American Idol Season 10 Top 13 Vocal Masterclass Article: Personal Choice

American Idol
By: Rosanne Simunovic 

Before we begin, I would like to say that the Top 13 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.

Ashthon Jones, Casey Abrams, 

Haley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk, James Durbin, 

Karen Rodriguez, Lauren Alaina, Naima Adedapo, 

Paul McDonald, Pia Toscano  

Scott McCreery, Stefano Langone Thia Megia 

 ASHTHON JONES: “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”


Ashthon – this was a beautiful selection and you exuded a lovely charisma on stage. There were some moments where I was treated to the pure quality of your head voice. It was so translucent and light – really lovely.

Critique: Ashthon – be careful not to raise your head, especially when powering through your upper voice. All this does is to create additional tension in your throat, which should be open and free at all times. 

Also, keep that head voice as a central element in every vocal dynamic you choose to use when singing your songs. This is what generate an aesthetically beautiful vocal sound at every level and will keep your voice steady and tuned. 

 CASEY ABRAMS: ” With A Little Help From My Friends” by the Beatles 

Strengths: Casey, Casey, Casey – this was pure brilliance. Pure and simple! I don‘t think we have seen anyone like you on American Idol before. You are unique, you are distinct and I love how you embrace your music with artistic intensity and passion. You communicated this song perfectly and I especially loved the mix of rustic and pure vocals in this performance. You were a strong rhythmic presence on stage. Why can’t everyone perform like this? Why? 

 Critique: Casey – you like to growl and snarl through your songs a la Louis Armstrong. You know, that was his signature sound and this will definitely be your s as well.

However, be very careful of the tension in the throat when you use this technique. Try to keep the diaphragmatic support central to your vocal projection, allowing your throat to be a free and liberated gateway to an effortless vocal delivery. You have the head voice – now incorporate it through every dynamic level and you will come to appreciate the ease and effortlessness of your vocal sound. 

 HAYLEY REINHART: “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes 

Strengths: Hayley –I loved this song choice. And, boy, you sang this song so well. This is not an easy song to sing – you need that head voice and you, Miss Hayley, have this element in spades. Your voice sounded so smooth and seamless; it just flowed. 

Performance wise, I loved your understated presentation of this number. Even your gestures weren’t as bothersome to me this time around. They actually complimented the loose, free, melancholy vibe that is central to the mood of this song. 

Great work, Haley. 

Critique: Hayley – I think you could have created even more impact if you had moved away from the mike stand at some point in this number. The stationary position during these vocal numbers is never a good idea, especially during a ballad. You don’t need to be turning somersaults; a few steps forward would have done the trick. Try it, you’ll like it and your audience will feel more connection to you as a performer. 

JACOB LUSK: ” I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly 

Strengths: Jacob – you pour so much into each and every song. All those runs and that full head voice were pretty incredible elements in this performance. You have undeniable passion and intensity when you sing and, although you were surrounded by a gospel choir, you certainly didn’t need it. You were a choir all by yourself. The melodic twists and turns you added to this song were risky, creative and inspiring. Excellent work, Jacob. 

Critique: Jacob – you have to be careful that your overwhelming passion doesn’t overwhelm the correct projection of your voice. You were really pushing the limit in terms of solid vocal production vs. oversinging. You need to realize that your persona and expressiveness have to play a part in your vocal delivery and it isn’t necessary to be super flamboyant with the vocal gymnastics. 

You do take vocal risks, I grant you that! However, this week, in doing so, you hit a few landmines and your pitch suffered at various points throughout this number. At one point in the song, it didn’t sound like you were singing in the correct key as the band and choir. 

You have a tremendous gift, Jacob, but use it wisely and cautiously. Don’t push the envelope. The old say that “less is more” really applies to you more than anyone else in this competition. 

Good work though Jacob. 

JAMES DURBIN : ” Maybe I’m Amazed “ by Paul McCartney  

Strengths: James – you are a monster. What can I say? What? You ooze music, you ooze passion and you ooze artistry. And what was that pure “oo” falsetto at the end of the song following those power vocals? Your vocal control, your musical phrasing, the seamless quality of your voice and undeniable stage presence are extraordinary and very, very special. 

Bravo James! Yours was the best performance of the night. You are a star! 

Critique: James – I am at a loss here. This performance was just too good. Let’s just leave it at that – for now! Bravo! 

 KAREN RODRIGUEZ: ” I Could Fall In Love” by Selena  

Strengths: Karen – this was a difficult song and you sang it very well. You looked lovely on stage and exuded an exquisite charisma. I also appreciated the fact that you never pushed your voice through the stronger sections of the song. Your vocal sound was always pure and perfectly placed. Good work, Karen 

 Critique: Karen – you suffered from poor song selection. It just didn’t work and, at least to me, was not too familiar to the listener. The melody was vague and ambiguous so the song never really moved forward or toward a climax. 

You also looked more uncomfortable than last week during the Top 12 female performances, so I feel that something was amiss during this performance. Select your songs wisely in the future. I cannot emphasize this enough. 

LAUREN ALAINA: ” Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain 

Strengths: Lauren – you looked lovely on stage and the song was suited to your voice and personality. You appeared relaxed and demonstrated remarkable poise, especially since you were first out of the gate this evening. Good work! 

Critique: Lauren – in my opinion – this song was too frivolous at this point in the competition. It’s a fun song, not a song to demonstrate superior vocal skills. Your phrasing was fragmented and some the final notes were detached too soon. 

Also, your lack of continued diaphragmatic breath support was compromised because of your stage movements. Nail the song in rehearsal THEN add your movements. 

You also need to work on your sustaining power; to this end, it is time that you researched a ballad for your next song selection. We need to see more diversity in your vocal style. Right now, I find your performances have been one-dimensional and lacking in nuance and depth, so be encouraged to stretch and grow when researching your repertoire. 

NAIMA ADEDAPO: ” Umbrella “ by Rihanna

Strengths: Naima – wow, that was pretty spectacular. You not only sing well, but you also work the stage with fluid choreographic movements. This was such a strong performance and, vocally, you projected the song extremely well. The key of this song was absolutely perfect for your voice and, therefore, you didn’t have to struggle to project your vocal power. 

Excellent work, Naima! 

Critique: Naima –you do have to work at creating a balance between vocal and choreographic elements so that one does not overwhelm the other. I think that, at times, your pitch suffered because you lost diaphragmatic breath control for your voice. 

Make sure that all your technical ducks are lined up in a row –breathing, phrasing, support – and then add your stage movements. Then and only then will your future performances increase by leaps and bounds. 

 PAUL McDONALD : ” Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams 

Strengths: Paul – you have such a wonderful personality on stage. I just love it. And, like Casey, you bring something new and exciting to the American Idol stage. Your choreography certainly is unique and different. Good work, Paul. 

Critique: Paul – you have a great smile, but that smile is going to be your downfall. If you could round out your mouth, even a bit, you would add more depth and presence to your vocal sound. 

Additionally, it would assist you in maintaining a pitch centered vocal sound. You did struggle with pitch issues, especially in the lower end of your voice. All of this is due to lack of proper diaphragmatic breath support. Presently, too much air is escaping with your vocal sound and the result is a thin, emaciated vocal timbre. 

You need to work on developing a seamless quality in your vocal range, using the vowels in your lyrics to sustain and project your voice. 

 PIA TOSCANO : ” All By Myself” by Celine Dion 

Strengths: Pia – you created a strong presence on stage. Your grace and passion are truly special and came through so beautifully in this song. You have such a strong, pure vocal quality and it is clearly evident that your voice that has been honed through strong technical skills. 

Critique: Pia – careful of the head raise. It creates tension and forces you to push your sound from your throat muscles rather than relying on the strength and power of your diaphragmatic muscles. Additionally, we lose eye contact with you. 

Also, I think it would have been good if you moved forward during the final refrain of the song, if only to relax and free your muscles. The movement would have added visual dramatic substance to this performance. 

Additionally, be careful to tame that left arm gesturing when you sing. It became distracting as the song moved along. This is why physical movement would have been more exciting to your overall performance. The repetition of the song lyrics, coupled with the repetition of your arm movements, made everything look and sound the same. 

Excellent work though, Pia. You are a strong competitor in this talented group of Top 13 

 SCOTT McCREERY: “The River ” by Garth Brooks 

Strengths: Scotty – great song. Perfect song! Years ago, I actually performed this song with my choir and a local country artist. It has a wonderful message and a soaring melody. You told the story so well and you phrased your musical line better than in previous performances. Good work, Scotty 

Critique: Scotty – you need to stage an emergency meeting with your vocal coach and figure out how to breathe properly. I still find your phrasing so fragmented and you barely take risks with your melodic line. You also need to incorporate more nuance within your song performances. This week was no exception. Everything was sung at the same level and intensity. 

Additionally, you were straining for those upper notes at the end of some of your phrases, another indication why you need to strengthen and solidify your voice through the correct technical process. I really could go on and on here, but will do so in future Vocal Masteclass articles. Let’s see what next week brings! 

STEFANO LANGONE: “Lately ” by Stevie Wonder 

Strengths: Stefano – this was incredible. Really! You have so much musicality and rhythmic intensity when you perform and your vocal technique is excellent.
You obviously understand the importance of true bel canto singing and make supreme effort to maintain a circular mouth position while sustaining those pure vowels. 

You handled that wild tempo change so well – lesser men would have collapsed when faced with this rhythmic struggle but you are far too musical for this to happen. 

Excellent work, Stefano. 

Critique: Stefano – your downfall tonight was the arrangement of this song. Although it demonstrated the depth and maturity of your musicianship, to the ears of the listener, it was a tad confusing. I didn’t get that double time, reggae-like rhythmic change until the second time this element appeared. 

At first, it almost seemed that you were off tempo and I was a little frightened for you. But then I realized that this is how it’s supposed to sound and I relaxed. But, I wasn’t happy. The rhythm was too frantic, bordering on a bit of hysteria. Who writes these arrangements? They have to relax already and understand that keeping it simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

However, despite this, you presented a very polished, professional performance. Excellent work, Stefano! 

THIA MEGIA: “Smile ” by Michael Jackson 

Strengths: Thia –your voice was so perfect for this song and your gave a tender, heart warming performance . Your graceful presence on stage complimented the warm mood of this song so well. Lovely work, Thia. 

Critique: Thia – like so many others that came before you, you needed to physically move on stage to create more impact. And, I feel that the pace of the song should not have changed direction. I loved the slower, acoustic opening portion of this song as it complimented your youthful vocals so very well. Once the tempo changed, I felt you lost a level of control and your pitch lost its center. 

Also, watch your mouth position. You adopted a horizontal mouth position throughout this song, quite probably because it is called “Smile”, right? But, if you had adopted a circular position with your mouth, you would have added a richer, more centered quality to your vocal sound. 

Let’s hope that next week’s song selection will do you justice. You are a genuine, sincere performer and I would like to see you move far in this competition. 

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



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About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

55 Responses to “American Idol Season 10 Top 13 Vocal Masterclass Article: Personal Choice”

  1. Yay! The VM evaluation articles are back. I am excited! 😀 Thanks for taking time out of your vacation to write these. *sends love!* ❤


  2. Sending love right back to ya, J! Will touch base soon, but my family beckons!!!!! Love your analysis – always a pleasure a tremendous learning experience for all. Your contributions to this site are invaluable.


  3. How come no one understands the circular mouth position? If it is so obvious, why don’t more people do it? Most of these contestants have vocal coaches. Masterclass lady, please help us understand! I see this comment so often from you. I have tried it in the shower with good results (I know, oversharing!).


  4. MCL,

    Even though this was a brief version of your critiques, there was a wealth of knowledge and insight, as always! I learn so much when I read your analysis of the performances. I had basically the same feeling that you did on just about everyone, with the exception of Haley. However, my issue was the way she sang the song, basically doing what I felt was an imitation of Patsy Cline. So it was personal for me. There are times when one cannot ignore something like this. I had no issue with the technical aspects of her singing, so in that sense we do agree. I just simply could not get past the blatant attempt to mimic the singing style of one of the greatest pure female singers that ever lived. It was beyond annoying. I believe that Haley should aspire to be herself and not a copy of anyone.

    I am so happy that you mentioned the issue with the arrangements. I saw this discussed on some other blog sites online. I have no idea what is up with these producers, but some of these songs were pure overkill. I wanted to come on here today and write, in huge letters, LESS IS MORE! That’s how I felt after listening to some of the performances last night.

    I do not fault Thia for her performance. I think she was led astray by her music producers. Even she realized it at the end. That look on her face made me feel so bad for her. I do agree that more movement would help the entertainment value of her performances. I listened to Michael Jackson’s version of this song and spoke about it on another blog here. When Thia started, I got chills down my spine because she really did sound almost exactly like him! For the first time, I understood what Randy said in comparing her to Michael Jackson. She has gorgeous tone and stellar pitch. It was a no-brainer that you stay true to this classic song or don’t do it altogether. I think she might have done better with her song choice. I hope she is okay for tonight’s results, because she was so emotional and upset after she sang.

    The arrangements for Stefano and Jacob also didn’t work. I am really proud of Stefano for fighting through that wretched arrangement and still managing to sing so beautifully. Jacob’s performance was just what I didn’t want it to be. It was excessive on every level. This week he did indulge in oversinging.

    I honestly do not understand why the music producers don’t seem to “get” the natural vocal talent of these young people. They are over arranging, if that’s even a word. In some cases, they did their singers a real disservice.

    You always shine a light on what I hear in these performances. It’s like opening a window into why I hear what I hear.

    Thank you so much for your insights!


  5. I am sorry to report that on MJs blog they are saying that Casey is once again in the hospital for stomach problems and may not be on the results show tonight!

    This is not good news at all. I hope this young man recovers and can continue in the competition.


  6. Jessica Turner March 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Mindy – Thank you for letting us know about Casey so we can keep him all in our thoughts and prayers. Living with chronic stomach trouble is no picnic. Ulcers? GERD? (On a side note, if I may, a friend’s boy is very sick with multiple infections, fungal and bacterial. He is a liver transplant patient, who has overcome too many obstacles for an 8 years old. This is no ordinary infections for a transplant patient. Would send some thoughts and prayers to Aiden in Tampa, FL? His Caring Bridge page has his story: )

    ASHTHON JONES: “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”
    She is beautiful, but a bit boring for me.

    CASEY ABRAMS: ” With A Little Help From My Friends” by the Beatles

    Love the Wookie! (what they’ve started calling him on some boards) Thank you to MCL for loving his style and giving him a critique that will support his style rather than change it. If he were 10 years older, I’d definitely be writing love letters to him. He is so genuine. The music just seems to flow out of him into the audience. (That’s a paraphrase of Dick Button describing Michelle Kwan)

    HAYLEY REINHART: “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes

    I kind of agree with Randy. It was a little sleepy for this point in the competition, although I did enjoy it. I don’t know yodel techniques, but even for a yodel I think she was a little flat on one of the first yodels. Hayley just doesn’t stand out to me, but she is young and maybe she’ll find her way.

    JACOB LUSK: ” I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly
    Not my cup of tea. He didn’t make me believe I could fly. It was actually kind of annoying that he doesn’t stay on one pitch for more than what … an eighth note?

    JAMES DURBIN : ” Maybe I’m Amazed “ by Paul McCartney

    I was amazed!

    KAREN RODRIGUEZ: ” I Could Fall In Love” by Selena
    Boring. Flat. Too soft.

    LAUREN ALAINA: ” Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain
    Fun. But no gusto. Steven had this critique right.

    NAIMA ADEDAPO: ” Umbrella “ by Rihanna
    Really enjoyed her. First contestant I’ve seen really dance! Jennifer’s (and MCL’s) critique was spot on. Can’t wait to see more of this young lady.

    PAUL McDONALD : ” Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams
    Oh dear, Paul … was there something wrong with the board mix because I could hardly hear you until the song picked up towards the end. The crowd seemed into it, but unfortunately they are not the majority of America who watched it on TV. What happened? Where was the energy? He is one of my favorites.

    More later, I have to go teach class.

    Best surprise: James Durbin
    Most disappointing: Paul McD
    (so far)

    I am liking the judging so far.


  7. Hello everyone. I am a late arrival in terms of hearing these singers. I just started watching. So I don’t know what all the history is e.g. how does last night compare to previous performances? I am very sad that Casey is not feeling good. He was, in my opinion, quite wonderful last night & by far my favorite. He was genuine, worked the stage, and brought meaning to the song. I hope he will recover and return.

    Frankly, I was underwhelmed by the women. If I had to pick a favorite, I would have to say Karen Rodriguez. So I was a little surprised by your review, MCL. I didn’t know the song either, but I liked the way she sang it. It caught my attention. I honestly didn’t like Pia all that much – I thought she was yelling in the upper part of her range. But people seem to like her. Again, I don’t have the history. I like the first half of what Thia did – beautiful voice – kind of lost it in the 2nd half of the song (agree with Randy). But there’s quality there. I liked Naima – the world needs more female rappers. I actually have become a fan of Nicki Minaj over the last few months.

    Hello, Mindy!!! Long time, no dialogue. I was annoyed by Hayley too and you have articulated some of what may have been going on for me. After a while, I was thinking “OK, we get it – you CAN yodel”.

    I’m sorry I deleted my TiVO because I honestly did not detect that much struggle regarding breath control in Scotty’s performance. I really really like his voice, and I am not a big country person. It was so nice to hear a baritone. I agree that James Durbin has a fabulous voice. Will be very interested in what else he sings. Paul was just a little too raspy for me & the dancing/footwork in my opinion was distracting.

    OK, those are my observations for now. I’m glad to be back in the mix & look forward to your wonderful reviews/critiques, MCL.


  8. I’m not so thrilled about having the judges’ save again this season. Of all the possible “sing for your life” scenarios, I prefer the sing-off format where the bottom two vote-getters sing, and the judges pick one to move on. That way the singing isn’t completely pointless. The problem with the judges’ save format is that contestants sing their hearts out with no guarantee that any of them will come back.

    Also, sometimes I think eliminations should just be eliminations, even if we don’t like them.

    The judges do their best to be kind, but the very nature of the judges’ save toys with the contestants’ emotions. It gives them a little thread of hope when there really is none. We all know that the judges aren’t going to use the save during the first week of the live rounds and especially not for a contestant like tonight’s lowest vote-getter, but I think the contestants are still prone to wishful thinking.

    I agree with this week’s elimination, but I do feel bad for the eliminated contestant. It must not be easy for her: the voting results for these past two weeks send a very clear message from the American public on where we stand on her singing. Tough going.


  9. Alas, I meant to reply in the other topic (I hope my results show comment was vague enough!), but since I’ve already submitted the comment, posting it here will have to do. 😉


  10. J

    I absolutely agree that if AI is going to give the contestants yet another chance to sing, it should be a competition between the lowest two vote-getters. But, I also think that AI could just go back to an elimination being just that – an elimination.


  11. MCL wasn’t Adam Lambert magnificent tonight? His vocals were stellar so good. It was great to see him.


  12. I agree Lyoness7. Adam was out of this world tonight!! I think he sounded even better than on his album. It had an even more heartfelt touch to it!


  13. Adam was fabulous! He looked so good, a bit like a young Kurt Russell. Handsome and his singing was wonderful! It seems like a put down to not have Lee sing first, but I just enjoyed the song and delivery Adam presented!

    I hate, hate, hate the Judge’s Save! It means for one night, all the voting each fan base does is totally ignored. This is the stupidest idea Idol has ever had. Our opinions are ignored! It isn’t fair to the other contestants.

    MCL, Karen did say she WAS comfortable on stage. There was some technical difficulties going on. I really think she is a sweet girl. I watched Selena this weekend, so I knew the song. I’m not sure she’s going to make it on the tour.

    Who writes these arrangements? They have to relax already and understand that keeping it simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    As we now know, Jimmy Iovine is bringing in producers to work with the contestants and they ARE in control. The arrangements wasn’t Stefano fault’s. In a way, I wish we had the celebrity mentors back. Nigel loves this idea, so I don’t see it changed.

    MCL, did you get a chance to read what I wrote about Naima on the other thread? She is a professional dancer (with a college degree) and teaches dance. She has appeared in Community Theater and is part of a Reggae band. Singing and dancing for less than 2 minutes should be a walk in the park. Do you think NERVES could have played a part in the breathing problems? I look forward to some improvement in the coming weeks.

    Thank you for presenting the critique this week!


  14. Jessica, how sad that a child so young has been through so much in his life! Prayers for Aiden and his family. May God provide for Aiden in all his health needs.

    I count my blessings that my four Grandchildren are very healthy.



  15. Jessica Turner March 11, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Grammie Kari, Thank you so much. I know the Hawk family appreciates every thought and prayer out there for Aiden.

    If someone finds a link to the video of Adam would you post it? I’m sort of glad I was teaching tonight. The results show, besides Adam, sounded tedious.

    I’m a little surprised Ashthon went home before Karen. I really thought Karen’s performance was verging on hideous. Ashthon was boring, but respectable.

    A little thought about Paul and his chicken walk. He is used to performing with a band. His affectations wouldn’t look magnified the way they do with the other distractions of a band on stage? Since he’s a veteran performer, why wouldn’t have he asked for the band? Perhaps they are not allowed to make performance requests yet? A la Crystal and the digeridoo? I think he will do much better with guitar in hand. I just hope he doesn’t become a one trick pony – Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, Kenny Loggins covers? Actually, his voice might fit in with Bruce Springsteen’s stuff, but has anyone ever heard a Springsteen sons on AI? Maybe he isn’t rough enough around the edges to do Springsteen, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty …. he’ll just have to tea dye his dentures. I think he might do something good with a Cold Play song.

    Speaking of ColdPlay and Stevie Nicks, did anyone watch Glee? What did you think of Gwyneth Paltrow? (yeah, I know they don’t sing and perform their songs at the same time) Well, what did you think of Landslide?

    And last but not least, I find Michael Slezak’s reviews incredibly funny. I wish I had one everyday to wake up to! Some funny quotes, which are certainly NOT MCL’s:

    ” Instead, Paul skittered around on the stage like a wounded bird trying to outmaneuver a hungry barn cat, his grainy voice evaporating into nothingness in his lower register and falling flat on the chorus.”

    “Halfway through his number, Jacob tossed aside the melody as casually as the lid on a yogurt container, and assaulted the audience with a series of cacophonous screeches, ending with an improvised “you can, you can fly” at the precise moment that the song completed its arduous nosedive and crashed into the ground.” Do you remember when Dannon yogurt came in waxed cardboard containers and the tops sorta got mushy?

    I know it isn’t nice to snicker, but this-was-hilarious:
    “Wednesday night’s telecast was hawd foh Wittle Wauren. She hads to go first instead of last, and that was tewwible for huh. She was just twying to have a good time with Shania’s “Any Man of Mine.” She could have done a bawwad like [get ready for a subtle dig at the competition] five of the other girls, but she wanted the night to start off more like “last call” at the karaoke bar! Why do those mean judges say mean things? It’s not vewwy nice. Wauren is going to make a stank-eye at Steven. And there’s one for you, J.Lo! Now Wauren is going to stamp her feet and refuse to go to bed! That’ll show you, you meanies!”

    I know I’m bad. But Slezak has nearly raised hyperbole to an art form.


  16. Jessica

    Your posts both leave me in tears and in laughter.

    On a serious note, I have a son, and my heart and prayers go out to Aiden and his family. He’s such a beautiful little boy. I hope that you will keep us updated.

    Michael’s comments definitely hit the mark. I’m going to have to bookmark his blog too.


  17. I have to agree with the others here about Adam’s stripped down performance tonight. This is the Adam I love so much! Keeping it simple and showing off that voice, oh that voice and also none of the guyliner. He is so handsome and really looks better without the makeup, even though he seems to like it.

    He reminded me all over again why I went so crazy over him the first time I heard him.


  18. You can to listen to the full-length studio versions of the Idol songs on this page (although they can’t be downloaded):


  19. Has anyone else been troubled by how Thia has been acting? When she is sitting on the chairs as others perform, she often looks bored and uninterested and sometimes doesn’t even applaud after a performance. When the judges gave her some mild criticism this week, she was in tears during her backstage interview. And when talking with Ryan, she is barely able to say anything coherent.

    Thia’s behavior makes me wonder if she has been pushed into these singing competitions (Idol and her previous appearance on America’s Got Talent) by ambitious, fame-hungry parents. She has an outstanding talent but is years away from being ready for this show. She does not have the emotional maturity to take proper advantage of her talent, or to handle being criticised by the judges. If she was 10 years older (25 instead of 15), she might easily win. But I don’t think she will last long in this competition.

    The other teenagers on the show (Lauren and Scotty) don’t have this problem. They are both fully engaged and seem joyful to be in the show.

    I don’t know what the story is with Thia. But it makes me mad to think about parents pushing kids (or allowing them) into these competitions before they’re ready. It’s almost a form of child abuse.


  20. Adam…OMGosh! How I have missed you on my TV screen! I loved his performance last night. What a beautiful package he is! I too thought that Adam looked and sounded beautiful.

    We are hearing rumors that Adam will be coming in concert close to where I live…I plan to be there!

    I really do not like the “judges save” let the elimination stand for what it is, even having the bottom two sing for a save is unacceptable, the emotional turmoil for the kids getting eliminated is enough, why add to it! I felt so bad for Ashton last night, even though she is who I thought should have went home, she should not have been given that ounce of hope, when we knew the judges would not save her “again”!


    Thank you for bringing up the issue of Scotty! I really do not hear any breathing issue’s when Scotty sings either. I could not begin to tell you if someone was singing in the right key or what note they just sang, I can only go on what sounds good to me…but, I can usually pick up annoyance’s in a person singing…like nasal sounding and breathing issues; have not heard that with Scotty.

    And yes, I am going to say this; breathing issues is why I did not like David A. ~ he annoyed me so much with his breathing that I could not stay in the room and listen to him sing, my husband loved him, my son loved David C., I loved Jason! Sorry to all David A. fans!

    I just don’t hear this with Scotty…sorry MCL! I loved all of your other critiques, just didn’t agree with Scotty!

    I also agree with everyone where Paul is concerned! He has such a unique voice, I wish he would pick songs that really brought out that rasp in his voice, and Paul, PLEASE don’t dance like that anymore! It is so distracting!


  21. Jessica, your post made me laugh!

    I love your blurb about Lauren and seriously couldn’t agree more with it. Her performance was just average and she needs to get over it, deal with the feedback, take it and use it to benefit her in her next performance!

    Jacob – oh man. I said before that I despised (harsh word, I know) his performance. He pushed it way too hard and it backfired on him. Love your analogy with the yogurt container! I’m really not a fan of Jacob at all, I don’t know what it is…but I’m hoping he will go home soon.

    I was surprised that Ashton went home last night. Personally, I would have liked to seen Hailey go…her performance was so boring; I hated that song so much. In fact I remember sitting at my computer and not really paying attention to the TV but just her this yodelling and was wondering WTF that was. I think had Ashton chosen a more recognizable song, she would have been okay. But I am glad that the judges did not save her (which BTW, I also hate)….twice in two weeks wouldn’t have been fair (if you count the wild card as a save).

    I wish I was American so I could get my votes in!


  22. Jessica – this is mucho hysterical. I love Michael Slezak. He says what we all are afraid to say but, sometimes, think nonethelsss. Do you have a link to his new site? I heard he wasn’t with EW anymore.


  23. Mindy – really sorry now to have missed the show. I would loved to have seen ADAM!!! Will have to hunt him down on YouTube and add it to the blog here.


  24. MCL – You can access Michael Slezak’s new articles here:

    Here’s the top 13 article in particular:

    He’s quite the writer, isn’t he? 😀 What I like about him is that he’s witty and blunt, but I don’t see any personal malice in what he writes. He always tries to be open-minded about the contestants. Yes, he has his favorites, but at any moment, he’s ready to (1) call them out if they’re having an off-night and (2) be won over if one of his non-favorites has a stellar performance. In that way, I like how he’s objectively emotionally involved. It’s realistic. He has a skill at evaluating weekly performances apart from the contestants and how much he likes or dislikes them, but he’s also able to give us perspective on how a recent performance fits into the scheme of previous ones.

    Once in a while I disagree with one of his opinions on a performance or two, but he writes so well that I always look forward to his recaps regardless! I enjoy his video segments often too. I like how you can see that same attitude of “I want to like this contestant or performance—I really do—but here’s what’s going on…”


    On a side note, this conversation reminds me of a quote I read by a singer. I can’t remember who she was (except that she’s quirky and very talented), but she actually said: “If you’re going to criticize me, I want you to tear me apart with your wit!” She longed to be entertained by bad reviews of her work. I found her perspective fascinating but oddly fitting.

    I’ve noticed that having a good sense of humor helps a LOT in this business (and in life, really). If you let negativity get to your head, it’s going to be really difficult to keep going and get back up after you’ve been knocked down, but a sense of humor covers and heals a lot of these experiences.


  25. Vonnie,

    David Archuleta has breathing issues sometimes when he sings because he still suffers from vocal cord paralysis. When he was 12 or 13, he couldn’t sing at all, so he’s come a long way. To this day he still has a voral cord that is completely paralyzed. It’s a wonderful miracle that he’s the incredible singer that he is!!!


  26. Anita I totally agree with you. David A.’s breathing issues are totally caused by a physical disability. He uses his diaphragm correctly and does the O mouth. His breathing is sometimes noisy because of his disability. It is sort of like getting irritated with someone with a bad knee because they are slow in walking. Scotty is not breathing correctly and his mouth is always in the same position..straight across. David A. could hold a note out forever and still keep the tone, but Scotty can’t seem to hold a note. I love Scotty’s lower register, but he is very limited in anything but the lower register. I agree with MCL that he should work with a voice coach ASAP.


  27. Here is Adam’s Acoustic Performance from last night.

    Anyone who wishes to buy the acoustic version vs the dance remix as I did, the Aftermath version on Adam’s acoustic cd is similar.

    I did buy the dance remix because it is for a good cause though I do not love it nearly as much as the acoustic.


  28. Anita,

    I do not ever remember hearing about David A. having vocal issues, or it could be selective memory loss on my part where David is concerned…I do remember Anthony Fedorov had vocal issues due to a trachea when he was young, and the doctors predicting that he would not be able to talk, let alone sing…and he does both now beautifully.

    I went in search of David’s condition and found this; not only could David sing at 12 or 13 he was competing on the show Star Search at that age and did not know that he had a condition until after this show!

    “David James Archuleta (born December 28, 1990) is an American pop singer-songwriter. At ten years old he won the children’s division of the Utah Talent Competition leading to other television singing appearances.[4] When he was twelve years old, Archuleta became the Junior Vocal Champion on Star Search 2.[4] In 2007, at sixteen years old, he became one of the youngest contestants on the seventh season of American Idol.[5] In May 2008 he finished as the runner-up, receiving 44 percent of over 97 million votes.
    In 2003, when he was twelve years old, Archuleta sang on several episodes of the television show Star Search.[20][21][22] He ended up as the Junior Vocal Champion on Star Search 2, Losing the Junior Grand Champion title to Tiffany Evans.[23] On one episode, he sang against then-11-year-old Alexandréa Lushington, who became a “top 20” semi-finalist on American Idol alongside Archuleta.[21] Around the second year of being on Star Search he started focusing on the lyrics, “I didn’t even pay attention to the lyrics when I was 12, 13”.[24]
    Archuleta’s competing on Star Search was preceded by an appearance on The Jenny Jones Show, meeting the finalists from American Idol’s first season, for whom he performed a spontaneous a cappella rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls, and received praise from Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson.,[24][25] and led to appearances on CBS’ The Early Show, The year after Star Search he found out he had partial vocal paralysis but declined risky surgery and has said he feels he is almost fully recovered.[18][24] He limited his singing for specific occasions like Stadium of Fire, the Independence Day celebration at Brigham Young University Stadium.[24]”

    I knew bringing information to this site that I wasn’t a fan of David would have it’s pitfalls; David had a huge following while on idol and still has a huge following to this day, many of whom participate in this site.

    I didn’t bring forth this info to cause a stir up among David A. fans, I brought it up as, I don’t get the breathing issue’s against Scotty!

    My bad!!!


  29. David A. had extensive voice therapy which is the reason he was able to sing again. His one good vocal chord has intertwined with the paralyzed chord doing the work for both. All of this causes the raspy sound that you sometimes hear and the raspy breathing. All of these kids could use some voice therapy. They need to take good care of their instruments or they will not be able to handle a tour in the future. David still calls his voice coach occasionally to warm up for special events. I have read that Paul is already having trouble with his voice with nodules or something. It is a talented group of people this year, so they need to take good care of their voices.


  30. Vonnie,

    You sure did your homework, didn’t you? Hee! Hee! Hee! I certainly didn’t make that statement about David out of anger. As a huge fan of his, I just thought I’d let you know about his vocal paralysis.


  31. joelhss,

    You are so right in the fact that this competition is very hard on these kids who are not used to singing at the level they are required to sing at for this competition…and you do bring up a great point about Paul, the rasp in his voice would seem to indicate something with his vocal chords!

    I really don’t want to cause a ruckus where David A. is concerned, and I knew just making mention would have some kind of fall-out, as it does in my own household…my husband thinks that David is the best singer to ever grace the idol stage, needless to say we differ very much on who’s the best!

    I just wasn’t a fan of his and mainly because of the breathiness when he sang, I don’t think I would have changed my perception even if I would have known about his physical issue’s; I had a blue-eyed, dreadlocked, young man on my radar screen that year!


  32. Anita,

    Thank goodness for Google, lol…homework has never been a strong suit of mine!!! 🙂

    I really had no idea about David…and really do apologize for my error!


  33. Vonnie I loved Jason, too. Great guy, and he knows just what type of songs he should sing and only sings those songs. Smart guy.
    The thing that drew me to David in the first place was that breathiness and his power for such a young kid…also the fact that he was so technically correct. I also have vocal chord issues..spasmodic dysphonia…and I know how I struggle with it. It gave me great respect for this young man who works daily to keep his voice healthy enough to make what I hear as beautiful sounds. I have to agree with your husband, too.


  34. joelhss,

    My husband loves when people agree with him, so he would be thrilled! lol

    It is always inspiring to hear of people who over come physical issues to go on a do great things, I can see why David would be such an inpiration to others. This is one of the reasons that I loved Anthony Fedorov as well…I must admit, I must have had my head under a rock where David was concerned! because I honestly just thought that his breathiness was due to lack of technique (and I say that like I am a proffessional or something, believe me I wouldn’t know thechnique if it jumped up and slapped me in the face), but truly just thought it was him and not something physical.

    See the saying is true; we learn something new every day! Today was my day to learn something I didn’t know, and to also put my feet in my mouth in the process!!! 🙂


  35. Vonnie.. No feet in the mouth, there. He was just not your cup of tea, and that is OK. Just wanted to let you know that technically David is fine…in fact I think MCL once said he is probably the most technically correct of all Idols. That was a year or so ago, and she may have changed her mind. His issues are ones he can’t correct. I was always a fan of Anthony Fedorov, too. Loved his voice and was surprised he didn’t go further.


  36. Vonnie & Joelhss,

    Jason had some wonderful performances on Idol, and I do have his first album, which I love! His voice is beautiful! My two favorites during season 7 were David A. and David C. I would watch their Idol performances time and time again on You Tube. I was extatic when both of them made it to the finale, and even called my brother right away, and said “My two Davids made it!!!! I voted a gazillion times the night of the finale for David A. to win, but to this day, I believe David Cook certainly also deserved to win, and so, I didn’t mind. Besides, those two have tremendous respect and admiration for each other to this day!!!


  37. Anita I loved season 7…my very favorite season. I also think David Cook is fantastic and I loved Brook, Jason, and actually all of the top 10. They all seemed to be such nice people except for maybe a couple. My fascination, though, is still for David A. He is one of a kind as far as I’m concerned…with his voice, his charitable nature, his constant kindness for others, and the sweetness and goodness he exudes when you meet him. I have 4 grandboys and if they could have half the integrity that David has, I would be a happy grandma.


  38. Joelhss,

    Season 7 was also my favorite of all time as well, and my family and friends know I’m a huge supporter of David A.!!! He is a class act in every sense of the word!!!


  39. I think it’s funny how we get away from even talking about Season 10 of American Idol.


  40. joelhss and Anita,

    Thank you both for being so gracious!

    It is funny how conversations can get going on other seasons! However, I think idol is such a show that each year just seems to be a continuation of the last! Plus, we can’t be kosher all the time, we need a little filler once in awhile, especially while we are waiting for the next week so we can watch again, lol.

    joelhss…and yeah! David A. really wasn’t my cup of tea; but it is so amazing to me how people can sit in the same room and hear the same person sing, but come away with totally different perceptions. My husband did not like Jason at all…much like he cannot stand to hear Paul sing this year, and I really like Paul (if he sings the right song).

    Again thank you both for being so gracious, I truly appreciate your kindness…I was fearing the worst by saying that I didn’t care for David!


  41. Vonnie,

    You are welcome!! I really do enjoy chatting with you.


  42. Vonnie If we all liked the same thing, the world would be a boring place. Jason and Paul both have interesting voices, but they do not have much of a range. Your husband must like singers who aren’t as limited rangewise. I really respect Jason because from the beginning he said he didn’t have much of a range, but he chose songs that were within that range and presented them well. Those blue eyes were a killer, too. I can’t imagine Paul or Jason singing with the Morman Tabernacle Choir as David did this year as that is not the kind of singer that they are. I really like David’s pop albums, but when he sings Oh Holy Night or Ave Maria in Latin, he blows me away. It takes all kinds of singers and people to listen to those singers to make up this world.


  43. I thought Casey sang Joe Cocker, not the Beatles?

    Really liked James Durbin’s performance.


  44. Sufisaurus,

    Casey sang Joe Cocker’s version of the Beatles song With a Little Help From My Friends. I agree with you about James Durbin’s performance! The guy has gotten my attention. He showed how you take an iconic song from a legendary, great artist and make it new and fresh and original.


    Thanks for the link to Michael Slezak’s recaps. I couldn’t find him! I loved what he said about James Durbin’s performance! He said that it seemed as though James actually sat down and read the words to this song! YAY! Bravo! That’s why I have been trying to say much of the time. It’s what was truly missing from Haley’s performance. All these young people should take the time to read the words and understand what the song is trying to say and then communicate that to the audience. Haley isn’t singing for the judges anymore. She’s singing to millions of people out there watching her. You have to reach out and touch them and make them feel the emotions and meaning of the song. That’s what it’s all about. Yes, it is really about more than just the vocal technical skill and perfect pitch! There – I said it!

    The truth is that I want it all – vocal skill, pitch, tone, great performance skills, stage presence, and telling me a story! These are the components that I am looking for every week in these performances.

    I liked that Michael Slezak did call out Casey for his vocal technical issues. I have kind of glossed over them, but hear them I did! It’s just that he is such an extraordinary performer and it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and intensity. However, I did hear some lovely notes that indicate more of a voice than he has shown us. The ragged sound in his growls is poor vocal technique and should be addressed. I also think he brought the originality and creativity to another iconic song. He did it his way, while being aware enough to take the best of Joe Cocker, the raw emotion he always poured into his performances.


    I wanted to address your comments about Thia. One thing that bothered me last night was one point when the camera cut to Thia right near the end of the show. She had such a sad look on her face that I became concerned. She does not seem to be enjoying this experience. I am not going to infer or assume any motivations on the part of her parents at this point. We don’t know that they are pushing her to do this. However, this is why I always have concerns over such young people having to face the pressure cooker of this kind of competition.

    Thia was desolate and tearful after her performance and it wasn’t really her fault. Michael Slezak seemed to assign just as much blame to her as to the producers who were responsible for this horrific butchery of one of the great classic pop standards. Where I do agree with him is when he wished that Thia had researched the background of this song and found out who “Charlie Chapman” really was and what this song was about. She started out beautifully and only lost the vocals and pitch when she had to fight that bizarre arrangement.

    I just think that Thia is feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. These kids have to work very hard on a tight, grueling schedule and she is probably also trying to get her schoolwork done, too. I wish she would look happier, too.


  45. Could someone refresh my memory of the other song/artist that sang during the results show? I can’t seem to remember the name.


  46. Jessica, I adore Slezak, too — discovered him two years ago and wished I had known about him earlier. You’re right, J, I don’t think he’s trying to be mean, as so many Idol bloggers are; I think he means (or at least, I’ll choose to interpret) his comments in the nicest possible way. Sort of like when your family, who loves you very much, makes fun of you. You laugh at the moment and then move on. Hyperbole is a very good way of describing how he writes.

    Vonnie, I love Scotty — he reminds me in many ways of Randy Travis, of whom I was an early fan. But I was disappointed in the sound levels for him this week, as he sometimes disappeared behind both the band and the backup singers, and he did seem to have some breath problems, and I wondered (not knowing enough about these things, as MCL and J do) if the key the song was in might have had something to do with it. I remember the Garth Brooks’ version well, and Garth (for all the running around on stage he used to do) nevertheless managed to string everything together in a smooth line, and Scotty seemed to have trouble with that this week. It’s the first time I’ve heard this problem, so perhaps it was the nerves of being on the big stage. He is only 16, after all! But if you enjoyed him despite that, not to worry! I haven’t read a bad word about his performance on any of the blogs — he is as beloved as is anyone on this show!

    I also had no idea that David A. has vocal chord issues. I can’t believe I missed it, if it was revealed on Idol; I DVR the show these days and miss a lot of the details, but I’m pretty sure I was watching the whole show that year, loving David Cook as I did. Or maybe I was just out to lunch! Anyway, it’s not just you!

    Malden — I haven’t really been paying close attention, but you’re right, she doesn’t seem happy. I thought the judges were actually kinder to her than they were to Lauren, but she seemed pretty devastated when she came off the stage. Food for thought.

    bizzee247 — I was fastforwarding through it, but it looked like P. Diddy to me.


  47. I’m concerned about Thia too. She’s very young. She just turned 16 in January. One of the challenges that the youngest contestants have is simply living apart from their families. My son is 13 years old, and he still likes me to tuck him into bed at night. I couldn’t imagine having him jump into a high-stress adult world that involved living in a dormitory-like situation with adults, working in a high pressure environment with producers, stage managers, and the like, and having to face criticism alone on stage in front of a viewing audience of millions. I expect that the older contestants are supporting the younger ones, but then there’s the stress of seeing friends depart week after week. Yes, of course, David A. and Allison Iraheta were both young, but neither quite as young as Thia. And, in one’s formative years, each added year counts.


  48. Jeanne

    Yes that it is. Thank you! 🙂


  49. MCL, I just listened online to the full versions of James’, Stefano’s, and Scotty’s songs. I continue to be blown away by James; I agree that he is very special. I realized last week that I had to take him more seriously than I had anticipated, and this week he showed that Judas Priest was no fluke.

    Stefano’s arrangement makes much more sense in the full version, and I think what happens is that they do the recording and then try to figure out how to take a song which, in this case, is over 4 minutes long, and distill it into 1 min. 40 sec. Some songs lend themselves to it fairly easily, but I think songs with unexpected arrangements are apt to fair worse.

    As for Scotty, the full version shows much more fluidity than I heard in the show itself, but I also realized that he typically runs out of breath at the end of the phrase, by which I really mean that he rarely holds a note at the end of the phrase. The River lends itself to this in particular, and there is certainly a country tradition to this: Kenny Rogers is the obvious example. He seems to have enough breath to get through the line, however long the line may be (and there are a few longer stretches in this song), but only just. I’m not sure that he realizes what he’s doing, it’s probably a stylistic choice that he made unconsciously at some point and has simply kept up. The sort of thing that is apt to happen when you’ve got natural talent and no training.

    By the way, speaking of natural talent, I took some voice lessons when I was in Aspen this summer, and my teacher has a Christmas choir she runs and John Denver was the guest artist one year. He told her he had thought about taking voice lessons, but he was afraid to, because after all, he had made his living with the voice he was gifted with, and was reluctant to mess with that success.


  50. The only thing better than a Michael Slyzak recap is a Slyzak video.

    Michael Slyzak S10 video recap with Melinda Doolittle co-hosting….

    Michael Slyzak S10 Audition video recap with A8’s Alexis Grace – scroll down

    Michael Slyzak S8 video recap ( with Adam B. Very – defense of Kara

    Michael Slyzak recap video reca[ S8 (from “SAVE THE ROCKER” segment (one of many):




  51. An acoustic version of Aftermath (performed on stage Thursday) was included on the 5 song EP Adam released just before Christmas ($4.99 on iTunes). This EP includes mellow versions of

    * Mad World.
    * Soaked,
    * Aftermath,
    * Music Again,
    * WYWFM

    Adam can sing anything, but I do love the pure, passionate, vulnerable vocals on this EP. ENJOY!!


  52. I’ve really enjoyed James Durbin’s performances! Crossing my fingers that he makes the tour.

    I’m trying to like the girls. They are all talented… but every single year… I get invested in the guys. I did like Haley’s song and yodeling very much, although I know many others did not. I have no knowledge of music. I also love to hear the beautiful Spanish language sung on Idol, so thanks go out to Karen.

    Right now, I don’t really care who wins, but I hope it’s not Casey because of his health problems. I would love to see him and his upright bass on tour, however.


  53. I’m looking forward to the distraction of tonight’s show. I’ve been very caught up in the news coming out of Japan this week. I taught English in rural Japan for two years (in Kyushu), so I easily picture the small towns and cities destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. And, the current nuclear threat is ever on my mind. A couple of hours of music and entertainment will be a welcome relief.



  1. Vocal Masterclass Discussion For American Idol Season 10 Top 12 Show « MasterclassLady.Com - March 16, 2011

    […] the Florida sunshine, I will do my best to add a Top 12 Vocal Masterclass article. I managed a small one for the Top 13, but this week is Family Week, so I can’t say that the same will happen after this […]


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