Expectations for Siobhan Magnus have ebbed and flowed during season nine. Is she the one to beat or did she peak in the semi-finals? After a so so performance of “‘Suspicious Minds” and a forgettable performance of “Across the Universe,” a lot was riding on Siobhan’s ability to inspire us this week. “When You Believe” is a giant song made up of, not one, but two of the finest vocalists of the last three decades: Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Siobhan has taken on some big songs in the past, Chaka Khan for one, but nothing compares to this diva duet extroardinaire. Siobhan is either naive to exactly what her voice can and cannot do, or she really thinks she is it!
From the start, Siobhan sings in her light, church lady head voice that is not appealing to a modern audience outside of 9 a.m. on Sundays. It’s not a terrible sound, more an annoying sound. Early comparisons to Kelly Clarkson are almost comical now, as Siobhan starts a song with strange facial expressions and makes singing look incredibly taxing. The song does not build in a natural, organic way. I am not drawn in and uplifted the way a gospel infused pop song should. The lilt in her voice is annoying and the slow slides and shaky vibrato ruin any hope of her tone caressing the song. It does not help that she is covered in feathers and looks like a crazed bird woman.
Of course, she goes for the big jumps, but it sounds like two completely different singers. Neither of her voices sound incredibly trained or experienced. Both, fail at the essence of what they are trying to accomplish. The song is not interpreted well and the runs and jumps sound manic. When she holds out the note going into the key change her lack of ability to sustain a note is obvious. She fails to pull out all the stops in the powerful way that so many past idols have. Key changes are the most important, obvious build to a song, but she decides to build to her head voice. She finishes the song, with what is perhaps, the nicest sound will hear; a simply held note in her head voice.
All together, this performance definitely made me believe that she will not make the top 3. Not that any of the other contestants are wildly better, but the audience has been forced to expect a certain quality from her and she is not capable of bringing that to the table. She peaked by top 10 week and is going to have a hard time getting Kara Dioguardi and Simon Cowell back on her side. We’ll have to see if Shania Twain week will do her any favors, but it sounds like a disaster!