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

September 15, 2010 |  9:55 pm

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


JackieChoose one for Jackie Evancho: Stardom now or a real singing career later?

Prince Poppycock takes on Jackie Evancho

Jackie Evancho's voice strikes a chord

Before Jackie Evancho: Remembering Julie Andrews, Beverly Sills and other young vocal prodigies

Hear Jackie Evancho, the 10-year-old with an operatic voice

Comments () | Archives (135)

I thot for sure Jackie Evancko had it. I gave her all of my votes. Life gos on.

For those suggesting Sarah Brightman's comments to "save and preserve" Jackie's voice were "jealousy," that's ridiculous.

Sarah Brightman has been through this before. With an 11 year old named Charlotte Church, who the British media dubbed "better than her idol [Sarah]." Sarah's remarks about Charlotte possibly over singing or singing too early were called "jealousy" even though Church really presented no threat to Sarah's career.

Charlotte Church burnt out after seven years, became an alcoholic, retired to get herself together, got married, had a couple babies and lost that wonderful "angelic" voice

Given Sarah's experience, I don't doubt for one minute that the concern is genuine.

Also remember, Sarah is 52 now. She's not looking to be the ingenue and sing the same songs over and over. Jackie and her family should listen to experience.

If you want to be taken seriously as a critic, better stop telling people you like to watch Billy Mays. RIP, but that was the most annoying dude ever.

I thought the finale was pretty entertaining, and although I would have liked to see Jackie win, I think the results were fair.


I think, that Jackie, when it came down to it, was not picked because people realized she was going to headline a show in Vegas. I think that she wouldn't have fit very well in that setting, even though she is truly talented. Now, of the other acts, who would YOU want to see if you went to Vegas? I think Prince Poppycock and Fighting Gravity both have the flash and bank of a Vegas show (Liberace and blue man group like appeal). Grimm is more of a pop artist, and Jackie is an opera singer. They are best served in their setting of choice, and not a Vegas show. We all know that all four will get a big career bump from being on the show, probably Jackie and Prince Poppycock the most, but who should have won? Jackie was the most talented but with a Vegas show as part of the prize, I think that cost her winning it in the end when people voted...

I think that everytime they mention the "One Million Dollar" prize they should have to say that it is over 40 years. I paused my PVR at the end credits and here is what it says - The prize, which totals $1,000,000 is payable in a finanial annuity over forty years, or the contestant may choose to receive the present cash value of such annuity. (end of quote). Doesn't say the present cash value, but obviously much lower than One million.

I am glad Jackie lost IF that is the word. I live in Vegas and giving a 10 yr old a mill and a show on the strip MAKES NO sense at all. This dynamic girl will be rich and famous and travel the world (I'll bet she sings at the Whitehouse for the President of the U.S.) before the year is out.
SHE is terrific, better than the winner but I am glad she will go a little slower this way.

Once again AGT's audience got it wrong. Another 25-30 yr. old male singer with a sob story. This is supposed to be a talent contest, not a woe is me singer contest.

The only original talent to win in 5 yrs is Terry Fator. He received a $100 Million dollar contract from the Mirage for 5 yrs with an option for another 5. Michael Grimm will be lucky if he gets any play dates after his initial run that he gets for winning the contest.

Poppycock and Fighting Gravity will probably get contracts from casino's on their own without AGT's help and they will fill the concert rooms year after year. They have acts that are sustainable. Originality and entertaining are the hallmarks. Michael Grimm's voice, act, or sob story are nothing original or entertaining.

As for Jackie, the idiot that wrote in and said Sarah Brightman was jealous of her voice and telling her to protect and nuture it because she was afraid of the competition is all wet. I believe Miss Brightman held back as there was no point in upstaging a ten year old girl. Her words were words of advice so Jackie doesn't burn out before her teens. Jackie can be one of the brightest stars in opera for decades if she is brought along carefully.

And all you morons that said they couldn't stand opera are in Piers words, Cultural Ignoramus's. A voice like Jackie's is worth more than 100 of voices like Michael Grimm's.

The most talented in this contest were: Poppycock, Fighting Gravity, Michael Grasso (who's tricks were every bit as pleasing as Copperfields.) and Jackie for her voice. Michael Grimm was a poor 5th compared to the above mentioned.

I’m not sure robbed in the typical sense is a good way to put it, about what happened to Jackie, but in another sense it would certainly apply. Let me explain: Over that past weeks, I have detected a campaign to discredit her from winning. Seems, to me, that over and over and over, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, I have heard that she is “too young for Vegas” and I feel that this issue is what the determining factor was. I feel that the “powers that be” were determined to get their act and felt that a 10 year old, who surprised them out of nowhere and threatened to throw a wrench into the works, was disruptive to their plans, regardless of how adorable and talented she is. And so, even though an act, in Vegas, was/is only a small portion of the prize, it has been a campaign of disinformation all along. therefoe, after I heard Cannon wonder about her age and Vegas andd then a few moments later Piers said the same thing, it kinda struck me funny. In the following days, over and over, I then heard people say they will not base their vote on her obvious talent, but rather on the fact the other acts were better for Vegas. In doing so, the "Useful Idiots," have picked up on what some of the NBC people were saying and they were spreading it, via media and internet, to the benefit of their own favorite acts. They say that sure she is talented and deserves to win…but after all, she is “too young for Vegas.” I am convinced that if a vote was based on pure discovered talent, then no one else in the show would have received a single vote, because Jackie has a “talent” that is that much better then all the others combined and with a stage presence to match. Michael Grimm is a great act and he will “do well in Vegas.” Poppycock and Gravity also fit into the same category, but in no way did their combined talents even come close to Jackie Evancho. America almost pulled it out for the little Angel in spite of the “powers that be” and their obviously hidden campaign to get a “Good Vegas Act,” but, in the end, the mis-information catch phrase won out and duped the American Public. And, that, ladies and gentlemen leads to the only question that remains: “How could the American public be so stupid and gullible to fall for such an obviously trumped up catch phrase and thereby deny the best talent in the show her due reward for all her effort?”

There are Michael Grimms every year in AGT and AI. You will not see another Jackie Evancho.

Evancho doing America's Got Talent is equavalent to Mozart playing the podunk county far at bummble#@@$% Arkansas. That is a voice for the ages...HISTORY in the making....Grimm is good, but Evancho has true once in a generations talent!!!

I guess this is why we (US) lag so much behind the rest of the world in IQ tests.

People are still talking about an extended contract in Vegas for the winner. It has been stated many, many times, on every site, that the winner will "headline" a show in Vegas. It is a ONE night show, with all ten of the finalists performing. Each act will have a couple of minutes. Headline means that their name will be the first on the bill board.
I believe that the reason that Jackie did not win is because Jackie's parents do not intend to let their little girl go on a tour of 25 cities in 35 days, hence, as the "finalist" she could not have "Headlined" the show.
All said and done, money for NBC talked, true talent walked...into fame!!!

Did America choose the guy or did the show? It's highly unlikely that Jackie would do the 23 city tour. Anyway, bigger things should be in the works, If I could, I would send an email to Steven Spielberg asking him how come he hasn't already put Jackie under contract for a remake of the one movie I know he want's to make: The Wizard of Oz. She won't be a pre teen forever.

Isn't it refreshing to find a preteen super star who wasn't manufactured by Disney?

This is the second time of ever viewing TV in my entire 60 years that I actually stood up and cheered when a person won something. The first was when Al Pacino won an Oscar for Scent of a Woman, and now for Michael Grimm.

He so totally deserved to win ....... as stated by so many, Jackie has an entire lifetime to achieve her dreams, she is too young to be playing Vegas, rather needs to stay in school and enjoy a childhood.

His Royal Highness will undoubtedly have a huge career, and to be honest, although Defying Gravity intrigued me the first time I saw them, I quickly became bored as it was just more of the same every week.

Michael Grimm has a stupendously soulful voice and I would fly anywhere to see him perform (thank God I fly for free Ha Ha.)

America got it totally right this time.

I feel that Michael should have won. He deserved every second of it. Someone who has been singing and writing music for 18 yrs., playing in smoke filled clubs and to crowds of drunks for hours on in deserves to be paid back for his hard work.Jackie who can sing her little heart out and will probably be very famous to us all one day is far to young to take on a crowd in Las Vegas. I wish Michael the very best of luck and I know he will have a long extended career that will please many for serval yrs to come.

The fix is in! America spoke but NBC didn't listen. Jackie blew all of them off the stage. The Vegas odds makers had it right and America had it right but we will never see the polling results. And why have we never seen the polling results for American Idol? Was Adam Lambert the obvious winner on AI? Same for Crystal Bowersox. It's all about money and public perception.
Jackie Evancho will enjoy a lifetime of well deserved fame while Prince, Gravity and Grimm will fade into oblivion.

Really, those commercials are so tiresome taking all the time span compared to the show. What so upsetting is the result, though Michael gets the title i say that Jackie will do great in the near future. That adorable girl is sure adorable and promising.

The big winner ... NBC. I am embarrassed to admit I watched the show more than once this season (I have no real excuse); until the final weeks it was no more than a sloppy reincarnation of The Gong Show - overly stocked w\ contestants (and judges) desperate for their minute on national TV whatever the cost, personal human dignity especially.

Take a look at the ratings - consistently in the top 10 over 5 months for formulaic pablum originally concepted as summer filler to booster flagging network viewership. All finalists remain gifted and talented; and have my personal congratulations and best wishes. The fact that this much hype was generated - here, YouTube, tabloids, late-night and afternoon talk shows speaks volumes.

America do yourself a favor - read a book, take a walk, hug your families, get some rest.

NBC - Congratulations! You win! A grand prize that puts $1MM to shame!

Here is a great behind the scenes interview with Bill & McKenna Medley their relationship with Michael Grimm. This interview was shot yesterday afternoon, the day after the announcement.

Michael performed with Bill Medley's show here in Branson, and was a part of his band, 3 Bottle Band.

Mr. Medley's birthday is coming up as well. I was amazed to learn he has been performing for over 48+ years! Amazing....


@Steven Douglas I think you are unfair to Sarah Brightman. She is absolutely right to give the advice to Jackie. While Jackie does seem to have a better voice than Sarah, a number of teachers and singers expressed concern over her singing too much too soon.

@Olivia Mulholland "Opera singing just isn't meant to be heard for that long, it eventually gets bbbboooorrrriiinnnggg."

I don't think you really understand what opera is. What you heard here are two classical crossover singers singing a popular crossover song written in 1984. This song has absolutely nothing to do with opera. Jackie by the way has a real potential to become an opera singer if she doesn't hurt her voice, but she isn't an opera singer now. No 10-year girl would be able to sing a solo role in opera, she simply will not be heard.

Opera is an extended work of drama or comedy set to music, it has a plot, characters, orchestra, sets, costumes. It's similar to a musical theater except for operas are UNAMPLIFIED as in NO MICROPHONES, the singers are trained to project the sound so that it's heard in a large theater.

So yes, operas are long, 2-5 hours long, and no they are not boring. At least it depends on an opera...

I am really amazed at the level of ignorance of classical music and opera today. In the 80s even those who didn't like opera at least knew what opera was.

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