Vocal Masterclass Article For American Idol Season XIV Top 9 Show: Songs From The Eighties

American Idol

By: Rosanne Simunovic 

 As i mentioned last week, I was on vacation for the most of the month of March, so I missed adding a couple of Vocal Masterclass submissions.  

However, this week, I did manage to watch and evaluate the Top 9 performances.

So, 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.

To quickly access individual singers, simply click on the singer’s link below.

Clark Beckham, Daniel Seavey, Jax

Joey Cook, Nick Fradiani

Quaasim Middleton, Quentin Alexander , Rayvon Owen, Tyanna Jones,


p style=”text-align:center;”>Clark Beckham: “Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Clark Beckham – Every Breath You Take by The Police – Download From iTunes

Strengths: Clark – you are what this competition is all about: a refined vocalist with impeccable artistic skills.  This was a solid performance, passionate and exprssive.  

Your phrasing technique was so fluid and meaningful and gave strong indication of the high level of preparation and intelligence you bring to this competition. You elongated  your phrase lines and the pivotal lyrics within the melodic phrases. 

Vocally, you sing with excellent technique and, yet, understand that the expressive elements work hand in hand with the technical elements. And you are blessed with a beautiful, rich voice equipped with the perfect blend of head and chest vocal elements. 

It was wonderful to see you showcase your confidence as an acoustic performer, allowing the vocals to remain front and center.  And, accompanying yourself at the piano was just the ticket!  This allowed the viewers to truly appreciate your vocal and musical capabilities, without being distracted by smoke and mirrors and choreographic elements – not that any of these elements are unimportant. However there is beauty in simplicity and the ability to communicate your lyrics in a meaningful and authentic manner. 

Thank you for giving such a heartfelt performance Clark!  Bravo and Standing O all the way here. 

Critique: Clark. – all I can say is thank Heavens you stayed with you original key.  Great call!  You don’t need my help right now. This was such a heartfelt, perfect performance. Keep following your instincts and you will rise to the top of this competitions.  
Wait – I just thought of something! Do not squeeze out your upper vocals. Try to maintain a loose and open throat, relaxed jaw and round mouth position when sustaining your upper vocals. You will then feel the need to use the strength and potency of your diaphragmatic muscles more consistently, while relieving pressure from your vocal cords. 

Daniel Seavey: “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates

Daniel Seavey – You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oats – Download from iTunes

Strengths: Daniel – you may be the youngest vocalist on that stage this season, but you have a very unique voice and undeniable musicality. 

This was a great song choice, Daniel.  In fact, you have managed to select great songs each week – ones that accentuated your youthful persona and exuberant personality. 

You were much looser this week, rhythmically moving your body around the stage. Visually this such a vast improvement. And, as a result, your voice sounded looser and freer and certainly brimming with excellent intonation. 

And, I loved that you added some choreography. Yes, it may have looked a bit studied and pre-planned, but, truthfully, at your young level of experience, it is to be expected. With time, it will become more natural so keep working on your performing skills, always remembering that, oftentimes, less is more. 

And, don’t forget to use the element of surprise. You don’t have to embrace your fans immediately – surprise them towards the end of your number! 

 Critique: Daniel – because your are young, your voice naturally behaves as you want it to behave.  Your vocal cords are muscles and young muscles in ever part of your young body are very elastic and flexible. 

However, as you become older, you will find that you need to adjust the manner in which you deliver you vocals. Your muscles will not be as flexible and, certainly, that beautiful head voice of yours won’t come easily. 

With that being said, start working on relaxing your facial muscles, making sure that your jaw is open and free. In combination with all this, sustain your voice on the pure vowels in the lyrics, all the while maintaining a circular mouth position. It’s called popera technique – classical bel canto technique with a twist of pop. 

However, all in all, I loved your performance. You looked and sounded very relaxed. Congratulations. 

Jax: “You Give Love A Bad Name” by Bon Jovi

Jax – You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi – Download from iTunes

Strengths: Jax – oh what a performance!  And I loved that you accompanied yourself on the piano. Bonus! 

I loved the inflection in your voice throughout this performance. This was such an expressive showcase and an extremely unique arrangement. You displayed so many different vocal layers in your voice and every layer was delivered perfectly. 

I am in disagreement with the judges, I guess, in that I loved the sophistication and diversity you brought to this performance.  I never felt you were lost – quite the opposite. I thought you were quite comfortable on your own road with this song and took it in a different and very exciting direction.  

The visual elements you added to this performance were well-conceived and well- paced, making this an exciting and memorable showcase. Excellent work, Jax!

Critique: Jax – well, I loved it and wouldn’t change a thing. Your voice sounded technically secure so, for this week, you are critique – free. Bravo!

Joey Cook: “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

Joey Cook – Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper – Download from iTunes

Strengths: Joey – ah yes!  Perfect song! Perfect artist! Perfect Joey performance!  You are so in sync with who you are as an artist and where you want to take your music.  You are a quirky, off- beat, eccentric performer and I expect nothing less from you each and every week. 

Cyndi Lauper, Bette Middler, Lady Gaga, Madonna and now Joey!  You embrace creativity and uniqueness and are attracted to these elements like a musical moth to a sparkling flame. 

You have a bright, crisp timbre to your voice which distinguishes it from the pack.  Your head voice is always present in every area or dynamic of your vocal range. Just beautiful. 

And, I love your sense of fun and fashion. It is so important as we are living in a world where the packaging is as important as the contents. The visual and aural elements walk hand in hand and you have fully grasped this very fact. 

Critique: Joey – oops, you ran into some intonation issues this week and I’ll tell you why – too much hopping around and it really affected your pitch for most of the performance. 

As I have said to others this week – a little goes a long way. Keep it simple and know your boundaries. Once you hear that your voice is having “issues” then you need to calm down and just sing, using your sparkling personality to deliver the song to your audience. 

Make certain that your diaphragmatic muscles are fully engaged during these physical numbers and, if you cannot support properly while jumping around they stage, then eliminate the latter. Or minimize it!  The vocals have to be front and center – always!  

However, you put a smile on my face and you know where you want to take your artistry. Now Ou have to refine it!  Good work, Joey! 

Nick Fradiani: “Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson

Nick Fradiani – Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson  – Download from iTunes

Strengths: Nick – this was a fabulous song choice. And, once again, you were free from your guitar. I love this and it made such a positive difference in your performance last week. 

This was an exuberant, secure and professional performance and you were on that stage as a Man With A Purpose. You are hungry to succeed and nothing entices exciting performances like an artist who wants to succeed. And you are that artist and you did and will continue to succeed. 

Your voice was loaded with charisma and I loved the different vocal textures you treated us to during this showcase. You mixed a meaty sound with some raspy moments, all the while maintaining technical control over your vocal delivery. 

You also moved easily around the stage, yet, at the same time, your vocals remained front and center. You could teach a masterclass on how to move and sing at the same time without falling apart. I think it’s called technique and impeccable attention to detail during the rehearsal process.  

Excellent work Nick. Standing O here!  

Critique: Nick – you are critique – free.  This song could have run away from you but you took control of those reins and guided it flawlessly in the right direction. 

Now, it’s time for a ballad. Yup – I want to hear you sing a sustained ballad. That is the ultimate test!  Good work Nick! 

Qaasim Middleton: “Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer

Qaasim Middleton – Addicted to Love  by Robert Palmer – Download From iTunes

Strengths: Qaasim – Well, you weren’t saved for nothing last week, Qaasim. You were meant to be here and this competition would not be the same without you. You are a born entertainer and entertain us you do week after week! 

As Boy George  said: “You are a great story-teller”. And this week, you told your story in a more understated manner than in previous weeks, focusing more on the vocals.  

And you definitely have a voice there and you took risks by navigating different areas of your vocal range. Good for you. You have a rich, even timbre throughout your vocal range – it is a very flexible instrument and it was nice to see you having fun with your vocals. 

You are a rhythmic presence on stage and are not afraid to get down and groove.  You are there to bring your audience on one wild ride and never disappoint. Good for you! 

 Critique: Qaasim – now you need to work on some technical issues with your voice. Your intonation was in and out throughout this performance. Indeed – you took enormous vocal risks with this song but with risks comes a price unless you have prepared to your utmost ability. 

And, by preparation, I mean did your rehearse this song while paying attention to the technical security of your vocal delivery?  Were you using diaphragmatic breath support?  

I would think not because there was considerable tension in your facial muscles and you had a tendency to sustain your vocal sound via a horizontal mouth position. By doing so, you are creating intonation land mines throughout your song.  

You have to work on maintaining a circular and relaxed mouth position throughout your songs, while remembering to keep your throat open and free. This will allow and/or encourage you to project your voice   from your diaphragm.  

I know, it is work and it interferes with the freedom in your performing style.  However, in the end, you will emerge a more confident and diverse tryoe of performer, while, at the same time, preserving the longevity of your voice. 

I hope  to see you next week, Qaasim, as I know you have so much more to give and deserve to be on that stage. Good luck!  

Quentin Alexander: “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins

Quentin Alexander – In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins – Download From iTunes

Strengths: Quentin – Yes! Oh! Yes!  You are such an enigma. A truly unique artist. I love your whole look and vibe – from the clothing to the vocals!   

This was such an ethereal performance of this classic number. Your voice sounded incredibly expressive and nuanced.  You took this song, stripped it bare and allowed us to feel – really feel – these lyrics. 

Additionally , your phrasing was so beautiful and the risks you took were phenomenal.  And, at every point in the song, your voice rose to the occasion – sounding rich and charismatic.

You also seemed to have a grasp on the proper technical skills. Your jaw was relaxed and you were confident enough to drop the jaw when navigating those fabulous upper range melodic moments. And, you maintained a circular mouth position, visibly sustaining your words on the pure vowels withIn your lyrics. That diaphragmatic support was a happening!  

I also loved the staging of this number, starting from a seated position and then dramatically rising and slowly moving forward toward your audience. This added depth and range to the performance, making it an exciting g aural and visual experience. Kudos!  

Critique: Quentin – I have little to critique. However, I agree with Harry – we need to see some upbeat performances from you very soon. And, they don’t have to be crazy quick – just change the tempo and move it up a notch or two. 

But, other than that, this performance was excellent and you should be very proud. Kudos!!

Rayvon Owen: “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears for Fears

Rayvon Owen – Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears – Download from iTunes

Strengths: Rayvon – whew!  Last one to sing this week. I am so happy you are still in the competition. But, how nerve-wracking to sit there for two hours and then, boom, you have to sing!  So, I am cutting you some slack here. 

You are an excellent singer and your voice is smooth as silk and you navigated your extensive range just beautifully. I just wish you had selected a better song as I didn’t think it was challenging enough for you. Nor was it sitting in the best possible key for your voice.  

However, you exuded a professional and cool charisma during this performance and you sang your heart out which, at the end of the day, is all you can do. 

 Critique: Rayvon – you need to work on maintaining that circular position in your mouth. You ran in to some intonation issues and, like others this week, were vocalizing with a horizontal mouth position. This makes for a weak, poorly tuned, less resonant vocal presence as the diaphragmatic support is clearly missing. 

Also, remember to sing over your upper notes and not reach for them. That raised head position when singing through your upper range was a real problem for you, as it is for others, as it causes incredible tension in the  voice and you lose eye contact with your audience.  

Bend your knees when you move through your upper range and squeeze your butt and watch the magic happen. 

However, you maintained your cool under stressful circumstances and are to be commended for your fine showcase. 

Tyanna Jones: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

Tyanna Jones – I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston – Download From iTunes

Strengths: Tyanna -little Miss Sunshine!  You are a natural – a gorgeous voice and an authentic performer. 

You picked a difficult song so I was interested to see where you were going to take this number. Well, my dear, you took it through the roof, that’s where!

I am such a huge, HUGE, fan of your voice. It is such a gorgeous, rich, expressive, dynamic instrument – a thing of beauty. Your phrasing, your intonation, your articulation – everything is as it should be, crystal clear and clean. 

You sustained your melodic line so well, Tyanna, and your head voice popped out every so often with ease and precision. 

However, for me, it was your charisma that most impressed me – you looked so happy and vibrant up on that stage and it carried over to your vocal delivery. Both go hand in hand and, yet, with you, it seems to be something inherent – like you were born to be on that stage. I have never seen a performer at this stage of the competition look so utterly relaxed and grateful for the experience to be on that American Idol stage. You are like a little kid in a candy store. 

This was fabulous!  Congratulations Tyanna! 

Critique: Tyanna – okay now the bad news. Be very careful not to push your voice via tense throat muscles. On the whole, your vocal performance was technically secure;  however, some of those upper register sustained moments sounded tense to my ear. 
Relax those throat muscles and allow the diaphragmatic breathing muscles to lend power and vigorous to your voice. At times, I felt that the chest voice was overwhelming the head voice in your vocal mix and, as a result, your voice lost resonance and ring. 

Also, you raised your head when singing through your upper range – another “no-no”. Make certain that you keep your head level with your audience and sing over those upper notes. No reaching allowed!   Bend your knees for added security and squeeze your butt muscles while relaxing your jaw. Try it – you’ll like it!   I promise! 

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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

9 Responses to “Vocal Masterclass Article For American Idol Season XIV Top 9 Show: Songs From The Eighties”

  1. I agree that Rayvon needs to relax his muscles.


  2. I hope that Tyanna wasn’t too spooked by the negative critiques she got for her Circle of Life performance because I agree with the judges that she was a little too much in her head this week.


  3. Will there be a tour this year? They eliminated number 11 and 10 without distinguishing between the two so we don’t know who finished in 10th place.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good point Gene. There should have been some distinction. I cannot STAND the elimination at the end of the show. I really feel it adversely affected Rayvon’s performance.


  5. I have to think that this elimination system hurts ALL the singers–and the later they are called, the more it has to affect their performance. So unfair!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rereader, I agree the show is anticlimactic with the singers who are leaving saved so last. Those safe need to worry about their fate and it does increase nerves and worry.

    MCL so happy you are critiquing again. I enjoy reading them so much.

    Question though wouldn’t you consider Rolling in the Deep and Master Blaster uptempo? I do. Week after week I look forward to what Quentin will sing, how he will change it up and yes what he will wear. I love Quentin’s artisty.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aubry – right you are. I was on vacation so was randomly watching the performances over the past few weeks. Quentin’s artistic depth is quite astounding.


  8. mcl, thrilled you are back with what you do best! i love quentin. this is the first time i didn’t love joey’s song. you wrote: ‘Qaasim – Well, you weren’t saved for nothing last week, Qaasim. You were meant to be here and this competition would not be the same without you. You are a born entertainer and entertain us you do week after week!’ i think the competition wouldn’t be the same without qaasim also, because of his heart and his enthusiasm. he is so much a team player, so supportive of others, so into the music, to me he is just this little beam of light. actually a big beam of light.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think I’ve figured out Rayvon. He has emotion in his face and sometimes in his body. The trouble is that he wants to be so technically correct that his voice is often expressionless, almost like it is autotuned. We need to hear character in the voice-a lilt, a poignant “crack.” If you listen to John Mayer sing he is pretty much spot on–even live– and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had perfect pitch–but he has this “catch” in his voice, especially in emotional songs. Almost like he got stuffy and was about the cry — just for one note. That’s what Rayvon needs. I’m sure John Mayer manufacters that in certain spots. Rayvon needs to listen to singers that show the emotion in their voices like Peter Gabriel, John Lennon, Sting, John Mayer, Frank Sinatra, Adele, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash. All pretty amazing singers, not all a classic sound, but you can hear the emotional tone through the technique.

    Liked by 1 person

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