You just never know what you’re going to get with “America’s Got Talent,” yet, for some reason, I feel like I’ve already seen 90 percent of what there is to see this coming season.
Just two weeks into the new season, with new host Tyra Banks and the four judges—Howie, Heidi, Simon and Mel B (my least favorite of the four)—we’ve already seen a bunch of singing acts, several dancers, a couple escape artists, some magic acts and a few odds and ends things that usually don’t deserve to be put on TV at all, but NBC decides to shove them down our throats anyway. The Internet already has been broken by two or three videos taken from the show, including the Oklahoma City girl Darci Lynne, who was made famous for trying to keep ventriloquism alive (It never died, but let’s all be real with ourselves that it isn’t all that great to begin with). There also was the deaf girl Mandy Harvey, who sang and played music on beat, which, while still amazing and inspiring, didn’t make for the most riveting song ever. But don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she made it through with that performance and I hope she goes far.
It seems to me that the judges, the fans and all of America is getting a little too caught up in the “tough odds” type of people who are performing. A majority of performers are getting their four yeses more because of their story than their actual performance. Why are we continually getting surprised that a young girl can sing well? It’s almost like there’s a built-in handicap in favor of these young kids or the brother and sister combo who had nothing to turn to in life but dancing. They turn into these inspirational sob stories that puts the judges in a spot where they’re shunned for not voting for these people who have it tough to move on to the next round.
Again, I’m extremely happy to see them overcome their circumstances, but the show isn’t so much a competition of actual talent as it is an audition for popularity and possible future money-making endeavors.
It’s also annoying how the judges keep using superlatives like “I’ve never seen anything so dangerous on this show” or “That may be the best voice I’ve ever heard on this show.” Seriously, it’s almost every time they vote yes. What’s going to happen when a couple of those same singers are fighting for that last spot to advance to the next round? They can’t both have the most amazing voice they’ve ever heard on the show. A subsequent problem with this is that “group think” starts to take over. Very rarely so far have the judges disagreed. Maybe a couple times, but you can tell they sometimes just go along with what others are saying. Heidi Klum is my favorite judge because she’ll actually give quick insightful analysis on what she liked about any particular performance. Mel B, on the other hand, just says whatever comes to mind. Simon, of course, has lightened up since his “American Idol” days, though I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
As a first-timer watching the show from the beginning (I’ve only ever watched the last month or so’s worth of shows in previous season), I’m still holding out for more fun during the auditions. As I’ve alluded to already, I’m tired of singers and dancers doing so well on these shows. There are other competitions for that. I like seeing the magic acts, the weird stuff (when it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s horrible), and in-between stuff.
I particularly have a soft spot for the comedians. I don’t think any genre of act is as tough as someone just standing there with a microphone in his hand tasked with making you laugh, especially when he or she is performing on a kid-friendly network and time slot (I appreciate clean humor more, anyway). The comedian Preacher Lawson really impressed me when he did his improvised segment about riding in the car with his grandmother, who is not afraid to die. And his willingness to make fun of himself as being a comedian, therefore not having a full-time job, was smart. He had some good voices and expressions, but he didn’t overdo it or deliver anything too quickly.
And oh man, was the Trump impersonator on-point! He absolutely nailed every mannerism of President Donald Trump and was hilarious. It ticked me off when Mel B automatically voted him down just for what his act was without even hearing anything. To me, she just showed she couldn’t stay impartial, and most of what she has to say from here on will have an asterisk in my mind.
On a serious note, I don’t like when the president of the United States of America gets disrespected, no matter what he may have done to “deserve” it. You can disagree with him all you want, but if you don’t respect our president, that says more about you than him. But the act wasn’t totally degrading of him so much as it was playing off his mannerisms, antics, etc. It wasn’t a completely political stand the guy was trying to make. Now, if he gets political in future rounds, I will have a problem then.
Other acts that stood out to me, for better or worse, include the 12-year-old boy doing the robot dance to a sad song. On one hand, it was terrible dance with pathetic moves that don’t really require a whole lot of special moves or talent. But it was a creative way to help tell the story and tug on the emotional strings, and his moves cleverly fit on.
The escape artist/magician who got out of the box filling with sand was cool, but predictable. It appears he struggled to get out of his locks, so a guy has to come and hammer the glass box so he could get out. But it turns out the guy with the hammer was him. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I heard it mentioned that he didn’t have any sand on him afterwards, so that was a bit peculiar. It was obvious that once the sand filled the box enough for him to get out of sight, he was able to roll out the back of the contraption and pretend to be someone else.
I’m not digging the presentation of the show so far. There are too many out-of-contexts clips of the performers backstage or in the real world somewhere. During the performances, there is way too much editing going on. Too many slow-motion cuts distract from the actual events of what’s happening. These cuts come too early before we see live reactions sometime. Too many cuts to b-roll of the contestants hugging and cheering with family in slow-motion or just giving looks to the camera. It’s poorly done.
Tyra Banks hasn’t sold me as the new host. She’s mostly just there on fame. They’ve shown too many interviews with contestants talking about how much they love her. Yeah, I get it, she’s a celebrity, but we all know that doesn’t mean what it used to. Tyra’s name is pretty big even after all these years, but she’s not overly qualified to host a major-network TV show.
Going forward, I hope we see less acts from kids who are only on the show because they’re kids. But hey, you must be a monster not to vote for the little kid or the deaf girl, right? We all should root for them. Voting is different, though. But I’ve learned not to take the show seriously and enjoy the ride while it lasts.