Vocal Masterclass Discussion Thread For American Idol Season 8 Semi-Finalists: Group One

Picture from AmericanIdol.Com

Picture from AmericanIdol.Com

Tonight, and every Tuesday evening for the next 4 weeks, we will be introduced to the singers who were successful in capturing the judges’ and producers’ approval for the Top 36 American Idol Season 8 formation.

The two-hour episode will feature individual performances by 12 singers and, following their performances at the end of the show, the viewers can call and/or text their votes for two hours.

Tomorrow evening, February 18th, the results will be revealed to the public and the three top vote-getters will automatically earn a place in the coveted Top 12. This means that the singers have to be really strong during tonight’s showcase or, for the majority of them, the Idol road to fame is over.

Group One Performers tonight are: Alexis Grace, Ann Marie Boskovich, Anoop Desai, Brent Keith, Casey Carlson, Danny Gokey, Jackie Tohn, Michael Sarver, Ricky Braddy, Stephen Fowler, Stevie Wright and Tatiana Nicole Del Toro.

MCL NOTE: I will be on holidays until March 4th 2009. I will try to keep the MCL site “up to date” with Masterclass Discussion topics for all the groups. Your links and comments will be most appreciated, as it will help to maintain a current flow of information while I am “basking in the sun”. 🙂

MAJOR UPDATE: Who is Ricky Braddy? He just sang an outstanding version of  “A Song For You” with sincerity of heart and brilliant, pitch-perfect vocals.  Text 5702 after the show – please – he deserves to be in the Top 12. No camera time and this guy just sang his heart out for y’all! C’mon – reward him.

Alexis Grace was outstanding. Love her bluesy, star quality vibe. Love. her!  Another Top 12 contender. Text vote 5703

Danny Gokey was overwhelming- I have tears here. So vocally heartfelt and soulful and truly strong vocals.  Text vote 5712

My Top 3 – Ricky, Alexis, Danny- and in no particular order- as all 3 were superb.

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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 Semi-Finalists: Group One”

  1. So far, this has been a really tough night. Some of the contestants have wowed…and others have had to watch their dreams crushed already. We’re not done yet, but so far, I am really impressed with Ricky Brady and Alexis Grace.


  2. I was very surprised with Ricky as well. He did a really good job. I still love Anoop even though he didn’t do his best. Tatiana was actually, SHOCKINGLY, one of the better girls. But overall, Danny gets the best of the night.


  3. I think you’re right, MCL. Those were probably the most outstanding performers tonight.
    Danny completely blew me away-I had high hopes, but this was far and away beyond what I expected from him! I’m about as pumped as I was after watching David Cook perform “Hello”! And if you ask my sister, I was pretty pumped then! 🙂
    I enjoyed Ann Marie Boskovich’s performance, and completely disagreed with Simon there.
    And Tatiana can really sing…the way her personality has been shown has really done her a disservice in this competition though.
    I definitely would pick Danny, Alexis, and Ricky as the top three this week!


  4. Overall, I was bored tonight. 😦 I really liked Ricky, and Alexis was really strong. Danny was good and deserves to advance, but I am sorry, I think he is over-hyped right now (I am not crazy about raspy voices). I thought Ricky was a cut above him, with the exception of stage presence. I thought Simon did a good job with his critiques, and the other three were basically useless. Sorry if I sound like a pessimist tonight, but after 8 seasons, the scripting of the show has tainted me a tad. Go Ricky and Alexis!


  5. Well, overall, I enjoyed tonight’s show very much. I was a little bit disappointed with some of the contestants’ song choices though. They had an extremely vast pool of popular songs to draw from, and yet most of them chose songs that were just not right for them! Here’s my take on tonight’s show:

    1. Jackie Tohn–“A Little Less Conversation”: Well, first of all, you have to cut her some slack. Being the singer to perform live for the first time this season was probably not how Jackie would’ve preferred it. However, I have to hand it to her. She came out on that stage and absolutely did not allow nerves/fear to get the best of her. In fact, I thought she was one of the singers more at ease on the stage tonight. That said, however, every other aspect of her performance just didn’t work for me. She tried to dance, but that didn’t work out too well, and her voice was just okay. Not to mention, her outfit was just . . . awful. Poor girl. I am afraid her mediocre performance combined with the fact the she went first (and thus was forgettable by the time the show wound to a close) will keep her succinctly out of the Top 12.

    2. Ricky Braddy–“A Song For You”: You know, I feel sorry for him in that he has two things working against him right from the start. 1) He’s had very little screen time, and 2) He’s performing so early on in tonight’s show. However, I could tell he left it all on that stage and tried his best. I wasn’t much for the song, but his vocals are quite good. I feel the odds are stacked way too much against him to make the Top 12, but who knows? Maybe America will put him through! My greatest fear is that he will be an unfortunate casualty of this season’s new erroneous format.

    3. Alexis Grace–“Never Loved A Man”: This girl is certainly in it to win it. She seemed very comfortable on that stage, and she effectively tackled an Aretha Franklin song (no easy task). She has a pleasant personality and I love her pink hair. In a sea of female contestants that all seem to blend in with one another this season, she stands out above the rest–and that is certainly an advantage to her! She may very well make the Top 12!

    4. Brent Keith–“Hicktown”: Well, I felt sorry for him from the start because there was all kinds of technical problems right before he performed. However, I admired how he stayed cool and at peace in spite of that. You know, I have to disagree with Randy who said that Brent should be more of a soul singer. I definitely believe country is his niche. He didn’t have much stage presence and I wasn’t much for his song choice, but when I closed my eyes and just listened to him sing, I could easily envision hearing him sing on some country radio station. I think the judges were a bit harsh on him. He probably won’t make the Top 12, but it wouldn’t be wrong if he did. I wish him the best. The dude can sing country.

    5. Stevie Wright–“You Belong To Me”: As a fan of Taylor Swift, I knew right away that Stevie Wright had made a fatal error in choosing this song. It seemed to me that Stevie was trying to sound exactly like Taylor Swift, which she sadly did not pull off. Like the judges said, she has a bit of an identity crisis and has no idea what kind of artist she would like to be. So long, Stevie. . .

    6. Anoop Desai–“Angel Of Mine”: Can I be honest? Up until Anoop took the stage, I had not extremely enjoyed any of the performances so far. However, I was proud of Anoop, despite what the judges said. “Angel of Mine” is a beautiful song and just hearing it sang by Anoop was a treat. I thought his voice was quite good actually, and I prefer him singing this kind of music to the previous stuff he’s done this season. While he wasn’t my favorite of the night, I hope he somehow makes the Top 12. I want to see more of what he is capable of.

    7. Casey Carlson–“Every Little Things She Does Is Magic”: This song should’ve been called “Every Little Thing She Does Is Tragic”. It was just so very karaoke and corny! With no possible chance of making the Top 12, it really is tragic for Casey. She was very attractive and had the look of a star. Unfortunately, looks aren’t everything.

    8. Michael Sarver–“I Don’t Want To Be”: Definitely one of the better performances of the night. I believe that he was very wise in choosing a song that not only perfectly suited him, but is also very well-known and easy to pull in the audience (and voters) with. Bottom line: a fun guy sang a fun song, and fun is never a bad thing! Does he deserve a spot in the Top 12, I think so, but that’s up to America to decide!

    9. Ann Marie Boskovich–“Natural Woman”: While I wasn’t much for her song choice because it is clearly too big of a song for her, I was actually pleasantly surprised by Ann Marie overall. Let me tell you something. That girl CAN sing, and out of all the women tonight, she carried herself most like a star. In fact, she looked like an old pro! I am actually a bit sad about this one. No one seems to recognize that she definitely is a great singer and very pretty as well. She could possibly be the dark horse in this competition . . . but more likely than not she will end up being yet another victim of this year’s screwy format.

    10. Stephen Fowler–“Rock With You”: I did not understand why the judges made him a part of the Top 36 to begin with (and yet they cut Osmond). I feel sorry for Stephen, because he just wasn’t ready for this competition yet, and he proved that tonight. I am kind of with Paula on this one. I think he may have had a chance if he walked out on the big stage and nailed “The Time Of My Life” since he failed it utterly in Hollywood Week. Symbolically, that would have been cool to see. However, what’s done is done, and I’m afraid that is exactly what Stephen Fowler is: done (with this competition).

    11. Tatiana Del Toro–“Saving All My Love”: What? No laugh?! Who is this girl and what did she do with Tatiana? I have to admit something. I’ve had my doubts about whether or not Tatiana deserved to make the Top 36, and when I heard that she was singing a Whitney song I fully expected her to fall flat on her face. However, I have to say that she proved me wrong. The fact of the matter is (no matter how annoying she may come across at times) she was actually one of the better female singers tonight. If anything, she proved to me and millions of other skeptics that she deserved to be in at least the Top 36. As for the Top 12, I definitely am not convinced yet, but I’ll keep a more open mind.

    12. Danny Gokey–“Hero”: You know, up until this point, every performance so far had been what I would have expected to see during the Top 36 phase of this competition. However, Danny Gokey came out and performed like he was already in the finals! He is definitely, without a doubt my pick for this season. “Hero” was an absolutely brilliant choice of song on his part, and I love how he 100% made it his own. The emotion poured off of him and lended a fantastic credibility to his performance. He is so unique and so talented! In fact, his was the only performance I will be paying a dollar for on iTunes this week! I have NO DOUBT that he will make the Top 12! I had high expectations for him, and he far exceeded them! Bravo, Danny!

    Overall, despite some song choice issues, tonight’s episode featured a lot of talented singers. I am saddened that only three can advance. However, as long as Danny is in the Top 3, I’ll be quite content with whatever else transpires.


  6. I also was pleasantly entertained by everything tonight! This round was the best judging session in a long, long time. I sense that Kara provided an extra spark tonight. Will it continue? I hope so.

    GOOD DECISION: I love when a guy sings a female artist’s song AND when a girl chooses a favorite made famous by a male.

    The exception is choosing to sing Elvis Presley. Sorry, but Jackie just didn’t get it right.

    FAVORITE MALE: It has to be Anoop. His performance was good enough to get him on the concert tour and maybe TOP 4. He didn’t need to come out and be over-powering. He’s well liked, cute, and the best is yet to come.

    FAVORITE FEMALE: My choice is Alexis. She has the total package and did a terrific job tonight. In this case, her backstory helped her.

    THIRD HIGHEST VOTE GETTER: My choice is Danny, but I was not overly impressed. Nice job and a likeable guy. Sorry his parents or siblings weren’t there. There will be “a little more conversation” about this man.

    SHOCK OF THE NIGHT: Tatiana did a really nice job. SHOCK! First, she can sing. Second, she is Madonnaized. There is something in her face that reminds me of a young Madonna. She may make it now, or be the W/C choice.

    DARK HORSE: Ricky was very, very good. Close you eyes and you can hear a mighty fine voice. If there will be six in the W/C round, Paula may choose Ricky to at least be heard again.

    MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT: Michael definitely chose the wrong song. I really like this guy and his fan base may get him up there in the voting. Again, if there will be six in the W/C round who will sing, Simon may select Michael.


  7. MCL I agree with your picks.

    Ricky did have the best vocals of the guys and if he doesn’t advance what a shame.

    Alexis blew the other girls away. Love her.

    Danny, the over the top pimping of him and his constantly playing the sympathy card are turning me off to him. He was very good and deserves to advance but hopefully AI tones down the pimping and Danny puts away the dead wife card. ENOUGH ALREADY!


  8. Thanks everyone for your extremely informative comments. Love them! Off to catch a plane to Florida, but will check back in when I am settled. Bye for now and keep them coming! MCLxo


  9. Audrey, I agree with you that Alexis and Ricky were good (and Top 12 material for sure), but I have to disagree with you regarding Danny. He is NOT my favorite because I feel sorry for him. He is my favorite because in my opinion he is the most unique singer in this competition. I have loved all of his song choices so far and how he always is able to put his own spin on those songs. I thought his rendition of “Hero” was nothing short of incredible! Until I saw him perform last night, I too was a bit skeptical concerning all of the hype around him. However, seeing him take total command of that stage and own that song made me realize why he has so much hype–because he DESERVES it! Also, I think it is just a little bit disrespectful to refer to his deceased wife as some “card” to be played. Danny cannot help and has had no control over how much the producers have talked about his dead wife this season. I am sure that were it up to him, he would prefer to be booted out of this competition in a heartbeat if it meant having his wife back again. As much pain as this guy has gone through in the last year, I believe he fully deserves to have his turn in the spotlight and all the hype. It’s about time something good happened to him, after all. You know, the two Davids last season both had a lot of hype as well last season–and look how great that turned out for them! Hype can certainly be an indicator of who the frontrunners are in this competition, and I hope that is the case with Danny.

    Oh, and MCL, I hope you have an awesome vacation in Florida! I’ve been there once before and I know how beautiful is there! God bless you and your family as you travel!


  10. Well, I can’t actually say I was blown away last night. I don’t like the new format. My favorites in order of appearance were Jackie Tohn, Ricky Braddy, Alexis Grace, Tatiana Del Toro and Danny Gokey. I just get a kick out of Jackie, I knew Ricky could sing, I heard an MP3 of his over at Joe’s Place and it was fantastic and technically I thought his performance was perfect. Gotta love that little Alexis, like Simon said, darkhorse. Tatiana can sing, any other year she’d probably be hanging around for a while but probably not this year. Danny Gokey, there’s something about this kid, I watch him and he’s always so thoughtful and he sang “Hero” beautifully. I had high hopes for Anoop but in my opinion his performance was way off. I was a little surprised that Simon put in the plug for Michael Sarver, his performance didn’t totally do it for me but there’s something about him that I have always really liked. I guess they aren’t letting them play instruments during these rounds, does anyone know for sure? My favorite, Matt Giraud, has not performed yet and I was sure hoping that he would play the piano. Oh well. See you all later, loved all the comments.


  11. I am always a little late to the party… I can not watch in real time so PVR and watch later.

    I feel sorry for Stevie Wright as I think she was overcome with nerves…

    Tatiana surprised me with her vocals – though she drives me nuts. Simon was right on when he made the comment that she REALLY wants to be famous.

    Ricky Braddy was a great surprise vocally, though his stage presence was rather subdued in my opinion.

    Thought Alexis was the best female.

    Danny Gokey was good, I really felt his connection his song – really heartfelt. I did not think that it was outstanding though.

    Anoop was a bit disappointing for me, I had hoped for ? I don’t know. Can understand his reasons for choosing the song, but was it the right choice?

    No one else really stood out to me in any way.

    Now, off to watch the results show.


  12. Oops I did forget Jackie Tohn – I really did not enjoy her performance at all. She does have performance skills, but her voice actually grated on me (though I quite liked her in audition/HW)



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