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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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)