by ILana Martin
ILana Martin is the founder of New York’s Vocal Workout Singing School. As a performer, she’s sung with Barry White, Patti LaBelle, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, and many others. During this season ofAmerican Idol, she’ll be sharing her expertise with Parade.com readers.
As a fan of the show—and a professional voice coach—there’s some really great singing to watch this season of American Idol. Burnell Taylor, Devin Velez, and Angie Miller are some of the most unique and technically proficient singers Idol has ever showcased. Their voices have power and warmth. From a technical perspective, their use of good mouth posture is very notable. That’s the hallmark of soulful delivery. When a singer works with the front of their mouth in an oval shape, it helps round and free the resonance. They’re also breathing low into the body, which keeps the neck area free from strain.
You can see that same power and mouth posture in aspiring country artist Janelle Arthur. After three years of auditioning, she finally made it to the coveted top five women, thanks in part to her technical skill.
But generally, the women aren’t as interesting or seasoned as the men this season. Amber Holcomb, who’s striving for a Whitney Houston vibe, has a lot of catching up to do. Her breath technique isn’t as strong as some others in the competition, which means that (pitch-wise) some of her notes come out as near misses. But she shows growth each week, which is key. And as her coaches behind the scenes shore up her skills, her great look and smile will continue to woo fans.
I have one tip for any viewers interested in the future of American Idol: Listen to Mariah Carey. Having Carey as a judge has added a lot of legitimacy to the judging panel. Like Christina Aguilera on The Voice, she’s a vocal perfectionist who knows good technique and power.
If Idol is going to survive, it needs to reward singers who have the ability to create interesting and relevant albums. The elephant in the room is: If none of the top contestants go on to make enduring music, can America really idolize them?
As this season goes on, I’ll be sharing my take on how the contestants are doing. We’ll see if that lines up with who comes out on top!