By: Rosanne Simunovic
This week, the Top 4 were faced with three songs.. Three! I do believe this is the first time the Top 4 performed 3 numbers in any season.
Usually this honor is reserved for the Top 3, so I wonder what constituted the reason for the change? I would much rather hear these singers perform 2 FULL LENGTH songs than 3 short
I have elected to NOT evaluate Caleb’s performances this week. In light of his dishonourable and disrespectful comments regarding his fans – not to mention his lack of empathy and sensitivity towards people with special needs – I have decided to give him a pass this week. He apparently doesn’t need or want any assistance in his career so why should I bother? Why? Makes no sense.
Anyway, 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 (last name) alphabetical order. Your comments are always welcome. To quickly access individual singers, simply click on the singer’s link below.
Strengths: Jena – “Heartbreaker” was a good song choice for you as you have the chops, emotion and stage craft to perform this iconic number.
You held this song in the palm of your little hand, Jena, from start to finish. It was an extraordinary performance and everything necessary to hit a home run with this song was there.
Your sustained notes throughout this song were something else. And that final note? Oh my.
You had this song under such perfect control in style and substance that there are not enough words to describe the gift that you brought to the stage this week with this song.
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, was a great addition to your triumvirate of songs. You worked the stage extremely well and, overall, this was a well-paced number.
“Can’t Help Falling In Love” was a wonderful and welcoming surprise. Very, very nice. For the past few weeks, you have been power housing your way on that stage and it was very nice to see you create an intimate and cozy ambience with another classic number.
Your performance of this number reminded us how well you can how adapt your singing style to numbers past and present. You are so skilled at communicating the emotional core of a song.
The variety of nuances and speech like inflection in your singing voice were integral to the successful performance of this number. It was a heartfelt and sincere showcase, Jena.
And by singing this song at the piano, you reminded us once again what a skilled musician you are. Just exceptional.
Congratulations Jena. All three songs were well-prepared, impeccable rehearsed and perfectly envisioned. Brava!
Critique: Jena – I have nothing to critique in your first number, “Heartbreaker”, except, perhaps, take off your heels, as suggested by the judges. Good call. This is not a song you do in high heels. Ha!
However, heels or no heels, I felt the performance strongly resonated with the viewers and your voice was a technically secure tour de force. Could not ask for better.
Your second number, “Bad Romance” was not the best selection for your voice. I felt that it was too chesty in sound and your head voice was clearly absent. Therefore, your voice sounded strident – almost bordering on shouting at times.
Also, it just didn’t flow like your first number. Something seemed a little “off” about this number, whether it be nerves, pacing or the actual song selection.
Be careful with your song sections, Jena. Because you love a song does not necessarily mean that you are meant to perform it.
Your Elvis song was an absolute gem. Did you come up with the interpretation on your own? Because, if the answer is “yes” then your talent is pretty scary given your young age. You have something one can’t teach. Creativity! Artistry! Vision!
Another phenomenal week, Jena! Another! Phenomenal! Week! Wow!
Strengths: Caleb – NO COMMENT
Critique: Caleb – NO COMMENT
Strengths: Jessica – “Since You’ve Been Gone” was a challenging song choice. However, your vocal tone is very similar to original artist, Kelly Clarkson, so I can understand the appeal of this number for your voice. You have a bright, ringing sound – which is exactly what you need for this song. It cuts through the heavy instrumental background like a knife and pierces the listener’s heart.
You added some passionate and rustic vocal nuances to this song, especially when you sang the refrain. Your upper range was rich, vibrant and expressive.
I am glad that you took a break from the guitar and started using your arms to reach your audience. This added an extra layer to the visual dimension of this song. Very good.
“So What” by Pink was an interesting song choice, providing great contrast to your first number. And I felt that this was a more comfortable fit for you and allowed you to explore your inner rock star.
It was so great to see you own that stage. You were a looser and freer presence on that stage and your face was extremely animated throughout this performance. And this animation transferred to your voice. It was expressive and nuanced.
The pitch issues that you experienced in your first number were gone. All gone! The key selection for this selection was perfect for your voice and this does make a difference in the end.
“You And I” by Lady Gaga was an interesting choice. I never would have attached any Lady Gaga song to your singing style but this song? This song really worked, Miss Jess.
There is a distinct country flavor to this song – lyrically, melodically and harmonically – so what a great fit this song was for your country style persona.
I loved that it also provided ample contrast to your other numbers. This is a laid back, sultry, “come hither” kind of a number and I felt that you communicated these elements extremely well.
Your voice sparkled with nuance and inflection and that beautiful ringing timbre filled the air with resounding brilliance. And the passionate timbre that crept in toward the end was exceptional beyond belief. Perfect song, perfect performance. Brava.
Overall, this was a strong showcase, Jessica. Very good work!
Critique: Jessica – during your first number, “Since You’ve Been Gone”, I was most interested to see how you were gong to work that stage because you simply cannot stand there in one spot and sing this song. Your energy must be through the roof and your stage presence must be huge.
So, I was disappointed that you did not move around and, quite honestly, the guitar seemed all wrong for this song. It impeded you so much during this performance and discouraged you from moving around the stage – which you absolutely must do with this song.
Also, that lower range – at the beginning and conclusion of this song – needs strong diaphragmatic support. Because you did not technically project your voice at the beginning of this song, your pitch wavered constantly throughout this number.
Do not save your technical energy for the higher voiced and/or louder passages of the song. Your voice will sound unbalanced, as if you are two distinct singers.
Also, articulate and feel the emotion of the song even while you are vocalizing through your lower range. Let the head voice pour through your contralto voice and make the words come expressively alive. Articulate your consonants quickly and grab your vowels. This will center your voice and give a forward direction to the vocal sound.
Your second song by Pink was pretty much critique free in my eyes so I have no idea where the judges were coming from. You looked so comfortable on stage and your voice sounded glorious.
So color me confused with the judges’ comments. Very strange. This was an excellent number in every respect so congratulations, Jessica.
And that third song? Killer! Perfection and Critique Free!!
Brava Jessica. Very good work.
Strengths: Alex – I love that you have brought originality in every way to the show this season. Your song selections, your interpretive skills, your stage skills, your vocal style are all distinctly “Alex Preston”. You are your own artist and this was beautifully reflected in all three songs this week.
“Too Close” was not familiar to me in the least but this was good. Very good. It’s the original thing after all. I want new not overdone material and I believe this was the first time this song was performed on this show.
And who is Alex Clare? The composer? He is good.
However, you turned “good” into extraordinary with the delivery of this number. I loved the inflection you added to this number because this song would be lost to the listener without this communicative element.
You are such a gifted, authentic and expressive performer and this song reflects how absolutely musical you are.
“I’m Yours” was a stellar song choice. You have a Jason Mraz vibe or he has yours so how perfect was this song?
I felt that you completely inhabited this song and, as always, added your unique sound and flavor to this song.
“Yellow” by Coldplay was right in your zone, Alex. Out came that expressive Indie voice, resplendent with head voice and clarity.
Also, the articulation of your words were precise and clear – and so expressive. I love how you take chances with your voice and allow yourself to be vulnerable. So very vulnerable. You wear your emotions on your sleeve and I very much respect this. You care.
Excellent work this week, Alex. Excellent
Critique: Alex – during “Too Close”, I was aching for a little more depth in your voice. As I have said in previous weeks, your voice can be a little thin and nasally at times and this diminishes the overall vocal delivery. Not the artistic interpretation, but the strength of the vocal sound.
Oh if only, if only, if ONLY you would adopt a circular formation to your mouth when sustaining your vowels. Added to the constant diaphragmatic support, your phrasing would be more pliable and fluid – as Keith Urban wisely pointed out. How correct he was in his assessment and I totally agree.
The weight that he was looking for in your voice is due to the horizontal position of your mouth and lack of proper breath support. Once you get this under control, the magic will happen and it will be a special moment in your life.
With “I’m Yours”, you encountered the exact same problems. I wanted to reach through the TV screen and squeeze your mouth into a circular position. And, this time, your pitch was adversely affected and a circular mouth position would eliminate your pitch problems. It would automatically provide a base for the center of your voice.
Also, as I have said previously, always remember to practice these quicker songs at a slower pace, allowing you time to isolate the sections where you might be struggling with support issues.
I was surprise that you didn’t reinvent this song. As Harry Connick Jr. said: “This is your strength”, so I was confused as well. This song seemed to work for your singing style but I was wondering how much you loved it. Did you? Makes me wonder…
Your final song was your hole in one, Alex. The final song seemed to work for all the singers actually. Y’all saved your best for last. Smart! Very smart.
Standing O Alex. A is for Alex and A is for Artistry. This is what you have in spades. Congratulations.