By: Rosanne Simunovic
We are getting down to the wire now. In just three weeks, we will be crowning a new American Idol and this Top 4 are pulling out every trick in the book to be the last woman or man standing.
I was so sad to see the elimination of Tyanna. Like really sad! She is such a little star and brings an incredible vocal gift to this show. I hope somebody snatches her up and turns her into the current star that she has the potential to be.
Anyway, 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.
p style=”text-align:center;”>Clark Beckham –
Living For The City: Clark – this was a smart song choice as it gave you ample opportunity to showcase your strong soulful artistry.
Your voice embraced the melodic line very well and the lyrics were strong and clear. I felt more connected to this performance – I really feel that you do perform so much better when you are not glued to one of your instruments.
However, that bluesy piano solo was well done and a very smart move on your part. It added another visual and aural layer to this performance. Great work, Clark
Your Man: Clark – I loved the vocal and dynamic range you displayed with this number. Once again, we got to hear the strength of your upper range but did anyone ever tell you you have a gorgeous lower range?
You sort of skimmed the lower part of your range but what we heard was absolutely stunning. Stunning! There is a naturally resonant quality in this part of your range that projects so well. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Also, for this number, we were treated to a lovely guitar solo. Good work. You are a seasoned and refined musician and this rang true in both of your performances this week. Bravo!
Living For The City: Clark – Your Man: Clark – okay, you had a bit of an intonation issue right off the top. In retrospect, I don’t know if you were anticipating the piano solo later on in this song, thus throwing off your vocals at the outset or whether you just didn’t technically connect with your upper range. It could have been a combination of both.
However, you were really forcing your voice this week – much more than in previous weeks. Where did that gorgeous “Moon River” voice go? You need to remember to technically enhance all your songs – if not, you will crash and burn, Clark.
You were screaming some of your notes and your mouth was in that horizontal spread rather than circular, thus creating unbelievable tension in your throat and facial muscles. Your voice lacked fluidity and freedom – it was tension all the way.
You have to somehow convince yourself that you can sing with passion and strength while using the diaphragm and allowing your throat to stay open and free. Your Top 5 teammate, Jax, does so all the time – she can show you how. Ha!
However, I congratulate you on establishing a stronger connection with your audience this time around, Clark. Kudos!
Your Man: Clark – I think we lost you again with this performance. Or vice versa. There is something with that guitar that causes you to emotionally disconnect with your audience. It could be that the sophistication of your musical delivery may cause you to lose sight of the fact that you have a audience that needs your attention. Ha!
Personally, I love your style, but you need to come out of your personal shell when you sing. You are an introspective performer and there is a place for performers like you. Absolutely.
However, on a show like this, you need to know your audience. What will energize your audience? What will bring them to their feet? And, if you truly love this song, then live it. Just live it, buddy!
Jennifer said it perfectly: You need to create an amazing moment for your audience. I couldn have said it better myself. That is it in a nutshell!
p style=”text-align:center;”>Jax – Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z – iTunes
Empire State of Mind: Jax – this was such a perfect song for you, Jax. Your voice, your artistry, you seated at the piano – everything worked. Everything!
Your voice sounded so full and so resonant – your timbre was just gorgeous and always fully liberated. I was able to feel all the emotion in your voice when you sang and yet never felt that you had to try hard to achieve the expressive message of the song.
You completely live your songs – this week and every week – and, even more, come to each performance impeccably rehearsed. It was so obvious in your interview with Scott Borchetta and the A&R representative (name? ) – that you could not wait to go back to the drawing board to rehearse your music.
And I loved how you stopped playing the piano and stayed seated – embracing the moment – and then seamlessly rose to meet your audience. This is what I mean about you – your music is is who you are. You are really meant to be on that stage – any stage for that matter!
This was a strong visual and aural performance, Jax, and a great song choice.
Human: Jax – this was another emotional, stellar performance. You sang this song with so much heart and soul. Your voice sounded clear and transparent – as always – and your dramatic delivery enhanced the emotional core of the song. It was not overdone – it was just right.
The visual impact you created was phenomenal. From standing to kneeling, engulfed in dry ice, the heart-wrenching ambience of this song rose to stellar heights.
Vocally and artistically, this was a tour de force.
What more needs to be said? I loved it! Congratulations.
Empire State of Mind: Jax – this week, at the start of your song, I heard a little glottal attack on some of your notes – especially at the beginning of your song.
I was writing and then looked up to see what was happening. Your mouth was round, you looked relaxed but, for whatever reason, your diaphragm did not engage properly. There was a subtle push from the throat.
It disappeared after, say, 30 seconds. Perhaps you didn’t elevate your rib cage properly while seated at the piano? You need to do so for your muscles to fully expand when your inhale.
Oh wait – Harry implied that your voice was “under the weather”? Well, there’s the answer right there. Hard to support your voice when you feel less than perfect, right? Kudos for you for singing through whatever was ailing you this week. That’s what it’s all about!
Human: Jax – this was just too beautiful to critique. Truly.
I would just caution you to try not to raise your head when you sustain your upper notes. There is no need. All the technical skill is in place so keep your head level. We need to see the angst in your eyes, the passion. This is how you further connect with your audience.
Also, there were a few intonation issues which is unusual for you. If you are ill, perhaps this was a contributing factor. Also, it is difficult to support with energy if the body is tired so rest as much as you can before a performance. Always.
However, I thought this performance was beyond gorgeous, Jax. Standing O!!! Brava
p style=”text-align:center;”>Nick Fradiani – Rascal Flatts – What Hurts The Most – iTunes
Nick – I am such a huge fan of your radio-friendly voice. And you are another performer on that stage who never forces his voice. You bring considerable technical skill to this competition, not to mention your phenomenal musical skills.
You kicked the juice out of this song, all the while maintaining that circular mouth formation. You have the proper British way of grabbing your vowels and articulating your words. You cohesively glue your voice to the pure vowels and then crisply articulate the consonants before and after the sustaining process.
This is why your voice sounds so clear and even from top to bottom. You approach every area of your voice in a consistently technical manner.
However, make no mistake about it: it wasn’t all technique. You gave a passionate and committed performance of this song and really propelled it forward to your audience. Bravo, Nick!
What Hurts The Most: Nick – bye bye guitar. Hello Nick the artist. Now this was a PERFORMANCE! You have taken every it of advice and ran with it. And no matter what happens with the voting, you will continue to be successful because you value and respect your mentors.
I loved how you rhythmically lifted the mike off the stand. Like – right on the beat! I love these special tricks – it adds to the drama and momentum of the song.
And your posture was perfection. One foot slightly ahead of the other, the body tilted slightly forward toward the audience, the bend in the knees? Oh yes, you have technical skills as well as musical skills. This posture is a classical technical stance and provides support and stability to your voice.
You also showcased your elevated rib cage, encouraging you to breathe expansively through the diaphragm in an effort to support your voice completely and consistently.
Your were a rhythmically secure physical presence on that stage and what you do, kind of can’t be taught. It just is!
Standing O! What a killer performance. Kudos!
Bright Lights: Nick – the only thing I would have liked to see would be you moving around at some point. You love that mike stand don’t you? In reality, it wasn’t totally necessary because you still manage to connect with your audience through the physicality of your performance. Ever muscle in your body is involved with your song.
However, it would have added an extra layer of visual excitement. Try to keep this in mind when you perform – movement adds excitement to a performance and can further relax you as the performance moves along.
But, I am nit-picking here. This was a stellar showcase! Standing O!
What Hurts The Most: Nick – nothing in this song hurt me, Nick. This was an amazing performance. Both songs were crazy good! What a night for you!
p style=”text-align:center;”>Rayvon Owen – Believe by Justin Bieber – iTunes
Need You Now: Rayvon – I loved the hushed quality in your voice when you began this number. It created the perfect ambience for the emotional texture of this song.
Then, when you moved into your passionate vocals, you did so in a technically secure manner. No forcing – just a beautifully projected, fully liberated voice. This was a lovely, nuanced and authentic performance and I just loved it.
The mark of a good singer is how well he can sustain a note – and for how long. And you proved this over and over again in this song, Rayvon, as you beautifully shaped your phrases and sustained your notes over and over again.
Wonderful work once again. Congratulations.
Believe: Rayvon – during this number, you had such an earnest quality in your vocal delivery. A sense of longing. It a wonderful element that is part and parcel of every performance you have showcased for us.
Your voice sounded glorious and fluid. And you moved with such ease on that stage, using all your space to connect with emphasis and strength with your audience.
You embodied the rhythmic pulse and emotional core of this song in such a real way. You were truly in the moment, when a singer and his song become one.
Technically, everything was in the right place and shape. Those relaxed facial features allowed your voice to resonate freely in your vocal masque. And that round mouth was perfect, creating a cohesive sound to your voice as you navigated up and down within your expansive vocal range.
What a great finish to a spectacular dual showcase. Congratulations Rayvon!
Need You Now: Rayvon – be careful not to raise your head when you sing through your upper range. The technique is there – so keep your head level, further grounding your voice by bending your knees when singing through your upper range. Think over the note and never reach. Never. Ever! Hit it down like a volleyball serve. This visual really helps.
The judges thought you were overly dramatic? Boy, colour me confused. I thought you sang with your heart so whatever, right?
This was a very solid and heartfelt vocal. Congratulations.
Believe: Rayvon – this was an immaculate performance and I will leave it at that. Bravo!