In past seasons, the Top 3 show has generally been less than spectacular. By this point in the competition, the singers are succumbing to the pressure of the competitive astmosphere, thinking that, in the grand scheme of things, how well they sing doesn’t seem to make a difference. Just ask Jennifer Hudson, Carly Smithson, Michael Johns, Siobhan Magnus or Katie Stevens!
Also, the behind-the-scenes negotiations have possibly begun, with prospective recording companies and managers chomping at the bit to snag an Idol or two or three.
However, the reality is this: each week they have managed to stay in this competition, it is imperative to give unblemished, spectacular performances, as one never knows who is watching. The answer to your lifelong dreams could be sitting in the comfort of his or her living room or den watching your performance and ready to make that phone call that will positively change your life forever.
Did Casey, Crystal and Lee realized this with their performances this week? Read on to see!
UPDATE: I added some information in Lee’s “Critique”. Earlier today, my computer was acting a little strange, so I published the article sooner than I would have liked. I didn’t want to lose the information. :)
Here are my evaluations and, remember, I am reviewing each singer in (first name) alphabetical order. Your comments are always welcome. To quickly access each singer, simply click on the singer’s link below.
Strengths: Casey - generally, I enjoyed both of your Top 3 songs. Over the weeks, I have come to realize that less instrumental clutter combined with a relaxed ambience assists the efficiency of your vocal delivery. This was never so apparent than in this week’s dual showcase. You looked and sounded relaxed, therefore reinforcing a confident, sincere performance of both songs.
Your personal selection, Okay It’s Alright With Me, emphasized your commitment to the lyrics of this song . This was an expressive, albeit laid back performance and I did appreciate the high degree of inflection you incorporated throughout this number. It highlighted your honest, forthright musical approach to this number.
Also, the key selection for this song was perfect, allowing you to perform with a confident and comfortable demeanor,
You second selection, Daughters by John Mayer, was even more impressive. And, before I continue, I would like to say that I know many male viewers who love you Casey, so it is not only female viewers -as was implied by Kara DioGuardi - who are attracted to you. Sorry for the digression but I had to put this comment out there!
I thought your acoustic performance of this beautiful number, wisely selected by Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson, was just beautiful and so meaningful. As I said above, the quieter, more subdued numbers offer less distraction in your vocal delivery, allowing you to concentrate on the expressive aspects within these introspective song performances.
As a result, you gave an extremely sensitive, heartwarming performance – very moving and ever so real.
Also, your concerted effort to relay the lyrics in a meaningful way emphasized your crisp articulation skills. The precision in which you articulated your words added energy and focus to your voice, thus increasing the full presence of your vocal delivery. Whether you realized this or not, the consonants acted as a springboard for the correct vowel placement in your vocal masque (face).
Furthermore, this song, with its gentle lilting melody and poetic lyrics, encouraged you to relax your facial muscles and, more important, your throat muscles, allowing you to sustain your voice more efficiently on the pure vowels.
The linear arrangement of the melodic line, positioned in the perfect area of your natural singing range, allowed you to increase your focus on the vocals. I thought this was a stellar song selection, further proving that great performances don’t have to be loud, noisy and abrasive to create an impression.
Excellent work, Casey! Bravo!
Critique: Casey - during your first number, Okay, It’s Alright With Me, I thought that your phrasing was very fragmented and drew attention to your lack of solid diaphragmatic breathing skills. You were breathing far too often, when, in fact, it would have been more musically impressive had you carried a couple of these phrases through in one breath. Also, some melodic variety to the original melody line would have been a good call as well.
Also, as mentioned above, during both numbers, you were singing smack dab in the middle of your, comfortable singing range and, although this was good on one hand, it felt far too safe on the other. This was less problematic in Daughters because I thought that your expressive interpretation of this song was just beautiful.
However, Okay, It’s Alright With Me, lacked dimension and excitement and, at some point, everything started to sound the same. It just didn’t have that extra punch, you know?
And that horizontal mouth position was back in full force, thus impeding the full depth and resonance of your vocal timbre. You have a great smile, Casey, but it doesn’t do a lot in terms of adding depth or dimension to your voice.
This technical glitch was very evident during Okay, It’s Alright With Me. However, during your performance of Daughters, the crisp articulation did assist you in the focusing your voice properly and rounding out the corners of your mouth to a higher degree.
Now you need to consistently remember to adopt a circular mouth position and relaxed, loose jaw on all your vowels in every song, while allowing the expressive elements to appear in your eyes. Once you do so, then you will feel the correct need to support your voice from the diaphragm and not push the sound from your throat, as was clearly evident during your first number.
Remember: your eyes are the window to your soul and singers must learn the significance of this statement sooner than later. The importance of keeping the eyes open and expressive cannot be over-estimated. Also, it will add further resonance to your vocal sound and assist you in implementing more head voice into your vocal blend.
Also, I really appreciated hearing your stellar guitar skills once again but, why oh why do you insist on remaining stationary behind the mike. (sigh). Why don’t you move – we don’t bite, you know? Similar to last week’s performance, your audience wants to embrace you.
However, I do feel you will have a successful career if you are skillfully marketed. You are an exceptional musician and do have a great deal to offer to the music industry. Just keep working on those vocals, allowing the technique to unravel the full potential of your vocal ability.
Casey, I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world as you move forward with your musical career!
Strengths: Crystal - the first thing I noticed during both of your numbers this week, was the fairly consistent circular formation of your mouth formation. This important vocal element has been quite noticeable over the last couple of weeks, but this week, it was extremely obvious that you were making a concerted effort to grab and sustain those pure vowels via a rounded mouth position and loose jaw ! Good for you! I am doing the happy dance here!
During your first number, Melissa Etheridge’s “Come To My Window”, you showcased the many sides to your musical talent. However, before I comment further, I have to say that I applaud your selection of this song. It was a good one and one that emphasized your particular brand of artistry in a very real and comprehensive way.
With the harmonica draped around your neck and the guitar cradled in your arms, you showcased your multi-faceted approach to this performance. Using the harmonica to open and close the song was a brilliant idea, adding an exciting aural dimension to this number.
At this point in the competition, I want to see and hear what the performer is capable of accomplishing during a performance and I felt that, during both numbers, you accomplished this goal extremely well. No stone was left unturned!
Returning to the spectacular improvement in your vowel placement, I noticed that not only the rounder vowels, but some of the wider vowels, were more pure and clean. Yes, there was the occasional spread vowel placement but, generally, you were grabbing those vowels with a relaxed, loose jaw and circular mouth formation.
As a result, you did incorporate some additional head voice into your vocal blend, increasing the clarity and precision of your vocal placement. You sustained your vowels so well, with more focus and certainly less strain coming from your throat.
This was an expressive, impressive performance and, given the short time frame of the song, you successfully incorporated many different performing elements. Good for you -this shows effort and determination!
Your second song, “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCarthey and selected by Ellen Degeneres, was truly your MOMENT! This is the song where everything came together for you. The performing and vocal elements were beautifully synchronized. Yes, there were a few bumps here and there along the way, but, it would be foolish for anyone to admit that this wasn’t a less than stellar performance.
I don’t know what impressed me more, the incredible range necessary to sing this song, the dynamic variation or the performimg elements. You packed a lotta bang for your buck in this song and did so with your trademark laidback style . As a result, this was a well-paced, well-formulated performance.
I also appreciated the fact that you abandoned your guitar for this performance, allowing you to focus your energy on your vocal and performance skills. Good girl. Didn’t this make you feel more relaxed? Movement always does – that “mike stand position” was starting to stifle you, as well as many of the other singers.
Starting from a seated position, you subsequently decided to walk to center stage and then -surprise – move off the stage and connect with your audience. This monumentally increased the communicative aspects of this song .
Also, the simple arrangement of the number afforded you opportunity to expressively focus on the words. In previous weeks, there were problems with your articualtion, but this week, I felt that this was not the case.
Vocally, I loved your glissando up to “oh” at the beginning of this song and so many of the other vocal elements you incorporated to this song. This number really challenged the depth and dimension of your range, encouraging you to add inflection and nuance in your singing style.
You confronted the true capability of your vocal talent and basically went for broke. It was a pretty impressive 90 seconds for you, Crystal, and I commend you on your determined efforts to render such a believable, multi-faceted performance.
Critique: Crystal- during your first number, “Come To My Window”, I have to agree with the judges that the arrangement of this song was too busy, almost distracting in a way! Your vocal performance was better than the arrangement. The arrangement was very fragmented. Fortunately, you added smooth vocals throughout the song, so it compensated for the bumpy road on which the arrangement was fabricated.
Also, although the majority of your vowels were well placed and focused, I did see and hear some intermittent spread on the wider – and trickier -vowels such as “eh” in the word ”care” . When this happened, then the heaviness of your chest voice kicked in and weighed down the song, overwhelming the clarity and transparency of your voice. At these junctures in the song, the all-important head voice element was absent from your vocal timbre, throwing your voice off-center and diminishing the resonance.
I do agree with Kara that an acoustic version of this song would have been more impressive. The arrangement was very frantic, almost disjointed and required a simpler approach. Now, I don’t mean simple in terms of the song delivery – just a less busy harmonic compass to the overall rendition.
Your “Maybe I’m Amazed”, on the other hand, was just beautiful and I have nothing further to add. However, you need to be reminded to continue to work on the relaxation of your throat when singing through your power vocals. It still worries me everytime I hear that rasp, but when I see that rounded mouth, I start to smile, realizing that the effort and will is there. Now, time will make to process complete.
Great, great work Crystal! Brava!