American Idol Season 8 Top 3 Vocal Masterclass Article: Judges’ Choice And Singers’ Choice

American Idol

By: Rosanne Simunovic

This Top 3 show’s theme should have be named “A-Cappella Madness” , because, in varying degrees, all three singers were determined to strut their acoustic voices this week.

However, overall, it was an uneven showcase of performances, but the technical glitch during one singer’s performance made for some great live television. We can laugh at this now, since that performer has moved on to the Top 2 Finale next week, but it  was quite the disturbing spectacle at the time.

So, let’s have a look at my thoughts on the Top 3 performances this week and please feel free to share your comments after the read.

Also, please keep checking my Twitter updates so we can stay in closer touch!

Update: Special thanks to Minna for her editing advice. Please visit her wonderful David Archuleta site at DaBuzzing.Org

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.

Adam Lambert,   Danny Gokey,   Kris Allen,

ADAM LAMBERT “One” by U2 and “Cryin” by Aerosmith

Strengths: Adam- I was extremely excited to hear that Simon personally cleared U2’s song, “One”  for this week’s Top 3 performance.  And was it worth the effort? It most certainly was! 

You began this song, in front of the microphone stand, exuding a quiet and extremely vulnerable demeanor, your voice sounding absolutely magnificent. The relaxed, yet expressive tone of your pure vocals set against the backdrop of a  sensitively induced acoustic piano accompaniment, was one of the truly special moments from this week’s show.  I could listen to  you sing like this all night, Adam – your voice is truly, truly beautiful!

However, you are a master of nuance and  inflection and I knew there was more to come as the song progressed. And slowly, yet meaningfully, the song unfolded as the gentle introduction of the string orchestra meshed their lovely sound with the piano, thus encouraging you to generate an increased dynamic level in your voice.

At this point in the number, you visually added more dimension  by releasing the mike from the stand,  moving forward to the perimeter of the stage. Perfect!  How I wish more singers would do this in a performance. Not only does it add variety to a performance, but also it releases tension and adds buoyancy to the lower half of a singer’s body. The physical pacing encourages further relaxation in the knees and added energy from the diaphragm.

At this point, the fiery, expressive vocals “kicked in” and there you were – at the front of the stage – to passionately drive your sensitive vocals into the hearts of your audience. Wonderful timing and so well formulated!

And when you moved to that sustained upper register – changing the melodic line with musical professionalism and confidence – I truly marveled at the high level of your technical development. Your stellar vocal technique allowed you to release all the passion of your soul in a  truly remarkable way while your physical movements so perfectly mirrored the emotional core of this song. It was exhilirating to hear and see, Adam!

How you managed to seamlessly segue from controlled “piano” (soft) level of sound to passionately “forte”  (loud)level as you ascended your vocal range  and, then quietly end this number softly, was a  musical testament to your brilliant strength as an artist and your determination to achieve the absolute best in each and everyone of your performances. 

Most people may not realize and/or take for granted the skill and stamina it takes to achieve such a quick turnaround in the dynamic level in a performance, especially when the performance timeline is so condensed. And yet you did so flawlessly  – with composure and self-assurance. Just wonderful!

This was indeed an  exceptional and  memorable performing  experience – unique and extarordinary.

And, I should draw attention to your physical stance. In both numbers,  it was  technically perfect – the elevated upper body, relaxed shoulders and curved knees – and contributed to the confident presentation of both songs.

Moving on to your personal song choice, “Cryin” by Aerosmith, I have to say that, given the audio problems you were experiencing on stage, it was still a very strong performance. It is almost hard to critique this performance because you were having so many issues with the balance betweeen you and the back-up singers, but I will do my best here.

The song started strongly enough and then – well, you know what happened. You had competition for the lead vocal from the back-up singer. However, I applaud you for removing the earphone and carrying on like the true professional that I have come to know and love over the course of this show.

Physically, you moved about the stage with ease and confidence and, given the audio difficulties during this number, the increased visual aspect of this performance was most welcome.

Also, that round mouth and extended tonque was just the ticket for those upper vocals. And when you executed that vocal slide up to “dyin'”  it was, well, “to die for”.  The intensity that you maintained throughout this number was exceptional – you perfectly captured the angst and anger depicted through the lyrics.

Also, I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between your first and second number. It was reminiscent of  two different performers – you have so many artistic sides and I hope this is the road you will travel as your career unfolds and reaches stellar heights.

Congratulations and bravo and a standing “O” for your dual showcase this week, Adam!

Critique: Adam – you looked so bewildered after your second song and I expect that this was not the performance you had rehearsed or had envisioned at this point in the competition.  But, I am so glad that you removed the earphones so that you would no longer be distracted by the dissonance in the background vocals. 

However, that being said, I was jolted from my typing by the primal scream projected by your back-up gal. Wow! What a mess!  

Then, at some point, the band hopped on the atonal bridge to nowhere and sounded poorly tuned.  But, given the edgy nature of this song, maybe this was the intention. Whatever the reason, everthing seemed strangely disconnected during this song – you, the band, the back-up singers. However, I will give you credit for holding this performance together until the end with professionalism and artistry.  Any other singer would have crumbled.

Also, technically, Adam, this song didn’t resonate as perfectly as your first and, yes, I know that you were probably experiencing a great deal of anxiety given the audio difficulties during this number. 

However, over the past few weeks, I have cautioned you about the  momentary spread in your mouth position during some of your performances. This became problematic during “Cryin”  and the prevalent “eye” diphthong added to the source of the problem. You have to remember to grab the first pure vowel in that diphthong -“ah” -and fully sustain your voice in that vowel. 

You had a tendency to move your voice through all the vowels in that diphthong and, as a  result, I found that your upper register voice sounded thin and poorly focused. By sustaining on one pure vowel, with a rounded mouth position, you would have achieved a higher degree of depth and intensity in your vocal production.

Also, that quivering jaw made a repeat appearance in your performance of, “Cryin“.  Perhaps, the vocal vibrations, added to the passionate energy of your performance, could be factored into this. Whatever the reason, you need to pay attention to any source of tension in your jaw as this leads to tension in your throat muscles which, subsequently, leads to faulty and a less liberated vocal focus – something that I felt was problematic for you during this second performance.

But, let’s end on a positive note, shall we? Your first song was brilliantly performed  – an artistic gem of the highest degree. And, given the technical issues that hindered the second song, the bottom line here is that you are an extremely strong, experienced and meticulous singer – all attributes that provide the foundation for your performances each and every week.

Congratulations once again!  Exceptional work!


DANNY GOKEY: “Dance Little Sister” by Terrance Trent D’Arby and “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker

Strengths: Danny – first of all, let’s talk about your Top 3 performance of “Dance Little Sister”, chosen for you by Paula Abdul .  What a wonderful way to “kick off” the Top 3 showcase this week.  I  loved the upbeat brass introduction to this song and loved even more how you grabbed the buoyant essence of this song and immediately “ran with it”.  That’s the way you shake the nerves out of your system – by fully immersing your heart and mind into the rhythmic and melodic pulse of the song. Kudos, Danny!

Also, this week and throughout this show, you have been singing with some naturally established technical components. Your circular mouth and, at times, your relaxed jaw, have enabled you to draw some power – be it conscious or not – from your diaphragmatic support system. Add to this your natural tendency to sustain your voice on the first  pure vowel located in  your diphthongs and one can easily figure out why your voice always has such strong presence when you perform.

Also, the key selection of this song was cleverly devised, relieving some pressure and tension from your already over-extended upper range.  For the majority of time, this song rested comfortably in your middle range, thus allowing you to pump out strong vocals throughout this number.

And the soulfully liberated   “do do do dos ” with the saxophonist positively accented the visual presentation of this song, while at the same time, emphasized your natural penchant for the  jazz idiom.  Loved it!

You also engaged the audience tremendously well in this number through your animated and expressive vocal delivery and strong, rhythmic presence.

However, I fell in love with your personal song choice, “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker. It  was a superlative selection. This song perfectly captured your authentic soulful tone and style so well. The lyrics, combined with the beautiful melody, impeccably highlighted your sensitive, expressive persona and that husky quality in your voice worked emotionally well for this song.

And it was clearly evident that you worked very hard on establishing an innovative arrangement to this song. I adored the  quasi a cappella opening in this song that segued into a lovely acoustic guitar accompaniment. This was just so beautiful and an absolutely exquisite effect, one that firmly established the tender, romantic tone for the whole number.

Your  liberated vocals, the clarity of your diction, the stellar presence of your transluscent head voice was something truly special and my only regret is that you did not have the opportunity to reveal this level of nuance and inflection in some of your previous performances from past weeks.

However, as the saying goes, better late than never  – perhaps you just needed the right song vehicle to drive your voice to stellar heights. If so, you found it in this beautiful song arrangement.  I doesn’t get much better than this. Gorgeous! GORGEOUS!

And the ending, from the liberated soulful singing to the passionately sustained “beau -ti -ful” at a  forte level followed by a tender “to me” resonating with transluscent head voice, was just remarkable and showed tremendous control. It was truly inspired, Danny, and it was blatantly obvious that your poured blood,  sweat, tears, heart and soul into the preparation of this song.

Excellent showcase Danny! Bravo and a standing “O” for your final number – “You Are So Beautiful“.

Critique: Danny – although “Dance Little Sister” , had great entertainment value, I found the lyrical and melodic elements of this song extremely repetitious. As a result,  the full extent of your vocal gift was not realized. The melodic line  of the song was very limited.  I was hoping that you would add some level of variation in the melody line but it never happened.

The cyclic “dance lttle sister” segments were relentless and tedious and this problem would have been alleviated if you had incorporated some soulful riffs into the melodic mix. Creative flexibility in the melodic line would have been a very welcome addition to this song – in fact it cried for it!  

 Additionally, the lacklustre vocal line caused you to abandon your technical skills and your voice sounded much too linear throughout this song. I needed to hear more inflection, more nuance and it just never happened.

Also, you were punching those vocals once again from your throat and your voice sounded noticeably unhealthy and ragged.  I am really concerned for your vocal health, Danny, and hope that  you connect with a solid vocal technician as soon as  possible from your end.

Additionally, you have to be more vigilant in maintaining that all-important circular mouth position, especially on the trickier diphthongs such as the “aye” (pure vowel -=eh) and  vowels such as “ee“. Your failure to do so during this number caused constriction in your throat muscles, thus creating  undue strain and pressure on  your delicate vocal cords.

You must always remember to incorporate the “ah” vowel in all your vowels and then your voice will enjoy consistent clarity and ring throughout every level of your vocal and dynamic range. Certainly the pitch and control will be more even and centered.

Also, you must learn to balance the choreographic and vocal elements so as to create a seamless and fully coordinated visual and aural performing experience. You have a boundless array of energy, Danny, but you must learn to exert stronger control in how this energy is utilized in a performance.

Your buoyant physical movements did not establish proper synchronization with your vocals and, as a result, it diminished the diaphragmatic energy necessary to create an aesthetically correct vocal presence. Toward the end of this song, I saw a great deal of  rhythmic bouncing mixed in with an even greater amount of vocal shouting.  The whole effect looked too forced where it should have appeared fluid and effortless.

However, your performance of “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker was faultless – bar some technical issues that could not be erased in a span of fifteen minutes. However, I felt that you had more respect for and control of your technical resources and, depsite the raspy edge to your voice -which I feel actually contributed to the song -I sensed that you had meticulously paid close attention to every detail in this number.

This was a well-rehearsed and wonderfully adapted arrangement of a classic song. Also, unlike your first number,  I heard nuance and inflection and a multi-tiered approach to the dynamics – all the good things that render a performance so very special.

Congratulations, Danny!

KRIS ALLEN: “Apologize” by OneRepublic and “Heartless” by Kanye West

Strengths: Kris -your first song, “Apologize“, was an absolutely inspired song choice for you.  Because it requires a lighter vocal approach, it complimented your voice so much,  highlighting your naturally applied  head resonance. For this reason,  Kara and Randy are to be applauded for choosing this number for one of your Top 3 performances this week.

 Over the course of this season’s show, you have wonderfully demonstrated the depth of your musical talents -as a vocalist and as an instrumentalist.  And this week, thanks to your dual performances, you were given the opportunity to showcase the full extent of your musical abilities.

While comfortably seated at the piano, you were able to fuse both the piano and vocals with an ease and simplicity which I found very impressive.  Your voice exhibited a high degree of  passion and verve. I loved the random melodic riff midway through this song, as it indicated to me that you were attempting to introduce your personal vocal style during this performance.

 I was also extremely impressed with the clarity of  your diction.  I particularly appreciated your effort to enunciate the “a” in apologize with consistent precision.   In the original cover, it always sounds like “`pologize”, so when I heard the added note for the “a” vowel, it was a welcome treat. 

I am a diction person -really fussy, in fact, as I feel that a singer, in order to better communicate his message to the audience, must make a determined effort to coherently project the lyrics in a song with feeling and inflection.  And, to a certain degree, I felt you were successful in doing so during your first of two performances this week.

However, it was your  personal selection, “Heartless” by Kanye West,  that captured my eyes and ears. I thought this was an exceptional performance  for a variety of reasons.

First of all, how I loved the slow a cappella opening of this song that seamlessly segued into the gentle accelerated strumming of your guitar!  This was the perfect way to add aural dimension to this song. and it also signaled to me what I have suspected all along – that you have a strong sense of  pitch – be it absolute or relative.

I also appreciated your personal interpretation of this Kanye West song.  You “kristened” this song with new life and excitement – the “Kris vibe” – which I have come to love and appreciate so much throughout this season of American Idol.  It demonstrated how fully connected you were to this song and the complete extent of your artistic skills. As a result, your vocals were brimming with expressive nuance and clarity – just outstanding. 

Technically, I thought you utilized your voice in a more consistent manner than was evident when you sang “Apologize“.  Your mouth maintained a circular position and you were attempting to release your jaw when you moved through your upper range. Perhaps the quicker tempo of “Heartless” more successfully minimized your still developing technical skills and/or allowed you to utilize them with increased efficiency.

And, after patiently waiting for my “Kris Allen Masterclass moment”, you finally treated me to the gorgeous timbre of your lower range for an extended period of time during this performance.  Thank you so much, Kris!  However, you also did yourself a favor, for, by fully navigating and releasing the depth of your vocal range, you increased the aural dimension of this number.

Also, by vocalizing through your baritone range, you relieved some pressure off the upper. You created some space for your upper voice in your vocal line and, as a result, your voice sounded more transparent and relaxed when you did indeed sing through your upper range at different points in the song.

I always talk about “pacing” – whether it involves choreographic or vocal elements – and this is how you vocally pace a performance. Even classical singers sing through the bottom of their range when performing their repertoire, as it allows the upper to sound even more beautiful and certainly more relaxed when it does appear at different points in a song. Plus it adds dimension to the melodic line! 

I like to hear a song that challenges every aspect of a singer’s voice. Generally speaking, when  a melody is too repetitious, centering around 4 notes in a singer’s range, it becomes tedious and uninspiring to listen to!  And this song was anything but, Kris, so kudos to you for personally selecting and then conceiving your personal rendition of this well- known cover.

This was an outstanding dual showcase, Kris!  Congratulations!

 Critique: Kris – during “Apologize” and, to a lesser extent, “Heartless,  you still encountered the usual technical problems. Your tense jaw, horizontal mouth and hunched shoulders were so detrimental in revealing the  full power of your natural vocal ability.

By not releasing the tension in your upper body and face, you were inhibiting the constant and powerful support from your diaphragmatic breathing muscles. Also, that horizontal – and almost closed – mouth formation at the beginning of  “Apologize” minimized the full potential of the lower end of your voice. I wanted to invisibly reach through the television screen and re-arrange your mouth and jaw position.

Your breath support was not engaged from the outset of this song and, as a result, you ran into further problems  in your upper range as the song continued.  You have gorgeous head voice, but without the strength and support from the diaphragm, the full potential of your head resonance remained unfocused and vague throughout this number.

And, all that tension in your face and mouth did indeed cause you to crack at one distinct point in the song.

Also, be very careful that you don’t sustain your voice through every vowel of the diphthong. This was most obvious during – yet again – “Apologize “.  For example, when you sang the word “ground “, you should have sustained this word on the “ah” vowel of that diphthong, rather than grabbing both vowels – the “ah-oo” – of the diphthong. 

This occurred many, many times throughout this song – on the words “ground” and “around” and then when you sang the word “apologize“.   For the latter word, a plain “ah” vowel would have sufficed, adding the “eye” and “ee” vowels toward the end of the sustaining process.  By sustaining on one pure vowel for the majority of the time value of the note, your vocal sound would have sounded less cluttered and certainly more pure, centered and focused.

Also, I think  you would have increased the visual dimension of this number had you moved away from the piano and walked toward the front of the stage, ending the song totally a cappella, perhaps incorporating some freestyle vocal riffs.  As it was,  the ending felt a little flat to me – it didn’t leave me with something substantial to take away from this performance.

During, “Heartless” – you ran into the same technical problems, however to a lesser extent. However, I would caution you  to refrain from raising your head and constricting your facial features and neck muscles. All of these negative habits are robbing you of the full potential of your natural vocal ability and negating the efficient process of your diaphragmatic breathing muscles. 

And we need to see the expression mirrored in your eyes. If you are constantly craning your neck in an effort to create vocal sound, not only are you putting undue pressure on your vocal cords, but also you are interrupting  the communicative connection you should be establishing  with your eyes.

So, there you have it, Kris!  You have enormous untapped potential that could be fully realized through proper vocal training. I hope this is on your “to do” list once the show is over.

Congratulations, once again, on your growth as an artist during American Idol Season 8.

For all the latest American Idol News, visit SirLinksalot: American Idol or the American Idol Official Site

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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

41 Responses to “American Idol Season 8 Top 3 Vocal Masterclass Article: Judges’ Choice And Singers’ Choice”

  1. Hey MCL! Another nice one. Adam is AMAZING. I am impressed that he was able to hold it together during the second song, given the obvious technical problems which were no fault of his. One was absolutely brilliant and so is the Studio recording of this song. Such a pretty voice.

    You might find this cute….the Glamberts love you MCL…


  2. ILoveIdol – okay, now I am truly blushing. Thanks for the link. It put a smile on my face. See? 🙂


  3. Hi! Loved reading your review of the Top 3, especially your glowing comments of Adam. 🙂 I really hope he wins Idol, cause he’s just so talented and such a wonderful person too.

    His studio version of One is simply beautiful to listen to. Have you heard it yet? 🙂 How I wish he could have had more time to sing and let the song develop on Tuesday night.


  4. Seriously Surely May 14, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    ROSANNE SAID: And, I should draw attention to your physical stance. In both numbers, it was technically perfect – the elevated upper body, relaxed shoulders and curved knees – and contributed to the confident presentation of both songs.

    I SAY: I always wondered why singers bent their knees, however!!! it does not look good on the female contestants and I don’t see this in the singers like Mariah and such like them. Can you pls explain this ? thank you, I learned so much from your critiques..You are such a lovely woman. I hope to learn from you.


  5. Seriously Surely May 14, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Rosanne said on her twitter: Is she paying them or are they paying her? Who likes her? Why is she a star? (15 hours ago)

    I am asking: Who?

    Thank u. 🙂


  6. Seriously Surely May 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    You don’t have to answer me. That is the purpose of a twitter. I will have to get twitter on my phone.


  7. A while ago I read the following on the American Idol Forums.

    Thread Topic:



    ” Your vacuum cleaner knows how to talk !!?? ”

    I laughed out loud. Recently it gave me the idea to ask my vacuum cleaners for their thoughts.

    PANASONIC, FIRE ENGINE RED, 12AMPS, vacuums the bedrooms and hall.

    ” I just love Kris, too bad he’s married, what I wouldn’t do for a chance to clean his carpets. He’s just so laid back and cool. I loved his ” Falling Slowly ” not just because in the movie the main character’s father owned a vacuum cleaner repair shop, but because it was so beautiful. I think all of the Idols have been great, but you know we all have our favorites. Remember when you entered the photo of our kitties in the photo contest and they lost? I didn’t feel like running for days but then I figured out that just because not everyone thought they were the best we still did and that’s what really counts. Did I mention his EYES? Will you promise to be first in line to buy his CD for me? Let me know what the other two have to say, knowing their tastes I can only imagine. ”

    ROYAL COMMERCIAL WITH ADVANCED EDGE CLEANING, ORANGE AND GREY, 4AMPS, vacuums the living room, dining room, kitchen and front foyer.

    ” I thought you’d never ask. I’m a Gokey man, GO, GO, GO, GOKEY. Oh my, that growl, the rasp, the conviction in his voice, really pumps me up. Yeah, I know, the SCREAM last week, so what, he tried, just wasn’t his thing, no one’s perfect. Doesn’t change my mind one bit. And what’s all this nasty stuff about his late wife, makes me sick. Those AI people, very crafty, they’re the ones who brought it up in the first place. Seems to me that I read that he and his wife planned on his auditioning prior to her passing and did anyone ever think that he proceeded with their plans…..TO HONOR HER? I think he’s one serious guy and a heck of a singer, and he’s my guy.
    He buys glasses like you buy vacuums, I wonder if he has a favorite pair. Would you please go play one of his songs for me, I gotta calm down, I don’t think I can take it much longer. ”

    RICCAR 8955 BY ROLLS ROYCE, BLACK, 12AMPS, vacuums the rear foyer, family room and enclosed porch.

    ” Before I get started could you please change my bag, there’s been so much dirt and garbage around here lately it’s totally full and it’s hurting me. Forgot your question, nevermind, I remember now. Need you even ask?, I’m a Rolls Royce, who else would I like, I’m a Glambert right down to my plug, right from the getgo, I’ll never look back, ever. That guy’s got bigger diphthongs than all of them put together, just ask Masterclasslady. He makes my brushes stand up. And he wears black nailpolish, black like me, and cool clothes and he just takes every song he sings, flips it around and sings them outta the park. How could anyone not like him?! He’s the best, like me. LONG LIVE ROCK, LONG LIVE ADAM! Would you ever consider taking me to the concert with you? Everyone will just be looking at their favorites, they’ll never notice us, please, please, please. And just to let you know ahead of time, if he doesn’t win I’m going on strike.”

    I love all of my vacuums, they’re so different, in their own ways each gets the job done. And I’ve thought it over……Riccar will not be going to the concert with me.

    I wrote this earlier this week and posted it on the AI GD. One of the comments was ” THIS SUCKS..LOL!! ”
    I meant to post it here before last night but never had the time. Galen and all you other Danny supporters, I am so sorry. He sang his farewell song unbelievably well, I had tears, but I feel that he will be fine and has a bright future ahead. Can’t wait till next week.


  8. What happened to the technical committee during Adam’s Cryin’? I didn’t even notice. That’s how good he is.

    Is there a you tube that shows it? If someone can cite a time stamp, that would be great.

    Also, did anyone think that Adam looked like he had Spock ears with the outline of his earphone line? I mean that with all affection.

    Kris was awesome too. I didn’t know the first song well, so it wasn’t copycat to me, plus I think Kris has a distinct voice and interesting phrasing. The second song was untouchable. I don’t like R&B or Kanye West so much. And I loved it. He made it a whole new song. If you have have heard John Wesley Harding’s acoustic version of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” that’s the kind of difference we’re talking about. I can’t think of a remake where a great original changes genres and becomes equally great, if not better.

    There’s You’ve Got a Friend, but Carol King and James Taylor are far off from each other.


  9. Jessica T said, “Also, did anyone think that Adam looked like he had Spock ears with the outline of his earphone line? I mean that with all affection.”

    Well, I haven’t seen the new Trek movie, so I wasn’t in that frame of mind … I saw elf ears from Middle Earth myself! My honey and I howled and giggled at how good-looking of an elf Adam makes!



  10. Auntiaudie… I thoroughly enjoyed your vaccuum cleaner post! How clever, and so was that comment you received! LOL!


  11. To Jessica T: I absolutely thought they were Spock ears! I’d just seen the commercial for the new Star Trek movie for the first time, so I guess that’s why I made the connection. Glad it wasn’t just me!

    MCL — I’m glad you pointed out that Kris’s diction on Apologize was good, because that is one thing that I have faulted him for this season — muddied diction. In fact, Adam has impressed me with his attention to diction (although he fell a little bit this past week, especially with One.) I guess the musical theater aspect impresses on one the need to communicate the words correctly. But I remember during Apologize that Kris’ diction was much better than the original artist’s diction.

    I admit to being obsessed by Adam, although I am not at all certain, at this point, that he will win. The apparent young average age of Kris’ fans during the hometown visit got to me. I think he has a stronger fanbase than anyone suspected, and I do think more of Danny’s fans will vote for Kris than Adam.

    Having said that, I think that Kris needs the win more than Adam does, and so I won’t be really disappointed if that happens. I just hope that they both perform exceptionally well next week, so that neither of them can kick themselves if they don’t win.

    What is wonderful (for them) is that they seem to be such good friends and will support each other no matter what happens.

    Lastly, a question for either MCL or J:

    I am curious about falsettos. Being a woman, I am clueless about them. Is there something physiological that goes on in a man that permits them? What is the technical distinction between head voice and falsetto? Can a falsetto be improved/strengthened by training? Obviously, some men are blessed with a strong falsetto (think Barry Gibb), while others’ sound thin. If you have a superbly trained voice, such as Adam, do you expand your range sufficiently to render a falsetto unnecessary, or does Adam have a falsetto (whether strong or weak) that we haven’t been treated to, since he is (as MCL says) a counter tenor, and can hit those high notes in his head voice, rendering the falsetto pointless?

    You got this week’s post up amazingly quickly, MCL, thanks so much! I learn a lot from reading your assessments.


  12. I love your post, auntieaudie!!!


  13. The term “falsetto” is very contentious because it means different things to different people. Let me start with MCL’s distinction (from here).

    She wrote:

    In essence, head voice and falsetto are one and the same, but some people – namely counter-tenors – have a more developed falsetto and so it sounds fuller. Adam is a great example of this fact. He is are able to add depth to his head voice and create a fuller sound in his falsetto range.

    I have a friend who’s a speech-language pathologist who uses the term “non-breathy falsetto” to describe head voice,”which leads me to my following point. In common literature, the main distinction between “head voice” and “falsetto” is that the former is not airy/breathy and the latter is. See: 1 2

    The second link will probably make little sense to someone who has not studied the physiology of singing, but let me try to break it down. Several points are that falsetto is weaker and disconnected. The part about not engaging the actual musculature of the cord basically means that it is very light; it doesn’t engage any of the muscles associated with “chest voice.” (Chest voice is associated with being a fuller, more “muscular” coordination.) The stuff about “no medial compression” and the cords being “unapproximated” all mean that the sound is breathy. On the other hand, the sentences about head voice pretty much say that it is non-breathy (approximated), and in a convoluted way, they say that although head voice is also a light coordination (not using “the full depth of the vocal cord”), it has the potential to be fuller than falsetto because it involves some musculature (while falsetto doesn’t).

    In common usage, people throw around the term “falsetto” in a very confusing manner, probably because they don’t really understand what it is on a physiological level. The reason why “falsetto” is considered disconnected is because falsetto is very light, as I previously mentioned, while chest voice is very “full,” so they’re essentially polar opposites. One can’t really “connect” these two extremes. The whole idea of having a “connected” voice is that all the shifts in the voice are hardly audible. Falsetto tends to very light and bright, so if one were to flip from chest voice to falsetto while doing a scale, for example, the color change would very drastic. The chest voice part would be louder and darker, and the falsetto would likely be brighter, weaker, and breathy. Head voice, on the other hand, can be connected because a singer can learn how to build more power into it (by engaging musculature), so it is more robust and less lightweight than falsetto, making it easier to “connect” to chest voice.

    That said, not all head voices are the same (and this is especially true for women). There is a wide range of sounds that are called “head voice.” When choosing between the terms “falsetto” and “head voice,” as long as the sound isn’t breathy, I use the term “head voice.” That’s how I see it. However, some people have very weak head voices that might be considered falsetto if they were breathy. Again, in common usage, this end of the head voice (the very light end) might be called falsetto. Also, people sometimes mistake head voice with a bright color as falsetto. Actually, I think that’s how people usually think of it; people associate head voice with sounding more “natural” in color than falsetto. And this really is because in classical singing, there is a big emphasis on maintaining a consistent color throughout the range (i.e. the color of your “chest voice” and “head voice” are not so drastically different) by lifting the soft palate, singing with a circular mouth formation, and so forth. In pop music, people can choose to disregard some of those rules and choose to sing in head voice with a brighter color (e.g. a low soft palate, horizontal mouth position, and less support would make one’s head voice brighter and lighter).

    Okay, I hope that wasn’t totally long-winded, lol. To answer your questions, it is true that some people would argue that women do not have falsettos, but speech pathologists would disagree. Read the section in the Wikipedia article about it: . The second paragraph is a good discussion on why the term falsetto isn’t really used with women. Maybe the color change (i.e. “difference in timbre” just isn’t as drastic, so women singing in very breathy “head voices” don’t sound as connected and so forth. Also, maybe part of the reason has to do with cultural aesthetics. A woman could imitate the sound that Barry Gibbs makes, for example, by singing in head voice with a lot of twang, but that aesthetic isn’t exactly considered beautiful coming from a woman. Especially in opera, women’s head voice are expected to be full and relatively dark. What Barry Gibb is doing can arguably be called head voice because the sound is fuller and non-breathy; it’s not completely disconnected. However, he chooses to sing with this bright color (aided by “twang,” which in vocal technique is a specific way to manipulate the vocal tract), which is why people call it falsetto and not head voice (even though I feel that the latter term is more accurate). So, to answer your very last question, Adam has a connected range, so he can build power into his light sounds and keep the color of his voice relatively consistent, which is why the term “head voice” is used to describe those sounds. He probably doesn’t see a need to use a disconnected, super light sound (“falsetto”) or to alter his sound color so drastically that his head voice might be mistaken as falsetto. So, there’s a technical and aesthetic component to it too. Does that make sense? I hope it does, lol.


  14. The previous post was addressed to Jeanne. Also, I forgot to say that once breathiness is removed from the equation, sounds people call “falsetto” are very similar to sounds called “head voice.” The difference is that the head voice tend to be fuller. This was the point MCL was making, and I agree with her. =)


  15. Oy, I meant to say that women singing in very breathy “head voices” don’t sound as disconnected. Also, to be more careful with words, I did mention the points in my last post in the longer voice preceding it, but I might not have stated them as clearly. Maybe the following equation will help, lol.

    Falsetto minus breathiness plus fullness plus darker/more natural tone color = head voice


  16. *longer post.

    Oy, sorry for “spamming” with back-to-back posts. Typos are so pesky!


  17. I am a bit perplexed as to why Adam is categorised as a countertenor…to me he is a lyric tenor with a range covering baritone to countertenor…
    I never heard a countertenor sing as low as Adam sometimes does…
    Also, you’ve probably seen an article where the SD opera director calls him a baritone! WOW!
    So now I am waiting for Adam to come out and sing something really low – so we can call him bass and that will complete the wonder that is Adam!


  18. nica – I read this interesting article about counter tenors here:

    Here is a quote:

    Deciding to become a counter tenor is usually a conscious decision. The singer has the choice of singing his full voiced traditional male sound such as tenor, baritone, or bass, or the choice of singing with a reinforced or strengthened falsetto mechanism.


  19. Also, here’s another comment that might explain why that one SD opera director thought that Adam might be a baritone:

    In my experience, the counter tenor is basically a singer who has developed the falsetto with such strength that it has similar power and resonance of a full-voiced sound. Often these singers possess a lower male voice; baritone or bass in the changed voice function. I have found that the lower male voices usually (not always) have stronger and more beautiful falsettos.


  20. Thanks, J, that’s very helpful. And I had missed the Results Show posts where MCL addressed the point.


  21. What a lot of interesting contributions here about the technical aspects of Adam’s voice! I’d love to see Adam give MCL an interview on this kind of technical stuff when the competition is over.


  22. J – Thank you very much for you post! I think you explained the headvoice/falsetto distinction in a very relatable way. You have a gift for teaching!

    Can you explain what you mean by “twang?” The first thing I think of is country music, but I suspect that’s not what you mean. 🙂


  23. I saw elf ears from Middle Earth myself! My honey and I howled and giggled at how good-looking of an elf Adam makes!

    Adam certainly makes a lovely elf. There is one picture, I think from when he was a bit younger, where his profile and his hair come together in such a way that he looks incredibly elf-like. It’s gorgeous. Elves are supposed to be just a bit TOO beautiful, and that, to me, is Adam.


    Great article, MCL. I hope Kris gets some training, because I love him, but gosh…..his face must HURT after he’s done singing a whole set. He just looks so tense. Poor guy.


  24. Jeanne – Yay! I’m glad I could help. And no worries, the post was from the top 10 results show, which was a while ago, so it is very understandable to have missed it.

    mariah – Awww, thank you so much! You are very kind. By the time I finally got to the “equation,” I thought, “Why I didn’t I just say this from the beginning?” I’m always on a quest to find the simplest ways to say things, and sometimes it takes me a while to get there. 😉 It is a good challenge, though.

    Yes, a different twang is associated with country music (the country “accent” or whatnot). See if this video on twang helps:

    “Twang” is associated with “cut” and “ring.” The degree of twang in a sound can be adjusted by a singer; it’s essentially a gradient, I feel. On one end, there is the absolute minimum amount of twang necessary for vocal production, and that doesn’t sound “twangy” at all. On the other end, there’s a lot of twang, which does have this sharp, bright character (which is often mistaken as nasality but is not).

    A good example from this season, actually, is Megan Joy. She sings with a lot of twang in her normal range (similar to Anastacia’s sound as cited in the video), which is partly why I think her voice (particularly her tone) is so polarizing. People don’t usually twang that much in the “normal” part of their range. This is what twang tends to sound like with some chest voice. Twang with head voice sounds like Barry Gibb. 😉


  25. J —

    When I first came across MCL’s website in season 3 or 4, I was so delighted to be able to hear someone who knows about singing explain some things about it. I have a decent voice, but absolutely no training, and so it was very interesting to me to get a sort of “masterclass” on how things work vocally. What you have added to her site is wonderful; obviously, MCL is incredibly busy with all of her various activities, and while her insights on the performances are still the primary thing that draws me here, it is nice to be able to ask technical questions and know that if she doesn’t have the time, you’ll be able to answer it. There is so much more to the training of the voice than I — I’m not sure if it’s naively or arrogantly — had any idea of, and I feel a little bit like a sponge. The whole idea of things like bent knees and rounded mouth and relaxed jaw and tongue laying flat and how they contribute to the sound is fascinating to me, and I am grateful for your ability to add to the wonderful detail MCL provides. As Mariah says, you explain things in a very understandable way.


  26. Thanks so much for all the great information. I agree with other posters that the STUDIO version of “One” is so much better than the show version. Adam is an absolutely amazing talent. I’m excited for the finale next week.
    I noticed that the background singer’s disruptions were more noticeable on my “nice” HD TV versus my “other” TV when I replayed it. I was so impressed that he handled this problem with such professionalism. I wonder if that is why Simon was so overt in his endorsement of Adam, maybe an attempt to combat the negative impact from this issue.
    Anyway…should be a great show next week!!


  27. J – You’re very welcome! And thank you so much for taking the time to explain twang!! I had wondered how to describe Megan Joy’s voice. I actually found her tone appealling, though she seemed to have limited (or maybe just undeveloped) vocal and showmanship abilities. I understand what you mean by “ring,” but I don’t know what “cut” means in terms of your description. I think I have a good grasp on what “twang” sounds like, thanks to your description and the video you linked, so I’m sure I’m hearing the “cut” you refer to, but I can’t identify what exactly it is. Anyways, thanks again. You’ve been so generous and helpful!


  28. I thought Adam performed Cryin very well, despite all the distractions with the background singer, but I thought it’d be worth mentioning that Adam had actually wanted to perform “Come Home” by OneRepublic, as stated on OneRepublic’s Twitter, but Kris had already chosen Apologize. That’s too bad, because he would have done an amazing job with “Come Home” on Idol.


  29. Really, Beth? I was almost going to include a comment in my Top 3 Vocal Masterclass article about the possibility of”Cryin'” not being his first choice, as I thought the selection to not be “in synch” with how Adam had been choosing his songs from week to week. The strategy seemed “off” and the selection just didn’t “sit well” with me, but I decided to leave it out of the article.

    At the time, I did feel that he was already upset enough by the technical fiasco that occurred during “Cryin” , so I decided to leave out my personal impression.

    “Come Home” , now, makes perfect sense.


  30. Thank you Beth for that information about Adam’s first song choice! I have been wondering quite a bit about why Adam would have done another rock song after doing such a brilliant job with one of the greatest rock songs just the week before. In face, I think I even brought it up in one of my posts on the other discussion thread. It was very out of character for Adam.

    Now you have cleared up the mystery. However, one slight note – Apologize was chosen for Kris by Randy and Kara as his judges’ choice song. But that must have made it necessary for Adam to choose another song. Too bad. I think he would have done an incredible job with “Come Home”.

    I think this has happened to Adam before in the competition. I seem to remember hearing that Play that Funky Music was not his first choice, but he couldn’t get clearance for the song he wanted. I also remember that he had to get the arrangement together in 24 hours. That was the week when he made a point to single out Ricky Minor and the band for their help. It sounds like it was kind of last minute.

    I see that MCL also had the same question. I guess we know our Adam.


  31. Beth,

    Do you think there may be a possiblitlity Adam will do “Come Home” this week? That would be Awesome!


  32. It would be great if he did, but the chances are pretty slim. Ryan Seacrest said on Larry King Live that the contestants will be singing their favorite song from the season, Simon Fuller’s pick, and the coronation song. So it’s really up to Simon Fuller and whether or not he chooses “Come Home” for Adam.


  33. I wish that the contestants could choose a new song, rather than reprise one of their songs already performed. I so wish Adam could have done “Come Home”. After listening to it again on youtube, I realized what a terrific song that would be for him. It has more range than “Apologize” and there are some high notes that Adam could just take and soar to the heavens. What a song!

    I hope that Simon Fuller doesn’t choose a hard rock song for Adam. Since Adam had to do “Cryin” a week after doing “Whole Lotta Love”, I am hoping that we are allowed to see his softer side. Randy Jackson described the finale as “My Chemical Romance” meets “Jason Mraz”. I don’t see Adam as that at all. He is so much more than that. I don’t want him to get a hard rock song that puts him way out there.

    If Adam can’t do a new song, then he should sing “Mad World” again.


  34. Mindy,

    I agree with you; Adam should do “Mad World” especially since the show ran over late and because local stations either cut them off or in my case my DVR didn’t record it, alot of people did not get to see it, only got to here the itunes version.

    Maybe Simon Fuller will pick “Come Home” for Adam. Then I would love for him to glam up the coronation song, there always such sappy songs.


  35. Why in the world do they have the ‘kids’ pick a song that they have already done during the season? It makes NO sense to me, and I truly can’t fathom the purpose! Anyone?


  36. Anita –

    I will attempt to answer your question. One thing that came to me is that many viewers tune in late to this competition. Not everyone follows even the top 13 from the beginning. Interest seems to heighten as we get closer to the end. People get attentive and get more invested. I am thinking that the rationale is that many haven’t seen great performances that happened earlier in the competition. Yes, they can download it on itunes, but if there is something powerful and immediate when you hear it for the first time live.

    I know that last season David Cook picked a new song to perform, rather than reprise a song already performed. But my understanding is that it’s not an option this time around. I happen to agree with you. It makes absolutely no sense, especially to all of us who have been watching every week.

    There is one good aspect to it. It is possible to infuse a prior performance with new meaning and interpretation. Instead of just singing it the exact same way, original nuance can be incorporated into the finale performance. Although I do have to say that I can’t quite envision Adam improving on his performance of “Mad World”. But you know, I shouldn’t ever doubt his ability to make a prior performance sound fresh and new. If anyone can do it, Adam sure can.

    I don’t know that I really answered your question, but I tried. Basically I am with you in just not getting it.


  37. Adam’s performance of “Come Home” at Upright Cabaret is wonderful and very heartfelt! It’s a shame he wasn’t able to perform it last week (if that had been his original intention).

    This morning I watched another version of Adam performing “Crazy” @ Upright on NYE (the 4th version I’ve seen/heard him do!). It’s different again than the previous versions, and includes some sing-a-long (including a warning from Adam that if people don’t sing, he’s going to conk them on the head with his microphone, LOL!). *Love it*.



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