Saturday, March 19, 2011

American Idol - What's "Singing" Got to Do, Got to Do With It?
Dancing and Prancing Performance Prevailing Over Singing Quality Performance?

I've been watching American Idol quite precisely for at least the last decade and this time watching the auditions, I said, "Finally, the singing quality is becoming quite strong and definitely more listenable than ever before."

Little did I know. After that last 12 "best" were chosen, the quality of singing all of a sudden subsided substantially. How so, nyou may ask? I do't know for sure, but judging by previous experience of watching my own client on the "Rockstar Supernova" television show of 2006 and my other client on "Canadian Idol" of 2007, I could certainly say that somebody was so called "helping" them to "achieve their dream"by trying to teach them in the last minute (whether it was a vocal coach or producer) some new "vocal tricks". Both times watching my own clients on the above designated shows, I nearly fell off the chair while listening to their "new and improved" version of their chosen songs.

Going back to the day, the Canadian Idol management of 2007 introduced themselves to me and said if I had any questions or very talented students, to send them their way, to feel free to do so.

Brian Melo wasn't one of them, however, I did address three others to them who did not make it through Canadian Idol, but became quite well known performers down the road. One of them made it quite big and her name is Trish Campbell, who is now signed with Capitol, EMI Records.

Nevertheless, using the name I was given for the reference, I called and asked to explain how come all of the participants, including my own client, all of sudden started to sing off key and in a very strange manner. After me inquiring to what happened to the participants and my client in particular (as I've never heard him singing so badly), they explained to me that they just hired a vocal coach to help the participants to address all of their vocal needs before the grand all performance. I'm not sure what services were performed in that regard, but I was almost sure that my own client would be voted out of the show with the speed of a bullet. However, all the rest of them were even worse and were becoming worse and completely unlistenable by the minute. To the credit of my client, he quite quickly picked up the pieces, as he had a very good foundation which I instilled in him during our vocal course, and needless to say, won the competition.

Prior to that, in 2006 my other client well known today, Lukas Rossi, was picked on every level and commented on his possessed "unknown vocal technique". Almost every episode there was a scroll "Lukas owns some kind of unknown vocal technique. Let's find out what it is." He, like Brian Melo, almost succumbed to Jason Newstead's of Metallica comments and instructions; "Lukas, drop your jaw down. Show me your gift." Needless to say, Jason Newstead never sang a note in his life, however was a very well known bass player (frankly, given that fact, I could not relate to the relevance of his comments). Meanwhile, the same vocal coach, who was next year hired for American Idol, suggested the same thing. Lukas resisted at the beginning, but then he was advised that if he didn't comply with the rules, he would lose the place in the competition. So he too started dropping his jaw down and screaming from the bottom of his throat. Luckily, not for long, and thus he was still able to preserve his real gift - the musical talent married with the Vocal Science technique.

And now, whoever is working with the American Idol's best 12, definitely had some input into their vocal performances.  Granted, the performance aspect (dancing, prancing and what have you) was done down pat. Whoever is responsible for choreography and stage presence is doing an amazing job. Whoever is responsible for their vocal performances is having an opposite effect on the quality and presence of vocals. All of a sudden, more than half of the best 12 are singing off key, off tone and off tune. Some of them picked up a strange vibrato on their voices and sound quite operatic while attempting the pop tunes. It is extremely sad, as they're supposed to be the 12 best in all of North America and I thought that they would be...? But somebody definitely had something to do with it, that they started sounding rather funny and definitely not up to standards.

In other words, we're witnessing a glorified karaoke in the worst understanding of that word. Very sad indeed. Is there a solution? I guess it remains to be seen and heard...