American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 11 Performances

Chris Richardson: “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” by Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Strengths: Chris –I applaud you on your mission to highlight your vocal skills. This was another superb song selection this week and the quiet, subdued nature of this great song really allowed you to shine as a vocal artist. It takes great courage to sing accompanied solely by an acoustic guitar. An acoustic piano can “cover” more missteps taken by a singer; however, an acoustic guitar really leaves you exposed and vulnerable on stage.

Throughout this song I loved your quiet and sincere demeanor. You seemed totally relaxed and enjoying every moment of this song. As a result, the poignant message of the song was communicated with sincerity and passion. It was just wonderful.

It was a surprise to see you perform without actually moving and grooving all over the stage as in previous weeks – and yet, totally necessary, if you wish to advance throughout this competition. It’s all about taking risks and adding diversity and depth to your performances each week.

Vocally, you need to work on developing your technical skills; however, your head voice, at the end of this song, was absolutely beautiful and pitch centered. The glimmer of your potential vocal development really shone in this section of the song, Chris.

Critique: Chris – what happened to the flicker of vocal technique that surfaced last week? First of all, your mouth position was very spread and lacked a consistent circular position on all the vowels. This technical glitch discouraged you from using your diaphragmatic support in a consistent and efficient manner throughout the performance.

As a result, your voice had a nasal quality throughout this performance. This is what happens when you do not support and “place” your vocal sound through the correct technical process. The throat closes and the soft palate is not able to maintain an elevated position, thus creating an ineffectual and highly nasal vocal quality.

Even though this was a quiet, subdued song, you still needed to maintain a superior level of intensity and support. Remember that “head voice” at the end of this number? Incorporate this element in every area of your voice, mixing a little chest voice for added brilliance and muscle.

Always remember that a singer’s voice becomes totally exposed when singing a slower, quieter number; it’s always easier to sing a fast paced, powerful number, as the energy of these up tempo numbers encourages a singer to use the technical process in a more consistent manner.

Therefore, Chris, really work to technically enhance your vocal sound at every dynamic and tempo level. Feel those rib cage muscles flexing and pumping air in an effort to place and resonate your vocal sound in your vocal masque. You need to eliminate the white, imprecise vocal timbre, replacing it with a ringing and confident vocal quality. Only technique will allow you to do this with confidence and efficiency.

Share your comments about Chris R.’s performance

CHRIS SLIGH: “She’s Not There” by the Zombies

Strengths: Chris – from the song choice, to the buoyant stage presentation to the stellar dynamics, this was truly your best performance to date. This song allowed you to showcase the enormous vocal gift you possess, and you presented us with a truly credible and convincing performance.

It was interesting to see you begin your song from the audience and, then move to the stage for the more energetic part of this song. I don’t know if it was quite the right decision, as I felt you didn’t quite come into you own until hit the stage, but it took courage and emphasized that you are not afraid of communicating in a more real way with your audience.

However, the depth and intensity of your vocal ability was an underlining presence throughout this performance. I loved your classical “r” consonants – very British and oh so correct when singing in the English language. It further highlighted the beautifully sustained bel canto technique that permeated this performance this week. Your voice sounded pure, seamless, ringing, resonant, pitch centered –you know- everything that is expected in creating stellar vocals.

I loved the beautifully supported contrasts you maintained between the more sustained piano (soft) sections and the more powerful semi staccato vocals. Your voice sounded controlled and even and the rich pitch centered timbre never wavered throughout the dynamic challenges that this song presented. This was a splendidly rehearsed showcase and all elements – stage and vocal – came together to produce an authentic and powerful vocal presentation.

Great work, Chris!

Critique: Chris – as I said above, be very careful when you are positioned off stage with your audience. I felt that, initially, your performance lost the wonderful control we enjoyed later on in this number. The walking shake and greet section with the audience was great; however, it did allow you to let down your technical guard in the earlier stage of this song.

Make sure you are practicing every element in your song. Given the abbreviated time limit you have to perform your number, you must make certain that you start your song with a strong and well-formulated demeanor and vocal sound. Never leave anything to chance.

Practice your song with an imaginary audience and allow yourself to become accustomed to the confined area you will experience when you squeeze yourself through the live audience. Vocalize in a closet or a small hallway – an area that doesn’t have a great deal of space, so that you will learn to maneuver your body easily, confidently and rhythmically when you are confronted with tons of adoring fans.

However, all in all this was an excellent performance! Bravo!

Share your comments about Chris S.’s performance

GINA GLOCKSEN: “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones

Strengths: Gina- once again, through the innate wisdom of Lulu, you chose the perfect key for this great song choice. As a result, we were treated to the velvet- textured timbre of your mid and low ranged voice. Herein resides your secret weapon, Gina, and never leave home or go on stage without it! Your voice has a naturally rich, pitch centered quality in this area of your singing range and you have been very smart to avoid the pitfalls of singing too often into your higher register. This part of you range will develop with technical time and patience, but, for now, you are on the right vocal path.

I loved the energy and confidence you exuded while performing this number. Additionally, this song allowed you ample time to explore a variety of dynamic levels while allowing you to showcase your performing ability. I thought you did a tremendous job of balancing both the stage and vocal elements in this very challenging song and, for me, this was truly your best performance to date.

In particular, your voice sounded wonderfully rich and resonant when you vocalized the more powerful passages in this song. You sustained your vocal sound very well and I could sense that you were consistently accessing the diaphragmatic muscles to support and place your vocal sound in your vocal masque.

Also, you phrased the melodic line extremely well throughout this number and, additionally, I was happy to see that your breathing was generally secure and consistent. Your breath control was rarely compromised, given the hectic stage elements necessary to give a credible performance of this number. This indicated that you paced this song extremely well, making certain that both the vocal and stage elements were perfectly balanced.

Really good showcase, Gina!

Critique: Gina – last week, I advised you to find a song that explore a variety of dynamic levels, as, up to this point, you were solely showcasing your powerful dynamic levels. Well, this week, you did just that and I applaud you for making this change.

However, make certain that, when singing with a softer dynamic, you support and place your sound with the full support of your diaphragm. I felt that your support collapsed slightly when singing the softer sections of this song and, as a result, your vocal sound lost the resonant rich quality that was audibly present when you vocalized the louder sections.

You must remember to keep the supported vocal projection a stabilizing force through every area of your dynamic range. You had a tendency to mix air with the vocal sound when singing softly and this is a common problem for many singers. To sing soft requires just as much –if not more –control and you have to allow the breathing muscles to remain a viable force in producing a softer, yet resonant vocal sound.

Best of luck in your future performances!

Share your comments about Gina’s performance

Haley Scarnato: “Tell Him” by The Exciters

Strengths: Haley – my, what a difference a week makes. This was an excellent song choice for your sparking and vivacious personality. You looked relaxed and confident throughout this number and the onstage and off stage choreography appeared effortless and natural. You paced this number extremely well and I felt that you were in absolute control throughout this performance.

Your mid range voice resonated beautifully and had real presence and clarity. Your vocal technique, although not as coherent as in past weeks, was working quite well for this part of your range. Your pitch was secure and your voice sounded clear and centered.

In summary, what solidified this performance was your flirtatious and fun loving stylistic approach to this great number. It was great to see you enjoying and living in the moment and you truly emerged as a very promising performer during this week’s showcase. Great work, Haley.

Critique: Haley – while the performance aspects of this song were very strong, I felt that certain vocal elements were noticeably neglected. Over the past weeks, your voice maintained a secure presence throughout your range; however this week, I felt that your upper range experienced some crucial technical problems, mainly your ability or lack thereof to sustain and resonate the voice in your vocal masque.

It seemed to me that your were singing with your natural voice minus the crucial diaphragmatic support that is needed to anchor and then project the vocal sound in an efficient and consistent manner. As a result, your upper range lacked vocal presence and charisma; it sounded weak and lacked the necessary ring that is so important to create a reverberating vocal sound.

Make certain that, in an effort to develop your performing skills, you do not abandon the level of technique that you have refined in the past. I actually love the vibrato in your voice, Haley, and I found that, in this week’s performance, this vocal element was indeed absent. This vocal characteristic, when utilized properly, adds a distinct timbre to your vocal quality that distinguishes you from the other singers.

So, in closing, learn to balance all aspects crucial to a great performance –the style and the substance, aka stage skills and vocal skills.

Share your comments about Haley’s performance

JORDIN SPARKS: “I Who Have Nothing” by Tom Jones

Strengths: Jordin – what an absolutely stellar performance this week. Each week, you are improving by monumental leaps and bounds and the depth and dimension of your vocal and performing ability are nothing short of astounding.

This was a very mature, very difficult song, given the austere and intense emotional nature of this song. However, your vocal maturity was definitely up for the challenge, as you grabbed the passionate mood of the song from the moment you stepped on stage. Your slow, deliberate walk to the microphone during the introduction established not only the perfect mood for this song, but also the authority that was to come from this week’s showcase.

Your phrasing was impeccable and inspired, as you moved effortlessly and seamlessly from your lower range to your higher range and from your softer dynamic level to the more powerful vocals in the higher part of your melodic line. It signified the absolute control and stamina you have as a vocal artist, as this was a dramatically poised and flawless performance in every way.

Technically, you were on top of your game, highlighting all that is so important in really good singing – diaphragmatic breathing skills, relaxed facial demeanor, sustained vowels, vocal projection, clear and passionate articulation of the song text – to collaborate in the production of an extremely memorable and brilliant performance.

Personally, this was the performance of the night and I congratulate you on your hard work and your extremely disciplined approach to the art of singing. Brava!

Critique: Jordin – no critique this week. I loved every aspect of this performance! It was style and substance all the way! Brava!!!

Share your comments about Jordin’s performance

Lakisha Jones: “Diamonds are Forever,” Shirley Bassey

Strengths: Lakisha – this was another superb song selection. Week after week, you have provided us with stellar performances, as a result of your remarkable vocal talent and your intuitive ability to select the perfect song vehicle for each showcase.

And, what a showcase this was – from the elegant, diamond studded attire to the dramatic vocal and stage technique, this performance was first class all the way baby. You magically created the perfect mood for this eerie, yet thoroughly entertaining song. Your voice wrapped so easily around the melodic line of this song and the song style was perfect for your naturally theatrical approach to your singing. You were quite the drama queen up there and I loved it.

I loved the elegant arm movements, part of the intense passion that you communicated through your dramatic demeanor. Additionally, you are one of the few singers this year that employs nuance and inflection in the vocal sound – in other words you communicate the text expressively, changing your vocal timbre to reflect the meaning of the words. This emphasizes the fact that you are indeed a very cultivated and refined artist who has worked amazingly hard to achieve such an enormously high standard of singing.

Once again, Queen Lakisha, this was a bravissima performance!

Critique: I have very little to critique this week, Lakisha. However, like Randy Jackson, I felt that you could have been more inventive with the phrasing elements in this song. The “diamonds are forever” lyrics repeat endlessly throughout this song and it would have been exciting to hear a little melody bending during this section of the song.

On the other hand, what I have come to appreciate in your presentations, Lakisha, is your ability to avoid power singing and endless runs and vocal acrobatics. I always feel that less is more when you sing; the rest has to come from the heart and soul of the artist. You have made this a rule of thumb in all performances each week and for this I thank you! Congratulations once again!

Share your comments about Lakisha’s performance

MELINDA DOOLITTLE: “As Long as He Needs Me” from the musical “Oliver!”

Strengths: Melinda – What a surprising song choice! Over the past few weeks, you have been treating us with some extremely memorable Broadway and/or retro music and it is apparent that you have a deep-seated love for this style of music. Hey – I hear ya! I love this time period as well, when melodies were coherent and the lyrics were poetically meaningful. This music encouraged singers to sing with proper technique and to convincingly communicate the message behind the song.

So, given the superior level of your vocal ability, this song was wonderfully suited to your performing style. As always, you delivered the song with sincere passion and emotion, always underlying, in a convincing way, the heartbreaking message at every stage in this song.

Your voice embraced the melodic and lyrical elements in this song, as you moved the song forward in your vocal and stage presentation. This emphasized the angst and torment experienced by the original character, Nancy, in the musical “Oliver”. She was desperately trying to convince herself that she would do anything for her violent boyfriend, while being torn between the good and the bad in her life.

This song is indeed a showstopper in the musical and it was one of the showstoppers in this week’s American Idol presentation as well. As always, you emphasized your ability to commit and internalize the emotion of your song, while at the same time, allowing your voice to resonate in the best possible way.

Additionally, you treated us with another glimpse of that beautiful lower range and, as I mentioned to Phil, I would love to hear more of this part of your range in future performances. By exposing this area of your range, you added dimension and inflection to your vocal sound and emphasized the technical ease by which you were able to navigate through every part of your range.

Great work, Melinda!

Critique: Melinda – as I said last week, be very careful that you do not give away too much forte (loud) vocal sound too soon in these power ballads. It really over extends your voice and you will find that you will become fatigued and de-energized while doing so.

I felt that, as last week, you encountered the same issues with your phrasing, as the muscle in your vocal sound collapsed under the immense pressure you were extending throughout this performance. As a result, your breathing was compromised and your phrasing became very fragmented. Quite simply you were breathing far too often, a result of not pacing your vocal dynamics appropriately throughout this song.

Be very careful in the future, Melinda. Do not give away too much too soon. You were on the right track at the beginning of this song, singing with a more delicate and whimsical expressive quality. However, when you moved into the louder dynamic levels of this song level, I could audibly sense you gasping for air – emphasizing that you were not accessing the breathing muscles deeply or efficiently. Make sure that you do not carry too much chest voice into the upper range when you sing your power vocals.

You have a naturally strong voice and that, coupled with your sincere passion, will carry through the more intense nature of this song. Allow the expressiveness to surface as it should and permit the voice to resonate in a comfortable and less strenuous manner.

Share your comments about Melinda’s performance

Phil Stacey: “Tobacco Road” by The Nashville Teens

Strengths: Phil-once again, you made an excellent song choice, one that demonstrated that you are more than capable of singing both slow and up-tempo songs with great vocal ability. Last week, you enthralled us with your sensitive, romantic persona, but this week – different story! This was a very strong visual and vocal performance that never relented; you commanded the stage with authority and conviction and challenged and expanded your artistic identity.

I loved your no nonsense, aggressive approach to this number. It was just excellent and your self-assured stage skills energized and focused your vocal projection. Your voice was resonating beautifully in your vocal masque and that circular mouth and those sustained pure vowels were not lost on my ears and eyes. You have made tremendous progress in your vocal development, Phil, and I applaud you for your hard work and diligence in honing your vocal craft.

Also, it was so great to hear the scope of your vocal power, as you intermittently punctuated the melodic line with the upper and lower echelons of your vocal range during this number. Not only was this a testament to your vocal ability, but also, it provided great entertainment value throughout this number.

Additionally, you paced this song extremely well, another testament to how meticulous you were in the rehearsal process. Overall, you presented us with a stylistically credible and strong vocal performance. Congratulations, Phil. Keep up the very good work!

Critique: Phil – I have very little to critique this week. I thought your performance was just fantastic and your technical skills were increasingly solidified. You have been slowly providing us with solid, credible performances.

Now, what you need to do is find a song that will really challenge the sustaining power of your voice. You may want to think of highlighting that excellent lower range in future performances. You have a strong baritone timbre that aches to be heard and I suspect that, if given the opportunity, might create a strong impact in your future performances. Mmmm – a slow ballad in your baritone voice? Now that would be the ticket!

Great work though this week, Phil. Kudos!

Share your comments about Phil’s performance

SANJAYA MALAKAR: “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks.

Strengths: Sanjaya – well, this was different, wasn’t it? You finally became more aggressive in the song selection process and found a song far removed from your previous performances. This was quite a change from Steppin’ Out with My Baby” and you made this artistic alteration at the correct time in this competition.

You grabbed the muscle pounding emotion of this song and ran with it – literally and figuratively. You performed with a tremendous amount of controlled energy. Your voice, although young, was revitalized by the choreographic elements and your vocal timbre developed more of a biting edge than in weeks past.

You pushed yourself beyond the bounds of your comfort zone and challenged your performing ability to great success. This took real courage and maturity as a performer and it enabled us to catch a startling glimpse into the future impact of your performing career. Good work!

Critique: Sanjaya –this week, the technical problems were still an issue with me; however, what saved you was the strength of your overall performance. You were totally committed to the important performance aspects of this song and, for this, I highly applaud your showcase.

However, you must make certain that you remain firm and resolute in the development of your vocal technique. I feel that you are taking your vocal ability for granted, assuming that the voice will always remain healthy and resonant as the years go by.

Nothing is further from the truth. Your vocal cords need the comfort and support of solid technical development. This is what allows a singer to sing for years and years. Technique keeps the voice rejuvenated and allows the singer to expand his vocal capabilities. It also provides more options in the song selection process.

Remember to breathe deeply and support your voice from the diaphragm. The throat and the facial features must remain open and free, thus allowing the diaphragmatic breathing muscles to work more efficiently.

As much as I enjoyed this performance, part of me was wondering if you chose this route to hide your lack of technical skills. If so, it was probably a good call at this point in the competition but not as beneficial in the long run. You still must learn how to sing a song that challenges the range and breadth of your vocal ability, one that forces you to sing with impeccable phrasing, superb breath control and beautifully sustained singing.

Good luck, Sanjaya!

Share your comments about Sanjaya’s performance

Stephanie Edwards: “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” by Dusty Springfield.

Strengths: Stephanie – I loved your song selection this week. You selected an identifiable classic and, also, permitted yourself to showcase a softer, gentler side to your personality. As always, you radiated a beautiful presence on stage and, by all accounts, this song should have worked in a monumental way.

However, you encountered some problems along the way, so let’s assess the difficulties you stumbled upon and try to remedy them via the critique section of this Vocal Masterclass.

Critique: Stephanie – Randy hit the nail on the head when he mentioned that the slower tempo of this ballad exposed your technical deficiencies. In the past, you have proven to be more comfortable in upbeat, energetic numbers, as your voice always sounded energized and vibrant and the technical skills were easily accessible. Your lower body had a sense of buoyancy when you supported your voice and this is extremely important when developing the proper technique for diaphragmatic support.

However, you must allow the technical process to intensify and resonate your voice with the same efficiency when singing slower paced ballads. This week, your breathing skills were obviously lacking sufficient control to sustain and prolong your phrase lines. Extremely noticeable, was the lack of coherent pitch centered vocal sound at the end of your phrases; your voice was wavering on the sustained note, indicating that you were struggling to place and project your vocal sound correctly.

Additionally, there was an audible push from the throat, signifying that your throat muscles were indeed constricted. You never had a clean initial attack when you began your phrases. Always remember to relax the throat muscles when you sing – keeping this area open and free to allow the rib cage muscles support your vocal sound correctly and consistently.

With all your songs, you should practice vocalizing to the pure vowels within your lyrics, so that you can not only achieve a more seamless vocal sound in your melodic line but also challenge and develop your breathing skills. And remember, it’s about keeping the mouth circular through all your vowels and that jaw relaxed and free.

Finally, I thought the arrangement of this song was very weird and actually contributed to the less passionate and soulful rendition of this song performance. From the schmaltzy brass introduction, to the less resonant background vocals before you sang, this song arrangement was a recipe for disaster. I prefer the more soulful approach to this song and this arrangement did not encourage you to take this artistic route. So, to make you feel a little better, I would say that some of your difficulties were intertwined with the poor arrangement.

Never underestimate the value of a great arrangement. It can make or break a singer. Hope this helps, Stephanie! Best of luck to you in your future musical endeavors.

Share your comments about Stephanie’s performance

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Your comments are always welcome


About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

24 Responses to “American Idol Season 6 Vocal Masterclass For The Top 11 Performances”

  1. Once again, I appreciate all of your comments as it helps me understand what I’m seeing/hearing on TV. I do have one question that I’m not sure you can answer but figured i would ask anyway. Regarding Chris R., are you able to tell where he centers his voice within his mouth (i.e. towards the top of his mouth, in the back of his throat, etc.) and if so, should he be centering it somewhere else to help alleviate that nasal quality. Personally, I love his voice, and while I hear some nasal quality every once in a while it isn’t as bad as Ace last year. I’m just trying to figure out where a voice should be centered before it becomes too nasal yet doesn’t become too buried in the throat.


  2. Hi Jesse:

    Chris R. is presently focusing his voice toward the back of his inner mouth – close to his throat -the reason being that he is not allowing his diaphragm muscles to propel and place his voice behind his facial features.

    If he would do this, the sound would have more presence – plus, he has to maintain a circular mouth on all the vowels to maintain a consistently smooth vocal sound throughout his range.

    In short, he needs more lower body exertion when he sings and must keep the throat open and soft palate elevated. Then, the nasal quality would disappear.


  3. Thanks for explaining why Chris sounded so nasal. I hope he takes your advice and fixes his sound because it is annoying. Being next to last this week should give him a wake up call. He won’t attract new fans and may lose fans if he doesn’t tone up. If he does, he could be in the top five or six. If he doesn’t, he will be gone.


  4. I really love reading your critiques each week. You do a great job of highlighting the positive qualities of each performer and performance, and I enjoy that a lot. They should give you a call to come help those contestants out!

    P.S. My favorite is Blake, and I always enjoy reading what you say about him most.


  5. Annie:

    Hard to know if Chris can accomplish this change in his vocal technique. It’s quite and adjustment and old habits die hard. Time will tell!


  6. Jess – thank you for your kind comments. I love Blake as well. He is an exceptional musician.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  7. Your column is really helpful to the novice listener who has no vocal training. I only have my instincts to tell me if I like someone or not. From the beginning, I’ve enjoyed Stephanie, however, I didn’t think she sounded as good this week as in the previous weeks, so this just proves that you can’t afford an off week at this stage of the competition (unless, of course, you already have a huge fan base). I’ve been a big fan of Melinda, Lakisha, and Blake since the very beginning. And the past two weeks, Jordin is winning me over as well. At this point in the competition, it is too early to make a prediction about the final two, but I will continue to watch for your columms to help me see if my instincts are right.
    P.S. I always enjoyed reading your comments over at GrayCharles last year too!!! I’m going to see Taylor on tour in three weeks. As much as I will love seeing Taylor the musician and performer too, I hope he slows down enough in concert to actually sing as he did sometimes on AI–for instance, Something, You are so Beautiful, In the Ghetto. I Love this part of Taylor too in addition to the “going to church” Taylor.
    Keep up the good work, Masterclass Lady!!!


  8. Were we listening to the same person? The S man (since I can’t remember how to spell his name) was just terrible. From his phoney rocker attitude to his inexcusably lame dancing. I really had to hit mute half way through the song.


  9. Tt- It’s all about being as positive as possible. He’s only 17 and is very green. Give him credit at least for taking a risk


  10. Elaine: Thank you for your kind commments. Like you, I have no clear cut favorite, but Jordin and Blake and Lakisha are really very strong performers and, I feel, will only get better.

    Blake, in particular, is improving every week. Lakisha and Jordin were both strong performers from the very beginning.

    Keep up the Taylor love. I know I am, although I do confess thta I have not had time to chat over at GC! Will get there eventually.


  11. Thanks for the clarification MasterClassLady. I always love reading these critiques and then watching/listening the next week with a more critical eye/ear. I love Blake and Chris R. and I hope they both do really well in the competition. I feel like the two of them are the first true male pop singers the show has ever had so I hope they last a while.


  12. Am I the only one who is finding the singers in this season to be much, much less interesting than in previous seasons?



  13. matt – the season is lacking personality. Say what you want about Taylor Hicks, but he made the show exciting and entertaining to watch last season.

    Plus Kellie Pickler was a riot!

    This year – generally the singers are very good, but just really intense. Give them time to emerge as “personalities”


  14. I kind of agree with Matt – this season I am not finding anyone with the kind of “magic” that there has been in past seasons. I didn’t start watching Idol until Season 2 – I even went and saw the tour that year – I loved many of those contestants. Clay Aiken to me still has the most stellar male voice in all the competitions – he’s amazing.

    Season 3 was not that impressive to me – Season 4 though had Bo and Carrie and Constantine (grin). Carrie is the whole package, she’s beautiful, and talented, and doing so well in her career post-idol.

    Season 5 had the most unique talents – and I agree about Taylor. He has music embedded into his soul and is pure entertainment. Plus Chris Daughtry has done pretty well for himself too! Lots and lots of fun last season.

    This year although I like several of the singers – my top 4 right now are Melinda, Jordin, Blake and LaKeisha – none of them really are showing the kind of “magic” that I’d like to see.

    I remember when, in season 2, I heard Clay sing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” on the wildcard show. I got goosebumps listening to him sing – he has that “magic”. I’ve seen him perform live several times and he’s amazing.
    I’ve seen Kelly Clarkson as well and she’s so much fun and has lots of talent – wish I hadn’t missed Season 1.

    Masterclasslady – does any one male and/or female singer really stand out for you from any season??? Just curious! 🙂 I look forward to your critiques each week and truly hope the contestants have a way to read them and take your advice!


  15. Hi Terry:

    Let’s give these singers time. We have yet to see their true personalities and that is where the problem lies re the lack of magic.

    Chris Sligh was trying to be jovial with his “Fro Patrol” chant last week – it made me laugh and it also made me realize that this is what is missing from the show_ the personal dynamics.

    I have so many favorites from every season. I think the only person that I hold really close to my heart is Season Three competitor – John Stevens.

    The courage and dignity he maintained in the face of intolerable ridicule and hate was something I will never forget.

    He is now at the Berkeley School of Music or Boston Conservatory in Boston (can’t remember which one) developing his musical talent under excellent and supportive musical mentors who will guide him to attain the wonderful career he so deserves.


  16. “Carrie is the whole package, she’s beautiful, and talented, and doing so well in her career post-idol.”

    After seeing her latest appearance on the show, does anyone else think it looks like she has developed an eating disorder?


  17. Carrie’s appearance shocked me. Her arms looked so thin and her face was drawn.

    I really hope she has supportive people in her life that have her best interests at heart.


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    I’d like to contact you about adding your site to my blogroll, but I didn’t see a contact email address for you.

    Please contact me at:



  19. I’m way behind on reading you this week! I loved Blake, what incredible talent! He really could sell that remake. I think Jordin and Melinda and Blake all have a special spark and they are so different from each other! Sanjaya should be gone by now but I heard that someone is encouraging voting him to stay because he isn’t so good. I would hate to think that is true, because all though I think he needs to leave, it could really destroy him at 17 to find out he only stayed because people thought he was bad and are laughing at him.


  20. MasterclassLady,

    I have another question. In almost every critique you mention that the singer should have a round mouth on all of the vowels in order to sustain a nice tone. Is it possible to have too round of a mouth whenever you sing? If so, what would that sound like?

    Also, going back to Season 4 (and I have read those critiques but would like a little more clarification) you commented that Mikalah Gordon had great Bel Canto technique. However, Mikalah was very hard to understand when she sang and her voice sounded as if it was all in her nose or stuffed down her throat. What causes that?



  21. Hi Jesse:

    Re the round mouth question – the mouth has to be round – like a circle and the jaw must slowly relax and move to a down ward position when a singer vocalizes into the higher range.

    However – there is too much of a good thing. If the jaw is over extended to the point that the side facial muscles feel tight, then this is wrong. There has to be a relaxed feeling in the upper body and facial muscles.

    It take s a while to refine the consistently round mouth on all vowels, but it really is the ticket for securing a focused, pitch centered sound, as long as the breathing muscles are working efficiently.

    Re Mikalah, I don’t have time today to check my critiques of her, but it’s possible that her soft palate was not elevated – thus the nasal tone,

    Articulation of consonants are important – that’s a techique in itself. If done correctly, it actually augments the bel canto method of sustained singing, so it’s something that Mikalah and all singers have to perfect over the course of time.


  22. Hi Twilight Dreamer:

    My email address is Sorry about that. I have to add a contact page.

    Yes – you can add my site to your blogroll and I will reciprocate if that is alright?


  23. The links for the performers are not working on week 11. I’ve been reading you since season 3. I think you are great.

    P.S. Sanjaya’s mp3’s (
    sound better than his live performances. How can that be?


  24. Monique:

    I can’t figure out what the problem is with these links. Blake’s is fine and the links work in the Top 10 Vocal Masterclass.

    Thanks for drawing this to my attention. I will continue to unravel the mystery.


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