American Idol Top 5

Closer to the Edge – 30 Seconds to Mars

Pure Contemporary.

Technically, this performance is aptly named Closer to the Edge. James rides the outer edges of the pitch several times in this performance – as he moves through the audience stage left and as he pulls away from the audience stage right. His wail at center stage is very good until the last note. I think he lessens his core support for a split second, anticipating his move to stage right. His lower register is really quite good if you listen to the highest quality recording of this performance. The vibrato is lovely and the tone quality is very warm. After weeks of 10 or 10+ rated performances, even the slightest deviations are amplified. I do not believe that the pitch issues are a result of walking through the crowd – James can do that in his sleep every day of the week and twice on Sunday. It could be the sound feed he is receiving through his ear piece. Could be! But I think more likely the pitch issues are the result of not being able to handle the adrenalin rush. Certainly James has had high adrenalin performances in the past, but this time is different and it shows in his face and in his breath after the performance. At the end of other adrenalin packed performances James was either on the floor, spent (Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting) or he was breathing quickly, very heavily, and very consistently (Heavy Metal). This time, although he is moving around, there isn’t as much heavy exertion present in this performance vocally or in movement to burn off a lot of the adrenalin his body is producing. This kind of unmitigated adrenalin rush makes it hard to control the breath and to maintain the pitch. At the end of James’ performance you can see the continued rush of adrenalin in is his eyes and in the big, slow, deep breaths he takes several times as he is standing next to Ryan. This was not James best night technically, but still good overall. 8

Emotionally, James maintains a passionate, joyful demeanor through out this high energy  performance. His ability to shape the melodic line in new and creative ways continues. 9

James’ performance skills continue at a very high level. He connects with the audience immediately and participates with them by walking among them behind the judges table. He makes full use of the stage and especially good use of center stage. His animated presence keeps the audience engaged! 10

Good overall: 9

Without You – Badfinger

Pure Emotion.

Love can hurt!!

I have always said that one of the things that separates James from the others is that the music sings him and not the other way around. When he connects to a lyric or a melody he connects deeply into his very soul. This song is a prime example of how this happens for James. He connects to the lyrics of “Without You” so deeply that, in his performance, the music simply reaches deep down within and pulls out the very essence of James with every note. The floodgates open and the sound and the emotion just flow out of him raw, uninhibited, unfiltered and soooo real. We witness first hand a brief glimpse through the window of the soul of another human being. We feel right along with him. We experience vicariously the emotion that gushes out, uninvited and unexpected. James did not expect this reaction either. After all he thought had worked through it all. But James and the audience learn a valuable lesson in this performance: We can bury our emotions deep, but we cannot bury then dead. Sooner or later they will rise up to be faced when the time is right. And sometimes we don’t get to control when that time will be.

Technically, I thought James did very well actually, until the final push at the end. He begins softly with beautiful vibrato and a tone that is scrumptious, tender, sweet and vulnerable. His pitch is good with some very slight variations. At the end, the emotion does get the better of him, technically. The throat constricts and begins to close up and there go the overtones and the beautiful vibrato that I am sure were planned for the ending. Under the circumstances, James show tremendous core strength in holding on to that last phrase, pushing through it, and saving it with a gutsy and heart wrenching dynamic turn at the very end!! 8

Emotionally, as one reviewer that night puts it, this performance leaves me verclempt!!  James does a wonderful job, building the character of this piece by starting softly and tenderly and building to a gut wrenching climax at the end. He shades and shapes the melodic line beautifully. His has such expressive, sad eyes – which spill over with agonizing angst into the vocals themselves. James’ use of his hands, fists, open arms and bent forearm is also tremendously effective. This is spontaneous emotional perfection. 10++++++++++++

“Still waters run deep.” James may stand still to perform, but the effect of his emotional and vocal struggles run very deep!! For me this is as real as it gets and therefore is a performance of a lifetime. Hollywood would give an Oscar for a performance like this. It is imperfectly perfect!! 10=+++++++++++

This is James Durbin raw and uncensored and real!! 10++++++

8 thoughts on “American Idol Top 5

  1. this song has always been my one of my most favorite songs because of the the emotions and James while it was so painful for him totally interepts what emotions I run through listening to it. It is such a deep soul song that someone feeling the emotions singing I prefer then someone saying the words.

  2. I absolutely agree!! Heidi is one lucky woman, to have a man that can open up and show emotion like that is rare!! That performance to me was breathtaking!! I just sat there mesmerized by him to the point of being speechless, which for me , takes a lot. Kathryn, what are your thoughts on James after tour? I can not wait to her what is next but I would love to hear your thoughts on what is likely and possible.

  3. I had conflicted feelings about the 30STM song, not a favorite and I felt he might have been pressured into it. The whole performance started with a protest, his back to the judges and audience prominently displaying the Give Metal A Chance vest (it’s debut). He tried to Durbinate it, but it just seemed off to me. Don’t know if it was the choice, or the emotions, but the strain showed. The second song still makes me cry.
    I have a question in general. When James speaks to the audience asking for participation or counting down “1,2,3, 4”, even his “whoo’s!”, it sounds musical, Almost like you could go to the piano and find the note. Is this planned and practiced? Or just part of his innate musicality?

  4. Honestly, I think this is the night that lost the competition for James. It was like he was almost set up to have a bad night, after Jlo saying he was the most consistent the week before. Lots of people just didn’t get James. They thought his crying was fake or whiny, they thought he was arrogant, or they were ‘haters’ and just got another excuse to slam James. Then people got mad because the judges didn’t criticze him enough (whatever). I truly believe that if he’d knocked it out of the park this week, he would’ve made it #3. I agree with Leslie, above, that I question the choice of “Closer”– eventhough the recording is great. At the same time, A perfect “Without You” would’ve put him in the top (again, the recording is stunning). That said, those of us who ‘get’ James, understood the emotional difficulty of this Idol Journey for him, and have always appreciated that he puts himself out there, vulnerable for every performance. We saw how hard it was for him to see his closest friends leave (Paul & Stefano), and I’m sure this point in the competition was very hard for him to separate from his family. I kind of thought it was unfair for Idol to show that clip before this performance, which James said is why he got emotional again, but I suppose it wouldn’t have been fair to treat James differently. I truly think James just lost momentum this night, on a critical point in the competition. I do think that things happen for a reason,a nd James’ fans just loved him more after these performances. He left Idol on a complete high, with 2 great rock-star performances the following week, and that’s important. I still don’t think James was ever the front runner– I think Scotty was from day 1 (country is sooo big in the US and Scotty is so uncontroversial compared to James) and I don’t think James would’ve ever beat Scotty (because of teens and popularity of country). I think the judges comments making it sound like James was the front runner were misleading and unnecessary and didn’t help get out the vote for him. However, I think that being knocked out early and coming out fighting like he did on the finale with Judas Priest and like he is doing now on the tour, helps James image as a total rocker. Even Judas Priest alluded to that in an interview about James.

    So, sorry for the long winded comment. I still have a lot to get off my chest from this whole Idol experience! Amazing!

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