Finally – my evaluations for the Top 10. I love writing these Vocal Masterclass articles for the American Idol performances and feel sad knowing that this will be the last year for these publications. It has been one fun and joyous ride and you – the MCL community – have made this journey particularly special.
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.
Strengths: Avalon – I loved the performance aspects of this number. You were wise to remain stationary behind the microphone stand for opening this song. I believe it helped to ground you while allowing you to get a feel for the performing circumstances surrounding you. It also complemented the hushed vocals at the beginning of this number.
Then, as you moved to center stage, the visual aspect of your performance was augmented and you were able to deliver stronger vocals for the remainder of the song. At this point, we were able to appreciate the full, ringing timbre of your voice.
This “slowly moving forward” technique always works – for the singer and for the audience. If the beginning of a song allows you to remain quiet and still, you should seize on this opportunity – if, for no other reason, than that it helps to “ground” your vocal delivery and stay connected to the technical process.
Then, as you move forward, the movement in and of itself will help to relax you, while, at the same time, establish a stronger rapport with your audience.
All in all, this was a lovely performance, Avalon.
Critique: Avalon – I would caution you to work on establishing a more relaxed and open throat when you sing. I felt that, although there was some evidence of technical skill guiding your vocal delivery, your throat – and therefore your voice – sounded tense, vey constricted. Not all the time but, unfortunately, for the majority of the time.
Although I loved the variety of nuance you delivered in this performance, the first part of the song – when you were singing with a softer dynamic – suffered from lack of technical support. Then, as you moved toward the louder dynamic later on in this number, your intonation continued to suffer because you never established a strong connection with your diaphragm early on in the song.
Mind you, it was not “over the top” horrible but it was still there nonetheless. And, I believe that you were nervous to boot so that didn’t help. I encourage you to keep working on solidifying your technical skills. Keep that mouth round and the jaw relaxed and free. You have a natural head tone component in your voice which I love but, unfortunately, is being obliterated by too much chest voice. Once you achieve the correct balance between head and chest, your voice will sound seamless and resonant throughout your vocal and dynamic range.
Good luck, Avalon!
Strengths: Dalton – well, aren’t you the little superstar! I loved, LOVED, this performance and the manner in which you moved with rhythmic ease and purpose throughout the stage.
And, you picked a stellar role model in David Cook, because nobody on American Idol sang rock music with better technique and creativity than David. He set the bar high for singers like yourself and you took the bait and ran with it.
You are very musical, Dalton, and the excellent manner in which you approached your phrasing was especially noteworthy. You didn’t breathe in the expected places in the melodic/lyrical line. I loved that!
You have a unique look and sound built in to your performance package and this will carry you very far, not only on the American Idol stage, but also post – Idol.
Excellent work, Dalton. Congratulations!
Critique: Dalton – you need to hone yout technical skills, particularly with the manner in which you sustain your voice on the pure vowels. You did sustain well and with great ease; however, with that being said, if you would allow your mouth to take on a circular formation and your throat to relax, your voice would sound more resonant and, assuredly, more varied within your dynamic range.
Sometimes, these fast-paced songs do not allow for dynamic variation and this was one of those songs. I will be anxious to hear you sing a song with meat on its melodic and lyrical bones – one that will signal the artistry and creativity lying within you. Something like THIS
Strengths: Gianna – you have quite the voice, young lady. And real sincerity when you sing. I loved the expressive elements you brought to this incredibly difficult song and the wonderful nuances I heard in your voice.
Although I wished you had moved away from the mike stand, I think, in your case, you were wise to stay put. Not only is the song composition a “force” that delivers easily and memorably to the audience, but also, I felt that you were most comfortable by remaining stationary on the stage.
What I took away from this performance was a earnest and meaningful message by a young singer with enormous potential and future growth. Congratulations, Gianna.
Critique: Gianna – I just bet – just BET – that this song sounded 100 times better in rehearsal. You were nervous – understandably so. However, in fairness, this song is so difficult and taxes even the most experienced singer. I felt that, had you selected a different song – and one not associated with the likes of the great Beyoncé – we would have heard an entirely different performance on Thursday.
So, in the future, choose your songs wisely. Sometimes a song with a simpler melody but a potent message is the way to go – especially for younger singers. Think David Archuleta and “IMAGINE“. This is how you should choose your songs, Gianna – based on the message and not on the fireworks and pizzazz.
Also, work on your breathing skills – supporting your voice via your diaphragm while maintaining relaxed and open facial features. And, actually, simpler melodic numeber would allow you to do this while, at the same time, assist you in developing a more creative approach to your phrases.
Best of luck to you, Gianna.
Strengths: Lee – I never heard this song before so I can be totally objective here. That being said, the song nestled cozily within your vocal range. Because you are a young male singer, the potential for growth is not a done process. So you are wise to select songs that work within the limitations of your young vocal range.
You sang with musicality – 0f that there is no question. And I loved the earnestness in your facial features and the natural rhythmic movements of your body while you performed this number.
However, I am anxious to see and hear the evolution of your artistic growth – on the Idol stage and off. I believe there is still a ton of bottled up artistry within you which we haven’t yet seen and, when it finally emerges, you will be quite the force in the music industry.
Critique: Lee – you, more than anyone else in this competition, need to work on your technical skills – both as a performer and a vocalist. However, it is the latter which concerns me the most because, once you iron out the technical flaws in your voice, the former will emerge victorious.
Presently, you are sustaining your voice using only the natural sound emerging from your vocal cords. I hear very little evidence of diaphragmatic support and, as a result, your voice sounds thin and emaciated. And there is a lack of nuance in your vocal delivery.
Additionally, your face and throat are tense and this is adding to the muddled quality of your vocal timbre. There is no liberation in your vocal sound because of the tension and stress in your upper body.
Hopefully, a reputable vocal teacher can iron out these technical issues stat because, once you unlock the full capacity of your vocal abiltlty, you will be unstoppable.
Good luck, Lee!
Strengths:La’Porsha Renae – so, let me get this straight. You are 22 years young, work in a call center and, until American Idol discovered you this season, you were floating around our fine planet undetected, blessed with a vocal gift the likes of which I have rarely seen on this – or any – show.
The ease and manner in which you performed this number was amazing, especially when one considers the immaculate and seamless runs you interspersed throughout this song.
And, boy were they something else! Pitch perfect glissandos and melissmas so brilliantly executed, yet in a way that did not disturb the sustained moments in this song. I was blown away, I tell ya! Blown! Away!
Your vocal tone is so unique – there is a nice crunchy quality to it and it is brimming with that all-important head voice element that is so necessary if one wishes to deliver a cohesive sound throughout one’s vocal range.
Also, you emphasized that you do not have to run all over the stage to land a Perfect 10 in your vocal showcase. Movement is fine and good, but a truly great vocal performance comes from the heart, soul and diaphragm of the singer, especially one who sings with passion and respect for her audience and the music.
Really, I could go on all day here, but, I think you get the idea that I loved this song like nobody’s business. It was a artistic , heartfelt and absolutely memorable. Kudos and Standing O from my virtual desk! Brava!
Critique: La’Porsha Renae – Critique? No way, Jose! The never -ending applause from the judges, contestants and the audience spoke volumes. Congratulations La’Porsha.
Strengths:MacKenzie – well, first of all, I applaud your artistry because it is something that is very real, almost tangible, when you sing. This Ed Sheeran – whom I adore – song was perfect for your voice because your tone is similar to his – light yet gently muscular. Very expressive.
You seemed very relaxed throughout this performance – totally in the moment. You know where you want to take your music and you do so in very natural, confident manner. And your phrasing is creative and so musical. The sign of a tegu artist indeed!
Critique:MacKenzie – now I need you to work on your technical skills because your voice needs to gain some depth and ring in the heart of its timbre. Although the song sat quite high in your vocal range, overall the chest voice seemed to “mess with” the head voice, resulting in a less liberated vocal sound.
Like Lee, you need to add some meat to your vocal substance or you risk sounding too one-dimensional in your vocal delivery. Relax those facial muscles, open your throat, drop your jaw, breathe from your diaphragm and sustain on the pure vowels within your lyrics. These pure vowels vibrating behind your teeth and a circular mouth position will open up a whole world of vocal possibilities for you as you sing.
Good luck next week, MacKenzie!
Strengths:Olivia – well, after I heard you stellar performance of this song, you can bet that “I will love you unconditionally“. Oh ya! Forever and ever.
This was a phenomenal performance from start to finish. Phe.No.Me.Nal. From your opening segment where you displayed your impeccably controlled hushed head voice to the second half of the song highlighting the glorious and. ringing timbre of your full voice, I was transported to another dimension.
This performance was mesmerizing. Not only were your vocals beautifully controlled but you paced the momentum in this performance so very well. You meticulously rehearsed every aspect of this showcase and, yet, it appeared relaxed, professional and confident.
Take a look everyone. That’s how you do it. When a singer totally immerses herself into the expressive soul of a song, magic happens. And, if it is anchored by refined technical skills, then the sky’s the limit.
Congratulations Olivia! This was an outstanding beginning to what I believe will be a long run on this season’s American Idol.
Critique:Olivia – I could not find one thing wrong with this performance. It was just beautiful. Kudos and Standing O from my virtual desk.
Strengths:Sonika – oh my! You are something else, my dear! The strength and confidence in your vocal delivery grabbed me from the first note. And that is difficult to do. Sometimes, singers need a few notes or a couple of phrases to find their bearings but you came out swinging and never relented.
Additionally, this is a song where you could have easily lost control and/or become over-pumped, but it never happened. This signalled to me that you applied an intensive rehearsal regime to this song and combined it with your excellent technical skills.
Your voice is so beautiful and I was particularly impressed with you ability to sustain your vocal sound in your mezzo soprano range. Your vocal sound was brimming with head voice and, yet, the chest voice was added to the mix with just the correct proportions. And your intonation was spot on throughout this number because head voice remained central to your vocal mix. Absolutely amazing!
And the performance elements in this song were strong and visually exciting to watch. Your power and determination to deliver the goods was absolutely outstanding. Methinks you are going to be an unstoppable force in this competition.
Congratulations and Standing O! You are one to watch!
Critique: Sonika – you are critique- free. This performance was just so special and cannot and should not be faulted. Great is great and this was exceptional. Brava, Sonika!
Strengths: Trent – okay that was all kinds of brilliance. What a gorgeous vocal gift you possess! Like earth shattering. Could move mountains and realign the planets and I don’t know what I am saying anymore because the ringing beauty of your voice is still vibrating in my ears.
First of all, the song choice was inspired. It spoke to your innate and distinctive artistry, setting you apart from the pack. You know where you wish to take your music and that, in and of itself, is an important accomplishment.
Secondly, your voice is truly a gift from Heaven. And, more important, you use it wisely. The control you displayed while singing through your upper range was just excellent and yet you were expressive and nuanced. Technical prowess coupled with outstanding performing skills is the recipe for success and longevity in this business. And you have this is spades.
Thirdly, you exude a wonderful persona on stage and really embrace your audience as well as the entire performing experience.
This was a confident, artistic and throughly memorable performance and I am picturing confetti showering down on you. But first – you have a few other vocal hurdles to circumvent that can be found in many other singers in this talented Top 10. So remain focused and true to yourself and your artistry.
Critique: Trent – you are critique – free. You looked and sounded in the moment and your vocal delivery was superb. Congratulations and Standing O! Bravo!
Strengths:Tristan – each and every time I have seen you perform, you exude a beautiful charisma on stage. I find it hard to believe that you are only 15-years-old because you have a maturity about you that is genuine and real.
Your voice is a truly gorgeous instrument – the seamlessness and cohesiveness of your range is amplified through refined technical skills, starting with the all-important diaphragmatic support in line with the openness of your vocal masque (facial features). You employ a circular mouth position when you sustaing your pure vowels, thus securing the depth and ringing center of your vocal tone.
It was wonderful to see you engaged with your audience – working the stage with rhythmic energy and enthusiasm.
All in all – it was a wonderful performance, Tristan. Congratulations.
Critique: Tristan – I just want to caution you over the amount of energy you are allotting for your stage choreography. I felt that, in an effort to reach out to the audience, the vocal performance of this song took a back seat.
Also, all that walking around wasn’t necessary – perhaps, it would have served you better if you started the song while standing stationary and THEN moved around the stage at the midway point in the song. This would have added balance to and heightened the visual aspect of the entire showcase.
Additionally, there were a few minor pitch issues, due to the busyness of the stage choreography. Sometimes it is difficult to “walk and chew gum” or – in your case – sing at the same time. Ha! It diminishes the full potential of your vocal delivery and distances you from embracing the technical aspects of the song in a musical way.
However, I congratulate you on making the Top 10. It was a well – deserved placement for you and look forward to your performances in the coming weeks. Brava!