'America's Got Talent' Finals: Pomp and Circumstances
I'm with judge Piers Morgan on this one.
After watching last night's final performances on NBC's " America's Got Talent," my enthusiasm for flamboyant opera singer Prince Poppycock has peaked and waned.
But, although all three judges lavished compliments on pint-sized opera phenom Jackie Evancho, I find myself strangely ambivalent.
I remain, though, as much in love with Fighting Gravity and Michael Grimm as ever.
The finals air tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Below find the rundown from last night and my pick (all the performances from last night are at this link) ...
Prince Poppycock: He's a whiz with the costumes, staging and makeup, no doubt, and he's got a very good voice, but I agree with Morgan on the questionable wisdom of his choice of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma."
In sparkly armor with a towering headdress made from about a thousand unfortunate birds, he was supposed to be rescuing a fairytale princess -- hung by her arms high above the stage, which looked uncomfortable and a bit creepy -- but he appeared to have forgotten her long before he reached the final big note of the aria.
And, though it was hard to hear underneath the clapping. he flubbed that note and cut it off early.
It was brave to pick "Nessun Dorma," since it's one of the ultimate showcase tunes for male singers. But if you do it, it'd better bring down the house, and frankly I think the audience was clapping more for the costume than the singing.
Compare to plain Paul Potts -- click here -- singing the same piece in his audition for "Britain's Got Talent." It's hard to argue that Poppycock's rendition was as powerful or emotional.
Poppycock's a lot of fun (though less so last night than usual, as Morgan pointed out) and would make an entertaining lounge act -- although I'm not sure how he'd achieve the costume and makeup changes with any alacrity during a show -- but he shot for the moon and didn't quite get out of Earth orbit.
Michael Grimm: He's simple, he's sweet, he's charming, and he's got a killer blues growl. "When a Man Loves a Woman" was a great choice, and he nailed it with emotion, phrasing and understated but powerful vocals.
He's much like last year's winner Kevin Skinner -- a simple country boy with a great story, a load of heart and a talent that would suit everything from a smoky club to a sports arena.
I do have a weakness for bluesmen, and whatever happens in this competition, Grimm's greatest contribution may be bringing this great American art form back to the forefront.
Jackie Evancho: Although she sang a lovely rendition of "Ave Maria," and I got chills up and down my spine, and I think she may become a great stage singer like Sarah Brightman (who performs tonight on the finale) ... oh, I don't know. The cherubic 10-year-old has a beautiful voice, a great look and a sweet but eerily self-possessed manner, but I wouldn't vote for her (disclaimer: I haven't voted for anyone).
It's lucky that she's not a boy, since puberty may not ravage her voice, but it may have an effect. I can't say what she might be at 14, let alone 24. She might be fabulous, but ...
If I sound inarticulate, it's because I can't articulate what bugs me about Evancho, but she bugs me -- and I fully acknowledge that it might be only my issue, if only I could figure out exactly what that issue is.
It might have something to do with the fear I always feel when I see child prodigies -- that so much so soon might mean bad times ahead when the cuteness wears off. Evancho, though, seems to have a solid family that will keep her on the straight and narrow.
Also, if she encourages a few kids to broaden their musical horizons, then brava to her. It's not all Justin Bieber out there.
Fighting Gravity: I love these college dudes and their black-light theatrics, and it seems perfectly suited to a Las Vegas show. Yes, they did have a flub in the final performance -- as Morgan pointed out -- but this is not gymnastics, where a foot out can cost you a gold medal.
It's also not as if one of my early faves, ArcAttack, had a terrible electrical mishap and fried the crowd.
The talent is there, the inventiveness is there, but they just had a little whoops in execution. It would have been better if it didn't happen, but I don't consider it a dealbreaker. I just hope their inevitable fame and fortune doesn't prevent them from finishing their educations.
Who the heck knows who America will vote in, but I'm going with Grimm. All the acts are deserving -- and it won't be an injustice, no matter which one wins or loses -- but he's got it, he's earned it, and when the pressure was on, he delivered.