It’s hard to find an unbiased voice around the AP offices. We all have our favorites, so when it comes time to tell you why you should vote for someone, there’s no way we could possibly give you an uncensored opinion. Thus, we called in a professional. OperaDoc—as he’s requested to be called so as to keep his identity safe from prying scene eyes—was a heavy-hitter in the touring opera circuit until his late 20s, when he chose to start putting bones together instead of harmonies. Yet, he’s always held onto his passion for music. We sent along the six nominees for Best Vocalist and asked him to analyze away. Here’s what he had to say:

If you ask a classically trained singer—one who sings high-brow musicals and opera—to evaluate a singer’s voice, there are a few aspects we’re trained to listen for: vocal sound, production, vocal clarity (the purity of sound production), intonation (singing on pitch), diction (the ability to understand the lyrics), rhythmic quality (singing on the beat), dynamics (the ability to sing soft and loud) and musicality (the ability to sell the song). Here’s where I thought each nominee succeeded, as well as the songs that impressed me the most.

 

ALEX GASKARTH OF ALL TIME LOW

BIGGEST STRENGTH: Gaskarth sung with good solo and harmony integrity. Excellent diction overall with a lively driven beat and energy. Vocally, I would ask him to concentrate on finishing each phrase with verve. This piece tells a solid musical storyline (albeit Walking Dead-like).

BEST HEARD ON: “Something’s Gotta Give”

 

COREY TAYLOR OF SLIPKNOT

BIGGEST STRENGTH: This has a dramatic storyline filled with eeriness and the video presentation is extremely effective. Taylor drives the song with super energy—Wow!

BEST HEARD ON: “Killpop”

 

PATRICK STUMP OF FALL OUT BOY

BIGGEST STRENGTH: Stump has taken on difficult vocal intervals up and down the scale—and he pulls it off marvelously. The solo vocal to chorus/backup musicians mix gets occasionally befuddled. Stump’s diction, however, is excellent and carries the day and the song. A rhythmic powerhouse hit!

BEST HEARD ON: “Centuries”

 

KELLIN QUINN OF SLEEPING WITH SIRENS

BIGGEST STRENGTH: This piece is filled with difficult vocal phrases requiring variation of vocal depth and volume. The tessitura (musical key) is also challenging—fortunately Quinn is up to the challenge and finishes with finesse.

BEST HEARD ON: “Better Off Dead”

 

CALEB SHOMO OF BEARTOOTH

BIGGEST STRENGTH: One of the strongest voices in this category. The volume demands of this piece requires a solid vocal production—sometimes complicated by the mix between verse and chorus. Shomo excels with a vocal rhythm tour de force.

BEST HEARD ON: “In Between”

 

LZZY HALE OF HALESTORM

BIGGEST STRENGTH: Amazing intonation control with a super variety of dynamics. There is outstanding rhythm drive. She sings with a straightforward diction and directness. This has a high degree of musicality, vocal range and dynamic. Well done!

BEST HEARD ON: “I Am The Fire”

“OperaDoc” is a former opera singer and current orthopedic surgeon from Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He trained at Guildhall School Of Music in London, U.K. and performed with Houston Grand Opera and Regional Summer Stock Opera. His most notable role is Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro.