By: Rosanne Simunovic
A-rockin’ we will go! A-rockin’ we will go! Heigh ho the derry-o, a rockin’ we will go!
Well, that was an interesting melange of performances this week, wasn’t it?
I feel sorry for the vocal coaches – they are the ones that have to make sense of the task set in front of them by steering the singers in the right direction, knowing that the songs are just not the right fit for them in some cases.
This week, the singers rocked it out on stage – well, at least some of them did. Clearly, some of these singers are not rock singers, so the performances were uneven because of this.
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 – I am not sure that this song can technically be called a ballad. Not in the conventional terms as I see it. But, it is a power ballad, however, and the raw emotions and edgy harmonics raise it above a more intimate setting required for a softer ballad.
I tend to think all rock songs – fast or slow – are not true ballads, but then, I am a bit of a purist sometimes, so please disregard. Ha!
However, I couldn’t think of a better song choice for you. It was perfection times 1000. And the way you navigated that key change was jaw-dropping. Not even a waver in your pitch and control. Your voice sounded seamless.
All in all, you gave a phe.no.me.nal performance. Heartfelt and true! I absolutely love your voice and the gorgeous manner in which you deliver your message to us. It is very special – I could watch you all night long.
The emotion pouring forth from your voice resonated deeply with the listener. And your upper voice was clean and pure. The vocals were rich, animated and yet, the tone was translucent with head voice.
There was little to no evidence of chest voice overwhelming your vocal mix and, in a song like this, it would have been easy – almost natural – to forget about the importance of head voice. So, good for you for staying true to this important fundamental of keeping the head voice central to your vocal projection.
Given all this, you still pushed yourself to stay true to the rock edge contained in this song, genuinely incorporating a gutsy, angst-filled vocal sound in this performance, without screaming – which I was ever so thankful for.
This was exceptional, Amber! Standing O! The best I have ever heard you sing!
Critique: Amber – I have little to critique in this performance as I felt that, technically, you really improved. The shape of your mouth is not as circular as I would like, but it was better than in past weeks. So, I am hoping that you are working on this aspect because it will only increase the natural ease of your singing style!
Congratulations, Amber! I just loved this performance so much. The best of the night!
Strengths: Angie – I was happy to see you back at the piano again. For me, this is where I feel you are most relaxed and poised, seated at the keyboard. It is your signature and, after last week’s less successful performance, we needed to be reminded of the strong musical skills you bring to this competition.
Mind you, you didn’t stay there long, but it seemed to settle you and help in the pacing of this song.
Your strong communicative skills and the manner in which you creatively shaped your phrases made this song come alive. You have a very flexible voice, finely trained and this allowed you to expressively add dimension and character in your vocal delivery.
The passionate nature of this song is huge and, although your voice is not a large voice, I never felt a “push” to your sound. Your voice seemed to float from your mouth via the diaphragmatic support system.
Your collaboration with Paul McCoy was very good indeed. Both of you were in perfect sync – harmonically and melodically.
You engaged the camera very well – it was very strong camera work, in fact.
But, honestly, those sweet, tender moments at the piano steal my heart every time and, in this week’s case, provided stark contrast to the edgy portion of this song. It was wonderfully envisioned.
What a stellar showcase!! Standing O!
Critique: Angie – watch that spread, horizontal mouth shape. Be very conscious of this and try to correct the shape to a more circular shape as it will add some more depth to your voice.
It seems that you have a ton of natural head voice in your vocal mix, but, over time, this head voice diminishes and only a round mouth, relaxed jaw and strong diaphragmatic support will ensure its longevity.
I wish I could say more about the theatrical aspect of your performance. Everyone keeps harping on it but I honestly don’t see what the big deal is here.
Yes, you need to work on internalizing the lyrics a bit more and, perhaps, trusting your technical skills to guide the vocal process. Perhaps, in this way, we will see a more genuine approach to the the mood of the song.
My only fear is this: by ignoring the technical components of your performance, we may see you go “off track” like you did last week during your “Shop Around” number, where everything fell apart. I advised you to embrace your classically ingrained skills and ignore the comments.
This week, you were in absolute control and, given the short time frame you have to rehearse these numbers, I would rather see you give a performance in a comfortable manner, than second guess your emotional delivery and deliver a performance – like last week – that fell apart at the seams every which way.
So, my advice is to stay true to your distinct style and not tamper with it. There is so much you are doing exceptionally well and everyone should focus on that. Select songs that are personally relatable – this might help to establish a more genuine emotional connection.
Sometimes, emotional connection comes with age and experience. You are young – all of these songs will gain emotional maturity as time goes by. Don’t sweat the small stuff! It will all work out in the end.
Oh – a final note – recite your lyrics from memory, as you would if you were acting it out in a monologue. This not only strengthens your emotional connection to the words but also reinforces your memory skills.
Nevertheless, I loved your performance. Just beautiful!
Strengths: Burnell – this song was so far removed from your personal singing style that it did give me cause to worry. However, generally, you studied the song well and gave a rock solid performance.
Your strength lay the manner in which you articulated your words, propelling the lyrics into the hearts of your listeners. Your voice was quite nuanced and expressive, the balladeer in you coming out even in a fast-paced song like this one.
You moved around very well on and off the stage and still managed to stay in tune. Good for you. I was impressed. It was clear that you worked very hard to create a believable performance outside your comfort zone.
Good work, Burnell!
Critique: Burnell – do not raise your head. Ever! This was an intermittent problem throughout this number and, as a result, there was considerable tension in your voice.
Always think over your upper notes and never reach for them. Bend your knees and squeeze your butt – it works by raising the soft palate, this allowing the throat to stay open and free. And coupled with diaphragmatic support, this technique will propel your voice toward your vocal masque.
You did look a touch tentative throughout this song. Okay – very tentative! Why did you select this song? You needed a power ballad. That would have been more suitable to your personal style. Your eyes didn’t have the fire and passion that this song required.
On the other hand, I have to say that it was pretty neat to see you move and groove on and off the stage. So, in this respect, the song revealed another side to your performing strength.
Also, vocally, you need to go on a search and rescue mission for some glimmering, shimmering head voice. This week, as I mentioned above, you were pushing the sound from your throat, not using the diaphragm. Therefore, the chest voice pushed the head voice out of your vocal mix.
As a result, your voice did not project easily above the orchestra and background vocals. I needed to hear more punch and it wasn’t there. Explore your falsetto range and then incorporate it into you natural singing range.
As I mentioned in previous Vocal Masterclass articles, I do not want to tamper with your unique vocal sound by getting all technical with you here. However, I am concerned with the chesty manner in which you produce your voice and this can lead to problems down the road.
The technique, if applied properly, will add dimension and depth to your voice, increasing the dynamics as well. The louds and softs, highs and lows need to differentiated in your vocal performances.
Presently, your innate method of articulating is really helping the process, as this precise manner of diction adds natural energy to the vocal sound while assisting the flow of the phrases.
Now, with some technical guidance, you could achieve so much more, Burnell, and this would and should give you added confidence to perform music out of your present balladeer comfort zone.
Story telling is story telling at any speed. We need you to enjoy the upbeat songs and not be intimidated by them. Embrace them! Entertain!
All in all, though, this performance was better than I thought it would be, so congratulations!! Keep up the good work! And have fun on that stage!
Strengths: Candice – once again you selected a fantastic song. And it landed on our ears in spectacular style and substance. I honestly do believe that there is no song beyond your capabilities as an artist and a musician.
You have many strengths – first and foremost being a strong work ethic. You have armed yourself with stellar technical skills and driven focus while preparing for this entire competition. This is a given and I applaud you for this.
Because of this level of preparation, your confidence is “through the roof” and, yet, what I love about you is that you are down to earth and very approachable.
I see a “reaching for the stars” approach in your eyes. You challenge yourself. Your best competitor is YOU. You should teach a course on how to prepare for a singing competition. Seriously!
Once again, you added your unique twists and turns to this classic song, a song that sounded refreshed for many reasons.
It was neat to hear a female sing this song. You added all the necessary nuance and expression – the rasps and growls and passionate vocals – fully capturing the essence of the composition.
Your were so in sync with the rhythmic structure of this song – it was part of you.
And, even though the vocal dynamic was strong, that gorgeous head voice still prevailed. Sometimes, it shone all on its own and other times it was added to your robust vocal mix. The important point here is that it was THERE!
What a performance! Brava and standing O, Candice!! Excellent work.
Critique: Candice – what can I say here? Sing better than best? Your skills are so ingrained that it is impossible for me to nitpick away at heaven knows what!
So, I won’t. Again! Like last week and the week before! Excellent is excellent!! Dang you are good! Wait – I think I heard a misplaced note at the beginning. Kidding!!
Strengths: Janelle – what an absolute scrumptious song choice for you. Perfection! You have a knack for selecting just the right song for your voice and, regardless of the genre, you skillfully adapt it to reflect your country roots.
Because of this, your performance always rings true and there is an immediate connection between you and your listeners.
Vocally, you were extremely controlled and that bell-like timbre in your voice accounted for your fine tuning throughout your range. And the clarity and precision! You make it look and sound so easy!
Yet, even though you bring fine technical skills to this competition, you still sang this song with ease, moulding the phrases to bring out the emotional elements in the lyrical line. Your phrasing was fluid and artistic – it was all you.
And your stage movements were excellent. Tons of personality and charisma! And that upper register finish was spectacular.
What a rocking performance. Congratulations, Janelle.
Critique: Janelle – be careful that the choreography doesn’t overwhelm your voice. At times, your voice sounded unsteady, particularly in the section “you may be crazy”.
I don’t know if the change in the vocal register at that point was throwing you off, but I would have opted for an upper note on the second syllable of “crazy”. That low note didn’t sit right to my ear. Small point, I know, but this performance was 99% perfection and that little change would have added the extra 1%.
Also, when I first heard you were singing this number, I immediately thought your would begin the song while accompanying yourself with a guitar. In fact, I was disappointed not to see the guitar strapped around your neck.
Perhaps you were trying to diversify your showcases by singing sans guitar this week, but, I think it would have added a more distinct country tone to this song.
And, you could have cast it away at the end, repeating the “you may be right” refrain a cappella while clapping and engaging the audience to clap along. Something to that effect. I think this would have heightened the visual dimension of this song immensely.
Still, it was an outstanding showcase and I applaud you on my feet! Once again! Congratulations.
Strengths: Kree – of all the songs selected tonight, this is my least favorite. Not your performance – just that song! It has been sung far too often on this show.
However, you took this song and ran with it and I have to give you credit for reinventing this song. Heaven only knows it needed it. Ha!
You have an immensely strong voice and I enjoyed hearing the pristine quality of its timbre during this number. Again, this is a song that requires a strong physical attitude and vocal passion in the performance delivery and I felt that you captured this very well.
Your voice always sounds so pure, every when you sing with angst and power. This tells me that you understand the importance of head voice at every level of your vocal range and dynamic.
I loved how you skimmed into your soprano range – just to remind us that, yes, you have gorgeous head voice and that you have incredible control.
And that circular mouth as you sustained your vowels was perfect bel canto method. With this week’s performance, you have proven that technique works in every style of music and I love you for this!!
This was a strong showcase, Kree. Your best to date! Congratulations!
Critique: Kree – the problem with this song is that it pretty much goes no where. However, you took it places that it’s never been and saved the day.
However, when all is said and done, I think what was lacking was a sprinkle of grit and growl. This song really calls for it. The title alone gives one a clue that you need to dig really deep in order for the song to resonate in a believable way on the ears of the listeners.
And, as long as the diaphragmatic support is engaged, these angst- filled nuances can still be handled in a technically correct way.
However, you came out on that stage with determination and fire and, guess what? It worked. You are almost Kreetique-free!! (Okay, I confess, I’ve been waiting to say this)!
Brava! I am excited for your future performances! Keep ‘em coming!
Strengths: Lazaro – I love this song very much and, technically, like some others, it would fall into the power ballad category. The tempo is slower but the mood is celebratory and rocking, so, in that sense it allowed you to discover your inner Rockstar.
You always exude a natural charisma on stage, Lazaro, and you move around with rhythmic ease. Your stage presence is a natural entity with you and it appears that you never have to work at it – which is a good thing. It just flows.
Good work, Lazaro!
Critique: Lazaro – you looked so stressed when you performed – perspiration and all. You were clearly nervous with this song, as so you should be. This song was too large for you. It probably would have been too large for anyone, except Candice.
Also, make sure you sustain your voice on the pure vowels and avoid closing on all the vowels in the diphthong, particularly the “eye” diphthong as in the word “night”. Grab the first pure vowel in that diphthong – the “ah” vowel – and sustain your voice on this vowel. If you close on all the vowels too soon, we lose your voice and the phrase endings drop.
This is exactly what happened in the verses and it compromised the forward momentum of your vocal delivery. Also, your voice became lost in all the cacophony on stage as well.
And, I have to say that the background vocals were horrid. They were no help to you whatsoever. My goodness, the harmonies were poorly tuned and very distracting.
Now, let’s talk about your lyrics. More than anyone else, you need to internalize the words and work on the expressive quality in the words apart from the music. You cannot select a song based on melody alone; you need to understand and connect with the lyrics. This is very, very important.
Did you rehearse the song without the music? Recite the lyrics as a monologue, with expression, adding proper inflection to the words to reflect the message? Did you work on your stage movements apart from the song and, better yet, did you walk around the stage while RECITING the lyrics?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions, then, you must correct your rehearsal approach and incorporate all of these ideas into your practice sessions. You are having memory and comprehension problems because you haven’t taken the time to memorize the words apart from the music.
And, please, Lazaro, as I mentioned last week, breathe deeply and engage your diaphragm. Think classical – it can’t hurt – and it will add more energy and focus to your voice at every level of your vocal range and dynamic.
Best of luck!! Work hard!! Promise?
Burnell and Candice – this was a very good showcase. I loved the flexibility in your voice, Burnell, during the opening segment.
Candice – you are just a force! Your voice is unstoppable and so smooth and creamy.
I loved the harmonies, the arrangement, the chemistry between the two of you, the delivery – pretty much everything. It just seemed so effortless and real. Great entertainment! It really motivated the crowd and we needed this duet in our lives.
Kudos! Standing O to the two of you. Love you!
Okay, ladies, you sang one of my favorite songs ever! The solos and the harmonies were very well done. And I loved the little trip to the judges’ table. Too cute!
I am not too sure if this was the best song choice for this trio because it works better with a solo voice at a piano – like Billy Joel. Ha!
But you looked like you were having a blast, and considering how little time you had to rehearse this song, I think all of you did a very admirable job! Good work ladies!
Angie and Lazaro – well, that was different.
Lazaro – your voice did not project at all. You need to work on the lower end of your voice. Use your diaphragm to support your voice at every point in your range. Either that or sing the song up the octave. I was confused as to why you did not do this?
Too bad, again, with the forgotten lyrics as well. And, speaking of the lyrics, articulate the consonants – this will not only help with the clarity in the words, but will also lend energy and drive to your voice.
Angie – your vocal and stage performance was very strong. Your voice just glowed and your stage movements were faultless. Very well done.