American Idol Top 9

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – George Harrison for The Beatles

Pure Soul

Technically, every part of this song is so well supported. James delivers melodic lines that are lyrical, legato, clear, clean and very creative. All registers are strong as well. His vibrato is wonderful – rich like butter throughout. The tone quality is beautiful with lovely overtones. His facial expressions are completely natural. His breath for the last phrase is awe inspiring. It provides tremendous support for the ending wail, scat and final note. 10+++

Emotionally, James’ delivery is tender, soulful, heartfelt, vulnerable and passionate. He gives us a visceral glimpse into his soul. The melodic lines are so beautifully shaped and the use of vocal contrasts is very effective – stressed syncopation, slide, slur, wail, scat, and tear. As long as I have breath, I will never forget the final, very, very, very… long phrase that James sings. The vibrato is gorgeous. His final wail is a heart wrenching lamentation, up to the fully supported, fully voiced high E, with a very melismatic, expressive scat down and a final note that there are just no words to describe. He holds the final note, which comes at the end of an already very long phrase, for a jaw dropping length of time. The note is so exquisite – beautifully and achingly so. It weeps. It grabs my heart, holds it, squeezes it and leaves it bleeding for more. 10+++

This performance is a complete 180 from last week’s high octane performance of “Saturday Night’s All Right”. The delivery is smooth and the energy is restrained yet intense. This contrast in styles shows James’ depth and versatility. His performance is masterful, his body movement so organic. He opens his soul and lays his heart at our feet in a genuine expression of pure grief. 10 +++

Takes my breath away. 10+++


3 thoughts on “American Idol Top 9

  1. The thing I noticed, week after week, and he later discussed, was James’ song choice and placement. For him to do this song at this time, after the harder rock songs, was brilliance. That he not only sang this song, but delivered it at this level, was magical. That he knows exactly what he’s doing at the tender age of 22 is phenomenal. And once again, Kathryn, thank you so much for lending the credibility of your expertise to explain why we are all screaming like 14-year-olds at a Beiber concert.

    • When I say James is extraordinary it does include, among many things ,this uncanny awareness of programming. Timing is everything, and James’ awareness of timing is also phenomenal for one so young. On one of the videos in San Jose I heard a group of very young girls screaming their heads off for James just like I did for Elvis and the Beatles. I such fun to hear that on a video of him
      performing . He is such a doll. The screaming has just begun!!

  2. I am enjoying your thoughts on James performances… very informative and inspiring. The first time I saw James (journey song), I was mesmerized by his performance. Harrison’s song clinched it. James’ version of this song will hang around for a long time. It is the same as my preference to hear Joe Cocker sing ‘don’t let the sun go down on me’ over Elton John…impeckable timing…. timing moves me. I love Jame’s emotions as do many, many of us…. He shows passion, confidence and rock pizazz. As you say…he lets us take a glimpse of his soul.
    It is unlike me to go see an up and comer in a limited stage presence, yet I am going to the AI concert in Toronto next week… to see James and buy his AI cd…want to see him make it and come back to Toronto.

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