Whenever he goes for those falsetto notes, he ends up going flat. I do not like the Justin Timberlake-vibe at all. But I do think this was a smart move from a performance point of view. He seems to realize that this type of energetic movement engages the audience. Even though I believe it’s the moving around that throws his voice off pitch and improper breathing technique, I guess Matt believes it’s a risk he has to take to stay in this competition. It paid off for him.

  9. Some of the singers read these articles, others don’t. That’s fine. I write them not only for their benefit but for the benefit of the readers who have so graciously supported me over the past seven years.

    I derive extreme pleasure by writing these articles and, if it helps one or two singers in the process, then that’s wonderful.

  10. Love your reviews. They are truly constructive criticism. Would you critique Bob Dylan. Just for fun? Please? :)

  11. Mindy – please send me links of the negative criticism against Adam. I am curious to see the person(s) behind this backlash against Adam. Then I will comment further. Thanks so much.

  12. The people that say Adam oversings are just haters. Don’t listen to them. The frontrunner always gets the most hate.

  13. Thank you, MCL, for your critiques and insights into our Season 8 contestants. I’m savoring every performance while we still can, for as hard as it is to believe, in a few short weeks I will be unable to get my weekly Adam Lambert fix. Thank heavens for You Tube and iTunes.
    It occurred to me on Tuesday night that during and following Adam’s evocative performance, none of the judges compared Adam to any other vocal artist. He’s now Adam Lambert, not a Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, David Bowie et. al. wannabee. He has given us his unique and exquisite gift, and comparisons are superfluous.

  14. I look forward to your reviews each week MCL You easily express the things I wish I could say.I believe Adam Lambert to be this generations brightest star.His vocals and performances are a visual and audio feast each week !He captures and awakens every human emotion when he sings.He’s simply phenomenal !

  15. Hey everyone!

    If you loved Adam’s live version, the studio is a MUST. He makes it so effortless. What a talent!

    Mindy, there seems to be some backlash against Adam but I don’t think it’s as bad as you think. As much as Danny is not one of my favourites, they need to keep him in this to buffer Adam’s frontrunner status. If Adam is up against one of the others, fans of those who were voted off might mark a “vote against” because of it.

    On Canadian Idol, the underdogs always win and it seems the most talented always leave at top 3 (the most artistic). I really hope this does not happen to Adam, but I have absolute faith that no matter what happens he will be the most successful Idol ever. It’s possible that Kris can win because i see him as very likely to pick up fans on the way (he’s cute, inoffensive, has boy next door appeal) due to people loving to root for the underdog. He also exists within the box….don’t let those creative arrangements fool you. Yes, it’s great that he does this, but there’s more to artistry….lots of guys with guitars who do this. Lots of Kris’ out there, but only ONE Adam Lambert.

    That said, I really like Kris and he’s my second favourite. I think he could have a place in the industry.

    And who knows…..maybe the best thing for Adam is to not win. He is at his best unbounded anyway!

  16. I’m Adam fan, but would have to say sometimes when he’s showing off his “vocal technique” it’s just not pleasant to my ears. I like him for all the other reasons and he really shouldn’t feel like he needs to hit those big notes everytime he sings.

  17. Season 8 –

    You echoed my thoughts about Kris. I am seeing him as a kind of anti-Adam. He is someone that people who dislike Adam, just might go to as a safe haven. I feel exactly the way you do about Kris. He is my second favorite, but a distant second, to Adam. However, I think his voice is unremarkable and he just cannot stand up against Adam’s incredible vocals. He is the All American boy, the “aw shucks” guy that you can’t help liking. I do not find him all that original and sometimes too bland, but I see his appeal to the Adam haters.

    Yes, I am worried about this whole underdog thing. Adam is the one with the burden of such high expectations every week. He has set the bar so high. I guess it’s human nature for some to want to see the favorite knocked off. But I will be extremely disappointed if Adam doesn’t win. I know that he will be successful, but it would bother me to see him lose something he has worked for and earned. He has put in years of hard work and effort to hone his voice into the magical instrument that we get to enjoy every week.

    I am not buying the idea that it’s best if he doesn’t win. The problem is that even if he is the runner-up, he will still be signed by the Idol people. So they will exert creative control over him whether he wins or not. I want to see him win because he is the best, the most fearless, the one who has taken the most risks, who has been the most creative.

    He deserves it. I just hate this whole pattern of trying to knock down someone who is so good.

  18. First of all, truly excellent masterclass, MCL. As always, I enjoyed reading it. I do have one question though that struck me as a little strange.

    You wrote: “Mindy – please send me links of the negative criticism against Adam. I am curious to see the person(s) behind this backlash against Adam. Then I will comment further. Thanks so much.”

    Does it really matter if there is some negative criticism concerning Adam? I mean isn’t everyone entitled to their own opinion? Most people love him; some don’t. I admit that I am not a fan of his, but I never say things about him that are downright mean. If I say anything negative about him, it is in regards to an element of his performance I disliked. Nothing beyond that. So, it is constructive criticism in my opinion. I guess what I am trying to say is that NO CONTESTANT this season is perfect. Surely, you must agree, MCL that even Adam has flaws. I’m a huge Danny fan, but I can acknowledge his imperfections as well. In fact, sometimes I like a little imperfection. It shows a human side, you know? Anyway, that’s just my two cents.

    Once again, great Masterclass!

  19. Galen – I was just curious if the negative comments were from other fans or from media sources? If it is the former, then, you are right – who cares? Everyone is entitled to love or not love whichever singer he or she chooses.

    I would be curious, however, in seeing what media sources are commenting negatively about Adam or any of the contestants. I really don’t have time to read other articles, because of time constraints and also because I don’t want to be influenced by other opinions when voicing my own commentary.

    And I am glad you enjoyed the Masterclass article. Thank you so much!

  20. Rachel, I know for a fact that both Jason and Phil Stacey read MCL comments by way of their parents. Phil’s Dad was very complimentary towards our MasterClass Lady!

    [Anoop] Also, you did not appear as relaxed and liberated as I have seen in the past. Is the pressure getting to you?

    MCL, you know how to read the performances. I also think another part of Anoop’s problems had to do with the fact that he is a perfectionist. He was disappointed in his performance. It seems the arrangement was a bit different in the rehearsals and he was shakened up a bit.

    Anoop’s goodbye performance was so much better. You are right – being more relaxed makes such a difference! Thank you so much for your critiques. They are masterful!

  21. MCL, it seems previously you told Kris to tuck in his tush (butt), and now you tell him to flex those stomach muscles! I have virtually no musical training; would I be able to notice these changes? Hehehe… :grin:

    In the mean time, I am trying to figure out how Adam is “flirting with his lower range.” I’d like to see him flirting with the camera! :smile:

  22. MCL,

    I am sorry that I didn’t respond to you sooner. I don’t know how to do the links, but I have been searching for the comments from some media critics about Adam’s tendency to oversing or be too over the top, too dramatic, etc.

    I know that Michael Slezak has started to become critical of Adam in reviewing his last two performances. He has now decided to champion Kris and Allison, who was one of his early favorites. I find his reviews in general to be extremely biased. There is opinion and there is bias and there’s a big difference. He trashed Archie so badly last year that I had to stop reading his reviews. He is incapable of getting past his own personal bias, this season particularly directed at Danny.

    Also, the person who reviews Idol for MSN.com is now starting to mention how polarizing Adam is and his lifestyle choices, a comment that obviously alludes to his sexual preference. While still ranking him #1, the comments were uncharacteristically negative. Kris was ranked #2, but the comments were much more favorable.

    I know that I read comments from online critics that specifically stated that Adam oversang the song, that his screaming is becoming old and that he is too over the top. If I can find them again, I will at least provide you with the site and name. But I am not talking about fans here. I am specifically talking about a backlash in the media.

    To Galen –

    I am not in any way, shape or form saying that Adam is above criticism of any kind. But you know full well what I talking about here. There is gratuitous trashing and personal attacks and also bias. That is something else entirely. I have no problem with an honest assessment of Adam’s performance. I myself have said that people seem to either love him or hate him as far as his singing. I am not sure why. But I do not think there can be a real debate about the technical merits of his singing. If it doesn’t appeal to you or anyone else, fine.

    This site is here for us to share our comments and opinions. But what I was referring to is this tendency in the media to try and derail whoever is the frontrunner on Idol. We have seen this before. This is when the criticism becomes petty, personal, and just plain mean. I think you know the difference.

    I have no problem with the fact that you have some constructive criticism of Adam at all. I welcome it. No, he is not perfect. But his voice is a true gift of God and he has worked diligently to try and be the very best that he can be.

    Let’s not confuse the real issue here. I am sure you know to what I am referring. It may well get worse as we get even closer to the final. Adam should earn his spot in the finals, however I do not want to see a campaign of hate and distortion online to try to topple him. I say we let the contestants do the singing and let the chips fall where they may.

  23. MCL, I would be curious about your critique of David Archuletta’s performance. I was a crazy fan of his last season, but was quite disappointed in his performance last night. He seemed out of breath afterwards with labored breathing. I didn’t hear any “ping” in his voice which is so characteristic. Even his vibrato seemed shallow and shaky. The song, which I know is from his CD, is so beneath his abilities as a singer and artist. His falsetto jumps had no body and sounded quite amaturish. What was up? Would love your opinion.

  24. KariAnn – you are so sweet. Thanks for your wonderful commentary and for being such a champion for this site.

    Adam’s flirtation with his lower range = his intermittent vocal shift toward his lower range in this week’s performance. It seemed like he wanted to give us a small taste of the inherent beauty of his lower range – not too much – but enough that we would take notice. Hope that makes sense. It’s late here! Off to bed.

  25. Regarding Adam…I respect his vocal instrument, but each week he seems to be “acting” a part or portraying a character. From the various hair arrangements to the “costumes” it’s just such a “show” to me. When he sings, the emotion seems put on to me. It just all seems to be an “act.” I would welcome some authenticity, but because he’s so good at his theatrical craft, it might be hard to recognize any. Sorry. He just doesn’t impress me like he does others.

  26. Matt Giraud is going to have a huge advantage — his style is the best fit for the Rat Pack’s cool Vegas songs, like “Luck Be A Lady,” “Only Have Eyes for You,” “Ring-A-Ding-Ding.”

    Adam Lambert should be great too, he’ll get a chance to go all theatrical again. Think of a guy in a suit smoking a cigarette with a drink in hand in front of a band, and you’ve got the general vibe.

    I think Kris Allen will do better than Danny Gokey, because he’s cooler. Sinatra’s group was all about attitude; Danny is probably a bit too geeky to pull it off.

    And Allison Iraheta’s in for a tough week–the Rat Pack vibe has women around just for decoration. But she can sing anything, so who knows.

  27. Hi Everyone,

    Haven’t had much to say but I’ve been lurking, sure is heating up in here! Finally got on the Adam bandwagon, he really touched me this week, I’ve never denied his talent but we finally connected. My heart still belongs to Matty G. ( do I hear boo’s! ) and always will, I’m his to the end. He’s thrilled me and disappointed me but I’m his to the end, probably also explains why I’ve been married to the same man for 42 years…..Gotta give props to Allison, she is one very talented and gutsy 16 year old, I adore her.
    They are all terrific and seem to really like one another so much, it’s so nice to see.

    Hey Seriously Shirley – You hit the nail on the head with your suit/cigarette/drink comment. I saw many of the Rat Pack perform in Las Vegas in cozy and intimate venues during the 60’s and 70’s. My favorite was Sammy Davis Jr. with his suit, cigarette and drink, he was AMAZING. Those were the days.

    Good luck to all our favorites next week. See ya’.

  28. Kris Lovers Represent! April 24, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Hiya. Long time reader, first time poster, here. Lots to say. I”ll try not to ramble:

    1. MCL – wow, this is the first time that I’ve almost *completely* disagreed with your critique of a contestant – namely, Kris – which is funny, because you’d think there’s not much room for argument as far as vocal technique goes. But this week, I adored Kris more than I have in a while for his *vocal* performance. Don’t get me wrong, I know that his technique is terrible, but like you said last week, he may produce the sounds incorrectly, but he ends up in a good place with them. I do wish he’d learn to project better in his lower range (which is *not* an issue of pitch, as Randy seemed to think it was last week), and he *must* learn the technique if he’s going to succeed with those high, sustained notes. *But* I never for one second felt that he was vocally “lost” in this song, as you did. The restraint at the end seemed quite definitely planned to me – and had a lovely effect in the way it highlighted the beauty of both the melody and Kris’ voice. Actually, that applied throughout. I really enjoyed the melodic *subtlety* of the riffing. Heh. I guess that isn’t complete disagreement, after all. We both think he has a lovely voice.
    2. To all the Adam lovers out there – I like him too, okay? In fact, my favorite performance was Ring of Fire, and I wish he’d go back to *that* sort of Buckley-esque vocal play. Kick awesome. But seriously, folks, I can see why people would dislike anything from the tone of his voice, to his often audible breathing (which – MCL, care to comment? I never find that to be a problem with Kris, oddly enough. He never seems to actually breath. Hmm.) to the shrillness in his upper range. These are all reasons to dislike his vocals, never mind the OTT performance style, which isn’t for everyone.
    In other words, Adam is fantastic, but IMO you are blinded by the fandom that often infects people’s brains when it comes to Idol if you can’t see *any* reason for people to dislike his vocals. He’s talented, sure, but he creates a very specific – and polarizing – sound. Now, I was actually bored by his performance this week – for the first time ever, might I add – can’t even remember what he sang, let alone how he sang it – so I can’t really comment on this particular performance. BUT I do think that there’s more to it than frontrunner backlash. So. Think about it.
    3. From what I’ve seen, both online and IRL, it’s about an even split between people who like Kris because he ISN’T like Adam stylistically and people who love both, each one for his unique skill set. In fact, the online crowd seems to lean quite dramatically towards the latter. Lots of people want Gokey out for an Adam/Kris/Allison final three – Adam for his wild vocal ability, Kris for his musicality, and Allison for her awesome voice and stage presence. So…there’s that. Frankly, I think some Adam lovers need to chill a little and be open to the possibility that, whether or not they, personally, can appreciate it, contestants other than Adam do have something to offer. It’s not crazy to like someone else better.
    4. I don’t think Slezak has ever claimed to be unbiased. *This* may be a site for discussion of technical ability, but music is actually a lot more subjective than that. I mean,you either enjoy something or you don’t, right? And there are about a googleplex reasons *other* than technical proficiency that go into it. That’s what Slezak is commenting on when he reviews performances, and frankly, he can only know what *he* liked, so that’s how his review is going to go.

    So. I tried not to ramble, and failed miserably. KLR out!

  29. First, to MCL–Thank you for clearing that up for me! I understand completely what you are saying.

    Thank you, Mindy, for taking the time to comment so meticulously on my post. I can certainly understand where you are coming from concerning Adam, but I just have a couple of things to comment on myself.

    You wrote: “Let’s not confuse the real issue here. I am sure you know to what I am referring.”

    I’m sorry, Mindy, I re-read that line several times and I just don’t know what you are talking about. If you are referring to anything other than Adam’s skills as a performer, then I really don’t care about that stuff. None of my business, you know? I judge him as a performer, but not as a person. I’m certainly not qualified for that kind of judgement.

    You also wrote: “Adam should earn his spot in the finals, however I do not want to see a campaign of hate and distortion online to try to topple him.”

    Hey, I agree with you on that. Generally speaking, campaigns of hate and distortion are not my cup of tea either. Honestly, I don’t really know what campaigns you are referring to, but I certainly don’t support them. I agree that Adam must earn his spot in the finals. Admittedly, there are some obstacles along the way that could hinder him. For one, Danny and Kris are both very talented as well, and either of them could easily take the Idol crown. Second, there’s always the Daughtry factor, where people assume Adam is safe and don’t vote for him. My advice is this. If you like Adam, then don’t worry about what other people are saying about him. Do your duty as an Idol fan and vote relentlessly for him every Tuesday night, as I always do for Danny. You can’t change what negative junk other people espouse, but you can be a positive influence yourself.

  30. Galen –

    You beat me to it. I have been thinking about everything and have decided not to read so extensively when it comes to music critics. Then I won’t have to worry about anything that might upset me. I am determined to be positive about this and be proactive and vote my fingers off! Good advice from you. I get sensitive when I feel passionately about someone.

    So we have general agreement. I think we are both coming from the same place and I respect your opinions regarding Adam. I believe that you will always give your honest and fair assessment as you see it.

    I also did want to say that you must be pretty tough, because the more I think about it, Danny is the one who has gotten a raw deal online. I have to admit that if anyone has been targeted, it has been him. There are people who have an agenda (yes, I am talking about Slezak!) and there have been some really terrible things said about him. Some critics have been pretty open about wanting to topple Danny and have an Adam, Kris and Allison final three.

    I commend you for keeping it together. You were very gracious in your response and I appreciate it very much. Just to let you know, I go Danny was originally my second favorite, but I have gone back and forth between him and Kris. I love his voice and would be happy to see him really come out and blow everyone away, including his detractors.

    Kris Lovers Represent –

    I gather that your points were directed at me. With all due respect, whether or not I chill or do not chill is my business. I also take issue with your comment about those who are “blinded by the fandom that infects people’s brains”. That is an insult to those who are genuinely moved by someone’s singing. I think that was an unfortunate and more than patronizing comment. If you have read my posts, you would know that I like both Danny and Kris. But Adam happens to be my favorite and – guess what? – I get to do that.

  31. Actually, I think KLR’s comments—reading them in context—are not directed to any one specific person. That particular sentence you quoted seems to be directed to Adam fans who cannot “see *any* reason for people to dislike his vocals.”

    I think the wording was a bit awkward (I can see why people would be offended), but there is a valid point tucked in there. When I first started learning more about vocal technique but still knew far less than I do now, I was really vulnerable to liking singers because of how high they could sing or a [i]perception[/i] that these singers were great vocalists, even when my ears told me that the sound was “off” or “unpleasant.”

    Nowadays, I hear a lot of those singers VERY differently; it is crazy how simply thinking a singer is a great vocalist can blind a listener from the singer’s vocal deficiencies. I was essentially writing off what my ears instinctually told me (“I don’t really like this, but I guess it must be good because everyone says this singer is great, and these notes are SO high!”). On another hand, the singers I liked as a child I still like now, and I actually appreciate them more as well. What I really learned from the whole experience is that it is a mistake for me to like a singer because I think the person is a good vocalist or because people tell me that the person is a good vocalist, and therefore, I feel obligated to like this person. I realized that as a child (and I’d venture to say that this is the same for most people), I was drawn simply to people who moved me, and I didn’t think about or buy into any of the hype about technical ability and high notes. I wanted to listen to people who could stir my soul. That emotional connection was all that mattered. As I got older, I started buying into the hype, and my fanaticism (if you can call it that) for some of those singers has faded because I now realize that (1) for some, their vocal technique really isn’t as great as some people make it out to be (e.g. and/or (2) I have no emotional connection to their singing.

    So, I guess it really boils down to why you like a singer. If you like Adam because he really moves you, power to you! That, I would argue, is the right reason, and people can’t take that away from you. There are other reasons, however, that one could argue are “wrong” reasons, but to each, his or her own, right?

  32. Kris Lovers Represent! April 24, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Mindy – Don’t take it too personally, because it wasn’t directed at you individually. In fact, you’re a pretty minor offender in regards to the things I was talking about. Clarification? I’m not saying you aren’t entitled to have favorites, but more that people get SO invested in those favorites that they really can’t see any flaws at all, or even how some things that they love might annoy others. Idol does that to people. That’s what makes it so successful. Personally, I try – though it is, admittedly, difficult – to remain objective. Which is why though Kris is my fave, I can admit that I have not the foggiest notion how he got through based on Man in the Mirror. (Though I like even that one retroactively, based on the talent I now know it hints at. See? I’m biased, too.)

  33. Adam has managed to tone down his screaming this week and kept it within the melodic and lyrical context of the song to express the emotions of the song.

    For that, he deserves another standing ovation.

    It may be a less powerful performance for fans of his screaming OTT style, and fans of his falsetto ballads, but I am sure it has won over many middle of the road fans who just like a listenable melodic and lyrical song. And mind you, there are a lot of such fans out there, who are currently rooting for say, Anoop, Kris and Danny.

    The important thing to remember now is that who will the fans of the ousted contestants now root for? Who will the fans of Lil and Anoop vote for now? These are the fans Adam needs to win over. I think a romantic ballad may just be the thing Adam needs next. After all, he has already tried, and we know he can do wild and angsty. Now, he only needs to be a romantic balladeer to convert more fans.

    I cannot wait till when Adam gets to do 2 or 3 songs. That will be wonderful to watch and finally, the preferences of ALL his fans will be equally met.

  34. Kris Lovers Represent! April 24, 2009 at 4:10 am

    P.S. Thanks, J. Maybe I should let you speak for me.

  35. I’m not saying you aren’t entitled to have favorites, but more that people get SO invested in those favorites that they really can’t see any flaws at all, or even how some things that they love might annoy others. Idol does that to people. That’s what makes it so successful. Personally, I try – though it is, admittedly, difficult – to remain objective.

    I was TOTALLY guilty of doing this in season five. I will not go into details about the contestant, but back during season five, I was a HUGE fan of one particular contestant and could not see any of his/her flaws at all. I thought this person was an amazing vocalist (pretty much because of his/her range). Now, ironically, a lot of his/her mannerisms annoy me SO much, and I hear all these technical issues that I overlooked (such as how the high notes weren’t really that well produced). As a matter of fact, I can say that I hear a LOT of singers very differently now than I did years ago. Many have withstood the test of time and “enlightenment,” though. =)

    True objectivity is definitely difficult, and I am sure that different people develop it in different ways. For me, knowledge (and in this case, my own vocal growth) has brought to me a certain objectivity. Once I mastered G5s in full voice (i.e. a chest-dominant sound), I stopped being blinded by the pitches people were reaching, and that freed me up to objectively analyze the technique behind those notes. Also, being able to distinguish between correct and incorrect technique in the first place frees me up to be objective. Trust me, with extensive ear training, anyone can too, and free versus constricted notes, different levels of mixes, etc. all sound REALLY different.

    For me, I just try to take what I hear as objectively as possible, and then afterwards, I consider whether I like the sound’s aesthetic. Those two aspects are separate for me. There are singers whose technique I can commend but who, stylistically, are not my cup of tea. I personally like a certain threshold of chest presence in singer’s tones—that to me sounds most natural. Some singers choose to sing with more head-dominant tones, and stylistically, I may not dig it, but I am still able to objectively point out good aspects of these singers’ technique nonetheless.

  36. Main female “Packers” were Lauren Bacall, Shirley MacLaine and Liza Minelli.

    The guys were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, songwriter Sammy Cahn,director Billy Wilder, and hot Hollywood couple Tony Curtis (and his lady-love, Janet Leigh).

    There are songs the guys did that can be sung by Allison, but Liza was amazing!

  37. Kris Lovers Represent! – No worries! Wording can be so difficult. That is why I can be so wordy because I am always wondering, “Is this clear enough? Will people misinterpret my words?”

    Speaking of which, to clarify ahead of time, the comment I made in parentheses: (”I don’t really like this, but I guess it must be good because everyone says this singer is great, and these notes are SO high!”) is NOT directed towards Adam. In fact, I think that this is just a common syndrome in general. Sometimes, I feel our culture has an unhealthy fixation on high notes. “High” is not automatically good. That is my point. =P

  38. Anita – Apparently, Judy Garland was part of the Rat Pack? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Pack

    Ah, I love this era (even though it was way before my time)! I am excited for next week. =)

  39. A couple of comments, please:

    I just don’t get the Matt love. To me, he sounded like he completely ran out of oxygen by the end of Stayin’ Alive, and it seemed like the background singers did much of the lyrics, while Matt “oo, oo, ooed” a lot! Not just this week, but I’m just not clicking with him.

    I wish, just to show the Adam-haters that he can, I would love for Adam to not go to such high notes (or screaming as some put it). He does have a lovely voice from low to high, and I’d like people to hear him sound more ‘masculine.’ I just can’t get over the IT factor that this kid has!

    I noticed that some posters have said (almost rightly so!), that Adam is such a phenomenal actor/singer/performer and we haven’t seen this before. I was all tied up last fall watching X-Factor from the UK on-line, because they had an “Adam” named Rhydian (rid-ee-un) from Wales. Take a look at his progression on X-Factor through these videos http://tiny.cc/2l1Dg starting at the bottom with week 1.
    I find it funny that Rhyd’s real hair is ‘ginger’ (as the Brits call a orangy-red) and he’s dyed it white, while Adam is a strawberry-blond and has dyed it black!

    Enjoy Rhydian … he’s a kick!

  40. J – you’re absolutely right … I was thinking of her daughter Liza, who joined later in life after some, including Judy, were gone. Thanks for pointing that out!
    And add in Angie Dickinson and Marilyn Monroe.

    Somehow, I’m just not picturing Allison singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” HAHAAAAAAA!!!!

  41. Wow! There was a lot to read here when I logged on this morning!!! I’ve been guilty in the past of getting very emotionally invested in an Idol performer and thinking that he was the best thing since sliced bread! I just don’t want to let that happen again. Seriously, this isn’t life and death!!! I very much enjoy reading Masterclasslady’s critiques of the singers because I have not one bit of knowledge about chest voice, head voice, etc. I only know what I enjoy hearing. And perhaps I have bad taste, but it’s MY taste! So I really don’t care whether a singer is technically good or not. Personally I really enjoyed Kris’ performance on disco night. And I thought Adam was really good, but for one reason or another, Danny is the one I enjoy the most. I just don’t understand what is up with people being so anti-Danny. As I mentioned once before, the year that I was so invested in a singer, I greatly disliked his closest competitor. That is the only real reason I can think of that would explain why some people dislike Danny so much–maybe they feel he’s a threat to their favorite because there has been so much talk about Danny being in the finals. Or is it his religious connections? If so, Kris has those too. Or is it his unfortunate lot in life to be a widower at such a young age which makes people think that gives him an advantage because of the sympathy vote? Maybe, just maybe, there are lots of others out there like me who simply enjoy hearing him sing!!!

    When these performers begin doing two songs a night, it really ups the ante. Every performance is going to matter. I think there is no doubt that Adam will be in the finals and rightly so because he’s quite talented. But the question of who will end up with him is really up in the air right now. Anyone of the others could really step up their game, or really falter. We just have to be patient AND be objective!!! I know I’ve been sounding preachy, but I’m old and I think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way!!! :)

  42. Mindy, I would not worry about Michael Slezak and what he says about adam or any of the others. He notoriously only supports the underdogs. I find him funny, but I can’t take him seriously because of how he goes after the frontrunners. He has been shameless in going after Danny this season and Archie last season.

    If u love the underdog, watch slezak. Otherwise, tune him out! Adam is IT and I do NOT need Slezak in his corner to realize it. I also think the vast majority of media are on Adam’s side. He is the media darling. Now the media love a good underdog story, so that may change.

    All things in consideration, Adam is still my fave Idol EVER

  43. Of course there are valid reasons to dislike Adam. But as far as vocal technique goes he is as good as it gets. The way he can mix chest and head voice to create a seamless blend from one to the other, the way his entire range is “connected”, not to mention his massive lung power and incredible breathing skills. His breathing is only audible when he chooses it to be, to enhance the performance. His high notes are shrill because high notes by definition are shrill. He is one of the few male singers in the world who can produce these notes without exclusively relying on head voice, which makes them relatively “full” and strong.

    I get it if you don’t like his tone of voice, his persona or the way he performs. Maybe you don’t like high notes in general. But the combination of singing skill and talent that he possesses is very, very rare and the best we’ve seen on this show so far.

  44. Cecilly – re David Archuleta, I believe that he is still trying to shake a cold.

    Cecilly @11:12pm- you said perfectly what I have been thinking about Adam. He has a gift – vocally and emotionally – to portray whatever character he chooses and it would be wonderful seeing in a play… but, I get no connection to him when I see him just singing.

  45. Wow, no kidding, there is certainly alot to read here.

    First of all, MCL, reading your critiques is like reading a masterpiece, esp. your critique of Adam. I am, unapologetically an Adam fan, and your critique of him really touched me so much that I had to watch his performance AGAIN (def. a labour of love for me.) And once again, I teared up over his performance. I guess this exemplifies the jist of the overall conversation here that a singer connects (or not) to different people in many different ways. For me personally, Adam connects to me on all levels.

    I certainly can understand that he is not everyone’s cup of tea and I sure hope that the fans of the other idols experience this feeling with their favourite. I think it does happen, and because of it, the show is so successful (among other reasons too.)

    Also re: the media debate…For the most part I find the media to be overall good or great in regards to Adam. Sure, there will be those that don’t like him or another idol for that matter, however, their opinion will not change mine. With regards to EW, Slezak doesn’t bother so much. I have a bigger problem with one of the EW show recappers…Whitney something or another. Talk about bias. Where is her professionalism? Her reports are more biased towards her couple of favourites more so then on the overall recap of the ENTIRE show.

    I am also looking forward to next weeks show. It is one of the many types of music that I love. I just hope that we get 2 songs from each idol.

  46. Wow. There’s been sort of an avalanche of responses on here since I last logged in! LOL Anyway, I’ll try to respond to all of the posts that stood out to me.

    To Mindy: Thank you for your kind words. I am very glad that you decided to stop reading what the online media is saying about Adam (as I did for Danny long ago). Reading that trash is just so discouraging, and that kind of negativity is not what anyone needs right now. As for me developing a thick skin against all of the Danny hate that’s going around the internet, I definitely admit that it was hard at first. I can take it when people knock stuff like his vocal ability, but I am just sometimes outraged that people would use his recently deceased wife as a means to attack him. However, what I have learned to do is pity those people for their insensitivity, pray that they never have to go through what Danny has gone through, and just frankly ignore what they said.

    Well, I was going to say more than that, but I have to get off of here. As much I would like to, I guess I can’t sit in front of the computer all day! LOL Be back later though!

  47. hahaha I posted a comment and deleted it! Someone needs a break from her computer!

    Thanks for stopping by everyone. I will be traveling today and will return on Sunday, so keep the lively commentary a constant on this site.

    I will be bringing my laptop and hope to check in every so often.

    Thanks so much for your input – love it!

  48. Anita – Very cool for all the female members of the Rat Pack! I didn’t realize there were so many. =)

    Also, Rhydian is very interesting! He clearly has more of an operatic sound (a lovely baritone). But I think I can see the Adam comparison in that he fills this unique stylistic niche by using a sound based on a genre not commonly seen on these types of show.

    Louise – I love your most recent post! Very good points and anecdotal experience. And I don’t think you sounded preachy at all. ;)

    More comments later! …

  49. Galen, I am an Adam fan all the way but I agree with you on how Danny has been treated, especially by the “vote for the underdog” Michael Slezak. He is almost embarassing in his strong desire to have an underdog win every single season. He’s funny, but sometimes just absurdly so. Sometimes a frontrunner is a frontrunner because they are THAT good, and that’s how I feel about Adam. And the other thing to keep in mind is that the media love a good underdog story. Notwithstanding this, Adam is by far this year’s media darling. He is incredibly talented and interesting and that usually does it as far as media are concerned.

  50. One thing I love about MCL’s website are the comment pages. It’s quite astounding to see civilized and rational debates on a topic that is easily skewed by bias and favoritism. People are ‘classy’ here and I love reading the comments because it’s always an insightful discussion rather than just a cries of support or a kicks of disagreement.

    That being said, Adam and Danny has their fair share of backlash. Regarding a previous comment, for me, I classify all the negative comments against gokey and Adam to be backlash. The higher the popularity- the more notice the media and the world takes of you. If they are a fault-finding population, then they will find fault. It’s inevitable and it comes with being a celebrity.

    I totally understand the idea of Adam being polarizing and I can see easily that people may not see past his appearance, his genre of music, and his theatrical background to see his outstanding vocals. I for one would never imagine myself listening to songs such as “Born to be wild, play that funky music, black and white etc”. But I do, solely because I love listening to his voice. I am very comfortable with the fact that people are not his fans. What is so exasperating (and again inevitable) are the personal attacks not only to Adam but to Gokey as well. Some comments are definitely uncalled for – and EW.com and other sites- it’s obvious that they have this utter hatred against Danny which is tough. I don’t believe that these idols have done anything wrong and because it is a singing competition, that is what they should be judged for. Furthermore, if you do not know the idol personally – how ridiculous is it to make such hurtful commentary on the character of someone? But this is the consequence of stardom. I hope I am not lost in my own point.

    And I also would like to address Adam’s breathing mentioned by a poster above. I noticed it early on in Mad World and have been paying attention to it for some time now. It’s more prominent in his slower, toned down performances (or it could just be that the music is not overpowering it). But is it because his power ballads require more control that you do hear the breathing? I don’t know if this is an upsetting aspect, but it works. Adam can hold strong powerful notes for ridiculous long, over 10 seconds and I believe it was mentioned 20 seconds in Brigadoon?

  51. lakhesis – I completely agree with you about how exasperating personal attacks are. The prevalence of such comments is why I know I would not be able to withstand the scrutiny of fame. Even the most talented, genuine artists have their detractors, and often negative comments dwell on the most irrelevant things. Not liking a contestant for musical reasons is fine, but I have read comments that made fun of a contestant’s (and I quote) “big ears,” disparaged contestants’ weight, and even ones that have complained about a singer being too “goody-goody.” And all those comments just make me go, “o_0?” Not only are these comments irrelevant, but some of them are downright hurtful.

    Also, on the breathing issue, softer dynamics done well do require more breath control. In theory, a singer should be able to keep his or her breath relatively inaudible, but I have heard many brilliant singers whose breaths could be heard, and I don’t believe their audible breathing detracted from their singing ability at all. I would be more concerned about shallow breathing. Also, another aspect is microphone technique. Some singers are better at moving the microphone away when they breathe during pauses. Obviously, it is not practical to move the microphone away when one breathes, but that is another way to create the perception of inaudible breathing. ;)

  52. *Obviously, it is not practical to move the microphone away EVERY TIME one breathes…

  53. seriously surely April 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Despite its reputation as a masculine group, the Rat Pack did have female participants, including movie icons Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall, Angie Dickinson, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland.

  54. Seriously Surely April 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis divorced in 1962> Someone in here (cannot find! y’all right, a lot of comments!, cool, dudes!)>anyway someone in here said that Tony Curtis hung around with his lady love during the Rat Pack era which was in the 60’s. Sorry to split hairs!

  55. Seriously Surely April 24, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Matt should do “Georgia on My Mind.”

  56. Seriously Surely April 24, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I can imagine Allison sing “Candy Man.”

  57. Seriously Surely April 24, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I can see Danny sing “I Got You Under My Skin.” It is a very wellknown song which a lotta peeps can recognize.

  58. Seriously Surely April 24, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Mack the Knife for Adam

  59. Seriously Surely April 24, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Was the Pack chauvinistic? Dang straight.

    I am kinda wierd out why they are having rat pack week.

  60. Seriously Surely April 24, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    how about this song for Danny?
    You’ll Never KnowWriter(s): gordon/warren

    Darling, I’m so blue without you
    I think about you the live-long day
    When you ask me if I’m lonely
    Then I only have this to say

    You’ll never know just how much I miss you
    You’ll never know just how much I care
    And if I tried, I still couldn’t hide my love for you
    You ought to know, for haven’t I told you so
    A million or more times?

    You went away and my heart went with you
    I speak your name in my ev’ry prayer
    If there is some other way to prove that I love you
    I swear I don’t know how
    You’ll never know if you don’t know now

    You’ll never know just how much I miss you
    You’ll never know just how much I care
    You said good-bye, no stars in the sky refuse to shine
    Take it from me, it’s no fun to be alone
    With moonlight and memories

  61. Seriously Surely April 24, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    How about this for Kris? The “Summer Wind”

    The summer wind came blowin’ in
    From across the sea
    It lingered there to touch your hair
    And walk with me

    All summer long
    we sang a song
    And then we strolled that golden sand
    Two sweethearts and the summer wind

    Like painted kites, those days and nights
    They went flying by
    The world was new beneath the blue
    Umbrella sky

    Then softer than a piper man
    One day, it called to you
    I lost you I lost you to
    The summer wind

    The autumn wind
    And the winter winds
    They have come and gone
    And still those days
    Those lonely days
    They go on and on
    And guess who’s sigh`s
    His lullabies through nights that never end
    My fickled friend,
    The summer wind
    The summer wind warm summer wind
    Mmm the summer wind

  62. Wow! There’s a lot going on here!

    Where to begin? Mindy – I know how you feel about the bloggers who, like Slezak, paint a very different picture of Adam than what I have in my head. I am resolved to the fact that, what I need to do is ignore them. I voted for Adam at least 40 times on Tuesday night (then my phone battery went red, or I would have voted more!) I will continue to vote my butt off for him every week. No more splitting votes for me. I like all of the other contestants, but my votes are all for Adam from here on in. If, for some reason Adam doesn’t win, even with all the power voting, I know he’ll be ok. He’s in the public eye now, it’s only a matter of time…

    In Michael Slezak’s articles and on Idolatry, his vlog, he often complains about the Idol producers trying to control the outcome of the season (the word “pimp” is big with him). He’s doing the same thing by shamelessly promoting his agenda (Save the Rocker=Allison). He doesn’t always say bad things about Adam; he (begrudgingly?) compliments him more often than not. He doesn’t share the same tepid opinion of Danny Gokey, however. His big beef with Danny is that he thinks that Danny, “pimped the memory of his (dead) wife.” I think just saying that (above quote)is in poor taste, and even though I’m not a big Danny fan, I don’t think he deserves that. Lil Rounds has suffered the most from Slezak and Co.’s snarkiness this year. Seriously, I don’t know how he can sit and interview the people who are eliminated. He managed not to insult Scott MacIntyre (sp?) when sitting face to face, even though he routinely ripped him on Idolatry each week for song choice, hairstyle, clothes, etc. I probably won’t stop watching Idolatry or reading his recaps, but I’m just not going to take his comments too seriously.

    Looking forward to next week’s show. I thougt I was emotionally vested in last year’s season, but it’s much “worse” this year!

  63. Kworb – Adam’s mastery of the particular coordinations he employs is very impressive, indeed. He has superb control in the way he navigates different parts of his range. What I would like to see from Adam is whether he can add more chest presence to his sound while staying balanced. As a singer myself, I can tell you that that is where a great difficulty lies. Yes, it is wonderful for a singer to be able to hit a note freely in a specific coordination, but is this singer able to hit this note in a variety of ways? I used to think that a singer who could hit a note in a good “mix” automatically had the technique to hit the note in a variety of mixes, but in practice, this is not true at all. A “50/50″ mix is different from a “70/30″ mix, and often, singers can only do one. The fine tuning involved in changing the amount of breath pressure, support, compression, etc. is incredible. Currently, Adam’s entire sound is very head-dominant; this makes it relatively easier for his voice to sound “seamless.” Note that I do not mean to take away from Adam’s ability at all by saying this—having a “connected” range is NO small feat, period—but as a matter of fact, there is a greater level of technical difficulty involved in being “connected” with more chest presence. That is what would really impress me.

    That said, Adam’s uppermost notes (say, G5-Bb5)) definitely have about as much presence as a male singer can get out of them. Those notes by virtue of their pitch will always sound “shrill” by a male singer even when well produced.* However, Adam has room to add more chest presence in his lower and middle ranges, and I would love to hear that from him.

    Bottom line: coordination on high notes rather than the pitches themselves is what impresses me. Not only does a really coordinated chest-dominant A4 by a male singer sound spectacular, but it is a good deal harder than a head-dominant D5 (picking an arbitrary note**). I would love to hear something like that from Adam.

    (*Random YouTube singer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vzCeAegwOo
    **My point is that a higher pitch is not necessarily more difficult in itself; the coordination of the pitch is a huge factor in difficulty level. I would argue that an operatic soprano C, although difficult, does not require nearly the amount of support and compression as a G5 in a chest-dominant “full” voice. This is coming from someone who can sing both.)

  64. Also, I should add that “impressing me” is the not the ultimate goal of a singer (by any stretch of the imagination, lol), and I hope my last post didn’t come off that way. In the end, the issue of personal taste plays a big factor. Adam is already an impressive performer and singer, and to many, he does not need to “prove” himself any further. I just meant to say that I would love to see if Adam has the technical ability to add more chest presence to his lower and middle range, and that would impress me even more.

  65. J – first of all, let me tell you how much I appreciate your knowledgeable and accurate commentary. I would, also, love to hear more nuance from Adam in the mid and lower ranges.

    However, I suspect that he is a lyrical tenor and, overall, has a naturally light quality to his voice. I could sense that when he gave us a glimmer of his lower range during his last Top 7 performance. It was a beautful sound – light, but so resonant and perfect in placement.

    I am certain that, if he had developed a classical style voice, the chest resonance would have enjoyed further development as well.

    He really understand his voice, I find, and has really experimented with the various nuances, inflections and depth that he could achieve through his vocal gifts and then used them to create this wonderfully innovative approach to his music. Marvelous!

  66. Rosanne, thank you so much for replying to my post! I am actually very touched; I know how busy you are! =)

    I love this post of yours! It is very encouraging. In reference to your second paragraph, the very same thought—that Adam might be a light lyric tenor—actually crossed my mind as well. I am glad you pointed that out. To other readers, the concept of vocal “fach” is mainly based on the length and thickness of a singer’s vocal cords. Lyric voices have thinner vocal cords. Therefore, if Adam is a light lyric tenor, his tonal quality will always sound lighter than a full lyric tenor (i.e. one with thicker vocal cords), even if he were to employ the same amount of chest presence as one. Popular music seems to be populated with a lot of slightly bigger lyric tenors, so I definitely think that may skew perception a bit.

    I definitely admire Adam for finding a singing approach so real to him and defying expectations or conventions or whatnot. He doesn’t seem to feel any pressure to conform or change his sound in any way, and that is indeed admirable. In his most splendid performances, I have truly felt his heart and soul being poured. And I think appreciate Adam a little more from your post. Thank you. =)

  67. Hello All –

    I think there are too many posts for me to direct my comments at specific people, but let me just say that I really enjoyed reading all this discussion. I do love Adam, but I also know that he can still work on his vocal skills and technique to get even better. I think that he is doing just that. I don’t think anyone should rest on their laurels. Adam should and will continue to challenge himself, test himself and continue to develop as an artist and a singer.

    Adam does connect with me on an emotional level. It’s a wonderful experience. I would never have thought that I could embrace someone like Adam. I am glad that I kept an open mind and was able to see his enormous gifts as a singer. It has been a rewarding experience.

    To Galen –

    Thank you once again for your understanding and graciousness. I also must say that I have found the comments about Danny supposedly exploiting the death of his wife to be beyond insulting and outrageous. Slezak has been guilty of this and more. But I think he has experienced his own backlash, because lately he has made a point of not going there with Danny’s late wife. I am sure that I was not the only one to write a stinging comment about it on his recap comments section. That is precisely what I mean by bias. Personal attacks of any kind on a contestant’s character, appearance, beliefs or lifestyle choices are entirely inappropriate. Criticizing their singing or performance is totally fair and expected.

    I agree wholeheartedly with a number of comments on her about some of the bias and personal attacks on the contestants. I also believe firmly that Slezak is guilty of using his role as music critic for Idol to be a cheerleader for his personal favorites. Every season he does this and, as it gets closer to the end, he becomes more shrill in his persistent advocacy for a particular person or persons, as though a vote for someone else is a capital offense. This is just beyond the pale.

    Someone also mentioned this Whitney person, who does recaps for the Idol results shows every week. I read her most recent recap for this week and I have to say that I thought it was positively revolting. The personal digs at Archie were especially harsh. Also, her comment that she doesn’t “trust” Adam because she doesn’t know him, made me actually laugh out loud in disbelief. I did write a pointed reply in which I reminded her that all she needs to know about Adam is that he is a singer on a show called American Idol. She doesn’t need to know anything about him as a person. But the whole remark was positively inane and absurd.

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy chatting with all of you here. This is such an enlightened site and I love reading the posts from some of you who obviously have much more technical knowledge of voice than I do. I learn so much.

  68. Mindy, I loved your reply to Whitney at EW. LMAO. Too funny for words!!!! They think they’re so cool with their snarky reports, but really all they do is reveal their bias. Yes, I can sympathize with the underdogs of this world, but to boost someone like Allison or Kris (who I also love – my 2nd and 3rd faves) above Adam is just ridiculous. I will call EW “the underdog pimps” from now on. LOL. They do have an agenda and it’s the same one every single season: PIMP THE UNDERDOG!!!! At times it’s funny, but I’m kinda tired of it this season.

    In my opinion, Adam is clearly miles ahead of everyone in this competition, both in singing and performance, so for EW to ignore that makes me not take them seriously. I’m not a Danny fan either, but I now hope he makes the final 2 with Adam. Danny has really taken a beating from too many people, especially from Michael Sleazak. After watching them, I can see that Sleazak really knows very little about singing. Pfft. He also loved taking Archuleta over the coals last season and the kid was only 16!!! They’re shameless in promoting their underdog agenda.

    One final note on Adam. I honestly do not know if he can win this competition. He is polarizing and will have to deal with frontrunner backlash if Danny is eliminated. He almost needs Danny to stay in this as a buffer to avoid having other fans place a “vote against”. Crazy show sometimes, but at the end of the day my eyes and ears tell me that Adam is the best this show has seen in all categories.

  69. How about this for Kris? The “Summer Wind”

    I love this song and could see him doing this with his cute crooked smile!

  70. J –
    “That said, Adam’s uppermost notes (say, G5-Bb5)”

    Is that G above middle C? I’m sorry I don’t have the most technical of musical theory knowledge. I sang in chorus in high school and college as a 2nd soprano then with a (practical) two-octave range starting at A below middle C. I love singing, but unfortunately am not a natural, but rather did ok with a lot of hard work and passion. However, I was never a soloist!

    “operatic soprano C” – Is this two octaves above middle C? I think I hit this once, maybe twice? Do you know the song Agnes Gooch sings in “Mame”? I can’t remember what the last note is. But it was high. No, it wasn’t me. :)

    When you say coordinated, do you mean between chest voice and head voice? How much of each are you going to use? And what are you going to to get there? Or do you mean how on pitch are?

    MCL – “lyrical tenor” what exactly is this? What other kinds of tenors are there?

    And the you tube link … is that for real??? How does he do it hunched over like that?

  71. Season 8 wrote: “Yes, I can sympathize with the underdogs of this world, but to boost someone like Allison or Kris (who I also love – my 2nd and 3rd faves) above Adam is just ridiculous.”

    Season 8, I found your overall post to be very illuminating and I agree with a lot of what you said, but I think the above quote is just a little bit harsh. If you ask me, every one of those guys (and girl) in the Top 5 could easily be American Idol material. They’ve worked their butts off to get where they are now in the competition, and they absolutely are very talented. I understand you are an Adam fan and I respect that, but to basically say that Adam is so far above the other contenders that it is ridiculous to compare them is just not giving the others the respect they deserve. Adam is good, but he isn’t THAT good. Anyway, I’m not trying to be argumentative, Season 8, but I hope you can understand my point here.

    Oh, and Mindy, thanks once again for your kind words. You really are a very intelligent person, and I can tell that we often think on the same wavelength about most things! I am glad you are a member on here!

  72. Galen, LOL. Yeah, I’m a bit OTT for Adam, but I am glad u got the gist of what I was trying to say. I did stick up for your boy Danny! EW is relentless in going after him. Enough is enough.

  73. auntieaudie, we haven’t seen you as much this year. You have been missed. Congratulations on 42 years of marriage!

    KLR, I do believe Adam is a multi-talented young man and will most likely win AI. However, I have listened to Anoop’s studio recording and Adam’s. I actually like Anoop’s ballads better. However, as has been mentioned it is personal taste. Yes, I do see a future for Kris in the industry.

    The important thing to remember now is that who will the fans of the ousted contestants now root for?

    idleidolfan, many of Anoop’s fans will not be voting. Others lean towards Adam and Kris (from the forums).

    J, as a young child I remember loving my parents’ favorite singer, Frankie Laine. Even today, I enjoy hearing his recordings.

    “Despite its reputation as a masculine group, the Rat Pack did have female participants, including movie icons Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall, Angie Dickinson, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland.” The surprise name on this list for me is Marilyn Monroe. I would imagine that Judy Garland’s songs are not on the list. But if they were…I’d be pleased.

    American Idol will be a little less exciting for me the rest of this season, but it definitely will not be boring!

    MCL, may your daughter find the perfect dress! I have been down that road, and it can be exciting!

  74. eliminating Anoop was like tearing off a band-aid, hurts for a second, but we had to get it over with eventually

  75. Jessica T – (1) Scientific Pitch Notation – C4 is Middle C. A4 is the A above Middle C. The “start” of an octave is C, so the next octave starts at C5 and so forth. Therefore, G5 is the second G above middle C. This is the high note Adam hit in “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (performance night). Bb5 is the Bb right below soprano C (which is C6; two octaves above middle C as you correctly identified). Adam hit this note in “Play That Funky Music.”

    (2) Choir – Two octaves is very apt for choral music! I am a choir addict myself, and I don’t recall ever having a piece that spanned more than two octaves. ;) Hard work and passion are important ingredients for the success of even “gifted” singers, so I would say having those qualities is very valuable. =) Keep going at it!

    (3) No, I don’t know the song Agnes Gooch sings in “Mame,” but I’d love to hear it! Is there a link anywhere (maybe on YouTube)?

    (4) There are German and Italian fach systems. (I prefer the Italian system.) The three main labels (from lightest to heaviest) are lyric, spinto, and dramatic. These are applied to all faches (i.e. there are lyric sopranos, lyric baritones, etc.). Very light tenors are also called leggiero tenors, and very heavy tenors are called heldentenors. The main difference is that dramatic tenors have thicker vocal cords than lyric tenors. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenor

    For reference, Pavarotti is a lyric tenor, but he is on the fuller lyric side. So, you’d imagine that dramatic tenors have quite large instruments because Pavarotti’s voice is quite big!

    (5) I have no reason to doubt the validity of the YouTube video. If you have ever seen Filipina divas, their lung power is incredible! Practice is key. Your body builds up stamina and over time is able to handle such high levels of support.

    (6) Coordination… I’ll write this in the next post. =P

  76. Jessica T – (cont.) By “coordinated,” I mean “balanced.” I use the terms interchangeably. Let me clarify. On a technical level, singing involves coordinating different muscles and movements in the larynx. These muscles may work together or in opposition; the key is for the net interaction of all these muscles to be “balanced.” “Coordinated,” I suppose, is really shorthand for “well-coordinated.” I use the term “coordinated” to describe sounds where all these interactions in the larynx are balanced, producing a free, resonant tone.

    Now, you also touched on another topic about coordination, which is the degree of “chest” versus “head” presence in one’s sound, and that is a whole discussion in itself. Maybe, I will write about that one later, but it is a bit complicated. And the science behind it keeps “changing” with new discoveries.

    Kariann1 – Thank you for sharing that lovely anecdote. I love reminiscing about such childhood memories. I listened to Frankie’s voice, and I simply love that genre of music. Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong era! ;)

  77. Season 8 wrote: “Galen, LOL. Yeah, I’m a bit OTT for Adam, but I am glad u got the gist of what I was trying to say. I did stick up for your boy Danny! EW is relentless in going after him. Enough is enough.”

    Hey, yes, I want to thank you for sticking up for Danny as well. I admit that the media can be quite cruel to him, and to be honest, I just have completely abstained from reading that filth. And, yes, I did get the gist of what you were saying. It’s okay to be a little OTT for your favorite after all. I know I am probably guilty of being that way with Danny from time to time as well. LOL

  78. Folks – what note does he hit in the studio version of If I Can’t Have You at 2:54-2:56? I found it absolutely amasing – the clarity and purity…
    (if this was already identified in the previous posts -sorry …)
    Thx

  79. Folks – those you you with perfect ear – what note does he hit in the studio version of If I Can’t Have You at 2:54-2:56? I found it absolutely amasing – the clarity and purity…
    (if this was already identified in the previous posts -sorry …)
    Thx

  80. The highest note on that run is a G5 (the second G above middle C). The note he sustained for a little while before that was an E5. Hopefully, my file has the same time stamps. ;)

  81. Thank you, J. The note I was asking about is the highest in this recording. I am going to listen next to the piano and when he hits it – I’ll compare.. to G5. Obviously – I have to hope that my piano is well tuned :)

  82. Have any of you listened to the studio versions of any of the songs? I’d be interested in any comments and/or critiques. I guess what interests me is the process and how a lot of them sound so much better.

    J – Are you an Eva Cassidy fan?

    Kariann – Thank you.

  83. auntieaudie – Oh, I LOVE Eva Cassidy. What incredible artistry! Her phrasing was impeccable and so was her skill for rearranging classic songs. Not to mention the beautiful purity and sweetness of her tone and her extraordinary range. One thing I love about Eva is her understanding of subtlety and nuance. She is not the first singer one usually thinks of for “powerhouse” vocals, but goodness, she could achieve such power when she wanted to and then effortlessly dial back down to a soft dynamic. The way she navigated her range so easily… I love singers like Eva who have the technique to back up their skill but technique seem so secondary compared to the true artistry and emotion in their voice. Her voice always makes me want to cry. I can only hope to capture a fraction of her artistry and touch a handful of lives compared to her. Yes, Eva Cassidy is wonderful.

    (A miscellaneous cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water“; her ease with the numerous E5s is stunning, but the emotion in her singing really transcends everything else.)

  84. I am listening to Adam’s “quiet desperation” on tube site…. He is singing in much lower register for about 3 mins out of 4. This is the longest sustained baritone(?) from Adam. If you have time – pls listen and comment on his performance here.
    Thank you.

  85. J – Thank you, your comment brought a tear to my eye! Sometimes while listening to Eva I think that I would gladly have given my life so that she would have been able to live. Have you ever visited her website?, the Guestbook there is full of the most remarkable personal stories and testimonials from people all over the world, have a box of tissue close by. Supposedly there is a movie in the works about her life, I do hope it comes to fruition.

  86. auntieaudie wrote: “Have any of you listened to the studio versions of any of the songs? I’d be interested in any comments and/or critiques. I guess what interests me is the process and how a lot of them sound so much better.”

    Audie, I have downloaded a lot of the studio versions this season. As for this week’s performances, I downloaded Danny’s, Kris’s, Matt’s, and Allison’s. All of them sound worlds better than their live counterparts. If you want to know how your favorite is going to sound on the radio, I highly recommend downloading his or her studio version.

  87. auntieaudie – Thank you for mentioning Eva! It saddens me too how the world lost her so soon and how such an extraordinary talent could go unnoticed during her life. I am just thankful for all the people who make her music available for the rest of us to enjoy now; we are truly blessed by her talent! If anyone deserves the description of possessing a gift the rest of the world is “unworthy” to hear, I feel it is Eva. I must read her website now; thank you! I probably do need a box of tissue nearby. ;)

    I would like to see a film about her life come to fruition too; I hope that the director and the actress who portrays her do justice to her.

    About the studio versions, I think the reverb helps polish the vocals in the recordings. Also, in the studio, since the recordings are multi-tracked, it is easy to mix the levels in a way that makes the vocals sound more appealing and often more “powerful.” (Although the best singers actually tend to sound more powerful live because all the nuances in their voices don’t always translate to recordings.) Otherwise, I don’t know if people realize this, but someone with ear training can still easily hear any technical flaws the singer might have (and I’m talking less about pitch because that can be fixed in a studio but the actual technical approach). The studio just does a a good job of trying to cover up those flaws a little bit.

  88. Quoted by J: (Although the best singers actually tend to sound more powerful live because all the nuances in their voices don’t always translate to recordings.)

    I very often find this to be the case especially regarding some of the contestants on AI because, over the years, we have seen and heard so many singers/vocalists that are incredible live. The overproducing and mixing of the studio versions and on many of the idolists’ cd’s is unnecessary.

  89. Yeah, good point about the studio versions being tweaked a bit to sound more appealing. However, I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with that. I’m sure there are many music superstars today who also play around with their voices to sound a little bit better on their recorded versions. It’s just part of the business, you know? In my experience I have noticed that most singers sound just a little bit worse live than they do on their respective CD’s. Still, I have to say that I prefer the Idols’ studio versions to their live performances. They just sound so much more “official.”

  90. auntieaudie and J
    The only Eva Cassidy song I know is Fields of Gold because I LOFF Michelle Kwan. Fields of Gold was her exhibition piece from her second Olympics and then for a couple of years. I saw her perform it live on the Champioins on Ice tour. Her back change of edge spiral was absolutely stunning. The girl’s musicality in skating can’t be beat. When Eva’s Fields of Gold went “gold,” Eva’s parents met Michelle backstage and Michelle presented them with the gold record.

    timbre I read somewhere when CDs where starting to become commonplace that in classical recordings “vinyl” picked up the timbre of instruments/voice and played it back better despite the noise that records produce. Have you heard this? Maybe they pick up more nuances? I think my husband told me of digital files that they cut off high and low end to make the files smaller.

    notes How do you know what notes singers hit live? I guess someone with perfect pitch would know … or do you hum it yourself, then match it? Or can you hum a note then know where it is in your vocal range? My upper voice has gone. Use it or lose it, I guess. I’m lucky to hit an E5 these days. That used be a sweet spot for me. It’s depressing. I wonder if years of teaching school and talking has worn out my vocal chords?

    choir/chorus
    Some of my favorite pieces to sing are Latin religious pieces. I’m sure because of masses the names are common. We sang a haunting piece called “Tenebre Factae Sunt.” I loved that. Other challenging pieces were Schubert’s Mass in C, Alleluia by Randall Thompson, Robert Frosts poems set to music “Stopping by Woods” and another I don’t remember, an arrangement of “Down by the Riverside,” and the hardest (in college), probably “Carmina Burana.” Of course in high school we sang the “Hallelujah Chorus.” For all-state try outs one year, my piece “Come Unto Him” from The Messiah. Another year a piece called “Velvet Shoes” with lyrics from a poem of the same name. The climax of my brief and unremarkable music career was a solo a graduation from a piece called “Sine Nomine.”

    talent, perfect pitch, and ear-voice coordination Name that note. In a piece on Scott Macintyre, some of the other contestants noted that he could tell you what any note was or hum a note. If he had perfect (or relative) pitch, he must’ve known when he was off, right? Wouldn’t that just eat him alive whether he showed it or not? Is there anything called ear voice coordination for those of not gifted with perfect pitch or a natural voice? I can hear when something is off. Or occassionally, hear a chord and say, “hey, that the first chord in Hard Days Night or Pinball Wizard, say.” I couldn’t necessarily reproduce it perfectly. I sang soprano for so long my voice always wants to stray to the melody if I’m trying to harmonize. I just don’t have that natural ability, but if I had studied it, I could’ve told you what chord or how off, etc. Just don’t have the ear-voice coordination down …

    anatomy/physiology ENT Vocal chords are of particular importance to me because my premature son has a damaged trachea from being intubated for a long time. He was 1 lb. 9.5 oz. and his trachea would stay open without the stent of the ET tube from the swelling and scarring. Ultimately he had a tracheostomy which stayed in place from 2 months to 2 1/2 years. He had laryngotrachealplasty where the ENT surgeon (the best in the world at pediatrics) took cartilege from his rib to graft and enlarge the circumference of trachea so it would be large enough for him to breathe through. So he’s great now in terms of breathing, but he never learned to talk and has vocal chord damage/scarring. His voice is very gravelly and husky. He is 4 and can make a couple of syllables/sounds. He is going for a Voice Clinic in June in Cincinnati at the hospital. We will find out more about the state of his vocal chords then. I do know there is “tethering” underneath (posterior?) from scar tissue and when he had surgery there seemed to be some paralysis of one side … not sure though. I think there may be something with the “cricoaryithnoid joint”, which I believe moves the vocal chords … if you ever want pictures … I have scope pics of his poor little vocal chords!

    Thanks for answering all my questions and thank you for letting me go off topic. :)

  91. Wow! This critique was amazing. I’ve been reading you for a while, but only just now (though I should have been saying thank you every week) did I feel compelled to post, relishing the brilliant way you articulate the pros and cons of these contestants. Watching the performances, I was looking for the words to describe what I was instinctively feeling, and I could not find them. They are right here! ‘Spot-on’ has almost too weak a connotation for what you write; it is that accurate.

    Thank you, and belated thank-yous for the weeks prior.

  92. J, Galen and Jessica T. Thanks for your input. There have been instances with the Idols in the past where I thought their live performances were so much better than on television or recordings, in particular, Chris Daughtry, Mandisa, Melinda Doolittle, Lakisha Jones and David Archuleta. For me Lakisha took the top spot, jawdropping.

    Jessica – I’m a big figure skating fan and did see the ” Fields of Gold ” performance on television. Thanks for mentioning it and I did not know that the Cassidy’s were presented a gold record by her, so nice to know. I’m sorry about your son, I wish you both well.

  93. J – Thanks again for your additional comments about Eva. I keep a journal with comments I’ve come across about Eva and I have put your ” unworthy ” comment in it. Here are a couple of my favorites:

    ” Been around pickers and singers for 40 years, good as I ever heard, God Bless, what a voice ”

    ” Doesn’t she help you to want to be a better person in every way? ”

    ” It’s kinda funny, lots of her songs…the songs I like the most…they are very sad. And her story is sad and it’s really sad she isn’t here anymore. But every time I listen to her I get so much hope and feel relieved. It’s really magical. ”

    ” God, I can’t watch this without crying ”

    ” You know there are good musicians in every field of music and there are some that are great, really great, but then there are those few who have that magic, that other dimension that must come from God and that’s how I feel about Eva. ”

    All of these came from Youtube with the exception of the last which is from Herbie Hancock. Shortly after discovering Eva about 7 years ago I said to my husband, ” She’s put a spell on me, like magic. “, this was long before I read any other commentary.

  94. Trav – thanks so much and please stop by again. Nice to see new visitors to this site.

    And, I always try to be fair and objective to all the singers and, in doing so, am always amazed at how some singers favorably evolve due to their perseverance and motivation to improve each and every week. Like eager little students! I love it!

  95. I still think Adam’s live performances are better than his studio recordings. Maybe it’s the way they’re mixed in the studio, but they seem to lose some of the raw emotion and power of the live versions.

  96. nica575 –

    You asked the exact question that I was going to ask. It’s that unbelievable, almost unearthly note that he hits at 2:54 of the studio recording. I also want to know if anyone can tell me what that note is. I didn’t think he could go that high. It’s like he’s up in the stratosphere.

    MCL,

    Since I don’t know how to post links, I decided to cut and paste Slezak’s latest review of Adam’s performance. I still can’t find the one in which the critic said he “oversang” the song, but I think that this review provides the essence of some of the criticism about Adam’s performance. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to comment or not. I am just presenting it without comment.

    Week 7: “If I Can’t Have You”
    “SLEZAK’S TAKE: By stripping away the song’s disco façade, he’d be cutting to the heart of the sad-sack lyric — “If I can’t have you, I don’t want nobody baby.” Unfortunately, Adam also washed away much of the gorgeous melody written by the Brothers Gibb and sung by Yvonne Elliman for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and the performance had the slightly underdone quality of an otherwise tasty meal that was pulled out of the microwave about 30 seconds before it should’ve come out. Sure, the vocals were immaculate, as Simon noted, and Adam looked great with his shiny black suit, mile-high pompadour, and giant snake ring, but the experience wasn’t entirely satisfying.”

    I just wanted to add something else regarding the discussion about Slezak rooting for the underdog. I don’t think that is his agenda. I think it’s more than that. He seems to select his personal pre-ordained one or two picks and then work diligently to convert anyone who reads his reviews. His latest slogan is “Save the Rocker”, meaning Allison. He was horrified to see her in the bottom three this past week. He treated it like an injustice of mammoth proportions. This is the type of self-indulgent behavior to which I am referring.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think the end of the world is imminent if either Allison or Kris gets voted off. It’s not like it will be the apocalypse. I think the top five all have a great shot at getting a record deal. I just happen to think that Allison needs more time to improve her vocal skills, mature and develop as an artist.

    I am going to miss Anoop, too. I thought he had a great voice, but his lack of performing skills really cost him here.

    I do believe that Adam is superior vocally to the other contestants. I don’t want to offend anyone and I do think that the other four are quite talented. But it’s clear when you listen to Adam that he has excellent vocal technique and great command and control of his voice. I never heard of the terms “lyric tenor” and “dramatic tenor”, but I find the discussion here extremely interesting.

    I would really like to hear more of Adam’s lower range. As MCL said,he has been “flirting” with his lower register. I would love to see him do more than flirt.

  97. Just came back on here to say that I should have read ALL of the posts. I see that my question about what note Adam hits at 2:54 of the studio recording is a G5, second G above middle C.

  98. MCL,

    I’ve been reading your articles weekly since season 5 of Idol (and have gone back and read everything you wrote about Idol before that). I’m just curious as to which contestant over the course of the history of the show has shown to be the most technically correct singer. My guess would be Anwar Robinson but you obviously have a better idea as to who that would be. Thanks.

  99. Jesse – the first singer that comes to mind is David Archuleta – he was and is a technical, but musical virtuoso – just brilliant.

    I also have great admiration for David Cook. Even though he is a bona fide rockstar, he rarely deviates from his technical skills.

    Katharine McPhee was and still is a stellar vocal artist with a solid technical foundation.

    Anwar was quite good as well, but not as consistent as the above 3 singers. Oh- and Constantine was amazing.

    Have to teach now – will add some more later

  100. Jessica T – Great post! I hope to be able to respond soon, but I am studying for exams.

    Jesse – In my humble opinion, Kelly Clarkson at her technical peak is one of the finest female vocalists in popular music, period. The Dean of Music at Xavier University gave her glowing comments concerning her “America, the Beautiful” performance, and I could provide an endless number of examples upon request. Another singer who comes to mind is Jennifer Hudson (generally speaking). And of course, Melinda Doolittle! How could we forget her?

    To address the earlier mention of Katharine McPhee: She is an example of a singer who is good at certain “mixes” but not other ones; she has a hard time staying balanced while trying to sing with a “chestier” sound. She runs into a lot of imbalance issues when she tries to “belt,” but when she is singing the right song/genre, she can sound quite lovely. Her recent performance of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” was brilliant! I hope she continues to grow vocally. Her musicality has always been excellent, though.

  101. J – how could I forget Kelly Clarkson. For me, Jennifer Hudson is up and down with her technique, but she is a remarkable singer, nonetheless. Melinda – brilliant technique. Also, Bo Bice showed exceptional growth during his American Idol journey.

    And, you are correct about Katharine but that can be said about any singer. They have to know and appreciate the style of music which is most suited to their voice and range.

  102. I also agree that Jennifer can be up and down. (I was going to elaborate more with the parenthetical statement above, but I am working on brevity, lol!)

    I am glad you mentioned Bo too! He is very underrated, I find. I wonder if any contestant will ever have the courage he did to sing an entire piece a cappella (“Within a Dream”); I would love to see that!

    They have to know and appreciate the style of music which is most suited to their voice and range.

    *nods* This is true. I find myself most admiring of singers who are multi-faceted and have the versatility to sail smoothly from one genre to the next with authenticity and technical aplomb, but those singers are certainly rare, and you really reminded me that it is a bit of a lofty expectation to impose on every singer. I would hope that every singer at least aspires to develop that level of technical skill, though.; I know I certainly do. It really opens up one’s world of musical possibilities.

  103. I agree that all the aforementioned artists have shown great technique. Perhaps one more AI singer yet to be mentioned would be Clay Aiken? I thought he showed remarkable technique on Idol.

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