American Idol Season 9 Top 12 Vocal Masterclass Article: The Music Of The Rolling Stones

American Idol
By: Rosanne Simunovic

Before we begin, I would like to say that the Top 12 Vocal Masterclass evaluations will be shorter than those you will read as the season progresses.

As I begin more familiar with the singers and, hopefully, notice changes in their vocal and performance technique, then the critiques will become more detailed and comprehensive

Now, let us move forward to my Vocal Masterclass evaluations and I welcome your commentary and suggestions after the read!

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.


Aaron Kelly, Andrew Garcia,

Casey James, Crystal Bowersox, Didi Benami,

Katie Stevens, Lacey Brown, Lee Dewyze,

Michael Lynche, Paige Miles

Siobhan Magnus, Tim Urban

 AARON KELLY 16-years-old: “Angie”

Strengths: Aaron- seated on the steps at the beginning of this song, you established the perfect ambience for this song. It also gave you an opportunity to collect and pace yourself accordingly as the song progressed.

And then, as you moved forward toward your audience, you continued to create and communicate this song with genuine emotion and passion.

Technically, you still have some work to do with your voice;  however, as a performer, I see you are not afraid to take risks, given the fact that you not only challenge yourself with your song selections, but also are a very approachable performer.

I did notice that you had a relaxed bend in your knees and this is an important aspect for solidifying the diaphragmatic breathing process.  The bend also accelerates a sense of ease and comfort throughout your body.

Also, the forward alignment of your body is a visual bonus – you always want to signify that you are reaching toward your audience.  It establishes a confident and approachable demeanor.

This was a tender performance and the song selection was just perfect for your light, lyrical voice.  Excellent work Aaron and I have no doubt we shall see you next week!

 Critique: Aaron- make sure that you refrain from  spreading your mouth on the “eye” diphthong. Round out your mouth and grab the pure “ah” vowel and you will be amazed at the ease you will feel when you sing through this – or any – diphthong.

Furthermore, you need to maintain this circular mouth position on all your vowels and, by doing so, we will hear more depth and clarity in your vocals.

Try to breathe more deeply and from the diaphragm. Inhale the air through your nose and you should notice that  the diaphragmatic rib cage muscles expanding with ease and effortlessness. Then, when you start to vocalize, contract those stomach, abdominal and back muscles to release the correct amount of air for your vocal sound.

As the season progresses, I will explore these technical issues with more depth. However, overall, this was a wonderful Top 12 performance and I congratulate you! Bravo!

ANDREW GARCIA 24-years-old: “Gimme Shelter”

Strengths: Andrew- you  have a very husky quality in your vocal timbre, especially in your lower range. It provides wonderful contrast to your power vocals, which generally sound purer and cleaner.  I also appreciated the passion and intensity you brought to this performance,  as  it was sincere and heartfelt.

However, that being said, I was pleasantly surprised  to see you use that all important circular mouth position on the word “way” – this element is what you must implement into your singing on a consistent basis.   The round mouth adds depth, focus and alignment to your vocal quality.

 Critique: Andrew- you encountered so many pitch problems and this is definitely the result of your very green diaphragmatic skills.  You basically have a  solid voice, but without the power and confidence that comes from strong diaphragmatic breathing skills, you will continue to have problems with the focus of your voice.

And always remember that softer dynamics and/or the lower range of your voice need this support as well.  It’s aways easier to power through one’s voice when singing with louder dynamics and/or one’s upper range.  The intensity naturally increases throughout your body.  However, this intensity must remain a constant through every part of your dynamic and vocal range.

As I said in the “Strengths” portion of your Vocal Masterclass evaluation, you must focus your voice on the pure vowels throughout your song. You have the capability, as evidenced when you sustained the word “way” on the “eh” vowel.  Now you need to apply this technique on a more consistent basis.

To make things a little easier, try to think “British” when pronouncing your words – the refined British, that is! (Simon Cowell). These folks speak with pure vowels and crisp consonants, while maintaining a vertical mouth position and relaxed jaw.

Great work nonetheless, Andrew! Kudos!

CASEY JAMES 27 -years old: “All Over Now”

Strengths: Casey- you took out the ‘ole electric guitar and just decided to rock out tonight! Good! For! You!.  What was great about this song choice is that it highlighted your enormous strength as a performing artist.  You need to work on some vocal issues, but you wisely selected a song that highlighted the bluesy, gritty qualities in your voice. And it worked!

I absolutely loved the head voice at the end of the song – nice to hear the ease in which you accessed this area of your vocal range.

You also demonstrated superb guitar skills and this added further dimension and excitement to your Top 12 performance.  Also, you were the only person who managed to reach their audience with a guitar in hand during this week’s performance.

Excellent and surprising work this week. Casey! It bodes well for your future showcases. Bravo!

Critique: Casey- you have a great smile, but make certain that you do not allow the “smile” effect to hinder the correct mouth position when  you sustain your vowels.  You need to maintain a circular mouth position when you sustain those vowels.  Also, your jaw must be relaxed and ready to drop as you move toward your upper register.

Although this song was not a challenging number – it was more entertaining than vocally challenging – somewhere down the road you will encounter  a song that will require stellar technical skills.  It’s only a matter of time.

So you must make certain to adopt  the “bel canto” singing technique, as it will add further dimension and focus to your wonderful voice.  And, of course, further refinement of your diaphragmatic breathing skills is a necessity that cannot be underestimated.

However, your performance made a strong impact this week. You looked and sounded confident and, as a result, created a most memorable Top 12 showcase.  Bravo Casey!

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX 24-years-old: “You Don’t Always Get What You Want”

Strengths: Crystal- this was a wonderful performance. I am finally “getting” who you are as an artist.  You sang this song  with power and passion and added some melodic dimension to this song. Good job!

You have been blessed with a naturally beautiful voice and a stellar gift for interpreting your songs with your distinct performing style.   Your bluesy, passionate voice wrapped generously around the melodic line of this song and further showcased your innate musicality.

Great work, Crystal!

Critique: Crystal- unfortunately, you are currently experiencing technical problems with your voice. That push from your throat and that horizontal mouth position will continue to be problematic in your performances if you don’t adopt some changes in your technical regimen.

You need to maintain a circular mouth position when you sing, fully sustaining your voice on the pure vowel in every syllable of every word. This is called the bel canto technique.  By doing so, you will feel the very important need to access the powerful and confident support that comes from the diaphragmatic breathing muscles.

Once you grasp these important elements, you wll notice a marked improvement in the dynamic and expressive range of your voice. You will be able to sing with further ease and your voice will sound even and smooth from top to bottom.

That being said, you do seem like the sweetest thing – like you have the world on your shoulders and want to solve everyone’s problems.

However,  you have to move past all of this and start to solidify and center yourself so you can  give meaningful, powerful performances each and every week.  I know, it’s not easy, but the life of a performer is difficult and you have been given an opportunity of a lifetime.  I sincerely hope that you can move beyond your personal difficulties and embrace the wonderful experience that American Idol is offering you.

I have no doubt that I will be seeing you next week!  Keep up the good work Crystal and remember – courage!  Brava!

DIDI BENAMI 23-years old : “Play With Fire “

Strengths: Didi – you selected a ballad and, yet, one with dimension and passion.  I loved the dramatic element you added to this performance. Your voice sounded very good, indeed, and you  demonstrated  a reasonable amount of technical skill. Also, you  exhibited a beautiful charisma on stage and this alone counts for so much in this competition.

I was happy to see that you abandoned your guitar and just decided to work the stage and embrace your audience.  As a result,  this heightened the visual and aural dimension of your performance and, as a result, I was drawn to the exceptional tone of your vocals.  You have a naturally resonant voice that is capable of many wonderful things, especially when you are given the opportunity to showcase it as brilliantly as you did this week.

Of all the performances you have given thus far, this is my favorite! It gave me a glimpse into the exciting possibilities that will surround your future performances.

Congratualtions, Didi! This was an excellent showcase!

Critique: Didi –  be careful that you do not push your vocal sound when moving through your upper range, although I suspect that your nerves played into this factor.  To your credit your managed  your nervous energy very well, staying totally in the moment and in complete control.

Also, be very careful that you don’t raise your head when trying to access your upper range. We lose valuable facial communication with your audience.  Additionally, it encourages that push from the throat rather than from the diaphragm, thus diminishing  the perfect focus and core of your voice.

Finally, watch your over-usage of  all those vowels in your diphthongs – I would have preferred that you sustain the word  “fire” on the “ah” vowel, rather than add two and sometimes three syllables to the word.  It became increasingly noticeable because you had to repeat the word many times, so be careful that you adopt a cleaner “bel canto” approach to your singing style.

Congratulations Didi! Brava!

KATIE STEVENS 23-years old: “Wild Horses “

Strengths: Katie – seated on a  stool at the beginning of this song, you created the perfect atmosphere for this number.  Also, you immediately presented us with a  beautiful presence on stage.

Your change in position, from seated to standing, allowed you to pace yourself extremely well and your movements on stage further relaxed your body and enhanced the visual and aural aspects of this performance

This was a brilliant performance in every aspect. You are gifted with a beautiful voice, you utilized it technically well and you sang this song with passion and genuine emotion.

I also loved and applauded the melodic variations you added to the “Wild Horses” refrain .   It emphasized that you are a musical young vocal artist – not afraid to take risks or move beyond your comfort zone.

This was a thoroughly excellent performance, Katie! Brava!  You remind me so much of Season 5 American Idol Top 2 Finalist, Katharine McPhee and that is a very good thing indeed.

Critique: Katie – I have very little to critique this week.  However, I would caution you to remember to support your voice when singing through your lower range. This is why you encountered some pitch issues in the front end of this number.

Also, make sure you articulate your consonants with more precision when singing in the lower part of your range.  By doing so, you will add energy and enhanced focus to your voice and this, coupled with the power of diaphragmatic support, would create more presence in your contralto range.

However, this was an immensely strong performance, Katie!   You bring great resilience and determination to this competition. Brava young lady!

LACEY BROWN: 24- years old ” Ruby Tuesday”

Strengths: Lacey- I loved the string quartet that accompanied your song.  I also loved the visual dimension that you added to your song performance – moving from a standing position to a sitting position midway through this song.

You exuded a beautiful charisma and you always appeared relaxed and approachable throughout this performance.  You have a beautiful voice that needs to be harnessed and pointed in the right direction;  however, your musicality and vocal ability cannot be denied.

Good work, Lacey!

Critique: Lacey- Ellen is absolutely correct. You should have modified the standing and sitting positions to address the dynamic level of the music.  I was wondering what was bothering me about this performance and Ellen hit the nail on the head!

Your voice, additionally, needs to be better controlled from the diaphragm. It just sounds so wayward and erratic and, as a result, your pitch was poorly centered.

And that smiling mouth position didn’t help this problem.  Singers with strong technical skills learn to smile with their eyes, allowing the mouth to freely maintain the roundness that is so important for a crystal clear, precise and seamless vocal sound.

Also, you must make absolutely certain that you are breathing with depth and consistency from the diaphragm. You looked very relaxed in your upper and lower body, but, perhaps you were a tad too relaxed in your lower body, where all the diaphragmatic action needs to  happen.

You need to strike the correct balance between relaxation and intensity when you perform. Presently, I feel that you  are throwing “caution to the wind” and it’s a “Que Sera, Sera” approach to your singing style.

Hope this advice helps you Lacey! Best of luck!

LEE DEWYZE: 23-years old “Beast Of Burden”

Strengths: Lee – you impressively strummed your guitar for this performance and it complimented your vocal delivery so very much. Oh how I love the grit in your vocal essence and when you mixed it up with your pure vocals, it added variety and dimension to your performance.

I love your voice – it is inherently beautiful and you instinctively understand how to use it. For instance, your song selection this week was  a perfect fit and this goes a long way in securing successful performances from week to week.   When a performer understands and realizes his or her strengths and limitations, then song selections are based in a realistic approach.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t take risks;  however, it is important to do so wisely, not reaching too far beyond what you are technically capable to handle.  Therefore, I felt that this showcase was the perfect fit for you this week, Lee.

Yet, I can envision that, at some point down the Idol road, your musical persona will gain even more dimension and range.  You may be slow at the gate but you will succeed to gain momentum as the weeks go by.

Great work, Lee. You sang this song was expressive energy and passion and came across as an extremely genuine and gracious performer. Bravo!

Critique: Lee- you need to make sure that your vocal energy is consistently supplemented through strong diaphragmatic support.  Once you do this, the energy level will increase and, more important, you will feel more confident to take more vocal risks.

Also, at some point in this competition, you are going to have to relinquish the guitar and establish further connection with your audience. I understand your nervous energy and it is difficult to abandon old habits and, most important, your best friend forever, your guitar.

However, abandon you must or, at the very least,  you should move around with the guitar in hand.  You would be surprised how relaxed you will feel by moving away from the microphone and commanding that stage.  By freeing your body from one position, you will most definitely liberate your voice.

One last word of caution ( and I feel like a broken record here with the majority of the singers): remember to maintain a circular mouth position on all the vowels. As you move toward your upper range,  extend  your very relaxed jaw in order to make room for the upper range to resonate freely in your vocal masque.

However this was a very strong performance this week and I congratulate you on your fine Top 12 achievement!

MICHAEL LYNCHE 26-years-old : ” Miss You”

Strengths: Michael-  you own a wonderful vocal instrument. I loved the head voice at the beginning  of this song and you thankfully maintained this valuable vocal component throughout this number.   Your upper falsetto range just flowed from  your mouth with clarity and precision. Beautiful!

I also appreciated your strong efforts to reach for and embrace your audience with those expansive arms.  Your strong communicative skills are imperative for success over the interim of this competition, so it is pleasing to see how naturally you are able to express yourself.

You appeared extremely relaxed on the stage and used the stage area wisely.  Not only was this important from a performance level, but also the movement allowed you to maintain your composure throughout your performance.

Movement is very liberating, but one always has to make certain that the choreographic and vocal elements are perfectly balanced. One shouldn’t overpower the other.  I thought you paced yourself extremely well in this respect, Michael.

I also appreciated your effort to maintain a circular mouth formation on those sustained vowels. I noticed from your American Idol biography that you have had some impressive training in classical voice, so your confident vocal delivery makes absolute sense.   You obviously have a firm grasp of the proper diaphragmatic breath support and I expect nothing but the very best from you in the future.

Kudos, Michael, on a very fine performance! Bravo!

Critique: Michael – be very careful that you don’t raise your head when trying to access your upper range.  The key to attaining those higher notes won’t be found on the ceiling but rather from believing in the potency of your diaphragmatic breath support system.

Bend those knees and squeeze that butt!  By doing so,  you will fortify your back muscles to lend added support to the vocal process. A great rule of thumb is: “Think down when you are singing up” and reverse this thinking process for the lower notes so that they do not flatten in sound.

Also, be careful not to spread your legs too far apart  when standing in one place. I  understand that you wanted to communicate a powerful presence on stage and, thus, you felt that this stance would do the trick; however, for me, it looked slightly awkward.

Trust me, you already exude presence and power on stage – you don’t need to do this so I would caution you to refine your body position.   Bring those legs closer together and have one leg positioned slightly ahead of the other, as if you were walking.

Hope this does help you Michael – you are a passionate and musical artist and I want you to improve monumentally each week.  Congratulations on an outstanding Top 12 performance!

PAIGE MILES  24-years-old: “Honky Tonk Woman”

Strengths: Paige – I thought you tweeted that you lost your voice. Well, I wish I could sound this good when I’m having vocal problems.   You worked the stage very well, moving away from the mike midway through this song ( my favorite thing).

And,  boy, did you ever add power and pizzazz to this number! This is not the Paige I saw in the semi-finals – this is a new, confident Paige and those power notes, particularly in the upper range, were brilliantly secured. Slam dunk!

I was really impressed with your vocal delivery. Your voice sounded free and confident and there were some technical aspects that you were grasping despite the fact that you have never acquired the benefit of vocal training.  You obviously own a God-given vocal gift but I caution you to not take any of this for granted.  Make absolutely certain that you equip yourself with the proper technical elements so that you can continue to grow and develop as a vocal artist.

This was a stellar song choice, Paige – one that allowed you to leave an impressive mark on that Top 12 stage! Excellent work!

Critique:Paige- careful that you don’t raise your head when you explore your upper range.  It creates added tension in your voice by constraining your neck muscles, thus putting a great deal of pressure on your vocal cords.

Additionally, once you raised your head, you detached yourself from your audience and, therefore, the communicative aspects of your performance were less significant.

I mentioned in the “Strengths” portion of  this evaluation that this was a stellar song choice and there is a reason for this statement. It allowed you to “power -vocal” your song delivery, using the natural strength of your voice.  However, over time, you must rely on your diaphragmatic breath support to harness and focus your voice in the proper fashion.

Presently, you are pushing and pulling your vocal sound  by constricting your throat muscles and not allowing the breath to support and liberate your sound.

Whatever are you going to do when you are presented with a softer and/or slower number?  That is the test of a true vocal artist and this is what you must work on in the coming days,weeks, months and years. You must develop the ability to sustain your sound on pure vowels, allowing the strength and power of your breath support to guide this process.

However, I did enjoy watching you have fun on that stage, Paige!  Good for you!

SIOBHAN MAGNUS 19-years-old: “Paint It Black “

Strengths: Siobhan – this was a great song for a great singer. And that would be you, my dear!   I loved the eery ambience you established at the beginning of this song.  And what a quirky, yet cool arrangement – sort of waltz-like at the beginning and then moving into  the customary up-tempo beat we normally associate with this song.

Because of this, your performance was visually and aurally stimulating.  You changed position on the stage, you maneuvered the rhythmic variations and then you took us on a ride by demonstrating your amazing vocal ability.

Your lower range is luscious.  I rarely hear any singer acquire such depth and beauty in his or her lower voice, so this was such a pleasant surprise. It truly distinguishes you as an artist – your sound is so unique in every good way imaginable.

Your contralto voice sparkles with clarity for,whether you realize it or not, you have implemented just the right amount of head voice in this part of your range.  Chest voice in the lower end of a singer’s range is a “given” but, without a nice mix of head voice, then the sound becomes muddy and vague. So never change this vital vocal element – I will cry if you do!

You also demonstrated great sustaining power throughout every aspect of your vocal range. This was crazy good! And that beautiful soprano voice at the end – after all that power singing? Sheer brilliance!

And yes, as Kara said, I was having flashbacks of Adam Lambert.  You are totally fearless and how I love this in an artist. I can’t believe that you have no vocal training, as it seems that you are generally doing everything right. Your voice is wonderfully focused in your vocal masque and your mouth, circular and relaxed, is always ready to grab those pure vowels.

This was a nuance-friendly performance – nothing was held back. Brava! Brava! Brava!

Critique: Siobhan- finally -a singer that is giving me a break.  However, I would like to caution you to work on your diaphragmatic breath support. It will aid you in keeping your voice perfectly focused and centred. At the beginning of this number, there were some very slight pitch issues – quite possibly due to nerves -indicating to me that your breathing mechanism was slightly compromised

TIM URBAN 20-years-old: “Under My Thumb “

Strengths: Tim – I love the timbre of your voice. You have a neat little vibrato in your voice that distinguishes your sound.

You also seem to have a working knowledge of vocal production; you are focusing your voice reasonably well and attempting to sustain a circular mouth position. This is why your voice has presence – you have  a nice balance between head and chest voice in your vocal mix.

I have to confess that I never heard this song before, so I thought the relaxed calypso/reggae arrangement complimented your naturally  laidback persona.  I can’t say that I enjoyed it as much as some of the other songs you’ve performed in past weeks, but I do understand your decision in choosing this number.

All in all this was a fine performance! Good work, Tim

Critique: Tim- now I am going to contradict myself.  I felt that your voice sounded very one-dimensional and part of the reason was your song selection. The melodic range was very limited and very pedantic and I think you, as a singer, needed to address this problem. I was hoping that you would add more variety and flexibility to the melody.  This is where  you as an artist needed to take the rein and turn a very simple song into something truly special.

As I said in the “Strengths” portion of your evaluation, I do not know this song, but, given this fact, this reggae beat was lost on me. It just seemed so repetitive and, given this fact, we needed to hear more creative vocal energy from you, Tim.

Vocally, you lacked energy and initiative, almost realizing that this song was on a train to no where.  Like so many of the others, I was hoping that you would leave the microphone stand and walk toward your audience. At the very least, you would have added some visual dimension to this performance. Also, the movement may have inspired you to be more creative in your vocal  delivery.

I really believe in your talent, Tim. You have a great voice that needs further refinement from solid technical skills.  work hard and do your homework. We want to see you around for a while, buddy!

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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

34 Responses to “American Idol Season 9 Top 12 Vocal Masterclass Article: The Music Of The Rolling Stones”

  1. Yay for the first article of the season! Thanks for working hard to get these out, MCL. =)


  2. Thanks so much J and thanks you also for your informative comments. Much appreciated!


  3. Thank you very much, MCL! 😀 Your warm, lovely presence is definitely one of the reasons why I feel this website is much more of a safe haven for civil conversation than other websites. I really cherish having a corner of the web where I feel the posters speak their minds freely but also do so in an ultimately encouraging and uplifting context. =)


  4. It’s great to have you back with your analysis of each contestant! It is always so interesting and informative, MCL.

    I will admit, the first thing I did was to read your comments regarding SIOBHAN MAGNUS! Brava! I will be sure to let her fan club know what you have written.


  5. MCL,

    Thanks so much for your insightful critiques. It’s like seeing the light after I read them. I am able to understand much of what my musically sensitive ear hears during the performances.

    I almost feel a little embarrassed, because I am not as generous as you. You remind me that I should try to look for both the strengths and the weaknesses in the contestants. My passion gets the better of me, but I strive to never be outrightly cruel or hateful.

    There is such a wealth of knowledge in your honest, forthright assessment of these contestants. I can come away having learned a lot and with a better idea of what to look for and hear.

    J is a very selfless, generous expert who will always jump in to explain any questions I may have. She is a great help mate, given the fact that your time is limited. She is an inspiration to me as a singer and lover of the human voice, as are you.

    I treasure both of you.


  6. Thank you, MCL. I adore reading your critiques because they are so real and positive. I hope they read these.

    I was not a huge Katie fan, although I am a small-town Connecticut native as well. I was so glad she had a wonderful performance to justify her place in the top 12. I thought she was just great. Yes, I heard a couple of “off” moments, but in general, the performance was passionate and strong. I really think she connected with the song. Did you see her crying tonight as Lacey sang? She was mouthing the words.

    Tim lucked out. He is lucky he is such a cutie pie because he must’ve gotten a lot of the young vote. I think he has a lot of potential, but I think it can be hard for a young person to make decisions on redoing songs. After all, they are not producers. I don’t know how much help they get, but it’s tough to be a beginner in the industry, be a performer and a producer.

    None of the boys really make my day this year. I’m crossing my fingers for Siobhan and Crystal.


  7. I just wanted to post the lyrics to “Under My Thumb”, the song that Tim reduced to a farce by singing it in an uptempo reggae beat. I thought it might shed some light on why I found it a particularly unfortunate performance.

    I do realize that these kids aren’t producers or professionals in any way. However, I do think they should have enough commitment and dedication to actually attempt to read and understand the words to the songs they choose to sing. This is a misogynistic song about a man’s complete and total domination and control over his woman. The lyrics are tame by today’s standards, what with the graphic profanity and endorsement of violence towards women, in some rap songs. But still, this is a kind of edgy, intense, disturbing song about a man making a woman do whatever he wants. Not a feel good song at all!

    Slezak posted the lyrics in this recap of performance night. He was trying to illustrate the absurdity of Tim’s performance. I had a visceral reaction to Tim doing this song and it had a lot to do with the underlying meaning of the words. A singer essentially tells a story with their voice. If you want to sing something and drastically change it, then at least know what it’s about first.

    I do expect these contestants to invest the time to look at the lyrics and then decide how or if they should sing any given song. Tim may have a pleasant way with a song, but up until this week I have been singularly unimpressed. But this week he really offended me. I don’t think that was his intention at all. I just hope he makes the effort to understand the words of a song. If he does, then he can avoid embarrassments like this type of performance.

    Regarding tonight’s results, I think the viewers got it right.

    Under my thumb
    The girl who once had me down
    Under my thumb
    The girl who once pushed me around

    It’s down to me
    The difference in the clothes she wears
    Down to me, the change has come,
    She’s under my thumb
    Ain’t it the truth babe?

    Under my thumb
    The squirmin’ dog who’s just had her day
    Under my thumb
    A girl who has just changed her ways

    It’s down to me, yes it is
    The way she does just what she’s told
    Down to me, the change has come
    She’s under my thumb


  8. MCL, I mentioned your critiques about seven times on the main Idol board. Don’t you just love it? 😀


  9. Mindy – thank you for posting the lyrics to “under My Thumb”. Very revealing and once you take the lyrical content into account, the reggaae arrangement Tim used really is absurd. Plus it is hardly a song that an “idol” should be singing. Not the best message in the world!


  10. Kariann – thank you for mentioning the critiques over at the Idol board. Yes, I do love it an I ♥ you!


  11. Thank you!

    I can’t help but wonder why Idol put that song on the song list. I would be very upset to hear that the producers suggested Tim sing it with the hopes that the lyrics would get him in trouble.


  12. MCL and Kariann,

    Thanks for your responses to the words of that song. I wish that song wasn’t on the list. I have to believe that Tim didn’t really understand the meaning of the song. I don’t think he would have sung it at all and certainly not in that way.

    I think that the people who work with these kids should be giving them some guidance. I don’t want to be too hard on Tim. He’s young and inexperienced, but I really wish they would take a good look at the words of the songs they sing.

    This is a sensitive issue with me for personal reasons which I don’t feel that I can discuss here. I am not trying to be mysterious, just letting everyone know that there are things some of us have gone through in our life that make some songs particularly hard to hear.

    I find it hard to believe that the producers would suggest that song for TIm in order to sabotage him. I may not be a fan, but he deserves a fair chance to either sink or swim on his own merits.


  13. Couldn’t agree more regarding Tim’s song choice. I don’t find the song itself objectionable, it is what it is—youthful 70’s male swagger—-but I do object to turning it into some “sweet” little ditty. What was he thinking?

    The AI judges get a lot of things wrong IMO, but when they critique contestants based on “connection” to the song, I’m there. Songs tell a story and Tim’s disconnect with the lyrics is close to unforgivable. (I’d get it if he was going for ironic, but that’s clearly not the case).

    That said, thanks MCL for the great critques. Always enjoy your honest articles and your fan base.


  14. Susie,

    Thanks for your comments about Tim’s unfortunate song choice. I do think it’s a big deal when you don’t get the lyrics of the song. It’s not my favorite Stones song, but I probably have a different point of view than I did when I first heard it back in the day. Life experiences can make the words of some songs hurt more. It was never one of my favorites. I honestly don’t know why Tim chose it in the first place. As far as his comment about not wanting to be compared to Mick Jagger as the reason for changing it up, well, there’s no need to worry on that account. It’s not like anyone would mistake Tim Urban for Mick Jagger in this lifetime. I am not being mean, just telling it like it is. As a matter of face, none of these kids would ever be mistaken for Mick Jagger and that’s okay. He is probably one of the greatest pure performers that ever lived, along with the likes of Elvis and Freddie Mercury.

    I just hope that the contestants pay some attention to the words of the songs going forward. It really is a big deal. Think about the words you are singing! It’s not just about singing notes.


  15. I meant to say – as a matter of FACT!


  16. Thank you so much Susie. I have to confess that I wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics. I was typing Tim’s Vocal Masterclass article and listening to his voice. Have to be more attentive next time – those lyrics shouldn’t be even available for an “idol” competition. But then, Adam blew everyone away with “Mad World” last year, myself included, but, when I studied the lyrics more closely I went “yikes”! Pretty heavy stuff!


  17. Thanks once again for the article, MCL. Your comments and critique help me understand why I like or dislike a certain performance. As frustrating as it is sometimes to see many singers utilizing poor vocal technique, we can hope that they’ll grown and improve throughout the season. Siobhan seems to be the only one who consistently uses proper vocal technique in her performances. It would be wonderful see all of these singers use their unique voices properly, as they all have something to contribute.

    I understand, MCL, why you enjoy Katie’s performances, as she knows the proper technique. I, too, enjoyed her performance this week. Would you say, though, that her age inhibits her from conveying emotion when she sings (talking about previous weeks, not this past week), similar to when Diana Degarmo was on the show?


  18. MCL, Siobhan’s father also sings. He may not be a vocal coach, but she probably learned a few things from him. She also has some high school theatre experience. I don’t know if the drama coach did anything with her vocals though. But she probably recognized her talent because there are some clips on youtube with her being the focus, while other students just stood around, occasionally doing something.


  19. I’ve listened to the Stones, the Beatles, Pink Floyd – etc. my whole short life, which started after the 60s. But I have to admit I’ve never listened closely to the lyrics of “Under My Thumb.” The upbeat sound and tempo is in contrast to the lyrics, but I think Tim’s reggae treatment was too much of a disconnect. I’m wondering if being a Brit of that generation just puts a hedgehog in Simon’s knickers. If someone slaughtered REM and I were I judge I’m not sure I could stop shaking my head. I do think Kara’s on to someone about really looking at the lyrics and conveying a message … it certainly would help. Also, after watching clips of Mick running around the stage frenetically (he must be ADHD) the contestants seemed positively stagnant. It must take incredible stamina and vocal control to do watch Mick, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Freddie Mercury, and Bruce Springsteen and other performers who don’t lip synch do. This all makes Adam look more and more like a freak of nature. Maybe Tim needs to change up some Monkees songs … Daydream Believer might’ve worked reggae. He needs to be Jonesian (as in Jonas Bros.). I think that’s his baliwick. Does anyone think they took “Sympathy for the Devil” out of the approved songs (ironic smile)? I felt a little bad for Crystal because “You Can’t …” is an epic song and very hard to reduce to 1:30. I think she did an excellent song given the circumstances. I’d love to hear a full-length version of several of the performances – Crystal, Katie, Siobhan.


  20. Regarding Tim, gosh its not like the lyrics are suggesting he is beating his girl friend at the worst he maybe is being way to controlling. I always the thought the song was about him turning the situation around…the song starts out with him having been the one put down and pushed around and now he has turned the situation around…no hint more than she is under his thumb that he is pushing her around …just telling her what clothes to wear and telling her what to do…ya squirming dog is not very flattering discription but who knows how she treated him. I always approached the song as a boy bragging to his buds that he’s not the wimp he once was and has turned the situation around and now has control, a bit of teenage macho swagger posing. Yes with Mick singing it or bringing personal history with you I could see a much darker take but come on its sweet Tim singing it in a laid back reggea style…I actually laughed and smiled when he sang it because I thought he was really changing up the whole vibe of the song with his take and it was the most audacious performance of the night. Not the best a longshot but I really liked it.


  21. risky lee,

    I could not disagree more with your comments about “Under My Thumb”. What is especially disturbing, is how you attempt to rationalize what is being done to the woman by saying that she did it to the man first! Are you serious about this? Because I am quite shocked that anyone would in any way try to justify this kind of behavior. It’s appalling. This song is quite misogynistic in tone. Yes, the guy is bragging about dominating his woman, sexually and in every way possible.

    Maybe if you had lived it the way I did, then you would understand why I find your remarks so offensive.

    Also, making this song into an uptemp reggae ditty, is possibly the single worst attempt to revise a song in the history of the show. It was lousy on all counts!


  22. Sorry Mindy I didn’t mean to offend but your reaction points out what I was trying to convey that I don’t think Tim interpreted the song that way at all and the lyrics are fairly bare boned in that they don’t supply much detail and that we all bring our personal view or experiences when interpreting them. I can’t in my reading of the lyrics say he is dominating her sexually and every way possible. Maybe it is because I have never been treated that way or would treat another that way hence I would never see the lyrics in that way. I saw it as more a ying and yang give and take that most couples go thru in trying to establish the balance of the relationship.Heck I also always thought the next week the girl might be dishing with her girlfriends that she once again had him wrapped around her finger again. Obviously a different perpective that yours.

    Murder,rape,sexual encounters,bloody hands, gun shots, calls for violence, death, mental depression these are just few if the subjects and images covered in the lyrics of the songs covered on Rolling Stones night and one could say they are not suitable for AI but over the years the viewers have grown more sophisticated and all these songs were big hits and are well known. Some of the subjects covered in one or two of the songs if interpreted thru my personal expierences stike home and bring very disturbing and painful memories but you know what its called artistic freedom and my personal feelings aren’t reason enough to call for censorship if the public at large isn’t offended or disturbed as I am. It’s just a talent show after all and the performances last about 2 minutes and next week or any week the theme is unlikely to be as dark as the Rolling Stone cannon.


  23. Ricky Lee, I sort of understand where you are coming from. I didn’t really pay that much attention to Tim’s lyrics and saw this as an effort to do something different. Yes, there were a lot of objectable lyrics in many of the songs. Siobhan didn’t change the gender in her song, which surprised me. I am just hoping we get to hear some really good songs on Tuesday.

    Being married to an alcoholic was a horrible life experience for me. Physical and mental abuse can and does tear down a spirit. There is a Lesley Gore song called, “You Don’T Own Me” and I would sing it.

    Mindy, I know and understand what you have been through. So, here’s some special hugs coming your way! *HUGS*


  24. ricky lee,

    Even without my personal experience, Tim’s performance was just awful on its face. If you are going to sing this kind of song, then give it the respect and dignity it deserves. Sing it with attitude! Don’t reduce it to some mindless, feel good reggae upbeat bit of nonsense. That is my honest opinion without even discussing the lyrics.

    Rap music is filled with lyrics advocating violence against women, using profane and offensive words and disturbing images. I don’t listen to it. I am NOT advocating censorship of music, nor do I need a lecture on the subject. It’s despicable to advocate and encourage violence against women, but people are free to sing what they want. I don’t have to hear it or endorse it in any way.

    The whole point of singing is to tell a story with your voice. I don’t think Tim had a clue as to what this song was about or the ability to give it real depth and meaning. I get the meaning of the song. I don’t have to like it, but I can still argue that it should be sung in a way that reflects the lyrics. I may not like what the song is saying, but that’s not the point! Tim isn’t capable of picking a song that would actually work in a reggae beat. He doesn’t know what he is doing and doesn’t seem to care. It was truly embarrassing and just plain bad. I stand by that and nothing will change my mind.


    Thanks for understanding. Just to make it clear, I have never been sexually dominated by a man in my life. On, Michael Slezak posted the lyrics to illustrate just how ridiculous and absurd Tim’s performance really was. He said it was about the sexual domination of a man over a woman. It’s a disturbing song, but certainly tame by today’s standards.

    I did live with an alcoholic/addict and it was unspeakable Thank God I somehow survived and am now divorced. It was quite a while ago and I have moved on. But I don’t know that you ever really forget something like that. But I am not willing to let anyone tell me that my own personal experience is causing me to misinterpret Tim’s version of the song. I actually would have preferred that he sing the lyrics intelligently and give the song the swagger and edge it deserves. Whether I like what it says is another issue entirely. I am capable of separating the two. I just think that Tim should have an awareness of what he is singing and why.

    Also, I loved, loved, loved Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” and still do. There is another song that I sang when I was going through my divorce. It’s Elton Johns’ “I’m Still Standing”. That was my anthem!


  25. Mindy, I have never been sexually dominated by a man in my life either. Another anthem song was Gloria Gaynor’s, I Will Survive and find new love.

    So, let’s see if Tim can pick a good teen rock/pop song this week. To be honest, I don’t know which contestant I want to go home. 😮 I know I want Siobhan’s performance to be outstanding!

    No one is saying who the secret mentor is. Fred Bronson will be around for Bill Board’s #1 Hits, but the rest is a mystery!


  26. kariann,

    That’s a great song, too! So we are survivors, both of us. Anyway, it’s time to let this go already. We are on the brink of another performance week. I certainly hope Tim can come up something better than last week’s debacle. He has nowhere to go but up! But if I am being honest, I am over him. To be honest, I never thought he deserved to be in the finals, and I am speaking about his voice, not choice of song! I give people a certain amount of time to impress me and then I just close my mind. The door is closed on Tim and may close on Paige, depending on what she does this week.

    I think Siobhan will manage to surprise us again. I have no idea what she will pick, but I am pretty sure it won’t be boring. She’s my girl this season. But I am determined to enjoy the ride and not stress over whether or not she wins. I want to stay in the moment!


  27. I think Tim, Paige, and Andrew need great performances if they want to be in the TOP 10. I know Randy wants Andrew in, and Simon is sold on Paige – so this will be interesting! I heard Christina A. will be the mentor. Not sure.


  28. Kariann, that was rumor. It’s been confirmed that Miley Cyrus is this week’s mentor. IMO, that is a bad choice, as she can’t sing that well and isn’t really qualified to mentor the contestants.


  29. I just heard about Miley Cyrus being the mentor this week. I was on mjsbigblog! I am in absolute shock! This is a girl who can’t sing on pitch to save her life! What on earth could she possibly say or do to help these young people, who have better voices than she ever will.

    Shame on you, Idol!


  30. Beth, I have since found out Miley really is the Guest Mentor and this is no joke. I would like to see mentors who are established stars and legends. I think I AM getting too old for this show! Look at last week’s guest singers, and now this weeks. This is just not good news on any level.

    Mindy, maybe they will have someone there to help her out. This is terrible.


  31. Kariann,

    I guess I am getting too old for this show, too. I am sorry, but this girl is WAY too young to be mentoring anybody! In fact, I think she might do well with some mentoring herself. But why learn to sing in pitch when you are making millions not doing it. Sorry for the sarcarm, but this really is ridiculous.

    I don’t know if the show wants to attract a younger demographic and I really don’t care. The mentors have been a great guide for these young kids in the past. One can always learn from experience and great talent. But Miley? Really?

    Forget about having someone help her out. Just have someone else, period! These young kids deserve so much better than this.


  32. Mindy, it was a disappointing night. When I think back to some of the wondeful mentors they have had on the show, I feel the contestants were cheated. Miley is not qualified to be a mentor. Idol is looking to appeal to the younger audience. :frown:

    (I’ll comment further on the other thread.)



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