By: Rosanne Simunovic
I am back with my weekly Vocal Masterclass articles. Let the master classing begin!
On Wednesday night, the singers performed the music from the Lennon-McCartney catalogue – a revolutionary era in music history that introduced classical elements into the genres of pop and rock.
My main focus rested on the singer’s ability to phrase the signature Lennon-McCartney melodic component in a fluid yet creative manner.
Also, I was looking for a singer who could narrate the lyrics in a meaningful manner, particularly in the ballads.
So, let us move forward to my Vocal Masterclass evaluations and I welcome your commentary and suggestions after the read!
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:Amber – you exuded a lovely charisma when you performed your number this week. I was thoroughly relaxed watching you – your confidence and charm were lovely to see and you possess a beautifully honed vocal gift.
Additionally, you established a warm and intimate mood, thus forming a strong bond with your audience. This song calls for just this effect so kudos for you for internalizing the emotion in such a believable fashion.
Your phrased the melodic line creatively and musically. This is what I was looking for and you nailed this key element extremely well.
Your voice is so crystal clear; it rings like a precious bell. Gorgeous. That head voice was a thankful presence throughout this strong showcase.
Congratulations Amber. Standing O here!
Critique: Amber – it is very hard to nitpick at this exquisite performance.
However, I would like to caution you to maintain a circular position when sustaining those vowels. This will lend additional security to your voice and allow you to transcend to greater heights when you sing. Use that diaphragm to guide your voice and relax that jaw and watch the magic happen.
Excellent performance though, Amber. Brava!
Strengths:. Angela – you could not have selected a more beautiful song for your voice. Your vocal timbre has an ethereal quality which is so important for the expressive coherence of this song.
The classical timbre of your voice just draws me in. The only other singer who sang with this style was Season 5 Top 2 Finalist, Katharine McPhee.
You perfectly internalized the sense of longing signified in the lyrics, thus communicating the core emotion of the song so exquisitely to your listeners.
You honestly – and I cannot emphasize this word enough – feel your music and, as a result, the nuances in your voice are just wonderful. You tell a story!
Technically, your voice is beautifully grounded. All the key elements are there – the round mouth, the open and relaxed facial features, the loose jaw. As a result, you easily resonate your voice in your vocal masque ( facial features) and your vocal range has a seamless quality from top to bottom.
And the phrasing was impeccable. Just beautiful. You went to places that other singes can only dream of.
What a special, heartfelt and memorable performance. I will never forget this. It was on another dimension or planet!
Standing O, m’lady! Congratulations!
Critique: Angela – no critique. It was flawless. Kudos! Now, bring on the rock star performance next week!
Strengths: Burnell – I loved your song selection. You do select songs that inspire listeners – this is your gift.
You are such an old soul and it is so refreshing to see and hear this level of sensitivity in a young artist.
Expressively, your performance resonated strongly with the listener. You do take the time to articulate and express your words and I so appreciate this in any singer.
Your voice, although young, is very distinctive. That is a quality that you should never lose as you continue to receive the proper vocal training. Training is important to ensure longevity and security in your vocal performance, so do not neglect this.
That being said – never lose sight of your natural gift to communicate in a meaningful way because that is what makes you such a special young artist. The subtle nuances in your voice, the expressive manner in which you bend your phrases, your genuine charisma – all of these elements distinguish you as an artist.
Bravo Burnell! This was an exceptionally moving performance.
Critique: Burnell – now we need to see you loosen up a bit. You love your ballads and I appreciate the manner in which you delve into the emotion of your songs.
However, it is important to diversify during your tenure on American Idol. There is a sameness to your performances and now we need to see that you have a different dimension or two stuffed in your back pocket.
Therefore, my advice would be to go with an uptempo number next week. Uptempo numbers encourage any singer to connect with the audience on a different level – to entertain and engage the listeners.
Also, relax that throat – at times there was some discernible tension in your throat, especially in the upper range when you sang the word “be”. Keep,the mouth round at all times and let the diaphragm guide your voice. Keep your throat out of the process.
All in all, this was a beautiful and inspiring performance. Effortless!
Strengths: Candice – you are truly a vocal wonder. Truly! What a beautiful vocal gift you have and, yet, I know you have worked enormously hard to hone your craft as a vocal artist.
The technique, the confidence, the charisma – you have all of this in spades. You make the art of singing look so easy but we all know it is not. Not at your level of vocal artistry.
Take note everyone: this is what it takes when you work hard and believe in your talent.
No one can phrase a song in the Top 10 like you, Candice. Your voice is seamless and pure from top to bottom.
And you can take on any style of music, as was evidenced in this week’s performance. We saw another side of you – the rocker chick! And I was loving it!
I loved how you teased that lower range – what note was that? It was great! No phenomenal. The whole performance was Phe.No.Me.Nal! Enough said!
Brava Candy girl, as Nikki would say. And, by the way, I thought your facial expression was fantastic. Sorry Nikki!
Critique: Candice – I have not one word to say to you this week. Perhaps, as Randy said, you could have teased that upper range a bit more but, it just goes to show that the energy and passion drives a song to soaring heights. Not all the high notes.
So thanks for bringing the rockin’ swag to this number, Candice! Exceptional work!
Strengths: Devin – so you snagged my favorite song from the Lennon – McCartney catalogue. Good. For. You! And, hey, it is Keith Urban’s as well. Cool! This is such a gorgeous number – the sentiment, the melodic line, the lyrics, the harmony – pure bliss.
What is there not love about this song – or your performance? This was a very sensitive showcase, Devin. You are such a caring artist and you bare your young soul so generously each week. You leave it all on the stage.
And, with a classic number such as “The Long And Winding Road”, feeling is integral or the song lands on deaf ears. Your rendition was poignant and heartfelt. Very, very expressive.
You have a young voice that is still developing. The texture will become more rich and robust with time and training.
However, you use your voice wisely and never force the vocal sound to move in a way that is, for now, too broad in its present developmental stage. Your voice will grow with you as long as you continue to nurture it wisely.
Your stage presence was relaxed and genuine. You exude a lovely charisma when you perform and one cannot teach that.
Additionally your riffs were fluid and perfectly centred. You are extremely musical and you deserve to be in this competition for a long time.
Exceptional work, Devin.
Critique: Devin – keep working on honing your technical skills.
Particularly, you need to alleviate the tension in your throat. I think that the diaphragmatic muscles are not working at optimum level and the throat is being over-taxed as a result.
As a result, your voice lacks a ringing,clairvoyant quality because of the lack of head voice In your vocal mix. Presently you sing with too much chest voice throughout your vocal range and this lends sort of a garbled quality to your vocal timbre.
Also, you need to maintain a circular mouth position on all the vowels not just the ones that naturally adopt a circular position such as the “ah” and the “oh” vowels.
However, all in all, this was a very solid and sensitive performance. Congratulations Devin!
Strengths: Janelle – I loved your song choice this week. Your voice seemed well suited to the key and style of this number, so good call on your part.
And this song choice was so different from previous ones, adding greater dimension to your singing style. This was a very sensitive and poignant performance. I fell in love with it!
You have a lovely ringing timbre to your voice – just beautiful. Tons of head voice in your vocal mix.
I am happy that Jimmy made you work on your breathing. This is the key to singing beautifully long phrases. And, yes, your phrases enjoyed a beautiful forward momentum. They just flowed.
You also were very technically grounded – your mouth position was circular on all the vowels, allowing your voice to soar to soprano heights.
There was an evenness to your sound and yet, it was exciting at the same time. And, guess what? Like Angie, you didn’t have to shout to get your point across and I was loving every minute of it. Shouting is so passé, isn’t it?
Brava Janelle! I loved this performance so much.
Critique: Janelle – I have nothing to critique. You were exceptional. Took me by surprise, young lady!
Strengths: Kree – I really appreciated your attempt to diversify your singing style this week. I was a little concerned that you were going to be stuck in neutral and sing the same style – a ballad – every week.
This song still highlighted the sensitive nature of your artistry while maintaining a slightly quicker tempo than what we have been accustomed to hearing from you.
Generally, your phrasing was very good – nice and fluid – and your words were articulated with conviction.
Now, truth be told, this is not my favorite number from Lennon – McCartney but still, all in all, you gave a very solid performance.
I was also very happy to see you move around the stage. When you started in front of the microphone stand I thought: “Please move around. Pretty please”! And you did. And I know this helped to liberate your sound – the walking alone energized your vocal production.
For me, this was your strongest performance to date and I believe we are starting to see the true depth of your artistry. Every week is a revelation.
Congratulations Kree. Good work!
Critique: Kree – you need to work on the expressive quality in your face, particularly your eyes. I find that there is a bit of a disconnect between what you are singing about and what we are seeing in your face.
Now, it may be that nerves are a factor here but you do need to work on this aspect.
Also, your technique needs work. Your vocal range is uneven and, at times, I hear unsteadiness when you sustain your melodic line. Presently, there is too much chest voice in your vocal mix, particularly when you move into the louder dynamics.
And, try not to raise your head when you move through your upper range. That just creates more tension in your vocal sound.
I see that your mouth is round on some of your vowels but you need to maintain this circular position on the “ee” vowel. This will add depth to this very bright vowel and make the vocal focus more consistent from vowel to vowel.
However, as I said above, this was a more confident performance than what I have seen in past weeks.
Strengths: Lazaro – you selected a great song from the Lennon – McCartney catalogue. This song requires an introspective approach. The singer needs to get lost in the song and, to a certain extent, you achieved this.
You told the story very well and I could see how meaningful this song was to you. However, I think the song needed a more sophisticated approach, one that, perhaps, was beyond your scope at the moment.
Good work nonetheless, Lazaro.
Critique: Lazaro – you need to really work hard on the development of your technical skills.
Presently, I hear a nasal quality in your voice which signals a low soft palate. This needs to be addressed and the best way I know of to raise the soft palate is to maintain a bend in your knees when you sing through your upper range.
However, your diaphragm needs to reinforce the focus and direction of your voice. In this song, you had problems centring your pitch in the lower end of this song and proper support would have helped you in this respect.
Also, I would like to know why you had to change this song at the last minute? Not nice and I am glad you told part of the story. C’mon American Idol! Let’s play fair!
I was going to comment on the key selection but now I realize that they just threw this key and song at you at the last minute.
Considering all this, it is amazing you remembered all the lyrics. So good for you, Lazaro.
Strengths: Paul – this was a great song choice for you. How did you snag this one? Bonus!
You had a wonderful presence on stage and looked totally in your element.
I loved hearing your head voice at the beginning and ending of this song. This takes courage.
It also shows that you have dimension to your voice and are not afraid to access this important element in your vocal range.
You phrased this song very well and the passionate dynamics at the end of this song added a level of excitement to this number.
I also felt that you were very connected and committed to the lyrics and you reinforced my thoughts when you mentioned that you chose this song based on the lyrics. This was a very intelligent approach. Good for you. I am impressed.
This is what I was looking for as many singers get hooked on a melody with little attention to the lyrical content.
This was an excellent showcase! Great work, Paul. Kudos!
Critique: Paul – you need to work on some technical problems.
First of all, you tend to raise your head when you sing and this is such a “no-no”. All this does is cause unnecessary and unwanted tension in your throat plus you lose valuable eye contact with your audience.
Think over those upper notes – never reach for them. Let the diaphragm support and direct your voice to the vocal masque.
Secondly, keep your jaw relaxed, again letting the diaphragm do the work. By doing this, the unsteadiness and breathiness I heard in your voice from time to time would disappear.
Never lose faith on the strength of your diaphragmatic support. It is there to guide you and give you added confidence.
Good work, Paul!