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Vocal Masterclass Article For American Idol Season XIV Top 4 Show: Personal and Judges’ Hometowns Choice 


American Idol

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.

Clark Beckham, Jax

Nick Fradiani

Rayvon Owen

Clark Beckham: Living For The City” by Stevie Wonder and “Your Man” by Josh Turner

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p style=”text-align:center;”>Clark Beckham – Your Man by Josh Turner – ITunes

Strengths:

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!

Critique:

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!  

Jax: “Human” by Christina Perri and “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z

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p style=”text-align:center;”>Jax – Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z – iTunes

Strengths:

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.

Congratulations, Jax!

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. 

Critique:

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

Nick Fradiani: “What Hurts The Most” by Rascal Flatts and “Bright Lights” by Matchbox 20

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p style=”text-align:center;”>Nick Fradiani – Rascal Flatts – What Hurts The Most – iTunes

Strengths:

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! 

Critique:

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!  

Rayvon Owen: “Believe” by Justin Bieber and “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum

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p style=”text-align:center;”>Rayvon Owen – Believe by Justin Bieber – iTunes

Strengths:

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!

Critique:

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!

Copyright © 2008. MasterclassLady.Com. All rights reserved.

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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

15 Responses to “Vocal Masterclass Article For American Idol Season XIV Top 4 Show: Personal and Judges’ Hometowns Choice ”

  1. My money will be going elsewhere this summer:) LIke watchig Colton Dixon perform this JUne.

    Like

  2. I see Rayvon still has his nine lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why couldn’t they allow everyone to sing and then announce who was eliminated at the close of the show? Me no likey!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If Idol is still on next year, then girls need to skip it and try out for The Voice. They’ll have a better chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The manner in which Tyanna was eliminated was just plain stupid. And heartless. The poor girl. Then she had to sing? I guess all their studied filler was more important than further promotion of this talented young lady’s career? Disgusted here

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  6. I think Idol has turned into the Scott Borchetta show. So over it. I still love the auditions then it’s all downhill from there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. when they were introducing the ‘front part’ with the idols, my heart broke that quentin and joey were not there. and as mcl mentioned in an earlier post, and as i mentioned last week, it is so sad that Quassim, Quentin, and Joey will not be part of the tour. seriously, so sad.

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  8. so…i’m wondering what others thought about the ‘controversy’ and the judge’s comments with scott. mcl seems to agree with them. i keep thinking about his comments of last week ‘i want to be a star’, not, ‘i want to be a singer’. i like scott and i enjoy his input. better than randy.

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  9. Re: Clark
    Viewers have never taken too kindly to sass by contestants. It may hurt him.

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  10. I agree Idol Girl. I thought Clark was more foolish and hard headed and full of himself than sassy, but as Hunter pointed out, it’s another side of him that doesn’t look good in the light of day. He had two high powered industry professionals trying to tell him he was making a mistake and that he was placing himself on a path that ends on the stage of a Holiday Inn lounge, but he refused to listen. I wasn’t impressed with the resulting performances either, and I’m a Clark fan.

    On the bright side, Clark was the only contestant to meet with Scott’s wife on their visit to Big Machine Records; hmmmm. They have played so many games on Idol in the past it’s hard to say if they are trolling for the sympathy vote to firm Clark in the top three or if they are trying to keep him out of it. I don’t think he is being mistreated though. The words came out of his mouth, repeatedly. I feel the same about Quinton.

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  11. Gene – I was wondering what happened to Scott’s wife in the other contestants’ video package. Maybe they did meet with her and it didn’t make the edit?

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  12. MCL- Yeah, that’s a thought too. Maybe it was an innocent omission and if they were sending a message, my guess is that it would be lost on most. I noticed her name in the caption and Goggled to see if she was his wife or sister or whatever.

    I thought it was pretty cool to fly the contestants to Nashville and let them see where the sausage is made. The ones who don’t win will have learned some valuable lessons that they can use for self promotion in the alternate media.

    BTW, Have you heard of the group Post Modern Jukebox on You Tube? They have several guest singers that are quite good, some you will know.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. No I haven’t Gene. I will have to check it out. Thank You!!

    Like

  14. What they do is take modern hits and reinterpret them in a style that varies between jazz, big band, swing of the thirties and forties and even a little bit fifties style and sixties Motown. I believe most of the band members are regulars but the singers are guest. Our own Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams as well as another young singer and actress, Morgan James, are among the singers.

    Haley’s version of “Creep” was the inspiration for Kimberly Nichole’s outstanding performance this week on The Voice and sits at #1 on the iTunes Jazz chart! Go Haley! She also has a version of “All About That Bass” that is outstanding, especially in it’s video version. This video also features Morgan James. I think it is charting at around #10.

    There are many others but of note are a cover of Maroon Five’s “Map” featuring Morgan James that is much better than the original and a cover of “Habits” featuring Haley that is also good. The lyrics are a little racy on this one. There is also another version of all about that bass with another girl playing upright bass and singing.

    The group has completed a European tour and is on an American tour now. The singers vary from stop to stop but Haley is doing many of the shows. I hope to see them this month if it works out.

    Here is a sample;

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