American Idol Season 9 Vocal Masterclass Discussion Thread: Top 10 Female Semi-Finalists


American Idol Season 9 Top 10 Females

Picture Courtesy Of AmericanIdol.Com

Well, the Olympics are over and now I can focus my full attention on American Idol. Will the stellar discipline and talent displayed by our Olympic athletes resurface through the combined musical talent of American Idol Season 9? We shall see, we certainly shall see!

I was a huge fan of Season 7 – this is the season that, for me, defined combined artistry, work ethic and diverse musical talent and, as a result, packed the arenas during their Idol summer tour. The battle of the extremely talented Davids, the laidback, yet genuine style of Jason Castro, the mature vocal stylings of Michael Johns and Carly Smithson, the folksy, relaxed style of Brooke White – all of this made for an exceptional and exciting Season of Song.

And, looking back even further, I have to say that Season 5 was a very close second – this is the season that produced, Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Daughtry, Kellie Pickler and Elliott Yamin.

So here’s hoping that some of these Season 9 singers can capture the essence of excellence and put this show back on the right track before it is railroaded off the viewers’ radar.

The names of the remaining female singers are: Crystal Bowersox, Didi Benami, Haeley Vaughn, Katelyn Epperly, Katie Stevens, Lacey Brown, Lilly Scott, Michelle Delamor, Paige Miles and Siobhan Magnus.

Good luck ladies! And to all the Idol fans, please come back and express your feelings before, during and after the 2-hour-show and voting period has ended and remember: be respectful and fair. This is not a dissing contest here at MasterclassLady.Com.

MCL UPDATE #1:  Okay, I must comment here and disagree with the judges’ comments about Katie Stevens. She is absolutely outstanding and the judges are truly confusing her.  Her voice is stellar – STELLAR!   Okay, I had my rant!  We can now return to this bizarro show of Top 10 Female Performances.

MCL UPDATE #2 : And so the madness continues – Didi Benami is majorly dissed by the judges for her excellent performance of “Lean On Me”. Something stinks about this show. The “agenda” has reared its ugly head.

MCL UPDATE #3: I don’t get this show tonight. Just not on the judges’ wavelength whatsoever!

MCL UPDATE #4: Finally, Lilly Scott brings MCL and the AI Judges together and we are on the same page.Lilly was outstanding – an artistic genius and she shares the same name as my recently deceased Mom!  Great Karma, here!

MCL UPDATE #5: Sorry, Simon, this is my blog and Lilly was better than Crystal. You are welcome to come on board here and comment away. Ha!

The show has finished airing on the East Coast and my Top 6 tonight were:

 Didi BenamiKatelyn Epperly, Katie Stevens Lilly ScottPaige Miles and Siobhan Magnus.

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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

46 Responses to “American Idol Season 9 Vocal Masterclass Discussion Thread: Top 10 Female Semi-Finalists”

  1. MCL,
    I just read on line that the men are going to be on tonight and the women on Wednesday night. They said they’re making this switch because of “medical issues” that would prevent Crystal Bowersox from performing tonight.

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  2. Really Louise? Will have to check this out over at AmericanIdol.Com and add another blog topic for the men. THanks so much for letting me know.

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  3. Don’t know why you didn’t like Crystal!! I thought she was miles better than Paige!! And Katie really needs to stop sounding older than she really is!

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  4. This week’s performances were much more entertaining than the first week. I agree with most of your picks for the top 6, but I really liked Crystal Bowersox too. Lilly was terrific tonight and I was really impressed with Katelyn. But my favorite continues to be Siobhan! I really love that girl.

    I also think both Didi and Katie are very talented and seem like really sweet people, but their performances just haven’t moved me at this point.

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  5. Also, the high note Siobhan hit was a high B-flat!! I’m almost positive!

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  6. I had to pick my Top 6 from tonight’s performances. I do like Crystal but just wasn’t a fan of her song choice tonight. Paige was extremely good – some problems here and there, but she sang with complete confidence. Don’t know why everyone is down on Katie – she has an exceptionally good voice and is the complete package.

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  7. cookie monster March 4, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Want to comment but haven’t seen the show yet! Was at a VERY IMPORTANT basketball game so I had to PVR the show. Can’t wait to see it. Wonder if these comments will bias my viewing. Talk to you soon!

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  8. Yes, Katie has a very good voice but she’s extremely generic and boring. But I guess thats just my opinion.

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  9. cookie monster March 4, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Ok – Just watched it. Wow! For the second week in a row I am way more pumped after the girls’ show! Girl power! Way to go! It’s late so I’ll just give you my top 6: Siobhan (I’ll never get that spelling right) Wow! Love her! And I love how Simon said she was strange! I think so too and I love that about her. And that note!!! I love her!! Crystal! Yes. Love her. Love Lilly. The remaining three I’m luke warm about, but hope they stay – Paige, Katie S. and Didi – I really like Didi, despite what the judges say. There is something about her. I figured that I only could pick 6 but I have to say that I also like Katelyn as well. The others… not so much. I’m sorry but I really do not like Haley! I’m trying to…
    And last night I mentioned that I couldn’t relate or connect to the guys’ song choices but that’s not the case with the girls. I don’t know what it is but I’ll just continue to enjoy the girls. I agree with you MCL that thejudges were a bit off with some of the girls – just an opinion though. Time for bed. Good night!

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  10. Here I am after watching the girls tonight. I made my notes, but I guess that it should be about the top six. Otherwise, this post will run way too long. With the guys, I posted my thoughts about each of thenm, but I think it’s best to pick my top six and give my reasons.

    Crystal – this girl has a truly great voice and this song let her show it off. She has a presence and a quiet inner confidence and composure that I love. She was able to interpret the song and convey the feeling and emotion to the audience.

    Siobhan – I love this girl! When I heard that she was going to take on the great Aretha Franklin with “Think”, I said oh no! But the girl pulled it off. How, I just don’t know. That note, oh my goodness that note! The girl has power, range and a voice that will not quit. She and Crystal really blew me away tonight. For the first time, I feel excited and sense great talent and true star power. Yes, this girl is strange, but in a good way.

    Lily = She took an enormous risk. No one can touch Sam Cooke. To me he is a God, the singer who invented r&b. Untouchable. This song is always hard for me to listen to, because it was his last and showed what might have been had he lived. But I have to give Lily credit for somehow doing the song justice. She will never come close to Sam Cooke, no one can. But she has a very good, distinctive voice. She seemed to have a sense of the meaning of the song. Normally, I would write her off just for choosing this song, but I have to give her credit. The girl has talent.

    Katelyn – I really like her voice. Natasha Bedingfield is a tough act to follow, but I think this girl did a wonderful interpretation of the song. I am not sure what Ellen meant by falling asleep to the song. Slow is not necessarily bad. She has an interesting sound. I like her.

    Katie – this last one was a struggle. I battled between Katie and Didi. But Didi just did not pull off Bill Withers’ great song, “Lean On Me”. It was the wrong song for her and didn’t really showcase her voice. She was either off pitch or singing in the wrong key. Something about that bothered me all throughout the performance. I know she has fans here and I have only seen her sing two times, but I have to go with what I hear.

    I struggled with Katie because she has a great voice. But she is so young at 17 and really doesn’t know what kind of song works with her voice. It’s to be expected at such a young age. But that is a requirement for success in this competition. This was better than last week’s “Feelin Good”. But she still hasn’t gotten it totally right. I thought she had some trouble with the key changes and transitions and went off pitch in places, but there is no denying the raw talent.

    My picks could well change next week. There is a great deal of talent here and it’s going to be tough. The others didn’t show me enough to be the top six.

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  11. Oh goodness! I really don’t know how to count! I only picked five. Well, so much for the battle. I will include Didi in the top six. I am doing so only because I do hear a voice, but this girl has got to get serious about song choice. That’s her problem as far as I am concerned.

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  12. MCL said, “Don’t know why everyone is down on Katie – she has an exceptionally good voice and is the complete package.”

    Since I read this comment, I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m not enamored with Katie, because I agree that she has a very good voice. And speaking as an “oldie” here, I’ve actually liked both of the songs she has picked the past two weeks, so I understand what people mean when they say she’s not being young enough. I just think her voice isn’t nearly as interesting as some of her competitors, and she seems to be lacking a unique style. I think I read somewhere that someone referred to her as Disney-like. But you never know what may happen–I was never a fan of Jordin Sparks either. She has a good voice too and seems like a sweet young woman, but nothing else about her singing or personality makes me want to listen to her.

    Mindy,
    I will always remember Taylor Hicks singing “Change is Gonna Come” when he tried out for Idol and I was hooked from that point on. I did like Lilly’s version last night because, as you mentioned, she has such a distinctive sound.

    I’d like to predict that Haeley and Lacey will be voted off tonight, but knowing the way people vote, I know that won’t necessarily happen.

    And Galen, if you’re reading this, you must be looking forward to tonight to see Danny Gokey!

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  13. My Pick for top six:

    Katelyn – I was very impressed with her last night…possibly my new favorite.

    Didi – Song choice??? She has something that just keeps drawing me in, her voice sounds so pure to me. I hope she sticks around~I really, really like her! I liked her version of Lean on Me!

    Crystal – She is worthy of top 3 in my opinion!

    Lilly – She is so quirky and I really like her!

    Sibhon – I liked her alot better last night, she is okay.

    Lacey Brown – I for whatever reason like her too. She is so cute and I liked her singing that type of music last night.

    That’s my top six…!

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  14. I should have added the guys to my top six too!

    Alex – I really like his voice, I can hear him on the radio now!

    Lee – Love his voice…so much potential! I don’t get the comparisons to David Cook! I don’t get that rocker vibe from him, I get it from the judges putting him in that box! I see him more like Kings of Leon, signing very top 40!

    Andrew – He has alot of potential, Song Choice!

    Michael – I like his personality and he has a nice voice too, However, he doesn’t sound top 40 to me!

    The next two spots are up in the air for me!

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  15. I just watched/listened to last night’s performances again and have decided that my favorite performance begins with #1:

    1. Crystal Bowersox
    2. Siobhan Magnus
    3. Lilly Scott
    4. Katelyn Epperly
    5. Katie Stevens
    6. Paige Miles
    7. Didi Benami
    8. Michelle Delamor
    9. Lacey Brown
    10. Haeley Vaughn

    I also noted that while I loved Siobhan’s high note, I hope she doesn’t add that to every song as Adam Lambert did last season. It was great once in a while, but I really disliked that he added that to almost every song he did.

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  16. MCL . . . here is a link to a high school performance by Siobhan and her voice is amazing. What do you think?

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  17. Louise – thanks for sending this video of Siobhan. She certainly has some excellent vocal training in her background. She does tend to spread her mouth instead of maintaining the very important circular formation. But, she has a beautiful timbre to her voice – it just needs a bit more depth and less constriction from the throat.

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  18. Hey Cookie Monster, Mindy, Vonnie et al – thanks for your comments. The ladies are very strong – even the least proficient singers are very good. What will tonight bring? Heartbreak, probably.

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  19. I enjoyed Crystal, Lilly, Katelyn, Siobhan, and Didi last night. I thought overall, most of the women performed well, though there were some highs and lows. I think Katie has a good voice, but I feel she’s too young and doesn’t have the maturity to give performances nuance and subtlety.

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  20. I’ve been trying to figure out with Katie Stevens, what is about her that doesn’t work for me…I just saw a commercial for “Glee”~~~That’s ist!!! She looks like she should be on that show!

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  21. Mindy – Did you see Didi Benami’s Hollywood performance of “Terrified”? For me, that’s still the best singing I’ve heard from her to date, and it’s excellent!

    I can understand your hesitation, though, if the only performances you saw from her were the top 24 ones. She hasn’t shone as brightly the last two weeks as she did in Hollywood.

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  22. Poor Katie. I think she’s a lovely, sweet, exuberant teenager with so much going for her. She could be my little sister (quite literally, actually, based on age difference). Her dilemma is that she lacks a clear artistic identity, and in a season where so many contestants are firmly rooted in their quirky, unique artistic selves, Katie’s undeveloped artistry really pales in (the slightly unfair) comparison.

    Artistry really is the “it” factor that separates good singers from great singers. And it’s one of the challenges of youth to really develop an artistic identity, and unfortunately, technical singers seem to bear this burden more greatly at times.

    I think it goes to show how difficult it is to find the complete artist that combines technique with emotion and artistry. That artistry is really the “it” factor that separates good singers from great singers. In a competition like this (and/or the real world), compelling artistry can sometimes compensate for technical deficiencies. The flip side is having a voice so extraordinarily technically good that people just have to stand up and notice. Being somewhere in the middle of these can be unfortunate.

    Katie lacks the maturity at present to really make her performances interesting, nuanced, and compelling. She’s indistinguishable from many girls with her type of voice. She’s not quirky; she doesn’t rearrange her songs. (Not that those qualities are necessary, but her competitors have them, which leads to the unfair comparison.) Her strength is her technique and her musicality. Katie’s very musical in the way she sings, which is why I understand MCL’s fondness of her. Yet, her phrasing isn’t particularly innovative, stylistic, or artistically striking, and her voice—although strong—is not uncannily strong. She hasn’t shown the lung power of, say, Mariah Carey. (I know, that’s a tough comparison!) So, she’s in this unfortunate place, where objectively, her voice is good, but her lack of artistry sets her further back in the pack than she really should be, based on her technical ability.

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  23. Dearest J,

    Thanks so much for that link of Didi’s earlier performance. Wow! What a difference! I think that her song choices are just killing her. Bill Withers is not who she is as a singer. She is not R&B soul at all. She really does have an unusual, quirky, unique voice that requires the absolute right song to show it off. So far in the semi-finals she hasn’t managed to do it. But if you noticed, I did put her in my top six.

    I loved reading your thoughts on Katie Stevens. I also differ with MCL about this girl. Of course, I can see why she likes her. She does have a certain musicality and great sound to her voice. My objection is that she is just too young. She needs another year to mature and develop. I have addressed this issue before, but I think it’s worth revisiting. I truly believe that it is a disservice to put these young kids on this show when they clearly haven’t developed enough to know who they are, much less what they should sing. Katie truly has no idea who she is as an artist and that’s the real problem. It’s too soon for her.

    I also agree that it’s not just about the voice, it’s also about artistry. A singer has to communicate the words, emotions and feelings of a song. It was said about Frank Sinatra that he was the best story teller ever. He didn’t just sing the song, he told a story with his voice. That’s what makes a singer truly great. Just look at Haeley and see how much she is struggling. She looked like a wind-up doll. She has no sense of what she is singing and why. This girl needs a year or two to grow up a little.

    Louise,

    I paid Lily the highest compliment by including her in my top six. She took a huge risk by taking on the great Sam Cooke’s last song, his anthem if you will. But I am happy to say that she did the song justice. I still remember Syesha doing this song in the final three during season 7, I think. The one with the two Davids. She brought me to tears as she pretty much butchered the song. I remember how she broke down under the weight of the judges’ criticism. She said how much that song meant to her as an African American woman. I believe that, but unfortunately it didn’t come across in her singing. She was always off pitch and that also made me cringe listening to it. After that I decided that no one should even tough that song, or any Sam Cooke song for that matter. But Lily brought something fresh and unique to her interpretation of this song. She made a fan out of me. That’s saying a lot. I won’t say that she was better, because no one can ever do it better than Sam Cooke. But she did the song proud and good for her!

    MCL,

    Thanks for your shout out to some of us. I did notice Siobhan’s mouth spreading her mouth instead of making that circular motion. I wrote it in my notes, but didn’t include it in my initial comments. I have learned so much from you. You also made me appreciate my high school music teacher. I now realize that this woman taught me so much about singing. She very tough and quite the taskmaster, but I understand now that it came out of her love of voice and her desire to help us become the best we could be. Thank you for that.

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  24. Oh goodness, some unfortunate typos in my last post. Let me try to correct them. I meant to say that no one should TOUCH, not tough, a Sam Cooke song.

    In my comments to MCL I meant to say that I noticed Siobhan spreading her mouth, not Siobhan’s MOUTH spreading her mouth.

    About my music teacher, she WAS very tough!

    I really must remember to proofread my comments before I post!

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  25. I just wanted to add who I think SHOULD go home tonight. I am pretty much in agreement with Louise that it should be Haeley and Lacey, but Paige could also be at risk.

    However, I also know full well that it’s not necessarily about who deserves to go based on the actual singing. There are other factors here and we are all aware of them.

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  26. Mindy…does this mean you are on board with Didi? I love her voice…is it just me or does her notes seem so clear? I am not a singer (I play piano), so I am not very technical when it comes to singing the notes! But OMGosh, her voice to me is pure!

    I wish I could give her the right songs to sing…she could do Skeeter Davis’ End of the world! I also would love to hear her do a Sarah Mclaughlin song “In the arms of an angel”

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  27. vonnie,

    Well, let’s say that I now have a much different perspective on Didi. As far as I am concerned, right now the top four are easy for me – Crystal, Siobhan, Lily and Katelyn.

    Now it’s a battle for the last two spots. I definitely believe that Didi belongs in the top six. She does have a very unique quality to her voice. But song choice is critical for her. I do agree that she could do Skeeter Davis’s “End of the World”, but it’s not contemporary enough. I agree about Sara McLaughlin, too. If she makes it through, then she really needs to think about what she has done in the past that’s worked for her. Because her voice is kind of quirky and unusual, she has to get it right. There is just no room for error, especially in a group of such talented female singers.

    I happened to read Slezak’s review of the girls and found myself pretty much in agreement. He made one interesting point about this show’s determination to have gender equality in numbers. His suggestion was that there should be more than six women in the final twelve. The guys are so much weaker and one would have to struggle to find six that deserve to be there. I really agree with him on this point. He is afraid that a really good female singer may not make it because the cutoff being six.

    I haven’t been too impressed with Michelle. Slezak seems to feel that she should be in the top six. He is not a fan of Katie Stevens. My feeling is that Michelle is too generic. You can hear that kind of voice all over the place. I don’t think she really stands out as unique and different.

    Didi looked like she was ready to break down right on stage after the judges’ comments. She has to hold it together in these early rounds, because it will get a lot tougher. It’s not easy to hear the harsh criticism, but the thing she needs to take away from it is that she has the voice, but needs to pick the song that will show it off.

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  28. Mindy…I hear what you are sayin’ I’m worried for a couple of the girls tonight! Mainly because of the voting flaws. I have a feeling Haeley will stay and someone who deserves to be there will go home!

    Also agree about the guys, I could only come up with 4 that I would like to see advance.

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  29. I am writing this midway through the results show, having finally gotten to watch the women (taped both episodes but was busy both nights.) I agree with MCL’s choices, but feel very out of step with all the Lilly lovers. She’s all right, but I wasn’t wild about Change is Gonna Come, and while I think she is unique and has considerable singing talent, I just don’t think she is someone I’m going to want to hear much. She may well have a career as a singer, and I hope she does, but I just don’t think she’s an American Idol.

    I still think Katie has potential as a performer and want to see more of her, but yes, Mindy, you may be right and she may have come out too soon. Love her upper range, and it was nice to hear, since she has such a deep voice. And her eyes are beautiful.

    Not as wild about Siobhan this week as some other people were. Seems to me Katharine McPhee did this in the weeks prior to the top 10, too, and I think did a much better job. I do think Siobhan’s age works against her with this song, and I also don’t think her voice is — I’m not up on the vocabulary — big enough? Wide enough? It’s a tone thing. She’s got a great voice and I am very intrigued by her, but her voice seems a little thin for this particular song. However, she still did a much better job than most of the other singers, and I am eager to see how she develops.

    I really liked Crystal — beautiful clear tone to her voice, and as much as Lilly may know who she is, Crystal is twice as clear who she is. Don’t expect her to win, but she is my favorite this season; so much head and shoulders above most everyone else as far as I’m concerned.

    It’s interesting to watch!

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  30. Jeanne,

    I loved your comments. Very interesting reading! I have been thinking this over and want to clarify my feelings about Lily’s version of that great Sam Cooke song. First of all, no one is ever going to sing it better than him, not even Adam Lambert. I actually believe that Adam oversang it somewhat. He has the voice to sing it, but he went a little over the top. Sam Cooke’s version is quite different. Lily didn’t do an unqualified amazing job with this song, but I felt that she truly understood the lyrics, what the song was about and managed to convey that emotion and feeling to the audience. She has the kind of voice that sounds full of emotion. I think that is what I responded to most of all. It wasn’t without its shortcomings, but considering she took the mother of all risks, I think it was a creditable performance. She got my attention, that’s for sure!

    What I really appreciated was your thoughts on Siobhan. I actually agree with you that she doesn’t have the power of an Aretha Franklin, but then who does? I almost cringed when I heard that she was going to attempt an Aretha song, because it could have been a disaster. Gutsy move on her part. She didn’t try to rearrange the song, pretty much sang it straight but in her voice it sounded like a different song. She has range and power, but not quite enough for a song like this. That was a risk she was willing to take. I agree that her voice wasn’t quite big enough for the song, but she has an attitude and a way of just bulldozing her way through a performance that grabs your attention. I think that’s why she made it work. I also like her taking some chances, but she has to be careful about going after icons. She doesn’t have Aretha’s rich beautiful tone and that was part of what might have made it not a fully realized performance.

    I honestly think that Siobhan doesn’t yet know how to fully use her instrument. She has one heck of a voice there. I sense her range and power and her lower range is great and she can transition to those head notes beautifully. She will have to get to know her voice. That’s the journey I hope to see. But the raw, pure talent is certainly there.

    Again I am in agreement with you about Crystal. She does have a pure, glorious tone that worked quite well with that Creedence Clearwater song. I have to say that this girl knows exactly who she is as an artist, and that’s a big part of the battle. When I first saw her last week, I commented on this quiet confidence in her. I am even more impressed with that quality this week. She is comfortable in her own skin. This is immensely important in this type of competition. It’s always hard when you are dubbed the early favorite, and it can be the kiss of death, but she is definitely in this for the long haul.

    I can see a battle between Crystal and Lilly. Next to Crystal, Lilly seems to have the most quiet composure and confidence. She had to have it in order to even attempt Sam Cooke. It may come down to the two of them, but I just cannot rule out Siobhan. If she can get herself wrapped around that incredible voice and figure out who she is artistically and what works for her, well, all I can say is watch out!

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  31. Just finished reading Mindy’s comments about Crystal, Lilly, and Siobhan. And I also just read a comment that someone made about Katelyn possibly winning the entire competition. Because they’re all so talented, a big part of winning Idol will depend on their personalities and how much they’re able to get the voters on their side, as well as not having any off nights or making any comments that will turn people off to them. I’m remembering the year that Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha were standouts from the beginning, but in the end Jordan Sparks won. I would never have predicted that from the beginning of the season. And then there was Season 5 when Katherine McPhee should have won on voice alone but unfortunately turned off a lot of people with her personality. No matter how good the contestant is, it’s almost impossible to predict who will win this early in the season.

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  32. Louise…that would be me who made that comment about Katelyn…it’s only a comment, not a prediction! She is by far not the favorite at this point. Alot of eyes are on Crystal and Lilly…Katelyn could be a dark horse! Who would have thought that Kris would have come up from no where last year and beat Adam?

    It’s fun to try an guess early on who could win the whole thing! I will not be disapointed this year with whoever wins, as I also said earlier, I like so many of the field right now! There’s a couple who would disappoint me if they won or if they even made top 3! But that said I think it is going to be a fun year to watch.

    I just think Katelyn has not yet shown us all that she is capable of!

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  33. louise…I hope my post didn’t sound snippy, I apologize if it did!

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  34. Vonnie,
    I agree with you that Katelyn hasn’t shown us all that she’s capable of. She really surprised me this past week. And she could very well be the dark horse.

    It is fun to try to guess who might win the whole thing, but if I were a betting person, I’d never take a chance at this point in the season.

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  35. Vonnie . . . no need to apologize!!!

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  36. I accidentally posted this comment in the wrong thread. I’ll post it here (again), just in case no one comments on it in the other thread. 😉

    *

    Jeanne and Mindy — I wanted to point out MCL’s post above, where she said that Siobhan “has a beautiful timbre to her voice – it just needs a bit more depth and less constriction from the throat.

    That lack of depth is what both of you are noticing. She has a great timbre, but she doesn’t yet know how to tap into the full power of her instrument. (Unfortunately, I can say that about SO many singers.) For me, the “size” of a singer’s voice is determined, objectively, by a his/her genetics (the length/thickness of his/her vocal cords, the size of his/her vocal tract, etc.). I think, naturally, Siobhan has a big enough voice, but she (as Mindy noted) hasn’t learned to really mine all the depth she can from it. She really does have raw, natural talent, though. Her official contestant page says that she hasn’t had any formal vocal training!

    I definitely agree with Mindy that Siobhan’s fearlessness is really what sold this performance. There were some patches in the performance that lacked power, but the big note was crazy! And as mentioned before, she has a really great timbre (tone color) that helps make her voice sound fuller, even though her tone doesn’t quite have as much “meat” and depth as it could.

    And Jeanne, since you mentioned Katharine McPhee’s version, I’d like to point out that “Think” was probably one of Katharine’s best vocal performances in my opinion. She was able to tap into the depth and fullness of her voice to a greater degree than Siobhan did.

    This is where I make the related detour than even small voices can have a lot of power. Operatic soubrettes still sing over orchestras (and so do leggerio tenors). It’s all a matter of technique. Singers who really sing into their voices and discover the maximum fullness and depth of their voices are going to sound powerful, no matter how objectively “big” or “small” their voices are.

    And in fact, big-voiced singers often have a harder time really tapping into the full power of their voices because without training, their voices can feel very unwieldy and cumbersome. (There’s a whole host of reasons I can list about why people never discover their full potential. It’s really sad, actually.) I’ll say that the ones who do tend to grow up in nurturing environments that allowed them to be as loud as possible, have a natural skill for imitating some legendary powerhouse singers, and/or had excellent vocal training! 🙂

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  37. Thank you louise!

    I really like to try and guess, but in reality, I’ve only picked one winner out of all of the season’s and that was Taylor Hicks~~~so as you can tell I’m not very good at it, LOL!!!

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  38. Vonnie,
    Looks like we have something in common–Taylor was the only winner who I picked as well!

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  39. louise…That’s Awesome!!!

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  40. J —

    I love, love, love reading your posts, because I learn so much from them. yes, I think you and MCL have accurately identified what I was trying in my very amateurish way to describe. And I am glad that you were as impressed with Katharine McPhee’s version as well. I remember being very surprised at how the judges rode her for singing songs like “Think” when they had praised her so highly for that performance.

    Mindy —

    I am embarrassed to admit that I appear to be just young enough (at 50) or something to have never heard Sam Cooke’s version, and in fact have heard very little of his music, although I have known for years that his name was THE name. And it’s not that I hated Lilly’s performance — I didn’t — and obviously I am unable to compare hers to the original. I just am not as yet wowed by her as a performer as so many other people seem to be. I am open to that happening, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    As for Siobhan, I liked her performance as well, but the lack of depth makes the performance fall just short for me. I agree, J, that at 18, she is probably too young to know all that she can about her voice. She made a comment in the first week in response to someone’s — Simon’s, perhaps? — comment that she doesn’t stick to just one style of music, and she agreed that she likes to do all sorts of things. Sort of like Adam Lambert, I guess. But I suspect that the age thing may be part of it as well. Most people do, I think, find that there is music that suits both their instrument and soul best, and they end up gravitating towards it. But her affection for all kinds of songs may stand her in good stead in a competition like this where so many genres show up from week to week. I do think she is perhaps the singer with the greatest potential to grow over the course of the season, although I haven’t finished listening to the men yet.

    I like Katelyn, Vonnie, and I think she, too, as great growth potential — as does Katie. Paige, maybe a little less so, and Crystal and Lilly may risk being done in by the fact that they DO know who they are — Idol voters love the singers who grow over time (I think this was part of Katharine McPhee’s problem, too.) I mean, who didn’t love watching Clay Aiken and Elliot Yamin and David Archuleta (and I could go on) develop as performers?

    Any of them could potentially be left at the top at the end of the season — the fewest missteps and an occasional blow-out performance will make all the difference for one of these lucky ladies, in all likelihood (as I say, I haven’t finished watching the men, but . . .)

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  41. Jeanne…I like Crystal and Lilly alot, and would not mind to see either of them in the top 3 or even as the winner…that said, I worry about them being one trick ponies…and I can’t really see them doing much with the different themes…Whereas Katelyn could go into the themes and tackle each of them without any problem! She has shown a couple of different sides already! Does that make sense?????? I’m not as blown away with Sibhan and Katie yet, but that may come as the competition goes on! Katie still looks like to me that she would be so cute doing a show like Glee!

    This is the first year that I can say I am rooting for a number of these guys!

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  42. J,

    I also am one who loves reading your posts and learns more every time. Thank you for clarify what Jeanne and I were hearing with Siobhan. Before I forget, I wanted to get your thoughts on the great Aretha Franklin. You were talking about big voices sometimes being cumbersome. I would really like to get your analysis of her voice. She had power and also an incredible distinctive tone and timbre to her voice.

    I was wondering if Siobhan was singing too much in her throat when I first heard her, because the power is definitely there. I am not surprised to learn that she hasn’t had any vocal training. She is performing on instinct. I truly hope that Siobhan discovers just what her voice can do along this journey on Idol.

    Jeanne,

    You do not need to be embarrassed about not having heard Sam Cooke. I am a bit older than you, but I started listening to music when I was very young. That’s the only reason I was able to hear him. I have never been able to fully recover from his premature and tragic death. No one has ever come along who will even come close to his greatness. You might do well to download some of his music on itunes. It’s worth getting acquainted with one of the greatest pure singers who ever lived.

    I completely understand where you are coming from with Lilly. She didn’t impress me at all last week. I don’t believe that her version of Sam Cooke’s great anthem was perfect by any means. But I do applaud her effort and think she understood the song and gave it the respect it deserves. I like the fact that she did it her way. We will have to see if she lives up to the early enthusiasm. Sometimes it can be a burden to be dubbed an early favorite. I think it could also cause some problems for Crystal. It’s not easy to bear the weight of high expectations.

    I love your thoughts on Katelyn. She was another who did not impress me last week. But she showed considerable vocal depth and skill in this week’s performance. I think there is a lot more to discover about her. She could definitely be a real contender. I liked her understanding of the lyrics and meaning of the song and how she managed to communicate the emotion to the audience. I did not agree with Ellen’s comment about it being so slow that it would make her fall asleep. Using that criteria, then any ballad could make one fall asleep. Slow does not necessarily equal bad, in my opinion. The lyrics of the song dictated the slow pace.

    I think that Ellen has basically done well for herself so far. While I don’t always agree with her, she seems to be sincere and honest and tries to find something constructive and positive to say in her critiques. She doesn’t venture too much into the technical aspects of the singing, understanding her limits in that area. I am feeling a better vibe among the judges now.

    I think the competition among the girls is going to be intense, fascinating and enjoyable. This could well turn into a memorable season.

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  43. Mindy,

    I’m sort of on the fence about Ellen. Love her in general, but she does sometimes seem out of her depth here. But she’s got to formulate opinions and put words to them in a matter of seconds, and that’s got to be hard for anyone to do without practice.

    I love how intense her eyes are when she feels positive about a contestant. She clearly wants to do a great job. And you know what? I’m not sure that an Everyman opinion, unschooled though it may be, is such a bad thing.

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  44. Jeanne,

    I happen to agree with your thoughts on Ellen. Obviously, she doesn’t have the industry experience of the other judges. But that could well work to her advantage. She really is an Everyman and the audience may well relate to what she says. I have noticed the intensity of her eyes when she likes someone. It shows that she cares and is taking her job seriously.

    I am not upset about her comment regarding Katelyn’s performance. In that particular instance, I just think that she didn’t fully understand what Katelyn was trying to accomplish. But that’s not a knock on her. I don’t expect to agree with the judges on many occasions. I couldn’t for the life of me, figure out what they were thinking or hearing when they praised Michelle’s performance. I thought it was pretty bad. Simon was referring to Michelle when he said that watching the performances again made him realize that some weren’t as good as he thought.

    I like the fact that Ellen doesn’t try to overreach with her comments. She seems to stay away from the technical criticism and concentrate on why she either liked or disliked the performance. She seems invested in this process and that’s a good thing.

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  45. Jeanne and Mindy — Thanks so much for your encouraging words! I love talking about singing and vocal technique, and I’m glad my words can be informative to at least a few people out there. =)

    Mindy — I’m sorry for the slight delay in responding! To answer your question, early Aretha Franklin (during the ’60s and ’70s) was excellent! How can I say otherwise? Aretha was a huge influence on Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, who have in turn inspired a whole generation of powerhouse singers (including my personal favorite, Kelly Clarkson), so her early vocal technique has influenced so many singers. The power in her voice really came from the lovely ringing clarity and freedom she had during those days; she had a very balanced mix in her upper register and a solid grasp on proper diaphragmatic support, which gave her voice volume and depth. Her distinctive timbre came from the amount of twang in her voice (do you remember when I talked about twang in reference to Megan Joy?). From what I hear, Aretha tended to have an ever slightly more heady balance in the mix of her voice, but she also twanged ever so slightly more, relatively speaking. (Proportionally speaking, she’s probably not twanging quite as much as someone like Megan Joy, though.) So, the sound color that results from the more heady quality of her mix and the more twangy quality combine to create her distinctive sound.

    Unfortunately, Aretha’s technique has declined significantly throughout the years (I haven’t watched enough videos to tell exactly when the decline started), but the videos I watched from 1968-70 were all superb!

    In terms of whether a singer sounds powerful, I think it has a lot to do with relative volume and the particular coordinations a singer uses. On the first account, listeners expect a certain volume spike when singers transition from the low part of their voices to the high part. If the volume hardly changes, then the audience will perceive the singer as having “less power.” Yet, volume guarantees nothing. The depth of a singer’s tonal quality goes a long way in the rest of the distance to being a powerful singer. A singer who decides to sing the chorus of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” in loud head voice still won’t sound powerful!

    The balance of a singer’s mix is really crucial here, then. Singers who sing in heavier mixes (that is, ones that sound more like chest voice) will have a greater depth to their sound (as long as they do so correctly). There are certain expectations and thresholds in popular conception, and they differ for different voices. Bigger voices will still sound powerful in slightly lighter-than-average mixes, but I think there IS an “average” threshold expected for mixes. And that average threshold has gotten higher over time, as the American public has really become enamored with the very heavy mixes that are still free. Often times, a singer that doesn’t sound powerful enough has a mix that’s a tad lighter than what’s expected for his/her voice, the song, and so forth. And that’s what I mean when I say that a singer is lacking in power as well. I want to be make the clear distinction that although there are aspects of power that are innate in a singer’s genetic potential, even the smallest voices can be powerful. So, the term “lacking in power,” the way I use it, refers mainly to technique. Those singers haven’t mastered the technique to sing in heavy mixes that would allow them to sound sufficiently powerful.

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  46. J, you may talk all day about singing as far as I’m concerned. I love what I learn from you. It makes me a better listener, I think!

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