Vocal Masterclass Article For American Idol Season XIV Top 8/9 Performances: The Music Of Kelly Clarkson 

American Idol

By: Rosanne Simunovic 

 Wasn’t it great to see Kelly Clarkson again? She is arguably one of the best natural talents discovered by American Idol and, as the original winner of this show, was able to impart valuable and life-changing assistance to the Top 8/9. 

 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.

Clark Beckham, Daniel Seavey, Jax

Joey Cook, Nick Fradiani

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

Clark Beckham: “The Trouble With Love Is”

Clark Beckham – “The Trouble With Love Is” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Clark –  could this song have been any more perfect for you? The soulful, freely expressive melodic phrasing in this song complemented your superior level of vocal artistry. 

First of all, you are a vocal technician. You have the chops and have honed them very well them via a bel canto approach to vocal projection. 

Secondly, I sense that you are studious and meticulous during the rehearsal process. In fact, your rehearsal regime more than likely has been the result of years of preparation for this opportunity. 

In other words, Clark Beckham – the artist – didn’t just happen. 

And yet, your vocal showcase this week was not robotic. Technique did not get in the way of the emotional process. Your voice was brimming with nuance and inflection, allowing the words to ring with clarity and purpose. 

 As I watched you, I gained the impression that every note, phrase and melodic ad lib were carefully formulated during the rehearsal process, thus allowing you to fully relax during the live performance – which, by the way, was exceptional. 

What a stellar performance!  Bravo!! Bravo!! Standing O! 

Critique: Clark. – this was darn near perfect. Except. I Wish you would ditch the screaming element to convey the emotion. Just deliver a strong, well -supported forte vocal. Use your diaphragm, relax your throat and jaw and watch the magic happen. 

Daniel Seavey: “Breakaway”

Daniel Seavey – “Breakaway” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Daniel – I was actually happy that you selected this song, Daniel, as the melodic structure didn’t overwhelm your young voice.  Also, the lyrics were youthful and whimsical and, therefore, complemented your youthful charisma and personality. 

What a shame that you had laryngitis for your session with Kelly. I love that she imparted the “bubble technique” to you. It is a great one. It loosens the facial muscles and jump starts the diaphragm. 

You performed this song so well, especially considering that your voice was still healing from your laryngitis. I have to say that you are a fighter and I could see that you were in pain while you sang. Poor thing. I really felt for you. 

Critique: Daniel – what can I say?  You were ill so it is so hard to critique a singer who lost his voice. It affected every area of your performance. How can any singer be relaxed with laryngitis?  It is impossible and, actually, a miracle that you were able to project any sound at all. Because, in fact, you should not have been singing. 

Good work though Daniel.  You are a warrior!  

Jax: “Beautiful Disaster”

Jax – “Beautiful Disaster” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Jax – I was very excited to see how you were going to interpret this gorgeous song. There are so many wonderful opportunities in this song for a singer to have a “moment” on stage. 

And, I believe you had many, many, many moments with this song. Oh MasterClass Goodness!  Are you kidding me? This was a vocal home run. 

You paced this song so well – in your voice and in your movements. It was as perfect as one can get during a performance.  

You slowly built momentum, alternating vulnerable heartfelt moments with passionate ones.  And, as the song moved forward, so did you – walking slowly, dramatically toward your audience.  There were so many exciting dimensions to this performance and yet it was cohesive  – it made artistic sense. 

Your voice caressed the meaningful lyrics, expressively delivering  the heart and soul of this passionate song to your audience.  Your phrasing was impeccable, so free and expressive. It made sense within the context of the lyrics. 

You have an inherently beautiful voice; it is a gorgeously expressive instrument. It is brimming with clarity and ring and pitch issues are not in your vocal makeup. I can feel the technical brilliance underneath your artistry, supplying the foundation for your vocal showcases. And that – in a nutshell – is what makes all the difference. 

Critique: Jax – I have no advice for you this week. Just keep doing what your doing and you will sail right to the top. Brava!! 

Joey Cook: “Miss Independent”

Joey Cook – “Miss Independent” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Joey – what an interesting take on this iconic Kelly song. Like really interesting. Like over the moon interesting.  So, yes, I LOVED it. After last week’s less than stellar performance, you fully and completely redeemed yourself young lady. 

I would have never envisioned a jazzy, big band rendition of this song. It was absolutely brilliant. It was like “A Bette Middler meets Kelly Clarkson” moment and the result was Joey Cook. 

The judges looked confused though. It was weird. How could they not rock on to your fabulous vision for this song?  However, the comments were all good to go so that’s all that counts. 

At any rate, your voice sounded crystal clear and nuanced, overflowing with playful delight.  Your phrasing was so musical and, of course, very inspired. 

And you looked the part – with your purple hair and sassy red dress. It is all about the package and you have it. All you needed was a little red bow in your hair!  Ha!

Kudos to your musicians for helping you to conceptualize this song. The arrangement was just excellent and your performance was natural and authentic. Another true original on that stage this week!  Brava!  Brava!

Critique: Joey – please!  Like I am going to critique this?  This is right up my alley. I am all for ingenuity and when it comes packaged with a clean vocal, I say – Brava!  You are a star!  Bring me more next week!  

Nick Fradiani: “Catch My Breath”

Nick Fradiani – “Catch My Breath” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Nick – you bring a level of maturity and experience to this competition and this was reflected in your song choice this week. This was not an easy song and you obviously thrive on the challenge, on your ability to take risks and challenge your artistry. 

You commanded the stage this week and really poured your heart and soul into this song. Each week, you are becoming more and more relaxed and exposing another layer of your artistry. Congratulations!  


Critique: Nick – make absolutely certain that you support your lower range.  You started out very shaky and your pitch was compromised because of lack of support in your lower range. Your voice was poorly directed and, as a result, when you moved in to your upper and stronger vocals, your voice was still off center.  You didn’t ground your voice from the outset and, unfortunately, lost control of the reins. 

You presently sing with far too much chest voice in your vocal mix.  Therefore, this week, your lower voice sounded vague and breathy and your upper voice quite strident and forced. 

I was actually quite frustrated for you because, as a performance, you really hit your groove this week. You owned the stage, entertained the audience and used your space very well.  

But, I couldn’t detach myself from the poorly delivered vocals. You have a great voice and need to work on making it better by supporting it from the diaphragm. Loosen your throat and learn to sustain fully and completely on the pure vowel within your lyrics.  This will tap in to your head voice – an element that is presently missing in your vocal  performances. Adding head voice – your falsetto – into your vocal mix will add ring and clarity to your voice, resulting in better intonation.  

Good luck next week, Nick! 

Qaasim Middleton: “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”

Qaasim Middleton – “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Qaasim – Boy, you were saddled with a difficult song choice. But you grabbed the reins and really went for a great ride. An acoustic version of this song was a brave adventure and really exposed your vocals.   I really give you credit for taking this risk. 

There were some exciting moments in this song.  It was completely and utterly soulful and, the fact that you accompanied yourself in guitar, accentuated your musicality and comfort as an artist. 

The  back-up singers added to this bluesy rendition of the song – I applaud the effort and skill that went in to arranging this unique number. 

Good work, Qaasim. 

Critique: Qaasim – your pitch was in a heap of trouble during this number. Your vocal projection is being manipulated from the neck up and I sense no level of diaphragmatic support.  The lower half of your body was cast aside when, in fact, this is what you needed  to point your voice in an artistically secure direction. 

Because your voice is not handled with technical care and precision,  the projection is non-existent and your full vocal ability is masked because of this. Your voice was cracking throughout this performance and, as I said above, the intonation was poorly centered.  Too much tension in your face and upper body and lack,of support from your lower body is a recipe for disaster. 

In you, Qaasim, we have the artistry but not the technical skill to pull off such an intricate performance. Please try to do less, vocally, in your future performances – keep it simple and let your voice shine in a less confusing manner. Over time, you will be able to jump hurdles with your voice, but this is not the time.  Not yet!  Study the basics of proper vocal technique and let’s free your vocal cords! 

Quentin Alexander: “Dark Side”

Quentin Alexander – “Dark Side” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Quentin – you remind me so much of Adam Lambert.  Your artistry, your vision, your pacing and phrasing are all so similar to how Adam delivered his music. 

I wasn’t as familiar with this Kelly Clarkson song so I am assessing this with no frame of reference whatsoever. 

Overall, this was a solid performance and some of those lengthy sustained upper register moments were exceptionally delivered.  You always exude a fabulous charisma on stage and come equipped with a beautiful and expressive voice. 

However, I sensed that this song did not sit well with you on many levels. The drama behind the song was conveyed well but, melodically, it was not grasping your artistic soul. 

Good work, nonetheless, Quentin!

Critique: Quentin – take a memo. Do not sing anymore Kelly Clarkson songs.  This is not who you are and it is a shame that you were saddled with this decision this week.  

Her songs are amazing and, for some this week, they worked but I was worried about you before you opened your mouth. Her songs seem just wrong for you. 

There was one point in the song where your voice had no where to go and just stopped – during the “Promise me that you will stay” section. It was so strange.  You looked out of the pocket and there was just this blank space – visually and aurally – until you started to sing again.  Something seemed off there?

Also, be careful not to lift your head when you sing through your upper register. It hinders the correct projection of your voice and, visually, we are left looking at your neck and not your eyes. Sing over your notes and bend your knees when navigating the upper register. 

Good luck next week, Quentin! 

Rayvon Owen: “Since U Been Gone”

Rayvon Owen – “Since U Been Gone” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Rayvon – another hard song!  But, you nailed it and then some. And I loved that you slowed down the pace of this number and truly made it a Rayvon original. 

This was a haunting rendition of this number and it brought out some beautiful nuances in your vocal tone. Your voice sounded so expressive and your demeanour was lovely to behold. You were so “in the moment” with this number – you poured your heart and your soul into this performance. 

For the most part, your mouth was circular and relaxed as you grabbed the vowels within your words. Your phrasing was emotional and, of course, very musical.  For me, this was your finest moment on that stage and I am sensing where and how you fit into the artistic road you are paving for yourself, the direction you wish to take your music. 

Excellent work, Rayvon! 

Critique: Rayvon – that spread in your mouth – the horizontal formation – diminishes the full, resonating beauty of your voice. It was problematic last week and again this week – however, not as pronounced. I sense there is a diaphragmatic foundation in place and this is your saving grace.   

Therefore, really try to keep that mouth round and relaxed at all times, especially when you move in to your upper range and/or louder dynamic. You need to alleviate the pressure your are exerting on your vocal cords. 

However, all in all, it was a fantastic performance!

Tyanna Jones: “Mr Know It All”


p style=”text-align:center;”>Tyanna Jones – “Mr. Know It All” – Download From ITunes

Strengths: Tyanna – this was THE perfect Kelly Clarkson song choice for you. It was not only age – appropriate but also the melodic range sat perfectly within your vocal range.

The simplicity of the original melody gave you room to flex and bend the interpretation, allowing the viewers to fully appreciate the depth of you vocal range. 

You delivered the words clearly and expressively and your attention to articulation gave resonance and direction to your vocal tone.  And, given that you said that you were bullied in then past, the song was delivered with verve and powerful emotion. This words had punch and purpose. Good on you! 

I absolutely love how rhythmically in touch you are with the music.  The music inhabits your soul and you are so in touch with what the song offers you as a vocalist – and so willing to share it all with your audience. 

Also, the charisma and happiness you exude on that stage is very, very special.  You are unique, current and just what the music industry needs right now.  Someone exciting and different 

This was a very impressive performance, Tyanna!  Kudos! 

Critique: Tyanna – make sure you do not sing with too much chest voice in your vocal mix. During this performance,  your voice skirted the center and your intonation was a little sharp. Not all the time, but often enough for me to comment on it. 

Your youth may have played in a role in this because your voice is still developing. However, you do give us glimpses of clear, ringing head voice every so often so remember to keep it as an integral element in your louder dynamics. Don’t push the sound from your throat but rather propel it from your diaphragm. 

Your voice will become naturally rich and deeper as you age so remember to pace yourself in this respect. You cannot rush the vocal maturity – with technique and time, you will gain more dimension in your voice. 

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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

7 Responses to “Vocal Masterclass Article For American Idol Season XIV Top 8/9 Performances: The Music Of Kelly Clarkson ”

  1. My favourites are still Clark, Jax and Joey. I can see any one of them winning this season. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds Tyanna somewhat sharp, but I always enjoy watching her pure joy in singing and she is talented without a doubt.


  2. I’m in the middle of cleaning/cooking for Passover, so I missed a lot of the show, but I did hear Jax and Joey, both so good! I especially loved Joey’s because it was so much FUN, and it was clear that she was enjoying herself so much.


  3. My favorite was Joey. I’m so glad she’s back on track. I was bummed that Harry took his frustration out on her about her retro-jazz presentation.

    I liked Jax at the time, but this morning I’m having trouble remembering her song, so it couldn’t have been earthshaking.

    I was so happy Rayvon kicked it. I finally felt him connect to the lyrics.

    Clark was awesome. He did push his voice at the end, but he had so much energy and authenticity that it didn’t bother me at all.

    I get frustrated for the contestants, like Nick, that have to go first. The nerves were high and his vocals were not as spot on as they usually are. Thank you to MCL for pointing that lack of a ringing head voice. I do think it would be a wonderful accompaniment to his slightly raspy chest voice, but expressively, it would help him show that delicate, vulnerable side. He was pretty good. If that had been one song in a set, it would’ve been great, even though not particularly memorable. I think he would’ve been better off doing it acoustically as he said his band did it.

    Quentin was very good, just not memorable as usual. I think, like cranky Harry said, if he can get more music theory under his belt, he can make more informed musical choices.

    Tyanna was underwhelming. Assertive and slightly sad made her look like a lost puppy on stage. She didn’t even look introspective; she looked like the Wordsworth line, “I wandered lonely as a cloud …”

    Can I skip Daniel? Poor thing.

    Next week:

    Bottom 2: Tyanna and Nick
    Probably will go home: Tyanna


  4. I can understand that Harry wants jazz to seem modern and relevant. He loves jazz and he wants other people to love it too. That being said, I think Joey IS winning people over with performances so Harry just needs to relax and enjoy what she’s doing.

    I’m glad that Daniel went home when he did with a good happy attitude before things got ugly like they have in previous seasons.


  5. I think Harry needs to relax also but about Quentin’s technicality. One can be taught notes and such, however as Clark and Rayvon prove delivering a song that is so heartfelt and moving and mesmerizing can’t be taught.

    Quentin’s artistry is like Adam Lamberts. Amazing


  6. Well, the pimping is now full steam ahead. I sense you will see where this show is going in terms of the pre-determined winner. There is so much going on behind the scenes that we cannot see – nor can we understand.

    That being said I was beyond confused over Harry’s comments toward Joey Cook. I didn’t even understand it. Totally confused me. She is like Bette Middler 2.0 so how can that be a bad thing?

    Clark is in a class of his own. Phenomenal.

    I LOVE Tyanna. She is a star. Her look, her artistry – she is ready for the A&R machine.

    Quentin needs to run away and forget about Kelly Clarkson week. This is NOT who he is by a long shot. The same for Qaasim.

    Joey’s performance was an exquisite little gem. Nick – hmm – he is not connecting as he should. Not sure why. Well, yes I do. His voice is not projecting well. The performance is overriding his technical skills.

    All of them have their strengths and there are very few weaknesses in this year’s crop of singers.


  7. I am always wrong so this is dross most likely. I have had Clark and Tyanna as the top two for a couple weeks because they are pure middle stream. I can speak to Joey perhaps a bit. Jazz and jazz/highly personal interpretations are acquired tastes like cruciferous vegetables. It takes a long time to get into brussel sprouts, even when they are roasted. People may like a Joey performance but are they going to listen to it for an extended time? The audience voting kids have their limits on the television screen. Siobhan Magnus had (still does) a great voice but even she couldn’t overcome the quirkiness. That and a jazz/scat base are Joey’s underlying issues. Qassim has similar issues. And sometimes the style hides the voice. Can I close my eyes (I am always closing my eyes) and get lost in Joey, her style and voice? So far, no.


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