American Idol Top 8

Heavy Metal – Sammy Hagar for the Heavy Metal Film Soundtrack

Pure courage.

No one wanted James to sing this song but James. I understand why Jimmy wanted him to play it safe – he didn’t want to lose James. But Jimmy was projecting his own misgivings about the value of metal and was concerned that a majority of others might feel the same way!! Fortunately HE WAS WRONG!! Let me be clear, James did take a huge risk. Hindsight is 20/20 and it is only in retrospect that we know that Jimmy was mistaken. James had no guarantee that America would support him. Undoubtedly, Jimmy thought it was a foolish choice, but it was the only choice that James in good conscience could make. Somewhere, somehow James has learned very young that you can never have what you are not willing to ask for and /or risk for; so he respectfully asks that Jimmy “give metal a chance”. I believe that this is a defining moment for James – as an artist and as a man. It clearly shows that he is willing to risk for the things that he values.

Technically, this performance shows tremendous strength. James uses many of the same core muscles to support his vocals that he does to support his amazing back bend. The rasp and wail are used judiciously. The tone is placed properly in the mask of the face and up and out through the top of the head. His throat is completely open and allows him total freedom as he sings dynamically (f) forte (high volume level) ff (higher volume level) and fff (very high volume level). He ends with a very smooth, soaring slide up through the very high register to an A above high A for a tenor. This is fully one octave above the normal high A for a tenor. It is actually the soprano high A, and he sings it full voice, full out, fully supported. And he does it beautifully and in perfect pitch. I ran to the piano to make sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing. Just WOW! 10+++

Emotionally, James shows total abandon in his melodic and rhythmic expression. He also shows very smooth transitions between the hard driving, predominantly short melodic and rhythmic motifs. Deep passion is displayed vividly in James’ face. The feel is raw, and raucous. 10++

This performance grabs me from the start. His entrance with Zakk is forceful and fearless. Zakk and James are a wonderful, symbiotic duo. They are evenly matched and interact seamlessly – as if they have been together for some time. It is very creative and gutsy of James to seek  Zakk’s participation. I still cannot believe that Zakk learned this music in less than 24 hours. Even though James hurt his knees in rehearsal he is still able to move and jump and bend like gumby!! So much fun!! This is a perfect example of the way in which the music always “sings James” and not the other way around –  something that separates him from the others. The audience is officially Durbinated into the world of metal!! 10 +++

“I’m Crazy James and I’m……. Awesome!!!” 10+++


4 thoughts on “American Idol Top 8

  1. This is the review I have been waiting for! Of all of James’ performances on AI, this was the ONE that defined him. This was the music he LOVES, and the performer he wants to be. Thank you, Kathryn, for pointing out that his Heavy Metal performance was just as technically superior as any of his quieter pop performances. Love that you point out that the “music sings James.” I could not have said it better.

  2. Thank you Kathryn….I have been on your site for about three hours now……reading your reviews, listening to James…………….I just want to thank you for all the time and effort you put into this website. I have never been here before and I am blown away by all the material you have !!!! Hopefully you do not mind me sharing and telling others about your site…………..This is the True Durbinator Page ……..Again , Thank you so very Much !!!

    • Hello TR and welcome! Glad you like the site, I created it in response to all those naysayers who state BS like “James is a pitchy mess” and similar ridiculous claims. I wanted to provide an online reference for Durbinators on James’ voice by a real vocal expert and I am so grateful for all the work Kathryn has done for me, she is amazing isn’t she? Yes you have my permission to refer others to this site and quote from it, as long as you provide the links.

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