America’s Got Talent

Everyone’s got an opinion. I’d like to share mine on this past season of America’s Got Talent…

1. The “staff”: Nick Cannon was a great host, taking over for Jerry Springer. He was lively and entertaining, and I loved the way he interacted with the contestants. Just watch this clip (starting at about 1:45). The judges were a great trio, in my opinion, based on the way they got along with each other like brothers and sister. I much preferred the swap of self-absorbed David Hasselhoff for germaphobe Howie Mandel, who playfully highlighted his OCD on various episodes. This is my favorite clip of Howie gone germy (starting around 3:00. FYI- video is graphic.). As you can see from the YouTube clip, the judges interactions were very entertaining throughout the season, especially the witty banter between Howie and Piers Morgan, the smug Brit who’s comparable to Simon Cowell of American Idol fame.

2. Voting: Having watched the entire season of AGT via DVR and not voting myself, I think America as a whole got it right throughout the show. There were so many talented acts during this season, of ridiculous variety, so it must have been very hard to choose who to vote for each week. I’m happy overall.

3. The Contestants: Everyone had a story and a uniqueness about them/their act. The top 10 featured 5 singers- 2 of which were opera singers of VERY different styles, a bicycle stuntman, pre-teen ballroom dancers, a teenage dance troupe, a magician, and a Blue Man Group-esque group of college guys.

Throughout the season, the contestants’ stories got more and more redundant and were portrayed as dramatically as possible so the American audience could really feel for the person/group. While I understand this angle to reach the masses, I wish the background clips would have included a little more of the story of how they discovered and developed their talent. But then again, it’s hard to fill a two-hour show when the performances take up less than half that time…

4. The Final 4: I loved the varied group of final four contestants and believe they each deserve to get signed somewhere and do great things in front of large audiences. Even though three of the four are singers, you can’t get more varied than a 10 year-old opera prodigy, a character named “Prince Poppycock” laden with makeup and full costume singing Freddy Mercury songs with an operatic tone, and a 30 year-old soulful southern boy trying to make it big and take care of his family.

In the finale show, each performance was unique, for better or worse. I think Prince Poppycock blew it with a traditional opera song that just couldn’t reach the masses. His previous songs, Bohemian Rhapsody and Yankee Doodle Dandy to name a couple, became playful story times for his character to come alive and show America his interpretation of those lyrics. The opera performance, while beautiful and well sung, was stale and didn’t fit with the Prince Poppycock persona. I think he intentionally chose to do a boring act, I hope, because he already has something lined up in Vegas and didn’t want to deal with the contractual restrictions of being the AGT winner.

Fighting Gravity was good, but they messed up. I’ve noticed small errors throughout their routines. Because of this, I think they need a little more polishing before they move to a bigger stage. I do think the group of Virginia Tech frat boys is extremely creative in the acts they came up with on the show, especially with all the pressure of dreaming up new routines weekly and only have days to prepare. It’s not like a singer who just needs to sing the song a few times and add their own touches. No, these boys have to come up with a creative concept, build their stage, and perfect the routine through very few days of practice. I applaud all of their efforts, and would definitely pay to see them perform in the future.

Michael Grimm was wonderful. I loved him each week I got to hear his soulful, raspy, heavy with sorrow voice. The judges may not have appreciated it, but I liked watching him sing with his eyes closed, focusing only on his guitar, the lyrics, and how it made him feel to sing to the world or no one at all. His story was overplayed, but his talent shined through. In the finale, he sang “When A Man Loves A Woman,” a song I have LOVED since hearing Michael Bolton’s rendition as a child. That’s the kind of music I grew up with, and Michael’s is the kind I look forward to hearing in the future.

Jackie Evancho was an angel as usual, and I really think her performances have gotten stronger throughout the season. She’s already a ridiculously talented 10 year-old opera singer, but I thought her early songs were quiet and not as well enunciated. I thought the finale performance was her best yet.

5. The Winner: Here’s the deal. This is a talent show with a $1,000,000 prize and a headline show in Las Vegas, and America gets to decide. Without a doubt, I think Prince Poppycock and Fighting Gravity should be gracing many stages in the near future, whether they’re in Las Vegas or across the ocean. They are talented and extremely entertaining.
Jackie Evancho is just too young to deal with all that comes with winning the AGT title. She would be contractually bound to whatever AGT would want her to do, and I don’t think that would be the best thing as she grows and matures and her voice does as well. Even though she came in a close second place, I ultimately think that’s why she didn’t take the title. She will be doing great things, no doubt.

Some people say Michael Grimm shouldn’t have won because you can hear guys like him singing in bars across the country. Well, that may be true because Michael was that guy for a long time. He’s been trying to make it big and get someone to notice his talent for a long time, and AGT was his outlet. He definitely got some of the sympathy vote for his story and his plans to take care of his grandparents who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, but who’s to say that’s such a bad thing? He’s the embodiment of the American Dream realized- growing up poor with a tough family situation, struggling to get noticed and make something of himself, wanting to take care of his family, and working extremely hard to accomplish his goals and realize his dreams, with America’s help. It’s a tearjerker, I say. I’m proud he won because he represents so many people in the  U.S. and around the world, and he’s doing great things with his winnings, I hear. Building a new home for his grandparents, getting engaged to his long time girlfriend, and giving some money to charity. I approve. And I want his CD, right now!

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