Well, this week’s showcase was a mixed bag of tricks, wasn’t it? I was trying to decide whether this theme should be labeled a musical misdemeanor, but then some singers very noticeably elevated Ms. Parton’s music in a gigantic way.
I am late posting this week, so, let’s get to it, shall we?
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.
BROOKE WHITE: JOLENE
Strengths: Brooke- you wonderfully established the perfect ambience for this song. I loved the acoustic sound of the instrumental accompaniment, and, through this, you revealed another element of your musical diversity by showcasing your adeptness on guitar.
I applaud you for highlighting every facet of your musical development – singer, pianist, and guitarist. You are a risk-taker and it shows that you have an internalized level of confidence that delightfully provides contrast to your likeable and humble stage demeanour.
As always, you established a lovely relaxed vibe in your performing technique, allowing the audience to truly relax and feel the music. You have a genuine and real charisma that is truly special; some people/performers try to look and act genuine – but with you, it is a natural component of your personality. That is very rare in this business.
The key selection for this song was “spot-on”, as it highlighted the warm, rich timbre of your lower and middle range. Once again, as in your previous performances, you made certain that the melodic line suited the natural ebb and flow of your singing ability.
As I mentioned during your Top 11 performance, you have a fairly sound technical approach to your singing, although this could be further developed in an effort to expose a wider degree of your vocal range.
Good work, Brooke.
Critique: Brooke – I know you – and all the singers – have limitations on song choice, but this song had a very narrow melodic and lyrical line that created many pitfalls for your vocal artistry. The repetitive nature of the song needed a more creative, emotionally involved approach and, unfortunately, this was not evident in this week’s performance. This would have been a great opportunity to challenge and showcase some level of technical strength in your upper range, especially during the cyclic “Jolene” segments,
Therefore, the song performance was very one – dimensional and lacked an inventive approach to the phrasing elements in the song structure. The breathing was very predictable, as was the melodic line and, as a result, the overall performance of the song fell flat on the ears on the listener.
Additionally, you maintained a very horizontal formation when shaping your vowels and, through this technical flaw, we lost so much of the true beauty of your contralto voice. There was little sustaining power in your vocal masque, signaling that the diaphragmatic process was barely engaged in the vocalization process.
I also heard a push from the throat every so often – probably in an effort to achieve a country-styled ambience to your melodic line. I have always preferred Martine McBride’s approach to singing country music – it is pure and resonant, brimming with a solid technical foundation that never quits. Aesthetically, this is the sound you should try to re-create when singing in this genre. I feel it is a more current sound and certainly more impressive.
I hope that rehearsals go well for you this week, Brooke. I would love to see you accompany yourself on the piano once again and, then midway through the song, complete the remainder of the song in a standing position – away from the piano, backed by an acoustic orchestra. With the right song and the right mood, this would be spectacular.
Good luck next week, Brooke.
Strengths: Carly – now this was a solid vocal masterclass – so impressive and so darn hard to critique. What’s there not to love? Everything that I look for in a singer was beautifully evident – the supreme artistry, the creative approach to the stylistic aspects of this classic song, the pure, well defined vowels, the vocal purity and focus. All of these important vocal characteristics were well defined and you have continued to improve and grow each and every week.
How I loved the slower tempo you selected for this song – it was such a great idea and really added a whole different emotional element to this song. It was just beautiful and extremely poignant. I never really paid attention to the lyrics until you performed this song at this more relaxed pace and, quite frankly, I was moved to “goose bumps”.
I noticed that you were closely maintaining a more circular position in your mouth formation when you moved into your upper range. It’s not quite there yet, but awfully close, which signals that you have been working very hard on this aspect of your vocal technique. Good for you! Your upper sustained note on “I” was pure and true – so focused, so gorgeous and completely “diphthong-free”. You grabbed that pure “ah” vowel and glued your voice to it, the result being a lush, pitch centered and confident vocal sound.
The nuances you displayed throughout this number added such a multi-dimensional effect to the whole performance. It was a sophisticated, multi-layered performance that comes from a wealth of experience and hard work. You have a superb work ethic – of this I am most sure.
Additionally, I loved your relaxed stage demeanour during this number, pacing this song extremely well, once again emphasizing your meticulous approach in the rehearsal process.
Brava Carly. This is as good as it gets on this show. Congratulations!
Critique: Carly – I am leaving you critique-free, as I feel that you have been working hard to blend the chest and head voice in appropriate amounts as you move into your higher register. Last week, I heard some strain in your voice; however, this week, your voice sounded immaculate throughout your massive vocal range.
I hope that you continue to work on these areas of tension in your upper range. Just remember to relax the jaw and ease on to those upper notes. If you create too much sound too soon, the soprano register will sound piercing and aesthetically incorrect. Less is more when one cruises the upper parameters of the vocal range. It is always easier to increase the sound (through the diaphragmatic breathing process) than to decrease the vocal sound – although, in the end, a professional singer must be able to do both.
Excellent work, Carly! Truly a star making moment!
Strengths:David A. – like Carly, you left me truly speechless. Another “Vocal Masterclass” performance in one night? Okay, you people are making my job much too easy. Not only was this an inspiring song selection, this was an absolutely inspiring song performance. The vocal artistry and emotional power that you displayed in this 90 -second showcase was nothing short of breathtaking.
The thing is this David: you are a genuine, authentic young man who just happens to be born with a God-given vocal gift, one that has been honed and crafted through hard work and dedication on the part of the teacher and the student. Given your young age, it is almost hard to conceive that you are capable of creating such a vast array of nuances in your vocal production, but you do all this and more.
The phrasing elements in this song were impeccable, the breath control was “on the money” and that circular mouth position was perfectly set for sustaining those pure vowels. As a result, your vocal line sounded fluid and seamless and you maintained a forward momentum throughout this number that was musical and expressive.
Also, I firmly applaud you on your song selection. You chose a more sophisticated and complex song from Dolly Parton’s songbook and this challenged you as an artist. I love that you are not afraid to take risks, in an effort to reach a little higher than the previous performance. Your measuring stick is your last performance – not someone else’s – but yours. You think like an athlete and this is why you are headed for great success in the music business.
Congratulations David.! This was just an outstanding and extremely moving showcase. Bravo!
Critique:David – the only critique here is that you have left me with nothing to critique once again. Am I losing my touch or are you just plain good?
Just a word of caution – at times, I heard evidence of vocal fatigue –a husky quality that “came and went” intermittently during the performance. Pace yourself wisely, David, and watch that you do not over sing during the rehearsal process. Your voice is still young and is still developing as we speak, so give it (and yourself) the rest it (and you) deserves.
However, keep doing what you’re doing – it is all well and good. You have been guided, trained and mentored by the best
Strengths: David C. – well, I was aching for an acoustic vocal and I finally got it! Ask and ye shall receive. I loved your personal arrangement of this number. It was absolutely brilliant and allowed you to deliver a very haunting and evocative interpretation of this great song.
Once again, you accompanied yourself on guitar with great dexterity and agility, once again demonstrating the superb musical gifts and experience you bring to this competition.
You performed this number with a sense of artistic purpose and commitment and I could see and feel the emotion coming through your voice and face. You displayed great passion and depth in your artistic approach to this song and, therefore, the communicative aspects of this number were extremely strong.
Although you were suffering some health issues during this number, you still challenged yourself as a vocalist, moving dauntingly into your head tone range. Good for you. This business is not for the faint of heart and, on a better –and healthier day – this song would have been a vocal touchdown.
However, your solid vocal technique, coupled with you confidence and musical experience, allowed you to create a memorable performance, even when your body was not experiencing optimal health or rest. The show must go on, right?
Great work, David! Kudos!
Critique: David C. –this is a hard one to critique because you were very ill during this performance. However, I have one suggestion. I thought the key of this song was really high for your natural singing voice. Even though you were feeling very ill, it just felt and sounded too high – beyond your comfortable singing range.
I think a semi-tone or tone lower would have allowed you to create a more comfortable vocal performance, alleviating the elements of strain and fatigue in your voice. Also, the high tessitura of this song caused you to raise your head, thus adding more fuel to the fire and creating more tension in your vocal sound.
Try to make certain, David, that you select a key that will highlight the most comfortable area of your singing range – at least for 75 -80% of the song. We need to hear the depth of your entire singing range, but, generally, singers should make certain that the majority of the song rests comfortably in their natural range.
Also, your throat was very constricted, quite possibly because your body was just too exhausted to support your voice through the energy needed from utilizing the diaphragmatic breathing muscles.
So, here’s to good health! Take time – somehow – to recoup that body of yours, knowing that you are a supreme artist who has demonstrated inspiring sophistication and originality in this show’s format.
Bravo Cookster! Keep on “cookin’” but don’t “overcook” your voice or you will burn out.
Strengths: Jason–I thought that this song was a perfect fit for you. Once again you accompanied yourself on guitar and, in all honesty, this is when I feel you are the most comfortable in a performance. I could sense your comfort level and, as a viewer and a listener, I was truly relaxed while watching your performance within this low-key ambience. Visually and audibly, the musical atmosphere you created felt genuine and real.
Additionally, the vocal elements within this performance sounded more confident and muscular –the best I have heard you sing in a long while. The key selection was on the mark and allowed you to add more color and nuance when you vocalized. There was a speech-like inflection in your singing style that was very welcome, allowing you to communicate the emotional elements of this song with comfort and ease.
You were emotionally involved with this song and, as a result, your performance was passionate and believable. Your elevated comfort level encouraged you to punctuate your melodic line with increased dynamic range – very expressive and very musical indeed.
Technically, your voice benefited immensely from your artistic delivery and this is so important. Singers must feel the music – first and foremost – thus energizing the technical elements in a relaxed and rigorous manner.
Good work, Jason!
Critique: Jason – although your artistry was back in full force, you need to continue to work on solidifying your technical skills when you sing. I loved the fact that you were opening your mouth to cement the pure vowels on the melodic line, but you were still maintaining that less appealing horizontal position.
Keep working on the correct formation of your mouth and allow your jaw to relax fully when navigating your upper range. In doing so, you will encourage the diaphragmatic breathing muscles to work at full force, making sure that your voice is resonating in your vocal masque (face).
And do not slouch when you play your guitar. Make sure you are sitting with the correct posture, elevating and expanding the rib cage muscles. This will allow you to fully utilize the strength and power of these muscles when you release the air to sing.
However, there was great improvement this week, Jason. Good for you. Perfect song! Exceptional delivery!
Strengths: Kristy Lee – stylistically, this was wonderful performance and you exhibited a relaxed demeanour throughout this showcase.
As I said after your Top 11 performance, I absolutely love the timbre of your voice, particularly in your lower range. You genetically possess a brilliant vocal timbre, thus ensuring a naturally resonant vocal quality that rings pure and true.
Additionally, I was surprised and delighted to see you move to a more technically acceptable vocal sound towards the end of this song. At this point in the song your mouth moved toward a more circular formation; therefore it allowed you to minimally open and relax your throat and plant that voice in your vocal masque where it belongs. As a result your ending was strong and confident.
Once again, you chose your key wisely and this was very important in the overall success of your performance.
Good work, Kristy-Lee!
Critique: Kristy-Lee – overall, I felt that there was too much country twang in your vocal delivery, thus And encouraging you to sing with a poor technical approach. Your throat was very constricted and there was an audible push from the throat when you vocalized.
As long as your throat remains constricted, we will never hear the full potential beauty of your vocal gift. You must allow the diaphragmatic breathing muscles to support and focus your voice in your vocal masque, but, this will also meant that your mouth must maintain a circular formation on all the vowels.
Any tension in the upper body will result in less than aesthetically pleasing vocal sound and will likely cause future problems down the line. Your vocal cords need to be utilized with care and diligence. It’s a muscle –and muscles need to be trained and maintained through the correct technical process or injury will result.
As I mentioned to Brooke, I wish you would have used a purer technical approach, similar to Martina McBride’s vocal delivery. When she sings, her breath control and phrasing elements are extremely – well – breathtaking and allows her to challenge and expose her exceptional vocal and dynamic range.
However, you are here to see another week and all is good. Now grab that mirror and start vocalizing scales, singing only to pure vowels. Relax that jaw and fill the bottom of your lungs through the diaphragmatic breathing process. Let’s solidify that technique!
Good luck next week, Kristy!
Strengths: Michael-this was simply an amazing and heartfelt performance. This song choice was a stroke of genius, as it highlighted your immense capabilities as a soulful blues artist. Your voice sounded beautifully rich and robust and you expressively utilized your immense vocal range to passionately communicate the lyrics of this great song.
You had so many textures coming through your natural vocal timbre, allowing the expressive qualities to gain in consistency and artistry throughout this song. Our feelings for the music mirrored your expressive emotion and, in doing so, you established a strong identification process with your audience.
Additionally, this was an extremely well-paced vocal showcase, thoroughly and meticulously rehearsed. All the crucial performance elements were in place – the accurate key selection
for you natural singing range, the emotional commitment to the song lyrics, the impeccable phrasing, the multi-dimensional dynamic content.
And, what a surprise at the end! That falsetto on the word allwas a killer. It was beautifully pitch-centred and pure while you sustained the “ah” vowel. This falsetto delivery provided a super contrast to your naturally muscular singing range, exposing the true depth and potential of your vocal gift!
Excellent work, Michael! You are slowly building on the momentum you established after last week’s “Queen” song performance. This is wonderful to see and hear, as it emphasizes that, not only are you becoming increasingly comfortable on the Idol stage, but also you are working very hard behind the scenes.
Critique: Michael – when oh when will you relax that jaw? Your lower facial muscles were still awfully tense and it gives me cause for worry. You need to protect your voice by securing the correct technical process while you sing.
However, your artistry was exceptional and countered many technical flaws that were evident to my eyes and ears. Yet, in the long run, you will only be able to get away with this for so long. If you continue on this route, you will encounter major vocal issues that may be irreparable.
Remember that head tone (falsetto) at the end of your song? This element is necessary in your vocal mix throughout your singing range, as it highlights the natural ring of your range throughout your registers. It will also create a seamless vocal sound from top to bottom. Mixing head and chest voice is integral to creating a homogeneous sound, so use your rehearsal time to vocalize on pure vowels, singing scales or arpeggios, making certain that you voice sounds balanced and consistent from top to bottom.
You are an intelligent guy – hopefully, you are working on the correct technical approach in your singing. I thoroughly understand that the correction of the technical deficiencies will not happen overnight, so hopefully, we will see some improvement over the coming weeks.
Yours is a voice of quality, with classical pop elements that will allow you to continue to challenge and expand your potential as a singing artist.
However, this was a stellar performance. I just loved it so much.
Strengths:Ramiele – I loved your well – paced stage choreography this week. You exhibited an enthusiastic and youthful charisma that was so enjoyable to watch. You seemed to perform with a great sense of purpose and were very motivated to communicate and interact with the audience.
Therefore, your confidence level was more developed this week than in previous, so I applaud you for jumping out of your shy little box and giving yourself permission to have fun on the stage.
I am so happy that you chose an upbeat song this week. You made great effort to involve yourself with your audience and had a relaxed and open demeanour throughout this performance.
Vocally, your voice gained more presence toward the end of the song when you navigated your upper range. I sensed this is where you felt most comfortable, as your voice enjoyed a strong resonating presence when you entered this area of your vocal range.
Additionally, the more powerful dynamic level reinforced your vocal presence, allowing you to sing with a no holds barred approach, thus ensuring a free and natural vocal delivery, with strong support from the diaphragm.
Good work, Ramiele!
Critique:Ramiele – while it is difficult to balance the vocals and the choreography, you have to make sure that you rehearse all aspects of a performance in a manner that will enhance the overall presentation of your song.
This week, I felt that your stage technique overrode your vocal stability, especially when you vocalized into your lower range. I think that you were very intent about interacting with the audience and that was all very good. However, your vocal strength suffered in the interim, probably due to a combination of nerves and lack of time to really solidify the vocal and performance techniques.
I have said this numerous times to many singers, but it does bear repeating. Slow down the tempo of these upbeat songs during the rehearsal process. Work only on the vocals, making certain that your voice has been stabilized through the correct technical process. Then, slowly add the performance elements, making certain that you are balancing the stage movement in a way that does not negatively affect the vocal production.
Also, one last observation! I wish the camera angle at the beginning of this song had been more flattering. It emphasized your knees and legs and, visually, created a less than flattering impression on the television screen. And this happened many times during the course of this number. Visual impact for the television is sometimes stronger than the audio, so I felt that the camera work was all wrong for this performance.
However, I wish you well, Ramiele, (hey that rhymes) and look forward to seeing you perform at the Finale in May.
Best of luck in your future musical endeavours.
Strengths:Syesha –I loved the dynamic elements in this performance so very much. As you began this signature song, I very much appreciated your soft, gentler approach to this number, as it allowed the listener to really hear the lyrics. This was an exquisite and intimate performance and you reinforced this atmosphere by sitting quietly on the edge of the stage throughout this showcase. Perfect!
When you added the powerful dynamic on the repeat of the refrain, I thought your vocal sound was wonderfully lush. I think that the softer head tone singing in the first installment of the refrain encouraged you to center your voice more effectively when you added more chest voice punch to the louder dynamic the second time around.
Therefore, your vocal technique was generally concrete and accurate and you solidified the sustaining power of your voice through the powerful reinforcement in the diaphragmatic breathing muscles.
Your breathing was well formulated, as you meticulously and musically shaped your phrase lines with great artistry and creativity. Yours was a well -rehearsed performance and you made me love this often performed song all over again.
This was a confident showcase, performed with poise and elegance and brimming with star quality. Excellent work! Brava!
Critique: Syesha– once again, I have to caution you about maintaining a truly circular formation in your mouth position. You have a naturally resonant voice that allows you to become a little lax at times with your technique.
Be very diligent in the technical approach to your singing – keep the technique central to the overall vocal performance and never take your natural vocal ability for granted.
Technique serves a purpose – to develop and enhance your vocal capabilities, while at the same time preserving the longevity and health of your vocal cords.
Also, I felt that the duration of the sustained note on the word love was perhaps too long. Now, if you had added a diminuendo (gradually becoming softer) while sustaining this note, this would have been very impressive and would have allowed you to sing the final note on the word you at a softer level, thus creating a tender, heartfelt ending to this song.
However, I am glad to see that you will be with us for another week, Syesha. You have tremendous ability as a vocalist and you have rightfully earned your place in the Top 8.
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