I am still fighting a bad stomach bug, so one of my readers, the very insightful and knowledgeable Mindy Moore, has graciously provided her assessment of last evening’s Top 4 show. It is an excellent read and one in which I am in 100% agreement. Thank you so much, Mindy – your expertise is invaluable!
And, for the record, Kree gave two strong performances last night and, although she doesn’t have the strongest charisma or stage presence, her vocals were impeccable.
Of all the weeks, this was not the week for the judges to diss her – and in such a mean-spirited manner! Awful – especially Nicki! Constructive criticism should have been in place for her weeks ago. It’s as if they were dumping all their repressed critiques on these two Top 4 performances.
And as much as I love Amber, her singing was lacking in confidence and poise. She looked as nervous as all get out – probably under duress since she, along with Angie, have become the Chosen Ones. Those song choices did her no justice. None!
Candice was excellent as always and under praised – although I do have some technical issues with her singing. Angie is untouchable right now and in a league of her own.
Okay, enough of me. Here is what Mindy had to say about these performances and, like me, she has listed them in first name alphabetical order:
Amber – “The Power of Love” – Celine Dion/”McArthur Park”- Richard Harris/Donna Summer
Strengths – Trying to take on a Celine Dion song can be a tricky business, but you managed to handle this big power ballad with ease and strong vocals. One of the things I love most is that you never over sing. Starting off with an acappella beginning was a brilliant choice! Immediately you captured the attention of the audience and also showed off crystal clear vocals. This allowed you to build momentum with your performance. You are a young girl who innately understands that less is more with a big song. I have said that this is not one of my favorite Celine Dion songs, but you managed to make it fresh, new and less clichéd and overdone. Your vocal range is truly extraordinary and you manage to handle key changes without losing a beat. I love your poise and stage presence. This song showed that you can step into very big shoes and still manage to put your own unique interpretation on a song that that could be trite in less capable hands. I didn’t love your song choices, but your voice is so extraordinary that you seem to be able to take on anything!
Your performance of “McArthur Park” once again showed that you can take on a challenging song with a difficult melody and key changes and let your voice just soar. This song also highlighted your beautiful lower register. The words were clear and strong. It was nice to hear this aspect of your voice. You once again commanded the stage by starting off to the side and then moving to center stage. Your confidence and poise was a joy to see! You are a star in the making! Well done!
Critique – I made it a point to watch the position of your mouth in both performances and once again, that horizontal mouth was still present. The absence of a rounded mouth compromises the sound of your voice, especially when you are going for those high notes. It makes the sound more shrill and harsh because you also aren’t using your diaphragm. These are technical issues that should be addressed so that you can achieve the best vocals. You are so naturally gifted that it can just take a little extra work and implement some technical skills to take some of the strain off your vocal cords and get the best out of your instrument.
Angie – “Who You Are” – Jessie J/”Cry Me a River” – Julie London
Strengths – You picked two songs that allowed you to show emotion and feeling. There has been some real growth in your performances as you have learned what songs work best for you and how to perform. Once more you decided to start out your first performance on the piano. This song seemed to resonate with you and the emotion and feeling was powerful, along with strong vocals. Your technical strength allows you to perform freely because you can be confident in your vocals. You seemed to talk at some points in the song and get deeply into the song. I don’t normally think this is a good idea, but it gave a realness to your performance. You poured your heart and soul into this performance and it was a joy to see!
Your second performance was a great classic and this time you chose to stand on the stage. I thought your vocals were outstanding throughout this performance. You emoted and allowed the passion to resonate in your voice. You didn’t have to move or do anything, because your commitment to the song was there for everyone to see. I think you managed to reach another level with two stellar vocal performances. Brava and Standing O!
Candace – “Find Your Love” – Drake/”Emotions” – Samantha Sang/Destiny’s Child
Strengths – I thought that something was going on with your singing tonight, maybe too much chest voice, but then you told the judges that you were battling a cold. However, your voice still always manages to resonate so purely. I think that you had two interesting song choices. I have to say that I disagree with Nikki regarding your choice to change the melody for “Find Your Love”. Having heard Drake’s version, I realized that the melody was limited and kind of repetitive without a lot of dynamic changes. Therefore, your decision to change it up was savvy and smart! You put a unique and original twist to this song and did it your way. You seem to be so confident about who you are as an artist and it showed in this performance. Your little runs were a special touch that allowed you to show off your strong vocals. I didn’t find anything “old” or “adult contemporary” about this performance!
Your second performance of the gorgeous “Emotions” was enhanced with nuance and flavor as you put your stamp on a great classic song. You managed to show off your range without over singing and showed an ability to transform a well known song. You are always in command on that stage, ever the strong presence. There is a real intelligence and thought process in your song selection and approach to performing. You sound great even with a cold!
Critique – I did want to say one thing about your first performance. While I did appreciate your decision to change the melody, when it comes to the runs I would just say that maybe less is more for this song. I would have put in fewer runs in key places to create more of a dynamic in the song. If you use runs too often, then it may not be as special or memorable. It’s just a slight suggestion that you might want to take as you move forward. There really isn’t much to critique in your performances. There is an authenticity when you are on that stage that cannot be matched. I think the judges want you to be belting out big songs, but I am glad that you follow your own path and use your own instincts! Well done!
Kree – “It Hurts So Bad” – Susan Tedeschi/”A Whiter Shade of Pale” – Procol Harum/Annie Lennox
Strengths – You really challenged yourself with these song choices. You came out and engaged the audience in your first performance. I heard some real emotion and gritty vocals in this performance. I think your voice has a sound that is easily recognizable. However, I do think that you managed to convey more emotion and feeling and tried to dig deeper. I think that you were ill-served by some of the criticism from the judges. It’s a process when you are performing and it can take some work to connect with a song. Your voice has some emotion in it and that has been one of your strengths. But you really did connect with this song in a very real way.
I thought that your second performance showed off your best vocals of the night. You seemed to be more comfortable with this song. I feel that you made great strides tonight in both your performances. Your vocals were pure and strong and there was an emotional connection in your performances.
Critique – In your first performance you seemed to go off key in a few places. I know that you were moving around the stage and trying to engage with the audience, but it can’t be at the expense of your vocals. I think you were struggling at times because of lack of diaphragmatic breath support. Technical skill would be helpful in enhancing your performance. You are working on making an emotional connection and it’s just a matter of continuing to listen to the words. Good work!