Comments on American Idol - Judging the Judges - Siobhan Magnus

Since I've been doing all these American Idol Responses, I thought it might be fun to blog on occasion with commentary about the show.

Sometimes I wonder about these judges. American Idol is, at least in part, a singing competition and they so rarely give actual advice on singing.

Case in point, Siobhan Magnus this week, who gave a performance well below her usual standard. In critiquing her and looking at what may have gone wrong, the judges spoke about song choice and gave vague commentary about flaws with “pitch,” “pushing” and “screaming,” but they never actually got to the source of the problem.

That song, "Through The Fire," had major sections that were problamatic for the talented Siobhan. The second part of the chorus was especially difficult. She was attempting to "belt" a staccato section and she could not pull it off. Perhaps if the notes were sustained (meaning, held longer) she would have had an easier time but to bring the "chest voice" so strongly into play simply didn't work for her on these briefly held notes. In a more classical tradition, she would want a blend of "chest voice" (a heavier mechanism) and "head voice" (a lighter mechanism).

"Belting" this high can be challenging if not foolhardy for any singer, especially one who is just starting out. Siobhan would need to have more vocal control in that area of her voice to tackle this song in this key. It may have been the wrong song for her or it may have simply been the wrong key. That’s the advice I wish she had been given. What the judges might have suggested is to find songs or keys that better suit her, as she has many times in the past and also do the vocal work necessary to have greater mastery, which is something many singers, including me, work on all the time.

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