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American Idol might actually be worth watching this season!

I’m pretty stoked by what I’m hearing out of Harry Connick Jr. FINALLY someone is calling the warblers out. I didn’t know about the pentatonic warble before he said something…I just knew it all sounded alike and ‘disrespected’ the melody… and now I understand and I’m so grateful. I hate singers who mask the fact that they can’t sing a melody with vocal spaghetti. Spaghetti does not equal emotion. Not in music, not in art, not in writing. You embellish a solid core, you don’t hide the fact that the core is badly designed by hanging fancy stuff all over it.

But back to HCJ! He’s smart, he knows music, he’s super nice, good looking…and best of all FUNNNNNNNYYYYY!!!! Now…if Paula will just hush up long enough to learn something from him so fewer warblers sneak their way through…

12 comments to American Idol might actually be worth watching this season!

  • Greenwyvern

    Emotions have also been largely lost in modern opera singing. If you go back to historical recordings, they have real emotion. The modern versions are technically better, and the recording quality obviously makes the voices sound better, but the emotions are just flat.

    Listen to this recording of Caruso singing Core ‘ngrato:

    http://youtu.be/OQt9x-GZQ8g?t=1m18s

     
    Catari, Catari, che vene a dicere stu parla ca me da spaseme?
    Tu nun’nce pienze a stu dulore mio,
    tu nun’nce pienze, tu nun te ne cure.

    Core, core ‘ngrato,
    t’aie pigliato ‘a vita mia,
    tutt’e passato e
    nun’nce pienze chiu!

     
    Caterina, Caterina, why do you come and say those words that hurt me so much?
    You don’t think of my pain,
    You don’t think, you don’t care.

    Ungrateful heart,
    You have stolen my life.
    Everything is finished
    And you don’t care any more!

    • Greenwyvern

      Then compare it with Pavarotti singing the same passage:

      http://youtu.be/fEzgh2i_BdE?t=1m15s

      Pavarotti has a richer sound and more technical expertise – but there is no feeling, no emotion in it.

      I prefer Caruso any day.

    • Greenwyvern

      Here is actually a better version of Caruso.

      The previous one is digitally remastered, but they’ve lost something in the process. Even with a few clicks and hisses, the non-digitally remastered version is better:

      http://youtu.be/Rt5tIQGEW5w?t=1m7s

      • Isn’t it funny how that works? You make a good point, definitely, tho I don’t listen to enough opera to be able to make a generalized statement. I’m more the Beverly Sills light opera kinda gal. :D But I certainly see what you’re saying here…and Pavarotti is one of the best of the best in modern terms.

        I think that heart goes out of something when you start making technique more important than overall impression. Art is a balance of the two. What happened in figure skating, with too much emphasis first on the figures, then on the jumpers, was too many cold-blooded skaters making it to the finals. I think the modern scoring system balances all of the above beautifully and that’s why we’re seeing LOTS of wonderful performances at the top of the board rather than screaming about what we’re missing.

        That underlying technique is vital…you must know your craft…but as Nureyev said, you learn the basics so you know when and how to ignore them. (and so that the underlying foundation is solid.)

      • WOL

        I was never all that fond of Pavarotti. His voice always sounded “strained” to me. I always preferred Placido Domingo.

        • Bri

          If I’m recalling correctly, Pavarotti was originally a baritone with an unusual range. I don’t really know the story of how he was convinced to remake himself as a tenor (maybe he just decided he wanted all the “hero” roles LOL!), but I think that tension in the upper ranges is at least in part due to him consistently singing at the limits of his natural range.

          I really prefer Domingo as well. His voice is more fluid, and I think his performances are warmer.

  • Bri

    I haven’t been watching AI in recent years–just got real tired of the screechers and warblers (and the brainless judges). But I watched the first auditions show for this new season after I read this message, and I agree with you–HCJ is a great improvement over their typical judge. I wish he’d actually been a bit more adamant when he was trying to explain why he didn’t like that extreme warbler they disagreed over (this was when he brought up the pentatonics stuff).

    The girl in question didn’t demonstrate a single actual singing skill–just one extreme trick–a frankly not-very-attractive ornamentation style. She didn’t sing a single sustained tone, didn’t build a single phrase–just didn’t display any actual ability to *sing*. A performer like this is like a dancer who can only do a back flip–one trick, no dance. She didn’t show an ability to sing in tune (because she never stayed on one note long enough to judge), she didn’t show she knew how to shape a phrase, or how to plan and control her breathing, or how to utilize dynamics. Nothing. What they should have done is insist she sing the song again *without* the ornamentation.

    The thing a “singer” like this needs most is complete retraining, including a massive amount of music appreciation, so maybe she can understand what she’s supposed to be doing when she sings a song. But of course, she didn’t ever actually get any kind of training. All she did was obsessively copy her favorite pop singer.

  • Exactly. Well said.

    Unfortunately, Paula cut HCJ off before he finished making his point. I really like the way he called them on the grunts of appreciation during the performance. Too funny! I think if he gets a lot of support from viewers…which he seems to be getting…the producers might actually allow him to talk! I think a lot of people have stopped watching because of the plethora of warblers…which all the judges have fawned over for years. Really miss Simon, but I think HCJ is actually the best judge ever for the show.

  • WOL

    HCJ has been playing the piano since a child, is jazz trained, has played with some of the greatest greats in the field, and both reads and writes music. I’m surprised they let somebody be a judge on that show that actually knows something about music. Besides that, HCJ is married to the supermodel Jill Goodacre, daughter of Glenna Goodacre, the sculptor, who sculpted the Vietnam Women’s memorial and the obverse of the Sacajawea dollar. That’s four of the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon (Glenna was born in my home town) between me and HCJ, whose music I adore.

  • ready4more

    I might actually have to start watching…

  • Bri

    You know me, Jane. Deep in my heart, I want anyone who claims to be any kind of a musician to actually *know* music–form, history, language, etc. However, I do recognize that there are some who are just born to make music, training or no training.

    What is so desperately missing in what these warblers do is understanding that their number one imperative has to be to convey what the song *says*. They need to begin with the words–there’s a story, or an image, or a mood or maybe just a cowboy and his horse (or a dude and his truck, the modern equivalent of that cowboy LOL!). If their singing doesn’t serve what the song *says*,it’s just a lot of self-indulgent noise. Ornamentation needs a sound foundation behind it or it’s just an unusual form of spitting.

    This is something singers like Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban know–both are very effective singers. But because they probably do it instinctively, they may never have consciously thought about that aspect of what they do when they perform, and they aren’t really doing any objective analysis of what they are listening to when they judge these auditions.

    Jennifer Lopez (not Paula ;^)–she is mercifully long gone) really dominates these judging panels–maybe someone needs to suggest she do more listening than talking.

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