American Idol Season 8 Top 4 Vocal Masterclass Article: Classic Rock Music


American Idol

By: Rosanne Simunovic

I am running really late this week, so please excuse the abbreviated introduction.

However, I have to say that I enjoyed this week’s show better than last and this is coming from someone who loves retro music and is “so-so” about rock music. I think the singers were more in their element this week because of the nature of the theme.

So, let’s have a look at my thoughts on the Top 4 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,

Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta                  Danny Gokey and Kris Allen

ADAM LAMBERT 27-years-old: “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin

Strengths: Adam-once again, you highlighted the unmistakable reality that you are indeed an artist for all seasons and tastes.  It has been perfectly documented through your stellar, multi-dimensional weekly performances since the initial airing of this show. Be it, Broadway, country, big band and, as in this week’s case, rock, you have wonderously adapted to every theme with consummate ease, musical finesse and innovative artistry.

You were so connected to this Zeppelin song – incredible, really! And to achieve clearance for this number rmust have been quite the coup, as I believe this is the first time a Led Zeppelin song has been performed on American Idol. So, suffice it to say that Led Zeppelin must have included himself itself as a member of your growing legions of fans.:)

This was such a phenomenal performance. This is the Adam that I have come to know and love, one who has developed confidence and acceptance of who he is an artist and where he wants to take it in the future. You take risks each and every week; however, what is more significant is that you take risks based on your terms and on your knowledge of what works best for you and you alone.

This is what separates you from the “rest of the pack” – this and the obvious fact that you have developed your vocal gift in a way that has permitted you to go to places other singers can only dream about.

The visual presentation of this number left nothing to the imagination. You maneuvered your body about the stage with musical precision and dramatic flair. As a result, the theatrical presentation of this number was vivid and colorful – the confident swagger and strut in your body movements were just the ticket for this song.

The rhythmic precision and candor you exuded throughout this number were spectacular and so, so meticulously formulated. Consequently, there was artistic definition in every fibre of your being which then translated to a nuance-friendly performance.

As an aural presentation, your voice sounded stellar. The manner in which you guided your voice from top to bottom, seamlessly connecting your upper, middle and lower registers with your stellar technique, was absolutely wonderful. When sustaining the vowels, your mouth maintained that very important circular formation, resulting in what appeared to be an effortless transition through every part of your range.

However, make no mistake about it! There was a great deal of effort happening in the lower half of your body. The relaxation of your jaw, coupled with your rounded mouth formation, the relaxed knees, the elevated rib cage – all of these important technical elements encouraged you to manage the vocal gymastics via the support from your diaphragmatic breathing muscles.

And, as I have expressed in past articles, guest mentor, Slash, wanted more from your lower register in this week’s performance, so, “yea” for like minds and all! And like a good student you did just that, highlighting that superb lower range for the majority of this song.

As a result we heard more of a rocky edge to your voice – the growl.  Additionally, it allowed you to relieve some pressure from your upper range, giving it a much needed rest. It is always about balance and, even though your technique is very solid, Adam, you have to realize that sometimes you need to steer your voice in another direction when you sing, if for no other reason than to give the upper register a “time-out”!

However, that being said, your upper voice at the end of this song was perfectly placed – sounding clear and transparent. No way were you going to leave the stage without a glimmer of your potent upper range! (ha!).

Also, in closing, I have to say how much I loved the false ending to this song- the anti-climatic pause and move toward the front of the stage. – before the big, BIG ending. You are so smart -what a brilliant move! It gave you time to position yourself for the last big dramatic push and, as a result, kept the audience in suspense. In a sense, there were two endings – such a stroke of genius!

What more is there to say but bravo Adam Lambert! An Idol for all seasons and tastes! Congratulations on a phenomenal performance!

Critique: Adam – what was that quivering jaw on the word “woman” doing in the midst of all this technical wonder during this week’s performance?  I was confused because you were actually singing through your lower register at this point, so it would appear that you should have felt more relaxed in releasing your vocal sound.

Perhaps, you were feeling the adrenaline depletion that is somewhat normal in the final moments of a song and couldn’t summon the proper support from your diaphragm?

Whatever the reason, it just goes to show that, even though your technical skills run deep, you have to make certain that you keep your upper body out of the control process for your voice. In a effort to express the correct emotional attitude at this point in the song when singing “woman“, you may have inadvertently tightened the jaw and neck muscles, thus allowing it to quiver and quake.

However, this temporary technical glitch was all but a distant memory when you closed the song, performing acrobatic movements with your upper voice with precision and dexterity. It does not get much better than this! Brilliant performance, Adam!

ALLISON IRAHETA 16 -years old: “Cry Baby ” by Janis Joplin

Strengths: Allison -Ooo, I loved this song for your voice. The slow, sultry vibe of this song, coupled with the perfect key selection for your voice, was wonderfully formulated.

Personally, this your best and most authentic performance since the start of this show, reminding me of your stellar vocal performance during Disco week a couple of weeks ago.

However, what makes this performance surpass your Top 7 performance was the obvious fact that you were finally performing a genre of music with which you identify. This year you are our rock queen and I am so glad that you were given the opportunity to perform in this week’s rock-inspired showcase.

Those “cry baby” repeats were exceptionally clear and focused, radiating that all-important head resonance that I keep harping about in your critiques from week to week. You made a successful attempt to avoid the messy “eye” diphthong in the word “cry“, thus allowing your voice to project in a clear and centered manner on the pure “ah” vowel in this diphthong.

Along with this fact, the curve of your mouth was ring-shaped – just the way I like it! And, because your mouth was behaving as it should, it increased the full dimension of your diaphragmatic technical support. Therefore, your voice possessed a higher degree of aesthetic presence and refinement this week, as it was finally resonating in your vocal masque.

The melodic line of this song was a simple one, but maybe that’s the answer to the puzzle when it comes to your song choices. Because the melodic line gave you room to grow and to experiment, it allowed you to comfortably add your personal trademark to this great number. I loved the innovative melodic touches to the original melody – they were perfectly correlated to your young age and budding technical skills.

Visually, as in last week’s performance, I adored your refreshing, youthful demeanor. I cannot tell you often enough how more approachable and accessible you appear in the eyes of the viewers. No more hard look for you, young lady!

Also, I have to say that I disagree with some of the judges and, thus, agree with you Allison in your choice of song. Some of the judges wanted you to sing “A Piece Of My Heart” (groan) As this song has been performed endless number of times on this show and, additionally, has a tedious melody, your avoidance of this song was an extremely smart decision on your part.

This indicates to me that you have indeed researched your song material extremely well, choosing a song that has never been performed on the show before. I basically didn’t care if the melody was simple – it was your ability to personally improvise with the words and lyrics that impressed me, thus raising the performance level of this song to a phenomenal height this week.

Also, I thought that you inherited the emotional core of this song so very well by spinning out golden yarns of vocal sound and thus weaving an honest and cohesive performance. The vocal nuance and inflection that you incorporated into this number was exhilirating to see and hear.

This was an exceptional, confident performance, Allison! Congratulations and brava!

Critique: Allison-once again, the articulation of your lyrics was extremely distorted and, at times I could barely hear a consonant.  The vowels are extremely important but, without crisply articulated consonants, we lose the coherence of the words.  This was particularly evident when you sang with a softer dynamic and/or through your lower range.

Consonants must be enunciated with consistent precision. I always tell my students they are to be applied as a springboard toward the correct vowel placement. All the tools you need for the majority of the consonants are located in your mouth – your lips, teeth and tongue .

However, you must articulate your consonants while maintaining a vertical formation in your mouth and jaw line. By doing so, you will compliment the proper mouth formation for sustaining the vowels. I guarantee that if you did so, you would be surprised at the additional focus you would contribute to your vowel placement. You would enjoy even more ring, more head resonance and, as a result , brilliant clarity and cohesion throughout your range.

Also, you have a perpetual habit of beginning your phrases or some of your words with a glottal attack. That push from your throat after you inhale and before you sing a phrase or a word is telling me that you are still not trusting your diaphragm to render the complete support for your vocal projection.

Additionally, the tension in your throat is preventing you from realizing the full capability of your vocal gifts while, at the same time paving the road for vocal health issues at some point down the road. Certainly that rasp in your voice is indication that your voice needs some tender loving care and I hope you motivate yourself to solidifying and stabilizing your voice once the show is over and before the tour begins.

However, so as not to diminish your performance this week, I have to reiterate that this was a wonderful Top 4 performance -great improvement from the week previous. Kudos Allison!

DANNY GOKEY 28- years old : “Dream On” by Aerosmith

Strengths: Danny -this started out to be a very good performance. Your voice wrapped so easily around the melodic line and your emoted the words with sincerity and conviction.

Also, there was one note (yes, one note) that left an indelible impression on me – the wonderful manner in which you sustained the word “pay” around the 42-second mark of this song. You grabbed the pure “eh” vowel in that messy “aye” diphthong and sustained the note with a touch of crescendo with pitch-centered clarity. Where did this come from? This is what I needed to hear in the rest of your voice, Danny – head resonance resting comfortably at the core of your vocal timbre.

And then, when you moved into the “dream” refrain, your voice and body really hit their groove, as you moved with confidence and zeal throughout the stage. Your husky voice worked so very well for the passionate atmosphere of this song and provided contrast to the intermittent purer vocals you injected in this performance.

And again, when you vocalized and sustained the word “away” you tackled that “aye” diphthong with finesse, centering and focusing your voice on the “eh” vowel. You are quite the enigma, Danny, as this is a difficult diphthong to overcome. Even though you are still refining your technical skills, you have conquered one of the “toughies” already.

And, toward the end of this song, I heard the brief interlude of soul that you wonderfully applied to the refrain of this song. Loved it! Wish I could have heard more, though!

Good work, Danny!

Critique: Danny – well, this song should have been retitled “Scream On” because that was one wallop of a scream at the end. Usually I like to hear more vocal power mixed in with the scream and, after your hilarious comments during the results show, I expect you do too! :)

However, that being said, the dynamic range of this song is extensive and requires technical strength from the singer. So, we ran into some problems toward the end of this song.

What can you do? It was an ambitious song and, in retrospect, you should have chosen a rock song that would have allowed you to sing in your customary soulful style. The slower-paced song selection would have been a welcome respite from the high energy performances that were showcased by the others.

Also, the strong dynamic that this song required underlined your still developing technical skills. Technique enables a singer to create inflection and nuance in his or her voice without sacrificing the essence and core of the vocal sound.

And, although you are generally singing with a very good mouth position while sustaining the vowels, you are still propelling your sound forward though the constriction of your throat muscles. Why, Danny, why? Use the diaphragm – there is more power there than you think but it has yet to be developed and refined.

And, be very careful when selecting the key of your song – even a semi-tone can make or break a performance. You have to ensure that you are able to sing your song within the perimeters of your natural singing range. If you move beyond it during a song performance, especially for long periods of time, you will encounter a variety of problems, such as poorly centered pitch and instability in your vocal delivery. And this is exactly what happened to you during this week’s performance.

However, that being said, a song change rather than a key change would have been the way to go in your case. There is no way one can avoid the challenges this song presents to the singer and the technical strength to access both lower and upper range with confidence and precision is overwhelming to those who have not yet developed the full extent of their techncial skills.

Hopefully, next week’s song choices will fully capture the essence of your artistry. Good luck next week, Danny and please, please take care of your voice!

Kris Allen “Come Together” by The Beatles

Strengths: Kris – I am glad that somebody remembered the Beatles since they bascially revolutionized the sound of rock by virtue of their combined singing and songwriting talents.

Generally, your voice sounded so transparent and focused throughout this performance. Boy, that natural head resonance in your vocal timbre is just the ticket, isn’t it? And, as I said last week, your pitch always sounds centered because of this important vocal characteristic. I also suspect that you have, if not perfect pitch, then relative pitch.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to hear the natural beauty of your baritone voice during the second half of this number. Your lower register possesses a high degree of natural resonance and ring and you should highlight this area of your range more consistently in your performances.

Why does eveyone think they have to sing high to master a successful performance? We rarely hear baritone or bass voices in mainstream music and, if someone could “break out” and become a star with this vocal makeup, it would create a new and exciting sound for others to follow.

This is what allowed Karen Carpenter to become a star. After years of parading her voice to various recording companies, her brother, Richard, suggested that she “demo” her songs by featuring her lower register. And the rest is history! Her distinctive, mellow voice won over the hearts of millions of fans and her music is still popular today.

Kris – listen to your speaking voice and embrace its natural resonating qualities; then start selecting songs that will further highlight the significantly gorgeous characteristics you clearly possess in your baritone range. I will speak more on this topic in the “critique” section.

Finally, I loved how you engaged the audience during the a cappella portion of this song. You had a great deal to think about during this performance – your voice, your consummate guitar skills -however, you made certain that you involved your audience toward the end of this song. Good call!

Congratulations Kris on a mighty fine performance!

Critique: Kris -first of all, we all know that this genre does not suit you at all. But, you were stuck with it, so what to do, what to do?

First of all, I would have lowered the key about a tone. The chosen key was far too high and it sounded like you were straining your vocal delivery when singing through that cyclic upper melody. Your jaw was tense and you were pushing that precious delicate voice from your throat rather than allowing the diaphragm to support your sound.

Secondly, why not sing a Beatles ballad and one that definitely would have suited the lighter timbre of your voice? Of all the people on stage this week, you should have been the one to sing a quiet,soulful rock ballad.

And, perhaps an expressive ballad would have given you an opportunity to showcase your lower range by creating a soothing and mellow presence on that stage, thus circumventing the boisterous atmosphere of this week’s rock-inspired theme.

Also, be very careful of raising your head when singing through your upper range. Always keep your head level with the audience and/or television camera.

Sing over your upper notes and never reach for them and, while doing so, breathe and support your vocal sound from the diaphragm. Bend your knees, squeeze your butt, sustain your voice on the pure vowel, drop your jaw, keep your mouth round (although the last two elements are slowly improving -kudos!)

Hope this helps you next week Kris! You have two songs to sing, so I hope that both of these numbers are perfectly suited to the style and substance of your vocal artistry. Good work!

DANNY GOKEY and KRIS ALLEN: “Renegade” by Styx

Strengths: Wow! That was an absolute blast! Have you guys been practicing your technique because I detected noticeable improvement in your vocal delivery?

This was particularly true in your case, Kris. Your jaw was wonderfully relaxed and your mouth nice and round – the best I have ever seen you accomplish during your tenure on American Idol. Perhaps the enjoyable feel of singing a duet released tension from your upper body and encouraged you to better adapt your technical skills? Whatever the reason, I loved the improvement.

Your harmones were superb- at times Danny taking the upper, but mostly Kris doing the tenor duties. I loved the interaction between both of you and for you, Kris, this is the strongest, most potent vocal I have heard from you in a long time. Danny – your voice is always a force to be reckoned with, so, as always, your voice had presence and verve.

The song was arranged extremely well, allowing both of you to shine as individuals and as a unit. Sometimes when you are coerced to establish a bond with another singer, one challenges the other and, thus, encourages both singers to raise his or her game. If this was indeed your goal, then you accomplished it with flying colors this week.

Kris – your natural vocal clarity provided a wonderful contrast to Danny’s smokier vocals and yet both nuances blended extremely well. Kris – your voice had more presence and strength by virtue of Danny’s naturally powerful singing voice and Danny – your voice sounded more transparent because of the natural head resonance emanating from Kris’ voice.

I have seen this happen many times when rehearsing with duet partners. Each singer -consciously or unconsciously -tries to adapt his or her voice to achieve a cohesive blend. It just goes to show that a singer has untapped potential in his or her voice to achieve a higher degree of nuance in his or her solo performances.

All in all, I enjoyed this duo performance very, very much! Congratulations to both of you!

Critique: Danny and Kris – what was missing from your duo performance was a stronger interactive element. First of all, I would have enjoyed seeing two separate entrances at the beginning of this song. It would have added more dimension to the overall performance.

Furthermore, cohesive interaction between the two of you was missing throughout this song. Yes, the vocal delivery was very good, but I would have loved to have seen a greater conversational aspect in your performance delivery.

And, toward the end of this song, I could see Kris wanting to establish contact with you Danny but you seemed totally immersed in your own little world. Remember, duets only appear genuine and real when a tangible connection is established between the duet partners.

Also, Danny, you really have to be careful about pushing your vocals when singing through your upper register. You need to add more head resonance in your upper register, similar to what we hear when Kris sings – although in Kris’ case, he needs to add more of the chest resonance. As a result, toward the end of this song, I found that the blend was compromised – too much Danny, not enough Kris!

However, all things considered, I loved your song choice and loved even more hearing the untapped potential in both of your voices. Good work, fellas!

ADAM LAMBERT and ALLISON IRAHETA: “Slow Ride”

Strengths: Adam and Allison – the first thing that impressed me about this wonderfully cohesive duet was the decision to make separate entrances during your solos at the beginning of this song. Immediately, the visual and aural dimension of this number increased considerably through this strong introduction and established both of you as confident, individual artists. (but we already knew that, didn’t we?)

However, as the song moved along, it was impressively apparent that both of you put considerable thought and attention into the smallest detail of this very exciting combined performance. The interaction between the two of you was fluid and relaxed and, more importantly, genuine

I loved how you played off of one another, celebrating the spirit of this song with consummate professionalism and stellar proficiency. And I particularly enjoyed how you echoed one another’s vocal riffs -this was a smart decision and another indication that no detail was spared in the rehearsal process.

Additionally, you harmonized extremely well, both of you adapting your distinct voices to suit the other. The harmonic blend during the “slow ride, take it easy” section was pitch -centered and the a cappella portion at the end of this song solidified this fact. Also, by repeating this line with a simple percussive background, you added yet another aural layer to this multi-dimensional showcase.

And then, to fully balance the visual with aural, your synchronized jump and vocal flourish at the end of this song superbly completed this picture of musical perfection.

If excellence is indeed in the details, then you did achieve your goal in this truly memorable performance. Bravo and bravo rock king and queen!

Critique: Adam and Allison – this was a wonderful performance. Everything I was looking for in this duet was there for all to see. The rapport, the visual and aural details, the solid, expressive singing! Perfect! Congratulations on a stellar duo performance. Now, make a record! (smile)

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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

90 Responses to “American Idol Season 8 Top 4 Vocal Masterclass Article: Classic Rock Music”

  1. Yay! I’m glad this article is finally up. I can’t read it now, but I am excited because vocal technique is what I really LOVE to discuss. =P

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  2. J – that was fast! I hope you enjoy it. Looking forward to your commentary! :)

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  3. MCL, I love reading your reviews! I’d like to think that I am fairly adept at figuring out what is good and/or bad about a vocal performance, but your descriptions of technique have given me cues to look and listen for and I have a much better understanding of *why* a vocal is good or problematic, which I love.

    Thank you for pointing out the lack of interaction between Kris & Danny during their duet! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who saw this. I enjoyed the performance vocally, but their almost total lack of connection left a bad taste in my mouth.

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  4. MCL, I really admire your ability to communicate so tactfully. You could give our wonderful new president a run for his money!!! Seriously, I especially loved reading your review of the Kris/Danny duet. It didn’t bother me that they didn’t interact, but I can see that it would have made it a more entertaining performance. I guess I’m quite surprised that people criticized Danny so strongly for that like it was a deep character flaw. Do you see the lack of interaction as a reflection of a performer’s personality, or could it simply be inexperience with doing duets?

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  5. MCL . . . by the way, I meant that remark about giving our president a run for his money in the most complimentary way possible. I love Obama and I have the highest regard for your skills too.

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  6. Thank you, Rosanne for the thoughtful critique. I thought the same way with Danny and poor Kris’s duet, but again they did not have a rehearsal but neither did Adam and Allison–so I would like to know how without a rehearsal the two A’s have done so well? The song they did was sooooooooo far out.

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  7. MCL – I love your reviews because 1) I love hear about the technique behind the performance, and 2) You are very fair. You truly use constructive criticism. A true teacher!

    I am so sad Allison is leaving because it seems she has been improving all season. Plus, I think she has been boosted by Adam’s big-brotherly mentor-ness. I think the duet really boosted her confidence.

    As for Adam, I agree with everything you said that I can attest to as an amateur. Just like great athletes, great artists raise the game of those around them. He certainly did that with Allison. I think he raised her own expectations of herself as a performer and lived up to them. But at the same time, you couldn’t see that. On stage they appeared equal. Adam didn’t appear to buoy dear Ally up, nor did he dumb down the material.

    I love Adam, but don’t quite call myself a Glambert! However, I am amazed week to week by his gentlemanly manner, confident yet humble mien, and his deference to those who have walked the trail before him. Someone I would be proud to call a friend …

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  8. Thanks once again for your insight, MCL. Adam’s quivering jaw when he sang “woman” was definitely peculiar. Perhaps he was uncomfortable with the heterosexual connotation of the word. In the studio version, he replaced it with “baby”. I did enjoy the visual effect of it though, particularly when he threw his head back to release that tension.

    I also agree with you that Kris and Danny should’ve picked different songs. The genre was already tough for them, and they only made it harder on themselves.

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  9. I really liked Kris and Allison’s performances too. I’ve no idea what the judges were talking about. Kris always gives 100% when he performs. Though I think his voice was straining a bit throughout – the overall performance was great. Kris is someone you really need to see, I think – like Michael Sarver. Sarver’s genius was his connection to the audience when he sang. He always elicited an emotional response form me. I hope he ends up with a singing career. He deserves it. And I was very sorry to see Allison head home. She’s really a special performer. I would guess the summer tour will help her greatly. Her duet with Adam (along with her closing rendition of ‘Cry Baby’) – were the best she’d done all season. Confidence is key with her, I think – belief in herself. She seemed so comfortable singing with Adam. .

    As for the boy wonder – I thought his little quiver at the end of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was for performance aesthetic. He was adding a heavy dollop of sex to the lyric. I loved it, actually. I hadn’t thought of it impacting his vocal presentation – but you’re right (as always). I must say I liked the little bit of reverb added to the word ‘woman’. It emphasized the point (if you catch my drift). But that’s a mechanical add-on – not a trick of the voice (though didn’t I hear him add a dash of extra vibrato?). Anyway – fantastic performance. I just love hearing that man sing! Great group this year – don’t you think? The tour should be fabulous!

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  10. I loved the harmony in Kris and Danny’s song … it was truly beautiful, as if they were singing as one. I wish they had looked as comfortable with each other as Brooke White and Graham Nash were … they showed such joy in each other and passed the baton of music and showmanship back and forth during their duet!

    I’m SO pleased that Allison was able to sing a duet with Adam. I HOPE that she learned a lot from him, and that he’s as good a teacher as he is a singer/performer. I would like to think that he took her through the steps of thinking through how to make artistic choices for the showcase. I think it comes so naturally to him after the length of time he has been performing, that I’m not sure if he can even vocalize his decision-making process. It would be cool if Allison was able to see what can really go into producing a great performance!

    I’m gonna miss that little doll … she’s something else!

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  11. During the tour, there is more that they can learn from each other and from performing front of the audience.

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  12. Rosanne, are u going to put up another discussion board for this coming week? Because then I will wait til then. Thank you for your generosity.

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  13. Thank you again, MCL, for a most enlightening critique. Once more, you have helped me to understand why I like or dislike a performance. Sometimes I can pinpoint it, sometimes not.

    I am glad that I listened to Kris and Danny’s duet again. It really did sound better when I closed my eyes and focused just on the vocals. You also clarified the lack of connection between them and Kris’s attempt to engage Danny at one point. Kris has good instincts. That was where I really felt a dissonance in their duet performance. Danny was singing on his own and not connecting with Kris at that point. It diminished my enjoyment of their performance.

    I felt some empathy for Kris after he took some hits from Simon. There was a look in his eyes that made me really feel for him. It reminded me why it’s so important to give constructive criticism. You have to praise what’s good and then say what needs improvement. If you don’t do that, then it doesn’t leave the person any dignity or sense of self. As a former substitute teacher, I know that all too well.

    Idol is what it is, a war of attrition at time, a marathon of sheer endurance and will. But Kris had a look of defeat that concerned me greatly. He should read your critique and then he would be able to realize what is good about him. He knows who he is ans stays true to that. If he could only just relieve some of that tension, then his performances would be more fully realized. I also think you hit it exactly right when you suggested that the key should have been changed slightly for his solo performance. I kept hearing him strain and reach for the notes, rather than soaring over them smoothly.

    I think Allison went out on a high note. After he duet with Adam, which really was a thing of beauty, her farewell performance of a great Janis Joplin song was a thing to remember. It’s wonderful when the tension and pressure to compete is gone and someone can just let loose and their voice realizes its true potential. She’s not Janis Joplin yet, but with time and better vocal technique and development, she could really be a great female rock singer. She is so very young, yet she can sing beyond her years. I think this was the right time for her to leave. Now she can give her voice some much needed rest before the tour.

    I will have to go back and listen to Adam and that vibrating “woman” note. It sounded different to me, but again I couldn’t put my finger on why. Since Adam is always so technically brilliant, I wonder if it was done deliberately for effect or not. He rarely misses when it comes to pure vocal skill.

    Now that we are getting down to the wire, I am telling myself to just live in the moment. I want to enjoy and savor every single minute of this competition. Instead of worrying about Adam winning, I think I just want to enjoy the pleasure of his magnificent voice.

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  14. Hi MCL, thank you again for the wonderful analysis. I was surprised to find out that the “quuvering of the jaw” on word “Woman” was not a “special effect” planned out for further impact… I was sure of that when I was watching… perhaps its a “rocker” thing to do?

    Also, I posted this question on the other thread and would love to hear you opinion on live and studio versions of WLL:

    I find the studio version to be much “softer” than the live one. It does not have that “aggressive” quality, its sort of more “Adam” – from his soul… and I am thinking thats why he changed the words… it is part of him, and he as an artist has to express himself…

    I am happy though that the live version was so raw… – we now have two emotionally different renditions of one song.

    What do you think?

    thx

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  15. Thanks for the great critiques MCL! You know, when I heard that Danny was singing Dream On, I immediately said “He can’t handle the high note at the end.” I clearly was right. It just is not in his range or “bag of tricks.” What’s sad is he should have known this. If he was an inexperienced, naive singer, I could see the attempt. To me, it showed his arrogance. It reminded me of a friend who saw me at tennis practice and challenged me to a match cause she thought she was a superior athlete to me and “if I can do it, how hard can it be.” Needless to say, she didn’t win one game from me. Not that I was great, but she clearly underestimated how hard Tennis is, and the skill needed to play at my level. Danny looked like he thought he could sing anything Adam can, and ended up looking foolish. Glad to see him laugh about it.

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  16. Thanks MCL, for the critiques of the performances for rock week. :)

    Kworb – I’ve listened to WLL a few times and when I went back to listen again after I read your post, I realized that he’d substituted “Baby” like you said. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I admit I thought the quiver was for rock effect and that he was channeling Robert Plant. I’ll have to watch a-g-a-i-n. (Oh darn! ;))

    I seem to have a similar problem with Danny and Kris’ duet: “too much Danny, not enought Kris” Their lack of interaction did bother me. I think that a duet should be interactive, and even though Kris tried towards the end, it just wasn’t happening. It’s too bad, the harmonies sounded very good, and they could have definitely made a better emotional connection with the audience by finding an emotional connection with each other. Adam and Allison’s duet had that emotional connection. They were having a blast and it showed.

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  17. I love reading your critiques of the artists. You provide such great insights into the training and expertise that it takes to sing so beautifully. Your description of Danny’s vocals allowed me to experience some good in a performance that I had not previously noticed.
    Just an FYI…Led Zepplin is band, whose lead singer was Robert Plant. I love the idea that they released the song because he (and or the band) are fans of Adam. I do believe that the mouth quiver was purposeful as was the delay. I have had the privilege of seeing Led Zepplin in concert and can say that he stuck fairly close to Robert Plant’s performance.
    I like to think that Adam added a “little Elvis” to his performance with the lip raise and mouth quiver. His performance was absolutely stellar.
    Thanks again for all your hard work
    me

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  18. I am happy to see that both Sparky and Me consider the jaw movement a planned out effect – makes me feel a bit more “on board” with rock… Was this something that Robert Plant used to do?

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  19. I digress slightly with this post, a blast to the past…

    MCL – Here are some of Scott MacIntyre’s pre-Idol compositions. I would LOVE IT if you would review them in a future post, with your expert’s ear. I love them. Here we go:

    No Fear

    Who Am I

    Wedding Song

    Dream World

    Easily Broken

    I just wanted to share those with you, as I know you will appreciate them. I think Scott wrote all these songs, plus many more. These are just the ones I could find on YouTube. Can’t wait to read your thoughts, MCL!

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  20. nica – I just watched Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin sing WLL on the mtv site again. (The Story Behind the Cover, you can also reach it by going to MJ’s Big Blog under Headlines for 5/6/09). RP has so much hair, you can’t really see his chin. lol. People who think Adam is ott should really watch this video. Depending on your level of comfortability with skinny, half-naked rock stars goes that is.

    As for the song, I’m really impressed with Adam’s cover. He definitely did it justice.

    Like

  21. You know, I really enjoyed your masterclass even more than I usually do this time. Thank you, MCL! I really like how you highlighted the good in Danny’s performance, even though he admittedly did have an OFF week. Were it not for that killer note at the end, I believe it would’ve actually been at least a solid performance. Oh, and the “Scream On” comment was hilarious! While that performance may not have been one of the greatest performances this season, I will definitely remember that SCREAM! LOL

    Like

  22. Re: Studio Version of Whole Lotta Love

    Who does the harmonies and back up? Did he record those tracks too?

    Does anyone know if Robert Plant or Jimmy Page has commented on the performance and/or recording or why they decided to give AI/Adam the rights?

    I only listened to the studio recording on you tube and obviously my computer does not have good bass output. I think the recording sounded thin, in terms of the music, but that could be the digital transfer and listening to it with mini-speakers. WLL really needs to be listened to on a sound system with a whole lotta bass.

    The only thing I didn’t like about Adam’s studio recording is the clipped ending. It is very tidy, nipped off, whereas, being true to it’s sexual nature, it should have a denouement. A sort of slowing of tempo …

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  23. Jessica T. – After listening to both renditions, the guitars on Adam’s studio version mimic closely the sound of the guitars on the live LZ version I listened to (iTunes) I’m not sure how to describe it, and I’m also not sure if, by “thin” you’re talking about the vocals or the instrumentation? I think the guitars on both have a kind of “retro”, more of a background sound, and so, I guess thin does work in that context. If anyone has a better way of putting this into words, please help! It sounds like Adam wants to pay tribute to the original on his recording by making use of the original sound.

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  24. Oh, I meant a better way of putting it into words than ME, no dis on Jessica!

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  25. Sara was right on. I said the same thing in the other thread, same words–arrogant.

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  26. February 8, 1969
    Chicago, IL US
    Kinetic Playground

    Galen, I was there, Vanilla Fudge had top billing and then Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin blew them out of the water.

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  27. Sparky et al – I meant sort of ‘tinny’ in timbre. Without a lot of bass push, which I think one would normal hear in Led Zepplin.

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  28. SeriouslySurely, you and Galen weren’t the only ones there. My boyfriend was so upset with me because I was entranced, so he left with another girl, but who could care. I’d never heard music like this live before in my entire life!
    All those people leaving while Fudge performed. I’ll never forget that night,and having rolling thunder run right through my body and soul.
    If you’re still in Chicago you know The Playground is gone, the cemetery across the street remains the same.

    Like

  29. Just an FYI about the iTunes AI studio recordings…. I have read that many sound sub par (although some are great). From what I understand, they use prerecorded tracks and just add the contestant’s voice. As a result, some voices are overpowered by the background music or backup singers. Also, the production team has less than a week from in-studio recording (Fridays) to iTunes distribution (Thursday?) for all weekly performances so there’s little time to finesse the quality. Lastly, once the show is over, I ‘think’ iTunes availability ends and the covers are pulled (but don’t quote me on that).

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  30. “American Idol has found its first star” :

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1896746,00.html

    WOW, some one is listening!!!!

    Like

  31. There are judges song picks already up at mjsbigblog.

    Paula picked Dance Little Sister by Terence Trent D’Arby for Danny

    Randy picked Apologize by One Republic for Kris

    So that means Simon will be picking the song for Adam. I am guessing that Adam being out here in southern California is the reason why his has not been posted yet.

    MJ will post the song for Adam when he gets the information.

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  32. I’m not familiar with Dance Little Sister; I do however, like Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Wishing Well”, I think the tone of Danny’s voice will work well with Terence’s songs.

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  33. On the American Idol forum, I am hearing it’s going to be maybe One by U2 or Wicked Game by Chris Isaac. But these have not been confirmed.

    MJ still doesn’t have anything up for Adam’s song choice.

    I went on youtube and listened to Dance Little Sister. I think it would work for Danny’s voice quite well. Apologize was a brilliant pick for Kris. That is made for him.

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  34. Wicked Game is one of my ALL TIME favorite songs! If Adam sings that, I will be in heaven!!!

    BTW, MJ is a woman.

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  35. “Apologize” is a great song for Kris stylistically, but if he does the song in the original key, the “too late” parts might be problematic. Those parts require a good control over head voice.

    That said, Theo Tams lowered the key when he sang “Apologize” on Canadian Idol in order to hit those notes in full voice, and he worked it out. Kris would probably be able to fill out the lower notes enough to pull off a lower key. (Side note: Theo’s also a brilliant pianist, which helps!)

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  36. Now that I think of it, Danny’s voice does have great parallel’s to Terrence Trent Darby’s. It also has a soul-y aspect to it. I just wish it was a more well known song. Whatever happened to him anyhow?

    I’d love to hear Adam do something from a band with alternative roots like REM or U2. How about the B-52s! Can you see Adam doing Love Shack! How funny would that be?

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  37. MCL – you MUST see this

    adam doing star spangled banner…pitch perfect much?

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  38. Oh wow. Adam sang the Star Spangled Banner at Miramar today. *A cappella* And over all kinds of distractions…

    Link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWIGkbuz2g8

    It gave me chills.

    And thank you again for your wonderful critiques. I find them incredibly interesting to read, and love your tone (and that of the commenters here).

    Like

  39. I stopped by to post the link to the SSB – and glad to see that it’s already up. No band, no judges, no competition. Just genius. The most beautiful rendition I’ve ever heard.

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  40. On the theme of “contestants are people, too”, I just watched a couple of Danny Gokey’s interviews from today’s homecoming on the Fox6 site, and he was absolutely delightful. Can’t comment on Kris’, as I only watched a short song clip; and of course I searched out as much of Adam as I could and loved it all. It’s nice to see them in an environment where they’re all being adored and appreciated, and where they can relax a bit and let more of their personalities shine. For me it was a nice antidote to the partisanship we as the viewers and voters are prone to.

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  41. Wow, that was a great rendition of the anthem. Maybe on one or notes that were wobbly, but all the hard ones were spot on. That boy has amazing pitch.

    Is the vibrato natural or does he have to conciously create it.

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  42. Vibrato, when produced correctly, is a natural byproduct of healthy singing. If one has to consciously create vibrato, that usually isn’t a good thing. That said, even though one doesn’t really “turn on” vibrato, one can control it and hold it off to some extent. Take, for example, the classic glory note; usually the singer holds the note for some time without vibrato before “loosening” up and letting the vibrato come in. Adam’s vibrato sounds like the natural kind to me. (The speed of a singer’s vibrato is very telling. The vibrato should neither be too fast or too slow. The latter is what is considered a “wobble” or tremolo.)

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  43. You know! after watching that Video of Adam and thinking back to some of the things that he wears on the show, he could definitely bring back the 80’s look. I am a product of the 80’s, loved the era! I would love to hear him sing some Thompson Twins, Pet Shop boys or OMD. Love to see a Punk Rock Adam!

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  44. MCL- I really appreciate and enjoy your fair analysis of the AI contestants. I always look forward to reading it and would hope the idols are able to have access to it. How it would help them!

    Just one point on the Kris/Danny duet,

    Louise- you mentioned you were surprised at the criticism against Danny’s character.
    Yes, that is surprising how Danny can be so judged on every little thing. This is all a new experience and he is still learning.
    There is so much hate for him, it is becoming sickening!
    How people can take this duet and tear Danny’s character apart for just needing more experience. Nobody knows what they go thru with all the technical aspects on the stage.
    Its so true, you can have real difficulty hearing each other, yourself, and the intensity of your music monitors.
    If anyone has ever done a duet, you would know it takes experience and PRACTICE!
    You have to LEARN to hear each other and yourself, and adjust yourself accordingly.
    Danny has a powerful instrument and has to learn that and tone down when he needs to.
    Kris has not as much of a “belting” voice, so it would not be easy for those two to mesh together so easily in a rock theme.
    And they most definitely needed that kind of practice which I’m sure they had not enough of!

    Adam and Allison were at a great advantage, both have “rocker” voices, and being in their comfort zone made it quite easier for them. Plus being a guy and a girl had advantage to really compliment each other with a great song to fit them.
    I felt bad for Kris and Danny, they probably worked alot harder than they got credit for. And the harmony which was very good,was more enjoyable to my ears than Adam/Allison.
    I just wish we could just enjoy the idols in this entertaining competition without it getting so ugly and hateful.
    I am just enjoying what each one can bring, and appreciating that each one of them have talent.
    Just best wishes for their careers no matter who wins it.

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  45. Nanine, I appreciate your nice comments about Danny’s interviews during his homecoming. The past couple of days, I’ve been trying to determine if I’m just missing an arrogance that so many others see. I’m going to post a little of one of his interviews when he was discussing song selection being difficult for him and which I found to be revealing:

    “I’ve always done gospel music and I don’t know much about the music outside of that realm,’ he said. “Literally every song I pick, I’m learning. I don’t know what to pick and song choice has been the most difficult thing for me, and it only gets harder as it goes.”

    On Tuesday, Idol judge Simon Cowell criticized Gokey’s performance of Aerosmith’s Dream On. Cowell said Gokey’s final note — an elongated scream — ‘was like watching a horror movie.’

    But Gokey laughed about it Friday. “Rock wasn’t my thing, and I bit off a song that was bigger than me,” he said.”

    I’m doubting that someone with a lot of arrogance would admit to taking on something that was bigger than they were capable of.

    But I also found it interesting to read his comment about previously only doing gospel music. This has made me wonder if he would even want to do any other kind of music if he was fortunate enough to win Idol.

    It has also made me really think about Adam and the kind of music he would if he wins Idol. I am not saying this as a criticism of Adam, because I do think his talent is beyond measure, but I really wonder if he would be satisfied being a rocker after Idol. I know that someone else here has said that he’s a performer, and that’s what I see when I watch Adam. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that he has convinced us that he’s a rocker, but I can’t help but wonder if he could be content just doing that. Chris Daughtrey and Bo Bice were real rockers. I just don’t see Adam that way.

    Which leaves Kris. Someone here mentioned that Kris’s style reminds her of James Taylor. That was a good comparison. Nice and laid back!

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  46. Louise, that bit from Danny about not being familiar with much music outside of gospel is one of the things that struck me as well, and I feel I understand him and his performances better as a result. He also mentioned his NFP Foundation which is so important to him. I too wonder what kind of music he would do if he won, and if he would stay in the niche market of gospel as opposed as opening up to more pop, and put a lot of his energy into developing the Foundation.

    Regarding Adam, I recently saw a quote where he said his first CD would be pop/rock with some glam and ballads. I’ve also heard him say that he wants to do things that are original, creative and haven’t been done before. I highly doubt he would limit himself to rock – He understands his wide range and appeal and wants to play and experiment. I trust he’ll know how to do that and am certain he will be successful at it. He has big visions and given how assiduously he’s followed his path since childhood I can’t wait to see where he takes his career – and his audiences.

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  47. That’s an amazing rendition of the SSB from Mr. Lambert. Wowsers. He can sing anything.

    He was such a star this week singing that Zep song. So sexy and he was in control from beginning to end. Superstar.

    I am so sad that Allison went home. F2 should have been Adam and Allison.

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  48. Louise and Teri, I totally agree with you about your comments about Danny and Danny and Chris’s duet. I’ve rewatched the duet many times since the attacks on Danny started and I don’t see anything that leads me to think that they were trying to do anything but sing a song out of their comfort zones. I thought the harmonies were terrific, especially the first, and at the time they reminded me of the great Seals and Crofts, still do, and I also thought on Tuesday night that they sounded so good together that maybe they should try to become a duo.

    I noticed last year that some of the contestants started wearing ear pieces, haven’t noticed anyone wearing one yet. Does wearing them take getting used to? Anyone?

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  49. Sylvia~~far out! Yep! it held 500 peeps. Did you sit on the floor? Small world. No, I am not in Chicago anymore. Cemetary is still there? well, you know peeps are dying to get in.

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  50. J –

    You make a good point about changing the key for Kris singing Apologize. Thinking about the song again, I realized that the original was done in a key that would be too high for Kris’s voice. I would second your suggestion. Head voice could be a problem for Kris, but the lower notes should be perfect for him.

    What Kris really needs to do is to just relax his jaw, neck and facial muscles to improve his vocals. I hope he can manage to do that.

    Also, many thanks for the explanation of the vibrato. I learn more and more from you all the time.

    I listend to Adam’s performance of the national anthem on MJs blog last night. It took my breath away and moved me to tears. There seem to be no limits when it comes to Adam’s vocal brilliance. With all that background noise, no accompaniment and the setting, the fact that he pulled it off so beautifully is just another example of his incredible instrument. I keep hearing it in my head all the time. That’s a sure sign that it has touched my heart and soul.

    I have no concerns about what kind of cd Adam would create. He seems to have a confidence and sureness about what he has done all through the competition. I don’t see him limiting himself to just one genre of music. I think he would like to show off his vocals with a nice mix of musical styles. Whatever he does, I know I will be listening.

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  51. Here is Adam performing at his high school graduation in 2000. He looks SO different! You’ve just got to listen to it!

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  52. Cautious Enthusiast May 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Led Zeppelin himself? MasterClassLady, I’m a classical musician myself (woodwinds) in my 40s and have never been all that in touch with classic rock… but Led Zeppelin has been around for FIVE DECADES. Robert Plant’s vocals and Jimmy Page’s guitar are widely acknowledged as virtuosos of their genre. Being unaware that Led Zeppelin is not an individual, but a band… I’m sorry, but you lose all credibility at trying to advise the vocal performances of those on American Idol. Strikingly out of touch.

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  53. What on earth are you trying to say Cautious Enthusiast?

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  54. Cautious Enthusiast…You weren’t so cautious this time. The band was formed in 1968 which would make it FOUR DECADES ago. Everyone makes mistakes I guess.
    Perhaps MCL meant ” themselves “, whatever, hardly worth your nasty attack on her.

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  55. Agreed. Perhaps you need to be just a bit more “cautious” in what you say, Enthusiast! I do not see in any way how MCL has lost ANY credibility. Her masterclass up above proves that she is more than capable of what she does.

    Also, I just wanted to mention that I downloaded Danny’s Studio Version of “Dream On” off iTunes, and it is incredible how much better it sounds than its live counterpart. I definitely think the lack of a rehearsal really was the root of Danny’s problem on Tuesday, because he proved to me in the studio that he CAN sing “Dream On” and even hit that high note.

    I also REALLY liked Renegade as well. Danny and Kris really should record something together, because their voices mesh amazingly. Kudos to both of them! Oh, and while I am not a massive fan of Adam, I admit that I just had to download “Slow Ride”. Adam and Allison knocked that one out of the park, and the studio sounds awesome! It is MY personal favorite of Adam’s this season.

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  56. Led Zeppelin himself? MasterClassLady, I’m a classical musician myself (woodwinds) in my 40s and have never been all that in touch with classic rock… but Led Zeppelin has been around for FIVE DECADES. Robert Plant’s vocals and Jimmy Page’s guitar are widely acknowledged as virtuosos of their genre. Being unaware that Led Zeppelin is not an individual, but a band… I’m sorry, but you lose all credibility at trying to advise the vocal performances of those on American Idol. Strikingly out of touch

    Well, hooray for you! And so you never come on this blog except to point out an error that I made – an unintentional one, by the way?

    I meant to to say the “band members” (I always write snippets of this article in short form as I watch the show and then edit it) or the “Led Zepplin band itself” or something. Who knows? It wasn’t an oversight.

    I wrote this week’s article under unbelievable time constraints plus concern for a family member who is very ill.

    Feel better now after your rant? Have a nice day and please remember not to stop by again.

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  57. I hope your family member is feeling better, MCL. It sounds like you have had a very hectic week. Then someone gets on here with nothing better to do but nit-pick at you. It’s enough to drive you crazy, isn’t it? LOL

    Anyway, seriously, I pray that everything turns out good with your sick loved one and for a speedy recovery. God bless!

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  58. Mindy – Thanks always for your warm replies! I am just thankful that I can be of some help to someone, lol!
    Katillac – Thanks for that video! Awww, I actually really like Adam’s look in high school. Apparently, he’s a natural blond, and you can tell in this video! He looks so young and fresh-eyed, but you can already hear that voice of his!

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  59. Adam at graduation – uh, much better than I was. What a cutie-patootie. Cheek pinching material. Is the harmony pre-recorded or is there a chorus somewhere?

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  60. Wow – I can’t believe someone would comment on a silly typo like that. If anyone knows you (as I have the FANTASTIC pleasure of knowing personally who you are) they will see that you are an insanely busy woman!!! The fact that you find the time to write these articles on top of your already hectic schedule amazes me in the first place, and now some individual is going to come and nitpick every little thing – shame. I agree with you, MCL, and ask this person to “not stop by again”.

    I sincerely hope that your family member gets better very soon. I will keep him/her in my prayers!

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  61. Thanks so much soccer247 and Galen. My Mom is in the last stage of Alzheimer’s disease and it has been really difficult watching her struggle. It is truly horrible and such a long, devastating journey. I never know what the day brings – she is very weak and so tired of the struggle and, yet, doesn’t understand what is happening around her.

    I never bring up personal issues, but today and yesterday have been particularly diffcult for me because we are celebrating Mothers’ Day tomorrow. And then, to have somebody come online here and disturb the positive vibes here on this site was just too much. No one is perfect -we all make mistakes. (sigh)

    Soccer – you are a doll and I know how busy you have been. So, thank you for taking the time to write – I so appreciate this.

    Galen – your commentary has been so wonderful – thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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  62. MCL –

    I am sincerely sorry to hear about your mother’s illness. Years ago my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s disease in her 90’s and it almost destroyed me to see her like that. I hope that you find the strength to see this through. It is beyond difficult. There are no words.

    I also lost my father last year. I knew he was dying and tried my best to get back east to Florida, but I was too late. I have not recovered from it. He lived a long and wonderful life, but he was calling for me and that has been hard to bear.

    I normally would not digress and discuss personal issues, but I felt that I had to respond to your heartfelt remarks. I want to give you as much support as possible. You give so much to us here on this site. It’s a wonderful and precious gift. You have a wealth of knowledge and share it with grace, class and generosity.

    I am sincerely sorry that you had to read that unfortunate and distasteful post. You don’t ever have to justify yourself to anyone, least of all someone like that. I could care less about typos or silly omissions.

    I enjoy everything you write and always will. I hope the love and support here will help you during such an arduous time.

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  63. Cautious Enthusiast – you seem to be “strikingly out of touch” with having any class.

    To quote a great song, “Move on down, move on down the road!”

    Honestly, you have issues.

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  64. MCL, my heart aches for you and your family, especially in that such a shadow is being cast over a time ordinarily of festivities. I don’t know if there is something about the Internet that deprives people of humanity and compels them to write so thoughtlessly, but know that you have a reader here whose life has been touched for the better by your reviews.

    You are truly an example in the way you conduct yourself with grace and humility and lovingly critique the contestants, remembering that they are human beings with feelings and trials unaired on television.

    You have always been the positive, encouraging heart of this website, and I am so touched by the strength and courage you have shown in face of this adversity. I would truly be honored and grateful to have a mother (or grandmother) like you.

    Let no one ever stomp on your beautiful spirit! My prayers and thoughts are with you. God bless! <3

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  65. MCL, your Mother is in my thoughts and prayers. My family has been devastated by this horrible disease. I have supported the Alzheimer’s Disease Desearch for 15 years. Special hugs coming your way.

    Mindy, I am so sorry you didn’t see your Father before he passed on.

    J, I love your sentence, “Let no one stomp on your beautiful spirit.” Excellent advise for ‘our’ MasterClassLady.

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  66. How wonderful to hear that Allison has improved over the course of the season. I really wish she made it to the TOP 3. Three guys in the TOP 3 isn’t quite what I hand in mind.

    Sing over your upper notes and never reach for them and, while doing so, breathe and support your vocal sound from the diaphragm. Bend your knees, squeeze your butt, sustain your voice on the pure vowel, drop your jaw, keep your mouth round (although the last two elements are slowly improving -kudos!)

    Will someone please pass this information to Kris?

    MCL, what about Kris’ stomach muscles this week? Being as untrained as I am about music, I have yet to figure out how you know so much about Kris’… uh, … body parts. :wink:

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  67. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the Moms and Grandmas!!

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  68. Hi MCL!

    New poster – very longtime lurker. I just wanted to thank you for helping me to understand music & why I love some singers so much. I first read your articles in season 2 of AI. I loved Clay’s voice so much and when you wrote about his performances I understood why!

    I have continued to read your articles & was delighted to find your website this year. Everyone here is so nice & their comments articulate & well thought out. I am most definately an Adam fan & find myself voting for him (haven’t done that since Clay)! Thank-you again for your wonderful critques of his performances – when ever someone complains about his “screaming” style I point them to your website so they understand his true talent.

    So thank-you again for taking the time to do this for your readers, it is your gift to us. As for that rude & totally uncalled for comment several posts up -my grandmother passed due to complications from this same awful disease & it takes a strong person to deal with on a daily basis. My prayers are with you & Happy Mother’s Day – may it be sweet, not bittersweet.

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  69. It’s hard for me too, and I understand, Rosanne. I just came back from the cementary putting flowers on mum’s grave. She was taken Home in 2002 after a long illness and I was with her all the way and grateful that I did.

    Happy Mom’s Day. :)

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  70. Dear MCL,

    I am so sorry to hear that your mother has Alzheimer’s. My father passed away 15 years ago from Alzheimer’s and my mother 5 years ago from cancer. So I can fully sympathize with you because it’s very difficult to watch your loved ones suffering.

    Learning this about your mother, I am amazed that you have the time to write such in-depth critiques of the AI contestants each week. When do you have time to sleep?!? You are really a special lady.

    I hope you are able to enjoy Mother’s day with your daughters and you get to do some more snuggling with your 3-year-old granddaughter! There is nothing like a grandchild to make us feel better.

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  71. Anita said, “I loved the harmony in Kris and Danny’s song … it was truly beautiful, as if they were singing as one. . . . ”

    I felt the same way–I don’t have an ear for perfect pitch or know anything about the art of singing, but I know that it was a pleasure for me to hear them harmonize.

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  72. Teri and auntieaudie — I really appreciate your remarks about the Kris/Danny duet. I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it.

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  73. To everyone here – your kind words and wonderful and touching stories of your own Moms and Dads have been an uplifting experience for me. God Bless each and every one of you for your gift of YOU on MasterclassLady.Com. I feel truly blessed to have come to know you.

    Love Rosanne (MCL)

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  74. MCL, it’s been an absolute pleasure to read your reviews through the years. I’ve never posted, but I’ve been reading your words of wisdom since season 2. Thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to share your knowledge with us. God bless your mother, you and your family with her Alzheimer’s.

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  75. Cautious Enthusiast – Good grief, it was just a typo, and I’m as big a Led Zeppelin fan as you’ll find. You don’t need to be familiar with a band to critique a person’s singing technique anyway, but do you feel better now that you’ve knocked down that straw man?

    Happy Mother’s Day, all! Best wishes to you and your mother, MCL. And your granddaughter is adorable.

    As for the judge’s song picks, I do really like “Apologize” for Kris. Lower the key and he’ll be golden. The piano might be tempting for Kris with that song, but playing that song straight might get him, “You didn’t make it your own, dawg. It was just a’ight for me. For you. Dawg,” comments from the judges. I hope he picks up an acoustic guitar and does a beautiful, spare arrangement with it.

    “Wicked Game” or “One” are both brilliant choices for Adam. I’m not sure which one I’d rather hear him sing more. Probably “Wicked Game.” I’m a huge fan of U2, but boy am I tired of that song. Heh. If they had six minutes to perform instead of two, I’d kill to hear him sing “Bad.” The song itself is a horrible fit for Idol but it’s really stunning musically, and vocally it’s right up Adam’s alley.

    “Dance Little Sister”… Paula was on the right track with the artist she chose — TTD is a great fit for Danny’s voice — but I’m not sure that going with an obscure, up-tempo song is going to help Danny much. That said, I can’t come up with a song that I’d really like to hear him sing. Maybe some Ray LaMontagne? Danny could have a “moment” with “Let It Be Me,” I think, and I’m not really a fan of his. Or maybe “At This Moment” by Billy Vera & the Beaters.

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  76. Oh, MCL, I am so sorry about your mom. Alzheimer’s is such an evil disease that it seems to utterly rob the life away from the person you love. I can honestly say that I have been blessed enough to never have to watch someone I dearly love suffer through it. I pray that I never have to. I cannot imagine how awful that would be. Just know that my prayers ARE with you, MCL. As I have said before, with God all things are possible, and I wholeheartedly believe that.

    You know, I realized something as I watched my grandma struggle three difficult years against a very aggressive cancer. A disease can attack and destroy any vital organ–your heart, brain, lungs, etc. However, a person’s spirit can never be diminished by it. No sickness (however bad it may be) can touch that. I hope I am not assuming something incorrect (or putting words in your mouth), MCL, but judging from all of your posts I have read since I first visited here, you seem to me to be someone who places a very high priority on faith. Therefore, I know that you know whose hands your dear mother’s spirit is in right now. That doesn’t make all the loss and pain any easier to bear, but it does give you something that is so very precious in times like these–PEACE.

    Anyway, God bless you (and every mom on here) today, MCL. May God bless and protect you and your family. May he show his favor and give you His Peace.

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  77. I just came across an interesting article in this week’s Time magazine. It’s written by Josh Tyrangiel and is titled, “The Un-Idol.” In the article he says, “. . . Lambert, 27, may have the best chops of the bunch (his ability to hold high notes recalls Grace Slick in her prime), but where he really outshines them is in self-awareness. While his peers act as if being plucked from obscurity to sing in prime time is normal, he understands that he’s on a television show, where acting normally would be completely abnormal. In his hands, a song and a performance are separate messaging opportunities . . . Lambert might just be too weird for a show this big. But win or lose, it won’t matter: after producing plenty of singers, American Idol has found its first star.”

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  78. Nanine & Louise I find it hard to believe that someone Danny’s age could be oblivious to rock’n’roll. If I were, and knew it, and I made American Idol, believe you me, I’d be doing my homework. I’d be watching every VH1 top 100 list. Watching “Rockumentaries,” etc. I think that was part of Lil’s problem. She didn’t know enough about other genres.

    Duets I think Kris and Danny’s voice went quite well together. It kind of reminded me of Michael Stipe and Mike Mills from REM. Michael as a stronger, raspier voice (raspy might not be the right term) and Mike’s purer, sweet voice compliments very well in the harmonies. Different sounding voices (no matter the male female make up) that work together to the ear (again, sorry for the lack of technical terms) seem the most successful.

    Do you call it tone? Timbre?

    Think of:
    Lennon & McCartney (rougher vs. sweeter)
    Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young)
    Fleetwood Mac
    Pink Floyd (David Gilmour & Roger Waters)

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  79. Jessica T

    Do you call it tone? Timbre?

    Tone is often used interchangeably with timbre. ;) Although to be more precise, timbre is tone quality or tone color.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbre

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  80. Roseanne, typos get me every time; however, I think you know I meant Alzheimer’s Disease Research. I don’t get the HBOchannel , but I understand there was a special project presented this evening on research for Alzheimers.

    God bless you and yours. So many of us have been touched by this horrible disease (along with cancer).

    “There is nothing like a grandchild to make us feel better.” So true, Louise!

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  81. MCL – I am sorry to learn of your mothher’s illness. It is so difficult to have an ill relative. My grandfather was ill for many months before he died and it was hard for the family to hear of him slowly deteriorating. May God be with you always.

    Scott MacIntyre wrote a song called “No Fear”. It comforts me and I know it will comfort you. I posted it earlier in these comments, along with a few of his others. I hope you can enjoy them, wiith Scott’s soothing voice, at this time. And when you are able, a critique on the songs would be great! God bless.

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  82. Kirsten – thank you so much for your kind words. How difficult it must have been to watch the slow deterioration of your grandfather. I have watched so many of my close family members die and it never gets easier. I am sure you, as well as so many readers on this site, can empathize with this.

    I have not forgotten about Scott’s videos. I will definitely comment on them and add another blog topic about him as soon as time permits. But I will immediately treat myself to “No Fear” – sounds like a beautiful song. Thanks so much once again Kirsten.

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  83. KariAnn – I did watch the first part of the HBO special, but I found it so, so upsetting. Did you watch it? Thespecial was all so vivid and real, and for those who have never had to deal with this horrific disease, it was certainly a reality check.

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  84. You are very welcome, MCL. Here is another treat for you. This is a pre-Idol interview where Scott talks about challenges he has endured in his life that he chose not to bring up on Idol. This video makes me appreciate him even more. Prepare to be uplifted. He talks specifically about writing “No Fear” from 8:35-9:58. He amazes me! Enjoy this as well!

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  85. Roseanne, I thought the HBO special project on Alzheimer’s Disease would be hopeful, providing new treatments. Unfortunately, I don’t have HBO. Perhaps my next newsletter will inform me of the information presented?

    Also, I am sorry I made an inappropriate comment on Kris’ stomach muscles. It has sort of become a running joke.

    Which leaves Kris. Someone here mentioned that Kris’s style reminds her of James Taylor. That was a good comparison. Nice and laid back!

    Louise, the last time I saw James Taylor in concert, he sat on a chair during most of the concert. He had another guitarist and a drummer. Very laid back. I would love to see Kris do a JT song, but something more current would please his fans. I also thought Jason Castro could do JT.

    “I find it hard to believe that someone Danny’s age could be oblivious to rock’n’roll.” These were my feelings as well, especially if he’s watched American Idol’s previous shows. There is enough time for the contestants to check out resources available to them when uninformed.

    Scott does seems like such a sweet man. I do believe he will find success in his future.

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  86. Kariann, I’ve never seen James Taylor in concert, however, I just saw his brother Livingston Taylor a few months ago. He was terrific!

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  87. I just wanted to jump in here and add that I was fortunate enough to see James Taylor perform in his Sweet Baby James days. It was when he first became a huge success.

    I will never forget it! He was so unbelievable. That voice of his is just so lovely and unique and all his own. I was so young back then, but I understood that I was listening to someone who would become a legend. I had every single one of his albums and knew every song my heart. I consider myself quite lucky to have had the experience. He is one of a kind.

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  88. When we’re talking about James Taylor, it also makes me think of the laid back style of Norah Jones. Kris’s style reminds me of Norah too. I can’t wait to see how they all do tonight!

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  89. Thank you so much for all your critiques Masterclasslady. They have certainly helped a novice like me understand what is going on technically during a song. You mention in your critique of Adam about the lip quiver during his performance. Being a huge Rock fan from the 1970’s till now I can almost guarantee the the lip quiver was indeed a deliberate act on Adam’s part. If you are familiar with iconic Rock bands, the lead singers have these little aspects in their performances. It was more for the “visual” effect than the technical aspect. Most of the people I have spoken with state that was their favorite part of his performance.

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  90. All of these critiques were right on point. I’m glad that I found this page to learn what other trained vocal experts have to say about live performances seen by thousands. I’ll definitely use these tips and critiques to improve my own performances.

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