American Idol Season 8 Top 5 Vocal Masterclass Article: Music From The Rat Pack Era


American Idol

By: Rosanne Simunovic

Well, first of all, I have to say this music is a blessing for every type of singer. Classic melodies intertwined with meaningful lyrics is always a win-win situation.

This week, the Top 5 were allowed to shine through the talented efforts of Oscar recipient Jamie Foxx and the superb sound of Rickey Minor’s band. It does not get much better than this, folks!

However, some of the vocalists gave more style than substance this week and, for the most part, a few sounded enormously tired.

So, let’s have a look at my thoughts on the Top 5 performances this week and please feel free to share your comments after the read.

Also, 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,

Danny Gokey, Kris Allen,

Matt Giraud,

ADAM LAMBERT 27-years-old: “Feelin’ Good”

Strengths: Adam- you performed Muse’s version of Feeling Good – excellent call!   However, when you walked down the stairs at the beginning of this absolutely stellar performance, you were channeling some Michael Buble as well.  This is the same entrance he uses with this song at the opening of some of his shows and it is wonderfully effective.

What a performance, Adam!  For me, this performance absolutely confirmed the outstanding technical foundation that is at the core of each and every one of your showcases.  That feelin’ upper note – perfectly sustained for what seemed like an eternity -was blanket evidence of this fact. That tongue ( how could we miss the tongue?) – was lying flat and relaxed in the front of your mouth, thus freeing any constriction in your throat and adding rise to the soft palate as well.

As a result, you were more than capable of applying strong support from your diaphragmatic muscles when sustaining the “i” vowel in the second syllable of the word “feelin“. And, of course, you made absolutely certain that your jaw was relaxed and free, thus liberating your vocal sound even further so that it could resonate perfectly in your vocal masque.

And that downward vocal spiral after you held this note, flawlessly executed without a breath or even the remotest facial evidence of concern, was testament to your highly refined technical skills. The descending scale was seamless, pure and centered. 

It actually reminded me of the technical strength and power of classical artist, Cecilia Bartoli, who is, to my mind, the best classical singer in the world today. I saw her execute the same vocal feat, but, obviously in her case, it was during a classical number. I can’t remember the name of the song, but I do remember the moment and you brought it all back to me with your enormous talent and skill during this week’s Top 5 showcase.

Also, the wonderfully sustained pianissimo note on the final word “good” was just beautiful. Your muscles have to make the necessary adjustments so that the pianissimo vocal sound remains steady and pure, while at the same time projecting with subdued confidence and intensity.  And, Adam, for me this was the icing on the cake, further highlighting the extraordinary depth and dimension in your vocal ability.

Finally, on a humorous note, there was definitely no flirting with that lower range, as I so teasingly pointed out in last week’s Vocal Masterclass evaluation. The first half of this song, wonderfully demonstrating the absolute beauty and depth of your baritone voice,  provided superb dimension and contrast when you accessed your upper range later on in this number.

Additionally, the clarity and transparency of your voice during  the quiet opening section of this number was absolutely gorgeous.

Congratulations on another multi-dimensional performance, Adam!  This was a meticulously prepared showcase! Bravo!

 Critique: Adam – once again, I can find little to critique in this performance.  It was just a brilliantly executed vocal masterpiece!

The only thing that I would draw caution to is the tension in your eyes when holding that prolonged upper note at the end of the song.  Make sure you keep the eyes open and free  so as to completely liberate and deepen the full potential of your upper range.  By closing and/or tensing the eyes, you diminish the full effect of the resonating areas in your facial features.

Also, as difficult as this is to do, refrain from raising your head when accessing your upper range.  All this does is create more tension in your neck muscles which will create havoc on the overall quality of the vocal sound. I still feel that there is some level of head resonance that could be more central to your upper register sound; presently I hear a bit too much chest resonance in the vocal mix and this may have to do with some of the tension in your upper body.

However, given the depth of your technical skills, I would think these small adjustments will be very easy for you. You are such a determined and meticulous artist, bringing a great deal of musical intelligence and artistic passion to the Idol table each and every week.  Bravo once again, Adam!

 ALLISON IRAHETA 16 -years old: “Someone To Watch Over Me ”

Strengths: Allison -you looked so beautiful this week – wholesome and naive. This was the perfect look for this song and, one, I might add, that I hope you adopt in the future. It suits your young age and effervescent personality and, additionally, heightens so many positive physical attributes that go unnoticed when you dress in a more austere fashion.

Also, I am glad that you challenged your vocal skills with a strong, powerful ballad. Although I wasn’t particularly fond of this song choice for your vocal style and strength, I thought that you really attempted to achieve a variety of nuance throughout this number.

Additionally, I did so appreciate your ability to inject your rock-inspired vocals within the song structure – it demonstrated how thoroughly focused you are as a budding rock star and your ability to transfer your style to a completely distant genre of music.

Good work, Allison!

 Critique: Allison- as I said above, I felt that this song was not the perfect fit for you – at least, not yet. This song presents enormous challenges for the singer and technical landmines exist at every turn of the phrase or page.

The ascending line during the opening section of this song requires powerful sustaining power and pure, seamless vocal sound as you move through the registers. You employed far too much chest voice – pushing, rather than releasing, your voice on the word “longing“. 

And this constant push and drive from your throat just never relented throughout this song, causing you to abandon the proper diaphragmatic support necessary to sustain the melodic line of this difficult number.

Furthermore, as you moved into  the middle portion of this number, you encountered some additional technical issues.  This section of the song has to be sung freely, with an increased rubato, or, otherwise, it will sound stilted and restrained. Instead of moving the song forward and, perhaps picking up the pace, you struggled along with the same slow tempo and this caused your breathing to fall apart at the seams.

As your air was poorly managed,  the phrase lines became enormously fragmented.  There were times when you were breathing  far too often, thus creating awkward pauses throughout the song and disrupting the natural flow and intensity of the melodic line.

Also, I feel that a lower key would have been preferable.  In  previous performances,  you always appeared and sounded  most relaxed when singing through your resonant lower range.   As it was, the hoarse, rough quality in your voice, particularly when you moved through your upper range,  just did not suit this song.  This song, by nature of  the lyrics, requires a more vulnerable vocal sound to compliment the singer’s vulnerable persona.  You had the look, Allison, just not the correct voice to truly enhance the emotional core of this number.

Also, your facial features were so tense, thus closing off the resonating areas in your vocal masque.  At the end of the song, your jaw was so tense that it was  quivering when you vocalized the word “watch”.  And, your head – you must learn to sing over your upper notes and never, ever reach for them. I mentioned this fact last week and in weeks previous, so hopefully, you are working to to better solidify and strengthen your technical issues.

In closing, Allison, I would like to caution you to please take care of your voice. That huskiness in your vocal timbre is quite disconcerting and makes me wonder if you are suffering from nodule problems. The tension and strain in your voice makes me think that you will continue to have problems with your vocal health.

I would strongly advise you to (a) see an ENT specialist to out rule any possibility of nodule formation and (b) start working diligently with an extremely knowledgeable vocal technician who can set you on the correct path to complete vocal freedom.

Best of luck, Allison!

 DANNY GOKEY 28- years old : “Come Rain Or Come Shine”

Strengths: Danny -what a performance! You grabbed all the intensity and emotion from this song and created a passionate vocal work of art that was truly exhilirating. If I can speak frankly here, I was not expecting this level of a performance from you. As always, I felt it would be good, just not excellent or downright outstanding. So, color me embarrassed – you showed me, didn’t you?

I absolutely loved the beautiful bluesy, almost gospel, feeling that you emoted and that grew in power and verve as the song unfolded. And, to add more passionate fuel to the fire, the orchestra wonderfully mirrored your vocal drive and energy. Sheer perfection! This was a brilliant performance and your voice exuded dynamic energy and unbelieveble dimension. And the layers of nuance you sprinkled throughout this song were truly exceptional!

When you kicked it up at the end, you revealed the true depth of your incredible vocals and artistic power. Your voice and body were rhythmically so connected to this song.  Also, it goes without saying that the forward momentum was beautifully established. Your phrasing was impeccable and so very musical.

And, I agree with the judges, I feel we have discovered a niche for you, as this music suits you enormously well. You seemed absolutely connected to the rhythmic line of this song. It was quite the spectacle, Danny and in an “oh so good” way!

What more is there left to say except heartfelt congratulations on a truly excellent performance. Bravo Danny!

Critique: Danny -easy does it with the chest voice overload in your vocal mix! I absolutely loved the timbre of your voice at the beginning of this number – you voice was perfectly placed in your vocal masque and the head resonance was ringing with crystal clarity.

Now, what you must remember when you start injecting power vocals into your vocal delivery is to never leave your lovely head voice resonance behind in the dust. It always must be in the center of the vocal mix, strongly and consistently supported through the power and reliability of your diaphragmatic breath support. In this way, you can increase the dynamic range of your voice through the strength and support coming from your breathing muscles.

Also, watch that mouth spread on some of the trickier diphthongs, such as “ay“. Toward the end of your song, I loved the bluesy repetition of the word “rain” , but your mouth position diminished your vocal clarity and I am almost certain that your voice cracked in the process. Spreading your mouth and extending your voice on all the vowels while sustaining it on one note creates unbelievable tension in the throat, thus impeding the vocal excellence and refinement.

Remember to grab the first pure vowel in this diphthong – in this case it being the “eh” vowel -and make certain that your mouth is circular and that jaw relaxed.

However, artistically, this was just a strong performance, Danny, and probably my favorite performance from you since the beginning of American Idol Season 8. Kudos once again!

 Kris Allen “The Way You Look Tonight”

Strengths: Kris – you chose a beautiful song for this evening’s Rat Pack showcase and one that romantically connects singer to listener. You established an intimate connection with your audience by nature of the light timbre of your voice and your sincere, heartfelt aura.

Although you do not possess a large, multi-dimensional voice, you do use it wisely within the confines of your developing technical skills, allowing the emotional core of the song to regulate and heighten the successful performance of your numbers.

You have a wonderfully pure voice, Kris, and, despite all the technical problems that need correction (see your critique), you manage to center your pitch remarkably well. I almost sense that you may have perfect pitch or, at the very least, relative pitch.

Additionally the natural head resonance in your vocal timbre is also beneficial to this important element in solid vocal delivery.

Therefore, as this songs calls for a quiet, subdued approach, I felt that this classic song choice was very well suited to your vocal style and substance. The sensitivity and warmth that we felt while you performed this number is testament to the strength of your communicative skills.

And I cannot tell you how much I adored the uptempo segue into the final half of this song, followed by the rallentando as you moved to close the song. This variation in tempo and mood added wonderful aural and visual dimension to the number. You moved closer to the edge of the stage, thus further solidfying your connection with the audience. Excellent call on your part and kudos to the band for creating this lovely arrangement!

Wonderful work, Kris!

Critique: Kris – drop your jaw and open your mouth, child! Once again, that mouth remained in a fixed horizontally closed position, thus disabling you from accessing the strength and power of your diaphragmatic breath support.

As a result, I felt that the phrasing was really fragmented – you were breathing far, far too often and the song lost a great deal of momentum because of this technical deficiency.

Also, as you ascended the melodic line during the opening portion of this song, you had a tendency to reach for those upper notes rather than singing over them. Mentally, you have to adopt a descending melodic line when singing an ascending melodic line, but you also need the diaphragmatic technical skills firmly in place to fully liberate and focus your voice in your vocal masque.

And, as in last week’s Top 7 showcase, the exaggerated pause at the end of this number allowed the song to lose momentum and intensity when you most definitely needed it.

It would have been a much better call to extend the sustaining process on the word “look“, perhaps adding a decorative note or two. By doing so, you would have increased the natural flow and intensity of the final phrase, making certain that the forward momentum was not compromised at this crucial point in the song.

And intensity was what I felt was missing from this performance – there was not enough nuance and inflection in your voice because you are yet so inexperienced in the proper technical delivery of your vocal sound.  The full power of your natural voice was trapped in your throat and, thus, was produced in an emaciated manner.

And, it was for this very reason that you did indeed reveal a crack or two in your vocal armor as you moved through your vocal range, particularly when you moved into your head voice at the start of the uptempo portion of this song.

Also, from a visual perspective, I would have nixed the mike stand and encouraged you to travel the perimeter of the stage solely with the mike in your hand. This method would have been more conducive in heightening confidence and style in your performance.

However, the good news is that you are here for another week, so, hopefully, you will have an opportunity to strengthen and deepen your technical skills. (fingers crossed, here!)

Congratulations, Kris! Best of luck next week!

MATT GIRAUD 23-years-old:“My Funny Valentine”

Strengths: Matt -you, thankfully, altered the key as per Jamie Foxx’s suggestion. The lower key was certainly better suited to the natural singing range of your voice.

I also appreciated some of the melodic changes you introduced into the original song, as it accented how liberated and free you are as a vocal artist. Further to this fact, in the opening section of this song, before the full band kicked it up a notch, I absolutely fell in love with your voice. Despite the full refinement of your technical skills, your voice sounded centered, pure and resplendent with hushed emotion.

And the manner in which you produced your head voice was spectacular – just perfect! It added color and dimension to the original melodic line and, at the same time, emphasized that you have the confidence and ability to disitinguish your interpretation from the other covers of this wonderful song.

Then, when the arrangement started to accelerate and expand, the song really gained in dimension and harmonic color. I loved the emotion that you injected into this song and I felt that, despite some random pitch issues, you did succeed in capturing the sultry essence of this song.

You took enormous artistic and vocal risks and, in doing so, emphasized your innate musicality and growing confidence on this show.

Excellent work, Matt!

Critique: Matt- we encountered some “iffy“pitch issues along the way. As I have mentioned in previous weeks, I wish you would develop a more circular approach to your mouth formation, as it would heighten the depth and intensity in your vocal sound.

By constantly maintaining a horizontal mouth position and avoiding the pure vowels, you are not able to access the continuity of support from your diaphragmatic breathing muscles and, as a result, your pitch vascillates.

This became a recurring problem for you this week, Matt, most noticeably when you encountered the multi-vowel component in your diphthongs, such as “ay”. When confronted with this diphthong, it would have beneficial to your vocal delivery had you sustained your voice on the primary vowel of this diphthong, the pure “eh” vowel.

However, the circular formation of the mouth is a “must” and that jaw has to be relaxed and free. By doing so, it will encourage you to breathe more deeply from the diaphragm and thus manage your breath support in a consistent and timely fashion.

Also, the placement of your voice behind your vocal masque will be fully realized and your voice will enjoy increased intensity and presence. Furthermore, the natural ebb and flow of the phrase line will be a constant.

Because of the lack of proper breath support in this week’s showcase, I felt that your phrases lacked momentum and drive. You were breathing far too often and, as a result, the overall vocal delivery sounded fragmented, particularly in the second half of this song.

Also, as much as I appreciated your jazzy riffs and runs, you have to make absolutely certain that each note is perfectly supported from the diaphragm. Your pitch really wavered during these moments in your number because your muscles were not properly trained to quickly connect with each and every note in the scale.

You would be wise to practice these scale-like passages slowly, making absolutely certain that your rib- cage muscles are focusing and centering your voice to perfection every step of the way.

Hope all of these suggestions help you Matt! It has been an immense pleasure to watch you grow and develop as a musical artist during your tenure on american Idol Season 8. Best of luck to you in the future!

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

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About Masterclass Lady

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

53 Responses to “American Idol Season 8 Top 5 Vocal Masterclass Article: Music From The Rat Pack Era”

  1. Adam is brilliant. Best this show has seen in all 8 seasons.

    Everyone goes home, including the winner and all they really have is their talent. That is very good news for Adam. I hope he has a good lawyer to get out of his contract if he doesn’t win.

    Still heartbroken after seeing him in the b2 and them asking him to choose sides like that KNOWING he was b2. Also pissed at Kara and Randy for celebrating that they “were right”.

    LOVE you Adam. Rock the house next week!

    Like

  2. MCL, can I please ask you a question? I love Adam and it’s been an unalloyed pleasure to listen to him every week without thinking well, this is okay but any decent classically trained Indian singer (I’m writing from India) could sing circles around this person, a thought that runs through my mind often on Idol. He may not win, simply because it’s not really a singing competition when you boil it down. But I’m honestly confused by the number of his detractors that crawl out of the woodwork on every blog to announce either that
    a) he cannot sing – Are they hearing what I’m hearing?
    or b) he belongs on Broadway – Is there no place for really good unAutotuned singing on the radio? That can’t be good.

    Like

  3. Thank you, MCL, for a very great critique as I have come to expect from you week after week. You honestly have never let me down yet. I also really appreciate the words of encouragement to Danny. It’s no secret on here that he is my favorite, and I am glad that he had a really great masterclass from you. I agree with what you said. While I liked some of his song choices more at other times during this season, it was this week that he definitely had his strongest overall performance yet.

    Oh, and ILoveIdol, I kind of get what you are saying, but I wouldn’t breath so much into what happened to Adam. If remember right, last year Ryan chose David Archuleta to have to choose sides. Ryan always seems to pick the contestant who stands out the most to put in that spot. Last year, David Archuleta was definitely the most talked about one on that season. This year Adam is. Therefore, I don’t believe it was some plot to be rude to Adam. As for Kara and Randy celebrating, you have to remember that they were doing so in a very lighthearted, joking manner. They were celebrating that they were more on the ball this week then Simon was. They were NOT celebrating that Adam (or Kirs or Matt) was in the Bottom 3.

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  4. Thanks for the great review MCL, ive been following you since Taylor hicks season and its always been a pleasure reading your well written articles.

    I’m just really nervous for Adam next week. I’m really rooting for him to win this all, but he has to get the popular vote from people who are mostly casual watchers and who vote base on what they hear him sing on the show… and If i was a casual watcher last night I would have felt his rendition of Feeling Good was just a tad oversung.

    BUT… his studio version of Feeeling Good is AWESOME. Have you heard it yet MCL? Stunningly Perfect how he builds it up to the last glory note.. after listening to it.. I feel his live version was maybe simply not as well arranged given time constraint on live shows.. sigh..

    Please vote extra hard for Adam next week American Fans! please try not to vote splitt. We singapore fans are counting on you guys! hehe.. XD

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  5. After having a night to sort all this out, I have some additional comments.

    First of all, I do NOT think that this is a conspiracy on the part of the Idol producers. I believe that Adam was in the bottom two. I think his fans need to face it and deal with it. Denial is not a good thing at this point in the competition. If his fans want to keep him in this, then they need to focus their energy on voting en masse next week. That’s is the best way to deal with this shocking result.

    I am a little disillusioned at this point in the season. I have watched Adam literally leave his heart and soul out on that stage every single week. No one has been more creative, artistically original, daring or technically brilliant. But it’s always dangerous to assume anything when it comes to Idol. I keep thinking about Chris Daughtry and the overconfidence and complacency on the part of his fans that ultimately led to his departure. Nothing is to be taken for granted right now.

    I have felt for some time that Danny was underestimated by many. Even though there has been a lot of hatespeak towards him online, I have felt that he is extremely popular. I consider him the favorite to win at the moment. He is the only one left who has not been in the bottom three at all. That says something.

    MCL’s critiques have helped me greatly in understanding why I have not enjoyed some of the performances. Danny definitely has issues with his vocal technique, but he gave his best performance in the final 13.

    Now at least I understand the problems I had with Allison’s performance. MCL has confirmed my suspicions that she is having some real problems with that hoarseness in her voice. I am concerned about her, because she is so young and needs more time to develop. I want her to have that chance and not be pushed too far, too soon. I do agree that this was not the right song choice for her.

    I hear the timbre and quality of Kris’s voice, but the technical deficiencies really interfere with my ability to fully enjoy his performances. I do see the tension in his face and jaw and it’s really hurting his vocals.

    Maree –

    I am feeling exactly the same as you right now! I have been wondering what on earth is going on with people watching the show. I guess they really aren’t hearing what you and I are. Too bad. I loved you asking if there is a place for really good unautotuned singing today. It’s like great singing is no longer appreciated the way it was in the past. I find it depressing.

    Someone like Adam doesn’t come along very often. I am able to realize just how precious this gift truly is. I am determined to enjoy every single minute of the time Adam is on this show.

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  6. inlovewithadam April 30, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Brilliant….as usual. You’re one smart lady!!
    Are you, MCL, convinced as most people are, that there was a little bit of..something..going on last night? How on earth could Adam have been in the bottom 2? He is perfection, always. It is like watching the sun come up…..breathtaking.

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  7. Hi! Thanks for posting the weekly critique. I rarely comment, but I always love reading.

    There’s been quite a bit of complaining about Adam’s tongue when he hits certain high notes, and I know this is supposed to be a vocal technique to support the vocal chords or something along those lines, but could you perhaps give a more detailed explanation of how it works and why it’s necessary? Thank you!

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  8. MCL, great critiques once again. I was especially pleased that you mentioned to Allison about dressing in a more “wholesome” way. I noticed several weeks ago when she had her hair pulled back that I reacted more favorably toward her.

    And I was so glad to read your great review for Danny. I definitely think he has been–in the words of George Bush–misunderestimated! :)

    Like

  9. I strongly suggest downloading Adam’s studio version of “Feeling Good” from iTunes. It sounds *terrific*.

    For those who can’t use iTunes (like me :( ) it’s also on Youtube for the time being:

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  10. Wow. Awesome studio version of Adam’s “Feelin’ Good”! Thanks hawker for posting it! I’m definitely going to download this one from iTunes!

    I think Adam truly was in the b2, and I think it’s a huge wake-up call for his fans. I understand too that he’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Win or lose AI, Adam’s already won my heart, and I’m so thankful I got to know him and his music. I never would have heard of him if not for AI!

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  11. Louise wrote: “And I was so glad to read your great review for Danny. I definitely think he has been–in the words of George Bush–misunderestimated!”

    LOL! Well said, Louise, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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  12. Mindy,

    I love all your posts, truly I do. And although I may not always agree with what you post, I must say all your posts are well thought out and brilliantly written. Having said that, I’m sorry, but there is one thing you wrote of that I feel compelled to respond to:

    Mindy said: I keep thinking about Chris Daughtry and the overconfidence and complacency on the part of his fans that ultimately led to his departure.

    I don’t think Chris’s departure had anything to do with overconfident or complacent fans. I think it had to do with his arrogant, cocky, and standoffish attitude and nothing more. People want to be able to RELATE to the Idols, and when Chris was on the show, he made it almost impossible to do that. Really, when did he give anyone an inkling of what kind of person he was? (Except for the complete look of bewilderment on his face when he was voted off) He never allowed his fans to get a glimpse of what he was really like, and I think that’s what hurt him, not complacent fans.

    And I would disagree with you about no one being more “technically brilliant” than Adam. I think David Archuleta wins that crown, hands down.

    Just my opinion.

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  13. Thank you for your insightful critiques, MCL. It’s fun to read them and learn about techniques and breathing, etc. I’ve noticed that you make sure to mention that you’re critiquing them in alphabetical order. I’m going to assume this is because people wonder why Adam’s always first. I would always read Adam’s first anyway! He could be Zeke Lambert and I’d still read his first. :)

    I agree with those who love Adam’s iTunes version. Adam’s studio version of Feeling Good is indescribably good. I think that people who have convinced themselves that they don’t like his style or his voice, should really listen to this track. The vocal nuances and the way he can use his voice is just breathtaking, and really, just HOT.

    I like to sing, and am passable at it, but in the words of Randy Jackson, “HE CAN SING!”

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  14. As always, thank you MCL, for your wonderful review. I can’t hear a fraction of what you do, but I usually find that a certain leaning or instinct is confirmed by you.

    I think this was a wonderful show. Every number I felt “Wow!” It really is too bad that everyone but one has to go.

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  15. skid –

    Thanks for your kind words. I would hope that you don’t agree with everything I write. That’s what makes it so interesting here. I love hearing what others have to say and I invite all to disagree with anything I say.

    Regarding Chris Daughtry, I am aware of the issue of his being somewhat arrogant and cocky. Although he was the supposed frontrunner, he was not my favorite. Rock singers are not usually my favorites. That’s why it’s amazing that I love Adam. I would not normally be drawn to someone like him, but as I have said here before, I kept an open mind and ultimately was won over by someone who is way out of my comfort zone. It has been an immensely rewarding experience. I happen to think he can sing almost anything. I just cannot deny the unbelievable magic of what he does vocally.

    I listen to his studio recording of Feeling Good and hear the full range, power and command he has of both his lower and upper register. Some of the notes he hits sound almost otherwordly.

    To get back to Chris Daughtry, we may very well never know precisely why he was voted off. Maybe it was a little presumptious of me to blame the fans. I was aware of the qualities that you mentioned. That could have been a big part of it. No one likes seeing someone who may well feel entitled to win. I guess what I was basically trying to convey is the idea that you can’t ever assume that anyone can be anointed the winner before it even happens. That’s why I have been on edge lately. I have been uncomfortable with so many in the media pronouncing Adam the inevitable winner. Now I know why I have had this feeling. Last night was a powerful reminder of just how unpredictable this competition can be.

    I loved David Archuleta! That’s why I say that I am out of my comfort zone with Adam. These two could not be more different. But I love them both. I think my little Archie is a brilliant and technically gifted singer. I don’t know if it’s even possible to compare these two talented young men. They have different voices. But I see more range in Adam and more technical prowess and skill. However, they are nine years apart and who knows how good Archie will be at Adam’s age.

    I want to celebrate the vocal excellence of both of them! It’s so great to be able to have an intelligent and lively discussion. I learn so much from chatting with everyone here. It’s just a lovely place to be.

    Like

  16. Sorry, I was an English major, so I have to correct a typo in my previous post. It’s supposed to be “presumptuous”. I guess I am nitpicky.

    Like

  17. MCL,

    Thank you for the infomative blog. What is Adam
    s vocal range? Is his range more from god given gift or training?

    Vote Adam!!

    Like

  18. KittyKay – You can check out Idolranges.com for the ranges of the contestants as displayed on Idol. (Non-Idol performances are not included.)

    Also, I am not MCL, clearly, but I would say that range is both “God-given” and achieved through training. Let me explain why. A singer’s vocal cords determines his or her vocal classification (tenor, soprano, etc.); this is genetic. A soprano in theory has a certain range of notes that she has the potential to reach. However, training really allows a singer to be able to fully live up to his or her potential and access all those notes. Think of it this way: there are parts of a singer’s range that are essentially “locked away”; proper technique is the key to accessing that range. Now, proper technique can be gained without training, but training sure helps.

    Another note: Singers don’t ever really “increase their range” so much as they increase their usable range. As I said before, the potential to hit certain notes is always there. The upper limit and bottom limit are essentially set (e.g. as a soprano, I can only sing so low). However, the vast majority of people haven’t “unlocked” all the possibilities in their voice yet.

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  19. I am still not over Adam being in the b2. Sigh.

    I agree with everyone on the studio version of Feeling Good. Just wow. He has that ethereal quality to his voice that is just breathtaking. When he sings in this flighty style like in Mad World and Feeling Good, I just don’t know how he was never signed to a deal.

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  20. The studio version is just a work of art. Is that super high note (not the long glory note, but an earlier higher note during the dragonfly stanza) what is called the whistle voice?

    Like

  21. I agree Gumbo– studio version of Feeling Good is a work of art.

    Adam Lambert emanates art out of every single pore. Takes unique to an entirely different level and he doesn’t even play an instrument!

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  22. The studio version is just a work of art. Is that super high note (not the long glory note, but an earlier higher note during the dragonfly stanza) what is called the whistle voice?

    I believe you’re talking about the “sleep in peace” run. That is actually what people might call “pure” head voice. The lighter coordination makes it sound higher than it actually is; the run actually starts on a D5 and peaks at F5. The “whistle register” doesn’t start till a good octave above these notes (from about E6 and higher).

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  23. OMG! I finally found MCL critique, I can’t believe it took me so long… Thank you! I really had to see MCL’s pro opinion, because as many others I am still bewildered and angry about Wed. So, now I feel better… And it also confirms that we are in a red-blue situation and not in a singing competition…too bad…
    Studio recording is beyond anything I can express in words…I’ve been replaying it for hours…

    Like

  24. nica said, ” . . . And it also confirms that we are in a red-blue situation and not in a singing competition…too bad…” Oh, nica . . . To an extent you are probably correct, but the other day I wrote asking people not to generalize and make assumptions about why AI viewers prefer one singer over another, i.e., namely Danny over Adam. Sure, there is probably some of the red-blue state thing going on here, but just because MCL’s review of Adam indicates to you that he is technically a better singer than Danny does not mean that ALL of the people not voting for Adam are doing so simply because of the red-blue thing. Afterall, as a Danny fan, I think she also gave Danny an excellent review. I just read an article on line last night that said Danny won the night.

    American Idol is definitely not JUST a singing competition. People vote for many different reasons, and not merely on the singer’s technical skills. Afterall, Taylor Hicks won Season 5 over Katherine McPhee. People–like myself–just might prefer the sound of Danny’s voice–and it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the red-blue situation. And just because I prefer Danny’s voice, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think that Adam is great too. They’re both terrific as far as I’m concerned–I just prefer one over the other as do you.

    I think if some very conservative viewers see the pictures on line that I saw of Adam last night and his performance of “Change is Gonna Come,” the red-blue thing is likely to influence their vote. From that video to what we see of Adam on AI, he is really toned down. But Adam certainly isn’t the first flamboyant performer this country has ever embraced–there is Elton John and even in my mother’s time, Liberace!!! I won’t be at all surprised if Adam wins Idol this year.

    Like

  25. Keep listening to the studio version of “Feeling Good” and it just warms me like a fireplace on a chilly night. Season 8 used the word “ethereal” and I’m in complete accord. Adam has a beautiful instrument and his interprerative skills are astonishing.

    Like

  26. Louise –

    I am really trying not to see this as red-blue thing. I am trying to be a realistic and focused as possible. I tend to think it’s a combination of things. I do believe it is frontrunner backlash combined with possibly some complacency and vote splitting on the part of Adam’s fans. Also it is possible that some of the others have gained additional votes from fans of those who have been voted off, namely Anoop and Lil. Whether or not those people keep on voting and transfer their allegiance to someone else is anyone’s guess, but it’s a possibility.

    I also realize that it’s not about being the best pure singer. I have learned that the hard way, watching previous Idol seasons. I always get nervouse when people start saying that someone has the competition won. Every time Paula says to Adam that he will be in the finals, I find myself getting more nervous.

    I think next week should be extremely revealing. If Adam ends up going home, then we can’t use the fan complacency argument. This bottom two finish should energize Adam’s fans to come out in force this week. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

    I am hoping that Adam can put this bottom two finish behind him and just concentrate on this week’s performance. At least he won’t have the pressure of being the frontrunner anymore. People can no longer assume that he is destined to win. I want to see him stay in the competition, so I will vote my heart out for him. That’s all that I can do. If America sends him home, then so be it. I will not be one who will rage about any so-called conspiracies.

    If it’s Adam’s flamboyance about who he is that does him in, well so be it. There is also a danger of overthinking and overanalyzing this whole thing. I tend to think that it’s a little simplistic to see this as a red state versus blue state scenario.

    What really bothered me watching the results show again and seeing Simon backed off from what he said on Tuesday night. It made me feel as though he already knew the results. Then when all the judges started talking in unison about how competitive this season was, I got a little uneasy. Why the change? The producers and Ryan Seacrest are the only ones who know the results beforehand. But it was as though someone handed out talking points to the judges. Maybe it really is a close race and anyone of the final four can win.

    I just hope that the judges try to give reasoned, rational critiques this week, instead of listening to Simon blather on about nonsense like who wants to win. That’s not like him. He is usually brief and to the point. These final four contestants deserve the best from the judges.

    Like

  27. Mindy,

    You made some really good points and I completely agree that it’s not merely a red state versus blue state scenario. That is probably playing a part in it, but it is much more complicated than that.

    It really does seem each season that the closer it gets to the end, the judges become very manipulative. I’d venture a guess that they don’t want to lose viewers because it seems like Adam has already been crowned the winner, so they probably want us to believe that the contest is much more competitive than it actually is.

    And I was thinking about the Adam fans who seem to be so upset about his trip to the bottom two last week. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter who wins. Adam has definitely made a name for himself and he is not going to lose his gorgeous voice when he is no longer on Idol. He would probably be better off in the long run if he doesn’t win or even comes in second place. The first CDs that were made by Bo Bice (runner-up in Season 4) and Taylor Hicks (winner of Season 5) were not good at all–especially Bo’s. He was a southern rocker and they made him sound much too pop. It was really horrible. Taylor’s first CD was slightly better than Bo’s, but again it was too much pop and not enough soul. Just imagine if they tried to have Adam fit into the pop category!! Not good.

    Next week, I foresee Adam’s fans voting for him non-stop as Taylor’s fans did for him. So as much as I like Danny, I really don’t think that Adam’s fans have anything to worry about.

    Like

  28. I think that Adam wins, whether he wins or loses. At the end of the day, these kids ALL GO HOME. All they have is their talent and charisma when they walk out that door. Adam has it in spades, so I am not worried about him.

    I think it would be beautiful for him to win though and I will be upset if he doesn’t.

    There is an Adam-Kris-Allison voting block that is proving to be very dangerous to Adam. Adam fans were voting to “save” kris and allison. Not sure how extensive this was, but putting Adam in the b2 should correct this for next week.

    The good news is that it’s rock week coming up, so Adam should shine.

    I also say that either Adam or Kris will win this year. Whichever one advances next week will win AI.

    Like

  29. I love Adam but I say that whether it be Adam or Kris advancing next week, neither wins. The winner will be Gokey. He has consistently been at the top on dialidol.

    Like

  30. Season 8 –

    I completely agree with you. Adam has already won. How someone so far out of the AI mold has stayed on this long, well, I don’t know, but I am just thankful for it. I think it’s a testament to just how talented he is and unpredictable and exciting.

    It will break my heart if he doesn’t win, but I also know that it will only be the beginning for him.

    This thing about voting to save others really bothers me. I simply cannot understand it. I was splitting my votes, but that was weeks ago. When it came down to crunch time, I voted for Adam. He is my #1 favorite and I have to vote as hard as I can, because I have seen what can happen on this show. As I said previously, we will know for sure next week if vote splitting was the reason for Adam’s bottom two finish. If he’s safe, then we know that this lit a fire under his fans and they came out in force to support him. I am hoping that this will be the case.

    I am not sure that whoever advances next week, Adam or Kris, wins AI. I have to believe that Danny is now the favorite, since he has never been in the bottom three. If he has a huge fanbase, then he could be unstoppable. I haven’t checked dialidol every week, so I can’t speak to whether or not he has been at the top, but I seem to remember a week when dialidol showed only Adam safe and everyone else at risk.

    Louise –

    I am well aware of the issue of the cd’s put by Taylor Hicks and Bo Bice. The AI machine did them no favors. I really liked Bo Bice, but I was so disappointed in his cd. He was so much better than that. It’s a real concern, given how unconventional Adam has been in his song choices and performances. Adam has talked about the fine line he is walking in this competition, trying to stay true to himself artistically and still appeal to the widest audience possible. I don’t envy the situation in which he finds himself.

    I am not happy about David Archuleta’s debut cd. I think they took away much of what was so great about him. I think it was way over produced, bland, too much instrumentation and overdubbing, when all you need to hear is his glorious voice, unencumbered by everything else. I had high hopes when I heard Crush, but I was ultimately unhappy when I first listened to his cd. It would appear that they are marketing him as a Disney-type teen idol. I guess the thinking is that this is the shortest route to commercial success. I would have preferred to see some r&b soul, like the song Apologize that he performed as a duet in the finale last year with One Republic. Also, I miss his great ballads.

    But I still have to root for Adam to win. It’s just how I am. Whatever happens, I do think he has a real chance to be immensely successful. Even if he doesn’t win, the AI machine gets first crack at signing him and I can’t see them letting someone like him get away. So he’s stuck with AI whether he wins or not. I can only hope that they don’t try to water down a magnificent talent like Adam.

    Like

  31. Two ‘spoilers’ for this week’s show from MJ’s Big Blog …
    STOP IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ A SPOILER OF FORMAT & GUEST MENTOR!
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    . Slash, from Guns ‘n Roses Twittered that he has been asked to mentor for rock week. It didn’t say that he was or wasn’t doing it. He might be awesome … for all the costuming and show stuff, he’s an amazing musician (guitar), but I don’t know if he’s a good singer!

    The Blog also says there will be 2 songs each … however, one will be a solo and one will be a duet! Now, how in the world will they judge that?!?

    Like

  32. Adam’s studio of Feeling Good does display vocal virtuosity. Might I suggest the studio of another contestant whose voice hasn’t shined as much live, but is quite wonderful recorded, without nerves…?
    Matt’s “My Funny Valentine” studio:

    Beautiful interpretation, smooth, heartfelt – and there’s scatting!

    Like

  33. Thanks, CB, for the link to Matt’s “My Funny Valentine.” I just listened to it a couple of times as well as all of the other performances and honestly as much as I liked Danny’s performance on Tuesday night, my favorite studio performance is Matt’s.

    Like

  34. I think a duet would be an awesome idea. Doesn’t a performer have to be able to harmonize and have a relationship/rapport with his band/stagemates? God knows, I can sing a melody, but ask me to carry a harmony and my voice defects (seemingly on its own) back to the melody.

    I don’t think it would hard to judge at all. It would be very telling.

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  35. Somehow I have the confidence in Adam that he will stand up to the AI machine and not allow himself to be dumbed down for his CD. Of course I don’t know how it all works, but I do believe that at least he will make the strongest effort and strongest case possible for being himself. That is, after all, what got him to this place in life and on AI.

    Like

  36. No offense to Danny Gokey’s fans, but I just get a knot and sick feeling in my stomach whenever I read any prediction or projection that he’s going to win. It seems like the biggest injustice imaginable.

    And, I loved Matt’s Valentine recording. It’s the first time I’ve heard any of his studio sessions. Definitely enjoyable and superior to his live versions. (Simply spoken from a consumer not a musical maven point of view.)

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  37. Nanine I couldn’t agree more. While still an arden Adam supporter, I think that Matt’s “Funny Valentine” studio version is wonderful, and it saddens me to know that, for whatever reason, he could not bring this kind of performance to the Idol stage. It also helps me to understand why the judges used the save vote for Matt.

    Listening to Matt also reminded me of Melinda Doolittle’s brilliant rendition of “Valentine” and how much we’ve missed a lady of her caliber this season.

    Like

  38. CB – Thanks for showing a little love to my guy Matt and to the others for their kind comments. All of his studio recordings are wonderful. I saw an interview he gave where he said performance days were bad days for him nervewise. All along I sort of had that figured out. He also said somewhere that ALL OF THEM know that it’s pretty much a popularity contest from now on. Matt has already received several recording contract offers and has been approached by several recording artists interested in working with him. I posted here earlier that I think he’s going to be just fine.

    For Any Danny Gans Fans – I’m feeling pretty sad, what a fantastic entertainer and overall great guy he was. Rest in peace Danny.

    Like

  39. Sad news today. David Cook’s brother Adam passed away yesterday after his 10 year battle with cancer.

    RIP Adam Cook

    Like

  40. Sylvia –

    Listening to Matt also reminded me of Melinda Doolittle’s brilliant rendition of “Valentine” and how much we’ve missed a lady of her caliber this season.

    I completely agree. There’s nothing else to add; that comment stands on its own. ;)

    Season 8 –

    Sad news today. David Cook’s brother Adam passed away yesterday after his 10 year battle with cancer.

    RIP Adam Cook

    I just read this news, and I am incredibly saddened by David’s loss. I admire Adam’s bravery, his brother’s, and his entire family. I cannot imagine how they must be feeling right now.

    Like

  41. My thoughts and prayers go out to David Cook and his family and friends on the loss of his beloved brother, Adam.

    Like

  42. I actually think America DID get it right with the B3 this week. Danny and Allison were my personal favorites for the week.

    Like

  43. Nanine said, “No offense to Danny Gokey’s fans, but I just get a knot and sick feeling in my stomach whenever I read any prediction or projection that he’s going to win. It seems like the biggest injustice imaginable.”

    Well, Nanine, as a Danny fan, I am bothered by your statement. That was really a cruel thing to say. Please try to get a grip–this is just a singing competition. It is definitely not the “biggest injustice imaginable” if Adam doesn’t win. He will be a successful artist, win or lose.

    Like

  44. As a Danny fan as well (there are more of us out there than you realize, Nanine), I also do not appreciate your statement. As much as I hope Adam DOES NOT win American Idol, I have never said anything nearly as cruel concerning him as you just said concerning Danny. I wish the best for Adam whether he wins or loses this competition, and I know he will be successful. However, Danny is definitely my favorite, so I hope he wins it all. The bottom line is this, Nanine. You may feel sickened by the thought of Danny winning, but considering he is the ONLY one who has yet to be in the Bottom 3, the majority of America just may disagree with your assessment of him.

    Danny AND Adam (AND Kris and Allison for that matter) are all very talented with amazing careers in front of them. Can’t you just be happy for ALL of them and not just ONE. We all have a favorite who we want to see win, but that doesn’t mean it is the end of the world if that doesn’t happen. I wanted Archuleta to win last year, and he didn’t. Guess what? It wasn’t the end of the world. Both Davids went on to be very successful as did many others out of Season 7. Adam IS NOT the only one worthy of winning Idol this season, Nanine, as last week proved. Support him and vote for him, but do not say awful things about his competitors. That’s just childish and not helping him at all.

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  45. Galen and Louise, I am so truly sorry that I offended you (or anyone else) to the extent that you seem to have taken it. I really think you read more into my words than I put into them. My statement was not meant to be offensive or cruel or narrow-minded or insulting to anyone here or to any contestant. I do respect all the talent on the show (heck, I can’t sing a note) and have even voted for others besides Adam in previous weeks. I acknowledge that “injustice” was not the right word to use and the reference was only to my personal preferences. I can only vote and the rest is out of my hands. I don’t tell others who they should vote for and don’t try to “convert” anyone to my point of view. I have never predicted who will win, only expressed my hope or preference of who will. I guess it’s the “prediction” and the certainty and finality with which it was presented that got to me and to which I was reacting. Even the odds-makers can be wrong, so predictions aren’t all that useful either.

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  46. MCL – Would you please address a debate that it going on in AI boards about Adam’s technique of letting his tongue protrude forward when he singing certain notes? Is that a legitimate technique that is taught? Can he cause vocal damage by doing that? I certainly would not want to see any harm come to his magnificent gift. Thanks!

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  47. Thank you, Nanine. It’s very easy to mis-read blogs and e-mail when you can’t see the facial expressions to go along with the person’s words. All of the talent remaining on Idol is excellent and we can only hope that “our” guy/girl wins. But it’s not the end of the world if they don’t.

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  48. MCL – Would you please address a debate that it going on in AI boards about Adam’s technique of letting his tongue protrude forward when he singing certain notes? Is that a legitimate technique that is taught? Can he cause vocal damage by doing that? I certainly would not want to see any harm come to his magnificent gift. Thanks!

    Joanne – that is a very legitimate technique, although Adam really exaggerates the process when he vocalizes his upper notes. The tip of the tongue should always be resting behind the lower teeth and very relaxed. By doing so, the throat remains free and open and the voice is truly liberated. Also the soft palate remains elevated, thus diminishing harsh and/or nasal tone in the vocal timbre.

    Adam does this so well but goes the extra mile by extending the tongue past his teeth. I prefer the “behind the teeth” approach for aesthetic reasons but he must have found that his approach works best for what he trying to accomplish with his voice.

    Like

  49. Well, Adam is certainly going to have to be more strategic in his game from now on. He is contoversial in the sense that he invokes in his listeners either love or hate, and precious little in between. It is difficult to be indifferent to him.

    Adam’s challenge will be to win over the fans of the Idol contestants who left. For now, it will be fans of Matt. Clearly, his rendition of Feeling Good, which left Kara feeling confused, did not win over the fans of Anoop and Lil.

    Adam should play the next round straight. No more Ring of Fire and Feeling Good confusion. It should be Satisfaction, Black or White, Tracks or Mad World type of rendition.

    The duet will also not work to Adam’s advantage as his vocals sans screaming or vocal gymnastics seems to be less outstanding in the Group Sing.

    I love Adam and I hope he surprises us all again with a sensational popular rendition that will re-gain him back his well deserved pole position.

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  50. I am not sure where everyone is posting, but how many did (or will) see the Idol tour? I missed out on a chance for tickets, but have seen the show on video. Adam does an awesome job and Kris is really good!

    SYTYCD starts next week. There’s always some reality show on for me to watch!

    Like

  51. I’m going to the Syracuse show, but I’ve pretty much seen vids of the whole show. =) I’m actually loving pretty much all the Idols’ sets, and I’m excited to see them live!

    Like

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  1. American Idol Season 9 Top 4 Vocal Masterclass Article: Music From The Cinema With Jamie Foxx « MasterclassLady.Com - May 12, 2010

    [...] for another season of mentoring the Idol finalists. I thought he did a superb job guiding the Top 5 Idol Finalists from Season 8  during Rat Pack Week and so I was expecting no less this [...]

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