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Music Review: Bianca Ryan

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There are two ways to look at the self-titled CD released by Bianca Ryan, the 12-year-old wunderkind who won fame on the debut season of America’s Got Talent, at the tender age of nine.

One is that it’s great to see someone so young land a deal with Sony BMG. The other is that it’s pitiful to see a young child — who honestly looks about five years old on some of the album art — trotted out to sing renditions of classic covers just to earn a buck. Images of a Jackson Five-era Michael Jackson being told to crawl under tables to collect loose change from the audience spring to mind.

There’s no doubt that Ryan has “got talent.” But the voice of the young Jackson had incredible maturity in its inflections and delivery. Many, upon hearing him sing such ballads as “I’ll Be There,” believed he was an adult — albeit a short one.

It would be surprising if anyone who hears Ryan’s voice, as lovely and full as it is, will doubt her age. The lack of range and depth needed to pull off such ambitious covers as “The Rose” or “I Believe I Can Fly” just isn’t there. And those vocal shortfalls are made even more obvious by the heavily – underscore that word – produced elevator-esque music that backs up young Ryan. Frankly, her rendition of those songs makes it seem as if she’s ready to follow in the footsteps of Jodi Foster’s character in Taxi Driver rather than the mature, worldly visions of Bette Midler or R. Kelly. Whoever selected those songs truly did her a disservice.

Certainly Ryan has her moments. “You Light Up My Life,” made famous decades ago by Debby Boone, sounds even crisper than the original. But again, it’s a “corporate” song, heavy on the piano accompaniment, that is meant to appeal to the McMusic/American Idol crowd from which Ryan came.

The one fun, bright note on the CD, “Why Couldn’t It Be Christmas Every Day?” could easily slip into the “heavy play” holiday songs rotation. That’s the one song where Ryan is actually allowed to sing a bright, happy, age-appropriate song that isn’t produced within an inch of its life.

Ryan obviously has a great gift. Time will tell if a voice coach, age, and a better selection of songs allows her to use it wisely.

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About Nancy Dunham

  • http://www.michaeljacksonwasmylover.com Molester Watch

    It is terrible taste to compare innocent children to Michael Jackson.

    Michael Jackson is a molester and he has paid off four little boys before the Gavin Arviso trial. Getting off at the Arviso trial does not clean the slate. He is a sexual predator and he should be in jail.

  • Hyperdad

    I see ms. Dunham has cranked out 3 reviews in only 2 days. Thats some journalistic prowess!
    Comparing a 12 year olds singing prodigy to Jody Foster’s character in Taxi Driver is crude, at best. Did you know that the Song “Dream in color” on the CD you “reviewed” was written and produced by David Foster? He writes and Produces for Striesand, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston ,to name only three.
    Light up my life was sung by Debbie Boone,Before Debbie Gibson was born.
    I am trying to find any accurate info in the review, but haven’t yet.

  • mac

    What? Please check your facts…..quite a few of them are inaccurate, Ms. Dunham. Besides what was pointed out by the 2 previous posts, Bianca was on Star Search at 9, on AGT this last summer when she was 11.
    Also, I heartily disagree w/ your mostly withering review and actually, did you listen closely to the entire CD? I have a degree in music and have followed Bianca since I first saw her AGT audition on youtube videos. Regardless of the “production” level on this CD, her voice & emotions come through – and are very moving. She does NOT remind me of Michael Jackson or any other recent young singer. She is herself & sings from her heart and is quickly attracting fans of all ages internationally.

  • Article Critic

    There are two ways to look at this article: it’s a fantastic fiction or it’s a poor non-fiction. Time will tell if it’s the former or the latter.

  • tomtom

    Freedom of speech is good, but there should be some law diminishing freedom of stupidity.

  • OSKI

    TO MOLESTER WATCH: HAHA LEAVE MICHAEL ALON YOU FREAKIN HATER…IF HE WAS GUILTY THEY WOULD HAVE TAKEN THEIR CHANCE AND GOTTEN HIM IN JAIL…
    AND IT WAS ONLY ONE BOY AND HE WANTED TO TAKE IT TO COURT BUT ADVISORS SAID IT WOULD BE TOO STRESSFUL FOR HIM SO GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT BEFORE YOU MAKE YOURSELF SOUND ANYMORE STUPID.
    MJ IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE..BIATCH
    AND FOR ALL YOU OTHER IGNORANT BUMS OUT THERE I SUGGEST YOU READ THIS… THIS WILL SHUT YOU UP

  • http://www.michaeljacksonwasmylover.com Molester Watch

    Money talks, that’s why MJ is not in jail. Apparently it’s okay to molest children in the United States if you’re rich. We know MJ did it. He paid off Jordy, Jason and another little boy who is hiding in South American. He’s a dress wearing creep who should be in jail, and his fans should be right in there with him.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t know who “Molester Watch” is but find it interesting that they link to what claims to be an official site of one Victor Gutierrez, who, in 1997, published a book about Jordie Chandler.

    As comment #7 came from the same IP address, I have amended the poster’s name to reflect this.

    I haven’t deleted any remarks here as it is not currently a requirement that comments remain on the original article’s topic.

  • blanca jarquin

    hi you are so good i love your voice and i want to be a singer too

  • James Garczynski

    You must be jealous that you don’t have a voice like hers. what makes you such an expert to comment on her vocal range did you hear sing for the president she was in a league of her own. you obviously hav’nt a clue stick your opinion where the sun does’nt shine.

  • Joy Lipinski

    Hi, Ms. Dunham I guess I am one of those who totally understand about this particular review. I think it is so honest and so well written. Bianca may be very talented at 11 years old, but just a few tweaks are needed. When I first heard her, her voice though beautiful as it is. I always thought there was something a little missing for me, and then I read this review. And I said, this is it, this is what I meant all along. Thanks for still putting this out. Though I know how hard it is to do so, with all those Bianca fans out there. But who can blame them, she’s still such a sweet and talented girl.

  • CW

    It appears to me that Ms. Dunham is in a battle with Simon Cowell to see which one can spew more venomous negativity into the universe.