Vocal Masterclass Discussion Thread For American Idol Season 8: The Hollywood Rounds Part 1

American IdolHooray for Hollywood! Could there ever be a better theme song to capture the collective emotions of American Idol viewers after three tortuous weeks of preliminary auditions? I think not.

It’s time to get “down and dirty” and face the brutal elimination rounds that will reveal the Top 36 singers for American Idol Season 8. I am sure many, many outstanding singers will be eliminated in favor of what the judges and producers conceive as a fair and balanced program.

So, to those of you out there who did not make the final cut, carry on with your dreams and never give up. This is only one audition, albeit an important one; however, the road to success is never smooth and never, ever predictable. True talent always rises to the top with perseverance and passion combined with a strong work ethic. The key word here = work.

And now, on with the show!

This article will be written in real time and published immediately after the end of the 1-hour show. Therefore, unlike the full-length Vocal Masterclass articles for the Top 12, my first impressions from the Hollywood Rounds will be abbreviated. I will leave it up to you to fill in the blanks and add your comments.

Okay, so let the fun and madness begin. There is a ton of drama in the opening teaser – lots of crying, lots of arguing and Simon stating that he is confident that they are going to find somebody great. Well, I hope so, or I have wasted seven years of my life here with these Masterclass articles.

The Hollywood rounds begin with 147 Gold Ticket winners and they have been the recipients of a huge twist – a phenomenal bootcamp experience. Stylists, vocal coaches and guest mentor, Barry Manilow, have been there to assist these young singers on theri road to Idol stardom. Wow! I didn’t see this coming, but it’s a keeper.

The first round is a cappella and Ryan says they are looking for a star. Dennis Brigham and Lil Rounds are on first. Lil sings a chesty version of “I Will Always Love You” and I am sorry but her voice is too forced. Too much push from the throat. Plus I see absolutely no star quality at this point in the series. I said this during her preliminary audition and I will say it again. She needs to work on her stage presence and develop a personal sense of style.

Dennis Brigham, on the other hand, has a really neat sound, although he is trying too hard. Well, can’t say that I blame him.

After deliberation, Lil is in, along with a few others, but Denis is out – but not without a verbal insult to the judges. Ugh, hate the gross and vulgar attitude! Bye Denis. Keep eating that humble pie -you didn’t clean your plate.

After commercial break, the nerves are affecting the singers’ performances and the judges are disillusioned. However, a new group of judges’ favorites parade on in. Nathaniel Marshal sings a song called “The Anchor Holds” and his voice is confident and true. However, this song choice was truly poor and uninspired and he chose this song for all the wrong reasons. It’s a personal, indulgent song choice and that never works.

Anoop Desai sounds marvelous, however, and I am enjoying his performance more than when I first heard him three weeks ago

Jasmine Murray sounds spectacular and looks spectacular as well. Don’t like the push from her throat, but, hopefully, it will disappear with time and proper coaching

Then along comes a very emotional Rose Flack, who breaks down after a dismal rehearsal. However, once she hits the stage and sings “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay”, she sounds relaxed and earthy.

After deliberation, the judges give all of them a “thumbs up” and move them forward to Day 2.

After commercial break, we are being prepared to hear some male front runners. First up is Stephen (didn’t catch the last name) and Jorge and Von Smith and all three guys are distiinctly outstanding. However, I am with Simon – Von is too, too much. He is “in your face” with that voice and the emotional core of the song is lost on the listener.

The trio does move on to Day 2 and, hopefully, Von will work on his song delivery. Just relax dude – need to acquire a more nuanced approach in your vocal style. Communication is one of the most important elements to acquire as a vocalist and you need to remember that and make this an integral element in every song performance.

Nick alias Norman Gentle is ready to do his schtick and, after manic deliberation, he decides to be Nick Mitchell. Okay, the guy needs to be in a comedy revue or something, as clearly this is his calling. The guy has a great voice, but he should become a vocal version of the legendary Victor Borge and make a pile of money. However, he does make it through to the next round, so I guess the entertainment value is too valuable to ignore.

We are now midway through the show and the next half of the singers are on. And, as Michael Buble’s “Feelin’ Good” introduces them, I am reminded what a really good singer sounds like.

Jackie Tohn is on stage and it is quite evident that she is a rocker chick. The judges like her and I can’t form an opinion after a mere 5 seconds of singing. Jackie is put though to the next round, so we shall see what happens tomorrow.

Jamar Rogers sings a bluesy version of “California Dreamin'” and it’s not bad. Danny Gokey sings “Kiss From A Rose” and he is pretty good. Not a fan of the rasp, but he is very musical. Both Danny and Jamar are moving on to the next level, along with others, but, as Ryan says: “How long can it last?” Indeed! We shall see soon enough.

After commercial break, Katrina aka Bikini Girl is back! Oy vey x3! As she starts to sing “Breathe”, my first impression is maybe you should – breathe – from.the.diaphragm! Her vocal sound is whiny and mediocre and I am being generous with my comments here. But the male judges put her through for entertainment value – once again.

Jeremy Michael Sarver is absolutely stellar and Jesus is not shabby either! However, of the two, Jeremy moves on but a disappointed Jesus is eliminated. Too bad, he should have moved on before Bikini Girl.

Emily picks the wrong song and totally disappoints the judges. David Osmond is absolutely brilliant and both move on to the next stage of the competition. Good – great actually!

A frustrated Erica tries to convince the judges to give her a second chance and, of course, it is always fruitless. Why even bother?

And after we see a collage of successful a cappella singers, we are left with a teaser at the close of the show, highlighting the drama of the Group Performance rounds tomorrow night. See you then!

Now, to you the readers, this is your forum as well. What say you? The Masterclass doors are now open.

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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

13 Responses to “Vocal Masterclass Discussion Thread For American Idol Season 8: The Hollywood Rounds Part 1”

  1. MCL, I also loved Anoop! I think I’m really starting to like him a lot. I really hope he makes the top 36. I also enjoyed Jorge & Danny. Rose definitely did better than her first audition but I wonder how her self-confidence & nerves will hold out, especially during group rounds.


  2. Wow! What a night! I get so excited at this stage of the show, because finally we begin to see some true talent emerge. I think they could’ve shown more of the talent if this episode was at least an hour and a half, but I guess they did pretty good squeezing what they did into an hour. Here are my thoughts on some of the singers:

    David Osmond–I really believe that I have discovered the person I am going to pull for this season. He has “Star Potential” written all over him, and from what disappointingly little they showed of him, his performance seemed leaps and bounds above most of the others the judges put through.

    Danny Gokey–You know, I agree, MCL, his voice is a little raspy. Oddly enough, though, there’s something about it that makes him unique–and I like it. He absolutely knocked “Kiss From A Rose” out of the park! A contender for sure.

    Bikini Girl–Okay, what are the judges thinking? I can live with someone getting through in the audition phase with a gimmick, but come on! If the judges are keeping this scantily-dressed girl around for pure entertainment value, then they are doing and injustice to the other contestants, the show, and most of all Bikini Girl herself. I want to see this girl come out in the next round in more modest attire with a more humble attitude (a stretch perhaps) and get by on voice alone. Some contestants were sent home this episode that should not have been yet, while Bikini Girl stays because Simon and Randy are hot for her.

    Norman Gentle–I also didn’t understand the judges’ decision here. Norman seems like a fun guy, but he is treating his performances like jokes. If you take away his ability to work the crowd and his zany antics, would his voice alone be good enough to keep him in this competition? Remember, if he wins this competition, then he has to record a CD, and I just cannot envision people enjoying listening to him on the radio. I believe Norman has a gift for entertaining others, and I don’t think music is the best way for him to do that. Just my opinion.

    Lil Rounds–First off, I have a lot of respect for this girl and I hope she really succeeds in whatever she does. Still, I do have to agree with you, MCL. I just don’t see a star when I like at her, and her voice is just not as spectacular as the judges seem to think. Still, with a lot polish, maybe she could improve. I hope so.

    Jeremy Michael Sarver–I wasn’t much of a fan of this guy in the audition phase, but I realized in this episode how truly powerful a voice he possesses. He will go far, with or without help from this show.

    As I said, David Osmond is definitely my pick so far. Wouldn’t it be interesting if another David won this year! LOL Maybe there’s just something about that name! Anyway, I loved tonight’s episode and look forward to the drama of group night tomorrow!


  3. Hi All,

    Can’t wait for the competition to start. I wrote here last week that my favorite is Matt Giraud but
    I think there is tons of talent and it should be quite a season. Melinda Doolittle’s long awaited CD
    came out today, I bought it but haven’t had time to listen to it yet. Bought my tickets for David Archuleta on March 3rd in Buffalo and also for David Cook in Niagara Falls on March 13th ( I think that’s the date ). The tickets for David Archuleta sold out during the 2 day pre-sale, the venue isn’t big. I have 2 extra tickets for David Archuleta MCL…if you’re interested. Thanks all, cya soon.


  4. I was quite disappointed in how much face time was given to some and we did not get to hear Michael Castro, Adam Lambert, Cody, Deanna and others.


  5. Hi everyone and thanks for your great comments. It was a jam-packed episode and I could barely type fast enough and/or gather my thoughts as the show progressed. My favorites are Jorge, David Osmond and Adam Lambert and I did like Rose as well. Anoop is defintiely growing on me, as well as some of the others. Group rounds will be very revealing – cannot wait.!

    Many singers were not given airtime, such as Anna Kaelin, Scott McIntyre and Michael Castro. Grrrrr.


  6. I was also very disappointed in whom they did NOT show last night, MCL.

    And I read that they were talking about having the contestants this year all stay in a house together and videotaping there, like some of the other reality shows. That is a truly terrible idea–but would help explain some of the oddballs they are putting through.


  7. ReReader – I am on the same page as you. One of the reasons that I enjoy American Idol so much is that, for the most part, it doesn’t infringe on the personal lives of the singers.

    Yes, you do get of sense of who they are through their performances and mini-interviews and blogs, but their success is determined based on their talent, not the drama in their daily lives.


  8. Hi

    I am half japanese /english.

    I love Leon Jackson (Xfactor winner 2007) vocal tone and his style but he s just inexperience. I want him to continue making music. I hate his record label. Is there way to help this young man? Please, contact this young man and offer services. I think, he can be great vocalist. I love his album by the way.


  9. I really thought it was unfair of simon to agree with bikini girl, about her needing music to help to make her song sound better, well who wouldn’t sound better with music. what about the other contestants who tried so hard, they would have done better with music also.


  10. MCL, according to JoesPlace, Anna Kaelin was cut in Hollywood as well as Rose.


  11. That’s too bad. I really liked these singers. I heard Anna over at her MySpace site.


  12. Well, we’ll probably still see Rose perform tonight in the group rounds.


  13. Rereader, I agree completely. I’m not sure I am crazy about the contestants all being cooped up in one building with each other all of the time. No matter how nice some or all of them may be, conditions like that will make anyone cranky. With Bikini Girl and Norman Gentle getting through the first round of Hollywood Week and now I find out more time is going to be devoted to spying on the contestants’ personal lives and their interactions with one another, I feel like American Idol is trying to be more of a reality show this year than it is a singing competition.

    One of the numerous reasons why last season was my favorite Idol season was because all of the contestants seemed to genuinely get along with and care about one another. They would cry when someone went home and encouraged one another in their performances. Of course, I am sure that there was a healthy level of competitiveness, but that never translated into anyone coming off as a snob on camera. With this new arrangement, I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s batch of contestants come off as being less friendly than their predecessors. I don’t like that. This is a family show, after all. Good values should be espoused.

    I can’t believe all of the changes that are taking place this season, and I have tried to be a good sport about them most of them. For instance, I actually like the addition of Kara DioGuardi to the judging panel and I like the dynamic of a Top 36 instead of a Top 24. Still, I hope American Idol doesn’t go overboard with the changes. Less is more, much more! As Proverbs 25:27 says: “It isn’t good for you to eat too much honey.” While a change here or there may be a good thing, too much of a good thing can end up being a very bad thing! Still, on a positive note, I am very impressed with some of the singers this year and I have hope that an excellent American Idol will emerge despite whatever bumps are along the way.


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