Should Kevin Skinner Have Won 'America's Got Talent'?
This morning, Zap2it posted my interview with "America's Got Talent" winner Kevin Skinner -- click here for that -- and in reading the comments, while there are plenty of folks who love Skinner and are thrilled that he won, there are also some who don't think his vocal chops were up to the winning standard.
Among Skinner's biggest supporters on the show is judge Piers Morgan, who criticized his technical ability but complimented his performance style. It's an issue that Morgan had dealt with before as a judge on the U.K.'s "Britain's Got Talent," when Susan Boyle gave a rousing audition but had shaky moments in her later performances.
Unlike Skinner (right), she finished as the runner-up -- as was amazingly talented opera singer Barbara Padilla (right) in this season of "America's Got Talent" -- but it was apparent while listening to Boyle sing the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" on last night's "AGT" finale show that she's now a far more polished, confident and assured vocalist than before.
Morgan -- who, as I said in the story, put a spotlight on Skinner back at the beginning of the season -- had something to say about that last night.
"(Kevin's) a special guy," said Morgan. "I've said this before, it's not because he's a great technical singer, but that's part of his charm. He's an unpolished gem. He's somebody, right now, that, with the right producer, right voice coach and all the rest of it, he could become a seriously successful country star.
"He's got the heart, and he has the evocative way of singing, which appeals to a wide audience."
As "AGT" judge Sharon Osbourne noted in one of her critiques of a Skinner performance, there are many top music stars who do not have technically great voices -- Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed.
"Willie Nelson," adds Morgan. "None of them are great singers, but it doesn't matter. It's about interpreting a song and making people come with you and believe in you as a performer. He's got it all."
On his way to the $1 million prize, Skinner chose two Garth Brooks songs, then did a left turn to Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing."
Asked about that last night, Skinner said, "Well, that was a song that I felt comfortable singing. That song was one that, when me and my wife was dating, I'd sing to her. It had a little sentimental value."
Said Morgan, "I wouldn't have gone with the Aerosmith song in the finals, because even Steven Tyler struggled with it. I told him to stick to country music. He's a country star.
"I think (Garth Brooks') 'If Tomorrow Never Comes' was a magical moment for him, and that's the sort of thing that suits his voice better. But I admire him for trying. He tries.
"But, Kevin, you watch, in a year's time, he'll sing all that stuff."
As to what it was like to sit as a judge and watch both the Susan Boyle and Kevin Skinner phenomena in a six-month period, Morgan said, "Amazing, very emotional to watch them both. More Susan Boyle, someone I know very well and am fond of, to see her performing in the 'America's Got Talent' finale, very special to watch the American public go crazy for her and watch her sing that song so beautifully.
"What you're seeing with Susan is what you're going to see with Kevin. You're seeing an evolution of singing. Once professionals get a hold of them, they make them great.
"'If you've got the chops,' as David (Hasselhoff, his fellow "AGT" judge) says, you can be helped to become a great singer. I think Kevin will follow Susan."
A moment later, Skinner comes walking by on his way to an on-camera interview.
"Hey, Kevin," Morgan calls out, "can you lend me $20?"
Skinner grins broadly and pats his pocket, "Actually, I got that on me now."