Pre-Show Vocal Masterclass Discussion For Top 5 American Idol Season 8 Show: A Tribute To The Rat Pack

L-R Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis jr. (seated)

L-R Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis jr. (seated)

I decided to add a pre-show blog topic about this week’s widely anticipated American Idol Top 5 show, featuring music from the legacy created by the artists from the Rat Pack Era.

The major singers from this signature musical time period were pre-dominantly male and enormously talented. The key male figures were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and, my absolute favorite, Sammy Davis Jr.

Later on, some illustrious female singers jumped on the Rat Pack bandwagon, including Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall, Angie Dickinson, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland.

The music, written and performed by the composers and artists respectively, is timeless and memorable.  The lyrics are absolutely exquisite and the melodies are refreshing, entertaining, inspiring and truly exceptional. 


Additionally, the melodic and lyrical structures are interwoven in a manner that encourages and motivates a singer to not only shine during his or her performance, but also establish a very strong emotional connection with his or her audience.

Therefore, I am anticipating the very, very best from all five singers on Tuesday.  These songs  present them with a perfect musical canvas on which they can color their voices with exquisite nuance and impeccable artistry.

However, once again, it will come down to song selection and, also, proper key selection and song arrangement.

Hopefully, we will see a uniformed Top 5 showcase, one that encourages all five of the remaining singers to solidly illustrate to the the viewing audience the depth and dimension of their musical skills and artistry.

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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

39 Responses to “Pre-Show Vocal Masterclass Discussion For Top 5 American Idol Season 8 Show: A Tribute To The Rat Pack”

  1. To Master Class Lady – In your opinion, are the contestants better off not rearranging these songs, or do you think they should try to “make it their own”?

    There is some speculation (elsewhere on the web) that these songs are so classic, that to rearrange them would be disrespectful. I was born in the late 60s, so I’ve heard a lot of them, but they weren’t popular during my era, so I couldn’t really say one way or another.

    To those who remember them fondly, or to those who’ve never heard them, going with the original arrangement could be a plus. I would say that taking some of the songs and giving them a Michael Buble or Jamie Cullum spin might be as far as some purists would want then to go with the rearranging. ?

    What do you think? Also, a little off-topic, but is 9 years old too early to take voice lessons?


  2. Sparky – first of all, 9 years old is a great time to start lessons, provided you connect with a teacher who understands the delicate maturation process of a child’s voice. You want to develop the voice gradually, with a sound classical approach. At a young age, a young singer hasn’t had too much time to develop bad habits and, therefore, easily adapt to the proper technique when singing.

    Regarding the arrangements of this classic retro music, a little innovation may go a very long way this week. Michael Buble and Jamie Cullum have succeeded by instilling this great music with a current sound. The singers may think of, perhaps, taking a slow ballad and turning it into an uptempo or vice versa – or a combination of a couple of tempos. I have done this often and it really works very well.


  3. There were some changes done for BIG BAND WEEK Season 3, and for the most part, they were successful. I think some of the contestants could do well with this.

    Top 5 (Big Band)

    Diana DeGarmo – “Someone to Watch Over Me” by Ella Fitzgerald
    Diana DeGarmo – “Get Happy” by Judy Garland

    George Huff – “Cheek to Cheek” by Fred Astaire
    George Huff – “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

    LaToya London – “Too Close for Comfort” by Natalie Cole
    LaToya London – “Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Barbra Streisand

    Jasmine Trias – “The Way You Look Tonight” by Tony Bennett
    Jasmine Trias – “Almost Like Being in Love” by Nat King Cole

    Fantasia Barrino – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
    Fantasia Barrino – “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” by Barbra Streisand

    To this day, I don’t know why TPTB allowed Fantasia to sing a Queen song. It certainly caused a lot of debate.

    I wish Judy Garland could be included on there selection list.


  4. MCL – ah, a fan of the late, great Sammy Davis Jr.? Dusted off several of the old LP’s this afternoon, and was amazed at how many of these jewels I’d forgotten, especially “The Shelter Of Your Arms.” Am very much looking forward to what the top 5 will do with this treasure chest of material.


  5. A lot of these songs are also jazz standards–they stand up very well to interpretation! But it is also true that most people know most of these songs very well, so going too far away from the original melodies is tricky.


  6. Oh – the wealth of material to choose from! We all have our favorites – but I’m hoping someone tackles ‘Nature Boy’. Adam could handle it best (especially if he models the Bowie version) – but Allison or Kris could take it out for a helluva run as well. Were the category simply Jazz standards – I’d also plug for ‘Strange Fruit’. Difficult, I know; and the subject matter is perhaps too intense for a ‘feel good’ show – but Lady Day’s masterpiece remains one of the best of its genre ever written. Then there’s Streisand’s ‘My Buddy/How About Me’ compilation. Allison especially would do a great job on that with her deep, smoky voice. I think they should all stay away from the more well-known songs (please let no one attempt ‘My Way’!). Luckily there are scads of fabulous tunes that didn’t make the top ten lists. And I agree with you about Sammy Davis, Jr. He was simply the best. I consider myself lucky to have grown up in the 60’s and 70’s – two of his most fruitful decades.


  7. Remember on Canadian Idol when Kaylan Porter sang Nature Boy? It was one of his best. I would love to see Adam’s take on this, but there are so many other great songs to choose from.


  8. I know you are so busy Masterclass lady…but if you did have the time….do you have in your mind songs that are just perfect for any of the contestants? A song that fits the person just perfect? Like you said to yourself, “oh, if I could hear ?????? sing that song….heaven”


  9. Teresa – there are so many songs that I love, that I can’t make a decision on who should sing what. haha

    However, I would really, really hope that somebody sings a Sammy Davis Jr. number. This is classic: but it only works when the entire song is performed.


  10. And my all time Sammy Davis Jr. favorite:

    I conducted a choral version of this number and the audience and choir loved it to pieces. The Rhythmn Of Life! !


  11. Thank you for responding so quickly, MCL! I appreciate you getting back to me. The instructor I had in mind has a waiting list, so I will contact her today. 🙂

    I’m really looking forward to tomorrow night’s performances. I’ve been listening to snippets here and there on iTunes of the songs that have been mentioned here and imagining them in different tempos, etc. This week sounds fun!

    Kariann1 – Was there a Big Band Week in season 1? Kelly Clarkson did an amazing song (and I can’t remember the title, but I think she was wearing polka dots! lol) I think the title was “Stuff Like That There” or something like that. It seemed like it was a BB number, but I really didn’t start watching Idol full-time until Season 7.


  12. How about this stellar song from “Roar Of the Greasepaint And The Smell Of The Crowd” – “who Can I Turn To?


  13. Imagine singing this song so flawlessly a year before he died of lung cancer? With no rehearsal with the band? Just walked on the set and prodigiously performed this song perfectly on live television. Incredible!


  14. Listening to these Sammy Davis Jr. links reminds me why I don’t enjoy current pop music. Music and movies were better “back in the day”!!! 🙂


  15. Thanks for the links Masterclass Lady. I was reminded of Kris watching Sammy sing (the jaw).

    I see what you mean about needing time. So many of these songs tell a story, build…they need the time…. No so in a lot of music today. The same lines are just sung over and over and over… argh.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow to get here.


  16. I am listening to the video of Sammy Davis Jr.’s last live TV performance. I think many younger people do not know what a truly great singer and performer he was. This reminds me why I miss so many of the old pop standard classics. The music today is just not as good as these oldies but goodies.

    The only thing I hear people on some forums talking about is Sammy Davis Jr.’s Mr. Bojangles for Kris. Unfortunately many are mentioning My Way. I say – no way! This song is Frank Sinatra’s signature song and should not be touched. It’s a way too obvious choice. Adam usually manages to surprise everyone with his song choices, so it should be interesting to see what he does this week. I have heard Feeling Good suggested as done by Muse or the great Nina Simone for Adam. Maybe this time Adam will take a slower song and bring it uptempo. You never know what he’s going to do.

    I think we are in for a real treat this week. Idol has had pop standards week on almost all of the previous seasons. This time they are limiting it to certain artists, but both Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. have a wealth of material. These kind of classic, well written, beautifully melodic songs usually bring out the best in everyone. I am expecting some really great performances.


  17. Rosanne, thank you for all the Sammy Davis, Jr., links! Wonderful. =)

    Sparky – Yes, there was a Big Band week season 1! One of the things I love about that season is that everyone dressed up for the themes. “Stuff Like That There” is arguably one of the best performances on AI ever; I love how Kelly embodied that time period! Michael Slezak of ranked it second after Fantasia’s “Summertime” on his 10 all-time best American Idol performances from the first five seasons


  18. What a great experience that Sammy Davis, Jr. performance … thank you so much.

    I’m looking forward to this week. I just hope they don’t butcher the songs.

    I’ve listened to a lot of Frank Sinatra. Some his studio recordings, some TV recordings, some live in different eras.

    All these artists could change up these songs. Even though the melody and the words remain the same, they change the pauses/rests, extend or clip words or syllables for emphasis, make extemporaneous comments (esp. live – wouldn’t that be fun?), slide notes, etc. I don’t know all the technical terms for the “jazzy things” they can do with their voices, but it leaves much for inspiration and exploration.

    I don’t think they should stray too far. Just make it their own in delivery.

    From an amateur 🙂


  19. I will be such a fan if anyone (… Adam) sings this, one of my absolute favorites of Sammy Davis Jr:


  20. Jessica T

    All these artists could change up these songs. Even though the melody and the words remain the same, they change the pauses/rests, extend or clip words or syllables for emphasis, make extemporaneous comments (esp. live – wouldn’t that be fun?), slide notes, etc. I don’t know all the technical terms for the “jazzy things” they can do with their voices, but it leaves much for inspiration and exploration.

    Definitely. I completely agree. Jazz is all about interpretation and reinvention. These musicians all perform the same classic songs from the Great American Songbook or whatnot, and what differentiates their renditions from previous ones are changes in phrasing, arrangement, improvisation, and so forth. That is one reason why jazz is my favorite genre; it is highly creative and artistic. =)


  21. Thanks J! I’m going to go back and listen to that song. Her voice and performance were so powerful!

    It would be fun if they dressed the part this week. I would like to see Kris and Allison give a little more thought to what they wear. I would like if Allison ditched the leather this week and went for something more feminine. Kris has been basically a t-shirt and jeans type of guy, and don’t get me wrong, it works for him. But, I think he would shock people if he wore a suit. I know he’s a bit shorter, so he may shy away from a suit, but the right cut can make a big difference (no pun intended 🙂 ) Danny’s in the same boat as Kris, but a little on the stockier side. even a button up dress shirt and dressier pants would be a nice change from the graphic Ts.

    Adam knows how to wear a suit. (boy does he EVER!) He always dresses for the occasion, so I’m sure he’ll come out looking dapper and sexy as usual! (Can’t wait!!) Matt could really come out and dazzle us with a more classic look (no jeans, especially the ones with holes in them, please!)

    Classy looks for classy songs!


  22. ^^^ Hi Rereader!

    I am in total agreement on the importance of dress attire for these songs! Allison would look pretty in a beautiful black gown. For he second number she could wear something more modern. I love suits or dress pants and a vest for the guys.

    Wonder if Adam will have two different hairdos? He’s always goof for a surprise.

    Good to see so many appreciate the talents of Sammy Davis Jr. He could go to unbelievable places with that gorgeous voice.

    The music today is just not as good as these oldies but goodies.

    I do try to be openminded about the music; however, I wonder which artists and groups will be doing “Oldies” shows 25 years from now? Maybe Beyounce and…


  23. Oops, I don’t know how that happened with the blockquotes. I asked what music will be appreciated by young people 25 years from now?


  24. Preston –

    Thanks so much for that video clip of the great Sammy Davis Jr. singing What Kind of Fool Am I. Seeing his performances on here reminds me once again just how great a performer he was. I love his phrasing on his interpretation of this song.

    Jessica T –

    I think this is an example of what you were talking about. This is a song that has been sung a lot, yet Sammy manages to place his unique stamp on it and give it new meaning. This would be a wonderful song for Adam to sing, but there are really too many for me to possibly even begin to guess what he might do. I just don’t think you can go wrong with songs like these.


  25. Kariann –

    You ask a great question. I don’t find much today that is truly memorable. That’s why I always find myself listening to the oldies.

    My generation was lucky in that we had Motown, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. There was more, too many bands and artists to list here, but it’s interesting that a lot of that music has stood the test of time.

    Of course, the great pop standards that go way back to the 30’s and 40’s, will never die.


  26. Mindy, I previously mentioned that my parents loved Frankie Laine, and as a very young child, I would sing his songs. Unfortunately, I was blessed with a beautiful voice – actually it’s pretty terrible. LOL.

    My parents’ wedding song was, “At Last.” This is the song my daughter had for her wedding 5 years ago! It is timeless.

    Your generation IS my generation of music.

    I must also say that my all-time favorite female artist is Karen Carpenter. The voice of an angel.


  27. ^ I agree that the true classic oldies will never die. Otherwise, I really don’t have any idea as to what music will be appreciated by young people 25 years from now. I can’t think that far ahead, unfortunately; I haven’t even lived that long yet! (Now, I betray my youth!)

    In my opinion, there are actually a handful of very genuinely talented artists in today’s music who are capable of achieving “legendary” status, but I don’t know how well their music will age. Much of today’s pop music is very prone to the trends and whims of the times, and once these fads die out, only time will tell if these songs remain. There is definitely plenty of disposable, unmemorable music today (as Mindy mentioned).


  28. I was NOT blessed with a beautiful voice like several who post here. I am envious!


  29. J, it is always good to hear opinions of younger folks in regard to their music. My youngest daughter (late 20s) is really into Country Music. She will probably attend a Carrie Underwood concert in 2034. 😉


  30. Preston,

    I came here specifically to write that I thought that Adam could do a FABULOUS rendition of Sammy’s “What Kind of Fool Am I” but you beat me to the punch. I absolutely love Sammmy, and have heard him do many renditions of this song, one in particular that was so beautiful that you can’t really even describe it. While the one you posted was good, it was not the one I was thinking of in my head, but I do think it would be the PERFECT song for Adam, and would be a great continuation of what he did last week. Adam could really take the roof off the place with that number.

    This is going to be a GREAT week! I can’t wait!


  31. But then again, if they let the kids venture off into singing songs by the females who were part of the “rat pack” I’d almost KILL to hear Adam do a Judy Garland number. And I KNOW he would send it into the stratosphere. Oh, to hear someone do Judy who actually appreciated how talented she was……and Adam no doubt knows this. Talk about a moment!


  32. Well, Adam’s choice for tonight has already been spoiled, I believe, by him! (So don’t read on if you don’t want to know it!)

    He called into the Upright Cabaret on Saturday and gave them a little taste of what he’d be singing – “Feeling Good”, sung by Sammy Davis Jr. You can find clips of it on Youtube already, though the sound quality was poor. I think he’ll be doing the Muse version rather than a traditional take. I’m betting it will be incredible.


  33. Thank you K – love the Sammy Davis Jr. and Nina Simone version. Will have to take a listen to Muse.


  34. Could anyone please confirm whether or not they are singing one or two songs this evening? Thanks so much!


  35. MCL:

    Wish I knew if that rumor was true or not. I keep reading and hearing there will be 2 songs by each of the Idols. But then again, I have read that it is now only going to be one song as Jamie Foxx will be on as a “surprise” mentor. Count me in the mix of those who don’t know.

    Two would be nice. Then we could hear Adam do Sammy AND Judy. That would be perfectly fine with me.

    Adam does Judy doing Old Man River. My night’s complete! 🙂


  36. Kariann –

    At Last is probably one of my all time favorites. Actually, I was probably too young to remember Etta James doing it, but I found it when I was older and it is just one of the most extraordinary vocal performances I have ever heard. That is Etta’s song and many have sung it, but no one has ever done it better.

    Also, thank you for mentioning Karen Carpenter! It’s nice to know that she is appreciated and remembered. The Carpenters kind of got lost back in the day, because their music didn’t fit in with a lot of the intense, socially conscious stuff of that era. But I always loved her beautiful, lilting voice. She truly was a brilliantly gifted singer. She could sing anything and do it with ease. Losing her so young was a real tragedy. I love to listen to her even now.

    It’s great to know that some of the younger generation can appreciate the music I grew up with and loved so very much. I actually went back to explore the music of the 50’s and even the 40’s, the big band era of my parents generation. It helps to understand how music has evolved through the years.

    If Adam did indeed let the cat out of the bag by revealing his song choice, I am kind of surprised. I listened to the Muse version of the song, but have not heard Sammy Davis Jr.’s version. I will have to check it out. But I think it’s going to be absolutely genius.

    I am confident that these standards will bring out the best in all of the contestants tonight. I believe it was confirmed by Paula Abdul on radio interview this morning that they will only be doing one song, instead of two. I was so hoping to hear more songs from this era.

    Some have suggested My Funny Valentine for Allison. For some reason, I am hearing that many think this genre will be difficult for her. I don’t agree. Just because they are singing songs by male artists does not mean that Allison can’t pick one of these classics and do a great interpretation of it.

    I can’t wait for tonight!


  37. SPOILER:

    Yes, they are singing only one song tonight with Jaime Foxx as mentor.

    Kris choice, “The Way you Look Tonight” will bring back memories for the older Baby Boomers! I love that most romantic song!


  38. Mindy, I agree these songs will bring out the best in all the contestants! Just wish Anoop was here to do, “That’s Life.”

    The Carpenters did have a Tribure Album done, “If I Were A Carpenter.” At weddings, they often play, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

    Jaime Foxx needs to restore his reputation and he has a new film out. Brillant move by his manager. The show is about to begin…



  1. Vocal Masterclass Discussion Thread For American Idol Season 8 Top 5 Performance Show: Music From The Rat Pack Era « MasterclassLady.Com - April 28, 2009

    […] the listeners. The refined, stylish sound that defines both the music and the performers from the Rat Pack Era has proven to be timeless and […]


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