Tonight the ten America’s Got Talent finalists discovered their fate, in a two hour countdown to the winner. Considering the level of talent and likability of the contestants, the America’s Got Talent audience knew it was bound to be a night of both surprise and disappointment. Despite the change in rules this year to give judges more control over semifinalists, the amount of “variety” acts continually dwindled in the face of so much singing competition. It was a tough night in the finals for them as well.
America’s Got Talent Finale: Thelma Huston
I wasn’t sure at all about this decision when America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon announced that the ten finalists would be performing “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. The music started up, and The Texas Tenors blended beautifully with Barbara Padilla for an operatic intro. Then the singing duties moved off to Lawrence Beamen and Voices of Glory, for more sweet harmonies. The spotlight headed over to Grandma Lee, but there was no singing here–the America’s Got Talent comedian took her time on stage to introduce the special guest–Thelma Huston.
Huston looked gorgeous in a metallic trimmed aqua dress that highlighted her curves and fantastic legs. She strutted out on the America’s Got Talent stage and gave a rousing performance, taking time to duet with the three male lead singers. Poor Kevin Skinner looked uncomfortable during the flashy number, though I give him credit for dancing away to a completely different genre than he’s used to. Drew Stevyns got an impressed look from Huston as he gave a soulful and sexy performance opposite her, and Beamen was the most charismatic I’ve seen him during his duet.
The America’s Got Talent singers slid aside to give the Fab Five space to clog away in perfect time in sleek black outfits, with Recycled Percussion providing the dance beat on the platform behind them. Then Hairo hit center stage, doing his stellar backwards-somersaults-splits move from his semifinals performance. The whole number was just fantastic, very Vegas worthy and a lot of fun. Thelma Huston is still amazing, and made it all work with a disparate collection of America’s Got Talent performers.
America’s Got Talent Finale: Leona Lewis
English pop star Leona Lewis, winner of Britain’s X-Factor in 2006, performed her new single “Happy”. The emotional song, penned by OneRepublic’s talented Ryan Tedder, was performed beautifully by Leona Lewis. With a clear, powerful voice and consistently solid notes, Lewis showed the America’s Got Talent audience what a truly gifted contemporary singer sounds like.
Asked by America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon how she’d felt as a finalist on her own reality outing, Lewis admitted to being nervous, but “I knew I’d done my best.” She wished luck to all of the finalists, and said she was thankful for all the support she’d gotten as a contestant–“for without that support, I wouldn’t be here.”
America’s Got Talent Finale: Audition All-Stars
I suppose this is part of what America’s Got Talent is all about, but I found the next number questionable. After showing a montage of some of the worst and craziest acts from this year’s America’s Got Talent auditions, they then brought them out on stage for a group performance. Interestingly, the senior disco dancer Tony Ferrante was in the number–even though he actually made it to Vegas the first time.
We had the bad Elvis impersonator, who actually sounded better this time than in his America’s Got Talent audition, followed by some crazy singers that sounded just as bad or worse. The two girls in the suitcase were there, along with the spinning acrobats who spent all their time making out. Heavy Vee, who did a hip hop dancing duet with Nick Cannon during the America’s Got Talent auditions, also appeared and was far more talented than most of her counterparts on stage.
I would have preferred they bring back some of the good acts that didn’t make the America’s Got Talent semifinals, or that got sent home from Vegas unfairly, but they probably didn’t want to risk showing up some of the acts that had made it this far. Better to show all the crazies, but to me it doesn’t seem fair to encourage these folks by giving them center stage on the America’s Got Talent finale.
The only redeeming part of this chalkboard-scratching number was that at the end, a magic trick revealed Piers and Grandma Lee in a box–with Lee wearing a wedding dress. It was a hilarious shock, and a good end to a bad number.
America’s Got Talent Finale: Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil next took over the America’s Got Talent stage with their vaudeville act, “Banana Shpeel.” With the introduction of two not terribly funny clowns, I was expecting for Piers to hit the buzzer. But then the singing and group dancing began, along with a fantastic tap-dancing duet, and the number took off. Once again Cirque du Soleil expands their repertoire with another genre of entertainment.
America’s Got Talent Finale: The Final Five — Hairo Torres and Barbara Padilla
It was finally time for America’s Got Talent to break our hearts, by cutting the final ten down to the final five. Once Hairo heard who he was paired with, he just grinned and shook his head. He knew right away that he wasn’t moving on, which I think he knew Monday night. Looking at the competition for the America’s Got Talent finals, I think he knew his unique style of dancing wasn’t mainstream enough to capture the top spot. So for his final performance, he opted to do a more personal performance.
While I agreed with Piers that part of Hairo’s appeal was the happy and funny twists he put into his dancing, I enjoyed his more serious and emotional America’s Got Talent performance Monday night. It proved that Hairo Torres is not just your average break-dancer–he’s an artist. I’m hoping he can find a venue/production that will highlight his skill, dedication, and creativity.
America’s Got Talent Finale: The Final Five — Lawrence Beamen and Voices of Glory
This was definitely one of the biggest surprises of the night on America’s Got Talent. Though I don’t think he showcased his voice properly after his first audition, Beamen had talent and was a favorite of the judges. Voices of Glory did have some weaker moments with pitch problems in their performances, but I have to say that their finals number was extremely well done.
Part of the problem may have been that Beamen was trying to do more mainstream numbers, rather than performing the more traditional style of music he was comfortable with. I think America’s Got Talent was trying to make him a contemporary artist and sex symbol, but Beamen didn’t yet have the confidence of Barry White to seductively draw the audience in. It was too bad he couldn’t have performed with Thelma Huston during the America’s Got Talent finals, because he seemed much more comfortable singing with her than having all the attention focused on just him.
America’s Got Talent Finale: The Final Five — The Texas Tenors and Fab Five
This one broke my heart. I wasn’t surprised in this grouping that The Texas Tenors were moving on, but I was incredibly sad to see Fab Five go. Consistently flawless, with perfectly synchronized dancing and infectious smiles that never wavered, Fab Five deserved to be higher up in the America’s Got Talent rankings. I suspect they were once again lost to the subjective decisions of voters–rather than voting on talent and performance, the America’s Got Talent audience consistently votes on whether they like a particular genre or not. Barbara Padilla is probably one of the few exceptions to that rule, though she falls into the general bias for singers and those with motivational backstories.
The Texas Tenors of course hugged every one of the attractive ladies, and the Fab Five were gracious in defeat, thanking everyone for the experience and for their votes. I hope the sisters keep dancing and that the America’s Got Talent finals recognition helps them land a good dancing gig.
America’s Got Talent Finale: The Final Five — Kevin Skinner and Drew Stevyns
Like Hairo Torres, Drew Stevyns knew his time on America’s Got Talent was up when he was paired with Kevin Skinner. Miming a gunshot to his own head, Stevyns good-naturedly faced the inevitable. Being an America’s Got Talent wild card act that came out of nowhere, certainly Stevyns was happy with the fact that he’d gotten all the way to the final ten. I suspect he doesn’t need the America’s Got Talent top prize at this point. His vocal style is very popular right now, he writes his own music, and he’s landed himself a rabid female fan base (including Sharon Osbourne). With all this going for him, he’s certainly ready to be signed for a record deal.
America’s Got Talent Finale: The Final Five — Recycled Percussion and Grandma Lee
Honestly, the way America’s Got Talent voting runs, this one could have gone either way. Recycled Percussion is an exciting, exuberant and flashy act that’s made for Vegas, but their unique talent of drumming on found objects can be an acquired taste. Grandma Lee’s raunchy senior citizen humor nabbed her a lot of avid fans, but her somewhat shaky delivery cast some doubt over whether she could command a large stage. In the end, Recycled Percussion was announced as the performer that had made it into the Final Five.
This was a testament to Recycled Percussion, who managed to be the only non-singing act in the top five of America’s Got Talent. The incredible energy and inventiveness they pour into each performance consistently wowed the America’s Got Talent audience, and the two drummers’ good looks and tendency to go shirtless certainly didn’t hurt their popularity either.
America’s Got Talent Finale: Shakira
Shakira was the perfect act for America’s Got Talent, for though she’s considered a pop star, she’s really a song and dance act–with an emphasis on the dancing. Her seductive hip movements that are part belly dancer, part porn star, are certainly what landed her the fame she has. Wearing a black leather cut-out bodysuit and doing some suggestive moves around a floor speaker, Shakira was perhaps a bit too racy for PG-oriented America’s Got Talent, but it’s not the first time the show has pushed the envelope.
While her provocative dancing is her trademark, Shakira does have a fine voice and catchy songs, and there’s something inherently likable about her unaffected free spirit nature. Asked by America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon what her secret for success was, Shakira said that determination and work were the two main ingredients. She also loves what she does, which is another part of what makes her performances entertaining.
America’s Got Talent Finale: The Final Two
The America’s Got Talent finale was winding down, and it was time to whittle the final five down to the final two. In fifth place were the Voices of Glory. These kids have definitely come a long way, and while Nadia looked disappointed, the two older brothers knew how amazing it was to have been in the final five at such a young age. They definitely progressed, and Monday night’s performance was their best. Once they took the advice of the America’s Got Talent judges and made the sister the lead singer, their harmonies meshed better and the song was much more powerful.
In fourth place were The Texas Tenors. I think these guys definitely have a shot at a Vegas act on their own. As America’s Got Talent judge David Hasselhoff continually told them, it’s easy to picture them on billboards on the Strip. As Piers said, Vegas has a lot of cheese and the Tenors are plenty cheesy, so it could be a great fit for them. Considering their lack of practice together, I suspect some further training would bring them up to a truly stellar act.
The third place announcement seemed to shock Barbara Padilla more than it did Recycled Percussion. I got the feeling she was worried about them as competition. Either that, or she was recalling Skinner’s terribly flat performance on Monday night’s America’s Got Talent. Recycled Percussion is a great act, and within these three finalists, they definitely deserved to be in the top two. With a smaller, cozy environment like Blue Man Group typically performs in, Recycled Percussion’s light, sound, music, and acrobatics show could really blow people away.
America’s Got Talent Finale: Rascal Flatts
I’ve actually heard a few performances by this wildly popular country band that were a little shaky, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from their America’s Got Talent number. I was pleasantly surprised, for lead singer Gary LeVox was in the zone tonight, and the band put on a stellar toe-tapping lively performance with clear and impressive vocals. The America’s Got Talent audience loved every minute of it, and I hope Kevin Skinner was taking notes.
America’s Got Talent Finale: Susan Boyle
America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon announced Susan Boyle and said she was performing her first single off her new album. I thought it was going to be an original piece of music, but it was “Wild Horses”, a single originally by The Rolling Stones. (You may also know it from the fantastic cover by The Sundays.) The song has a perfect chorus for showing off a pure and beautiful voice, and Susan Boyle did a lovely rendition, with an orchestra providing accompaniment. Dressed in a sophisticated black gown, Boyle gave a confident and flawless performance, and received a standing ovation from the America’s Got Talent crowd.
America’s Got Talent Finale: The Winner — Kevin Skinner
After two hours of angst and entertainment, the two nervous finalists were finally ready to hear who the winner of America’s Got Talent was. Barbara Padilla looked by turns confident and then slightly nervous, but she kept on smiling. Kevin Skinner, as he so often has been on America’s Got Talent, looked choked up with emotion. Nick dragged out the announcement by once again repeating their life struggles that America’s Got Talent viewers should know by heart by now.
If we were basing the winner on pure talent, Barbara Padilla should have won a face-off with Skinner quite easily. Though he gave a heartfelt audition performance, his subsequent songs have been shakier and exposed his limited range and lack of training. In the end it most likely came down to there being more country fans of America’s Got Talent than opera fans, and Kevin Skinner took home the top prize.
Barbara Padilla didn’t look as disappointed as I thought she might, but she no doubt suspects she’ll have offers to sing now in more venues than just Vegas. Kevin Skinner will definitely benefit from the cash prize and feature performance in a Vegas show, and having an America’s Got Talent win to his name is also great for a record deal resume. He seems like a nice and genuine guy, so here’s hoping Kevin Skinner can further improve his talent and find the right niche for his heartfelt and low-key vocal style.
America’s Got Talent is over for another season. Though we may not always agree with the winner chosen, these entertaining reality shows are still a lot of fun, and we get to see amazing acts that we might never have been exposed to otherwise. It’s also a great venue for struggling and aspiring artists, and landing anywhere in the America’s Got Talent semifinals and above can help a performer get the national exposure they need to launch a career. It’s been a crazy ride this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what America’s Got Talent brings next time. Maybe we’ll see an actual variety act take the top prize.
Check out: America’s Got Talent Semifinals Results: Top 20 Week 2
Visit the official America’s Got Talent website for photos and video.