‘America’s Got Talent’: Jackie Evancho loses to Michael Grimm but wins a duet with her idol

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We don’t usually watch infomercials unless Billy Mays or the SlapChop guy are involved but we made an exception Wednesday for the finale of this season’s “America’s Got Talent.”

Stretched agonizingly over two hours, we endured random guest acts (the Goo Goo Dolls are still a thing?) ridiculously lame product placements and a number by the “AGT All-Stars” (read: rejects) to find out that soul singer Michael Grimm squeaked past fan favorite Jackie Evancho to snag the $1-million prize.


But first came the most shameless advertisements -- the finalists’ duets. This was a chance for the Final Four to sing with their heroes, as long as their hero was tying to resuscitate a career or had a new disc to shill. Grimm looks up to Jewel? Seriously?

It has been a long time since we have encountered a production so utterly pointless. NBC’s show is constantly being billed as live, as if crazy things could happen at anytime, but all the action is so tightly scripted that it is impossible not to suspect that every possibly spontaneous turn is designed to manipulate. Piers Morgan’s buzzing of Prince Poppycock on Tuesday night, for instance. (Poppycock was the first to go on the finale.)

She might not have won, but Jackie did something on the show that no one else did: She was real. She was genuinely excited to meet Sarah Brightman and over the moon at being able to sing with her. Winning a contest is a worthy but abstract goal, especially for a child. Meeting a hero is tangible and it was a pleasure to watch Jackie realize that dream.

In a previous post, Culture Monster poked fun at Jackie copying the “wandering hands mean I’m emoting” technique from the Brightman playbook but they were so sweet together our heart burst to only two sizes too small.

Sensibly skipping the low-sitting triplet passage that marred her earlier performance of the song (“Time To Say Goodbye”) Evancho sung circles around her idol. The ensemble bits were mostly awful because, as is usual for sopranos, each had her own ideas regarding pitch. In the end we were so pleased with Jackie, it didn’t matter.

While Twitter is ablaze with outrage over the results, in our opinion, America made the right choice. Grimm gets his Vegas show, his grandparents get their new house and Jackie will be free to pursue her career on her own terms.

What left a bad taste in our mouths was the feeling that we were being held hostage by advertisements and promotional spots that took the focus away from the talent. The compelling nature of those less tightly scripted moments made the whole contest seem mawkish and tacky.

What did you think? Was two hours too long? Would it have made a difference if the guest acts were actually entertaining or am I just a cranky blogger incapable of appreciating a good thing when I see it?

-- Marcia Adair

Follow me on Twitter @missmussel


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