Friday, May 7, 2010

American Idol's Siobhan Magnus rates "The Best Wails in Music"

It's been compared to Adam Lambert's wail and the sound of a woman giving birth. Siobhan Magnus' signature shriek-of-a-high-note concluded many of her "American Idol" performances this season — some good (its wicked debut on Aretha Franklin's "Think"), some not so good (she got burned on "Through The Fire").

But Siobhan's jaw-dropping octave-jumping sound (which she taught herself while singing Kelly Clarkson songs in the shower) is but one in a long line of pop music power notes. So when she stopped by MTV News for her "I Just Got Kicked Off 'Idol' Now I Get To Talk To 9,000 Media Outlets" press tour, I wanted to hear her thoughts on some of my favorite high-pitched musical squawks.

American Idol Siobhan Magnus

Celine Dion, "The Power of Love"

"That's a good one. The thing that's impressive about that is that it's very controlled in a place in your voice that it's hard not to cross that line and have it more like a wail like I would do more often on the show. It was that tone that I was going for when I sang 'Through the Fire,' to make it kind of prettier, which I hadn't done as much as my hard [wail]. And I struggled with it because our doctor looked at my throat that performance night. He said I bruised my vocal chords trying to make my scream pretty. And I was like, 'That's it! No more pretty screams!' So I really respect (Celine's) because that's hard!"

Mariah Carey, "Emotions"
"They're called 'whistle tones' when you get that high. It's very very hard. I can't do that, really. Puberty makes it tricky. It's really hard. Really really hard. But the cool thing about being able to sing that high is if you can sing that high then you can sing pretty low too because you stretch your vocal chords, so you're more flexible. So the higher you're able to sing, you can sing really low. She has such a rich, warm lower register, too."

Adam Lambert, "Feeling Good"

"He's great. What do you say? I love him. He's so great, and it was such an honor to work with him, to be compared to him. I just feel like in the short time I spent with him, I have this understanding. He gets it. He gets what it's like to be the one who's criticized for being different, for having a scream. We have so much in common in terms of our time on 'Idol,' except that he got a lot further than me.

"There aren't a lot of male singers doing that anymore, either. I grew up listening to my dad wail like that. My dad has an incredible scream just like mine. He was in this band Skin Deep when I was little and they would do lots of Guns N' Roses and he'd have the whole look with the red bandana and the ripped jeans and stuff. It's really cool when guys can do that."

Minnie Riperton, "Lovin' You"
"Dorian Holly, one of the vocal coaches, recommended that I do this song. That's great."

Prince, "Kiss"

"I love that it gets gritty when he's up there, it's just raw. It's emotional and it's just like, 'I'm just sayin' it! So loud!'"

[Fun fact: Siobhan said she desperately wanted to cover "Nothing Compares 2 U" while on "Idol" but Prince refused to clear his music for the show.]

Danny Gokey, "Dream On (Scream On Remix)"
"That is more of a scream, but I liked that he got down on his knee and stuff. It was very passionate and rock star so it was really cool. I enjoyed."

Snow White, "With a Smile and a Song"
"This is my favorite Disney cartoon. I think that maybe I learned some of my more theater-type (singing). I was Mabel in 'Pirates of Penzance.' I would imitate Snow White all the time."

Her Fave Screamers
"My favorite singer, one of them, is Janis Joplin. She had quite a wail in her. So I was really influenced growing up by stuff like that, and Robert Plant, of course. But those are so obvious, too, at the same time."

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