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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)

@grakky "how many opera singers does America have"
Jackie is very talented, extremely talented, and she may grow to be an opera singer, but the fact that you don't know great American opera singers doesn't mean they don't exist.
Actually, America has MANY great opera singers, but they don't participate in popular talent shows. They also sing in opera theaters like the Met, so you don't know them. Ever heard the name Leontyne Price? Jessye Norman? Beverly Sills? These are among the BEST EVER opera singers. Today there are - Renee Fleming, Thomas Hampson, Lawrence Brownlee, Indra Thomas, Denyce Graves, Jennifer Larmore, Rachel Gilmore, Kathleen Kim, Michael Fabiano, Stephen Costello and many many others. Far too many to list here. And by the way, they all sing better than Sarah Brightman who isn't even an opera singer but a classical crossover singer. Oh, and just so you understand how deep the talent pool is in opera, this is a trailer from a documentary about a prestigious American opera competition:

Personally, I think Jackie outclassed the "Professional" by leaps and bounds. She (Jackie) hits her notes without having to strain. All of them. Ms. Brighton, however, had to reach way too far for the high notes. I don't know if I would classify them as "infomercials". I did enjoy the prince and the diva at the beginning of the show. Really. How could the prince NOT upstage the diva?

I'm not really concerned about tight scripting. By the finals, it's obvious that all the finalists have worked their tails off to get it all perfect. I've no doubt that they're negotiating contracts right now. Some amazing talent on that stage. I think all the contestants out performed their duet partners.

The question is - is she still getting her pony?? I bet she does! Her only CD, which is not available anywhere, except one copy on EBay, is up to $300.00 with two days left.
I cannot understand how people up to today still think she would have had a show in Vegas for an extended time. 1 NIGHT, people! And it was part of the AGT tour with all ten finalists.
Michael Grimm cannot hold a candle to Jackie, but thy became good friends and he was very very gracious in his praise for Jackie. Check out WPXI Pittsburgh station on the net. They have several interviews - one with Michael, one with Jackie’s father and siblings, and if you ever wanted to see a typical 10 year old, unlike the angel who sang for us, check out her interview. She is just like any other ten year old.
The AGT tour will hit 25 cities in 35 days and it would be grueling for Jackie. I believe Jackie will only play in selected cities or pulled completely. They have a million credible reason to pull Jackie. THAT is why she did not finish first. She could not have “headlined” if she’s not there.
All in all, the final four were very good, though I’m not into PP’s style.
Good luck to all three finalists..(Jackie does not need luck!)


Check out these interviews with Jackie and Michael. Great

Uh, Marcia, you could change the channel while the never ending commercials were on, ya know? As much as I think Jackie is an awesome little singer, she just couldn't find that niche to get ALL the votes. She'll be fine. I like Prince Poppycock for his outrageousness, but his voice reminded me a bit of Cher, especially when he was on Jay Leno's last night. Fighting Gravity...well, I would sit through their show for 5 minutes before I become bore to tears. That leave Michael Grimm. Yippy, Michael Grimm, a guy whose raspy & soulful voice would make anyone who ever been hurt, commiserate with him. He is the true winner. I read some comments that the show should show the actual votes, well, here's my thoughts...If I were on, and doing so good, heck yeah, I would want to see to actual votes, but on the other hand, if I did so badly, I would not want to know how bad I did with the votes, or if I get any votes at all, aside from my immediate family members. Also, another comment mentioned that Jackie got the longest and the loudest appluses, but she didn't win & the show was "rigged"...uh, hello, it's not ONLY the present audience who voted, you know, there were millions at home that were watching & voted for, say, Michael Grimm, which I did, for nearly 45 minutes just to get my 10 votes in. I wish these people would stop being such a sore loser already. Jackie took it like a man; why can't her fans???

I think it was actually for the best that Jackie didn't win. Don't get me wrong, I feel she was the best contestant, but at 10 years old, she doesn't need to give up being a kid to have an act in Vegas! She will have a career when she is old enough to handle a career. As long as she doesn't lose her love of singing, and continues to progress, WHILE BEING A KID, when she is mature, she will know greatness! She is awesome!

You mean you watch TV without a DVR?

This was the first season my husband and I watched AGT... and were immediately addicted once we saw Jackie perform. If the results are true, then I'm severely disappointed in american's. Michael Grimm is very good at blues but doesn't have the level of incredible God given talent that Jackie possesses. Do we really come from such a culturally ignorant society? My husband and my taste musically normally is alternative harder rock and we are in no way opera fans, but can't wait for a CD release of Jackie's music... we'll be getting it immediately. In addition, the grace, class, intelligence, and age appropriate manner in which she presents herself is just incredible. If an opportunity arises to see her perform, we'll be first to purchase tickets. The same goes for Prince Poppycock and Micheal Grimm really... not to mention Fighting Gravity. We would love to see any of them perform. AGT did an outstanding job of finding these talents. But Jackie is amazingly gifted beyond any of the other contestants abilities. I just hope she's protected by her parents from any negative influences of being subjected to the public and media. What an incredible discovery.

For once and for all people - the winner does NOT get a Vegas show. Read that again. The prize is a million dollars (paid over 40 years) and the headliner billing in the 25 city AGT tour - that stops in Vegas ONCE.

This silly talk about Jackie in Vegas went a long way toward sinking her in the final.

The length of the pause after "The winner is..." was ridiculously long. To wait a breath for suspense is fine, but it must have been a full minute. Way to make an exciting moment boring. I was thinking about getting a snack. Another annoyance is the popup ads for other shows. They have gotten so big that they block out and distract from what I'm watching. My reaction is to be annoyed by the show in the popup, not to want to watch it.

yes, cranky blogger. jackie evancho is seldom seen in history of entertainment, even blind can see it... she is simply senstion. and if journalist of such paper as this didn't recognize real talent - leave.
grimm is an average, faceless singer without personality. if he won, there's something wrong with America or with voting system, and now with Los Angeles Times??
Too bad for all.
did you see sharon osbourne face - how she was reacting to jackie's performance september 15?? juror... hahaha - go away! go cooking, take care of family.

What in the world were people thinking? How did a washed up blues singer with average talent defeat America's next superstar in this zany contest? Did someone give Howie Mandell access to the vote tabulations?

If I'm correct it's the American people who picked the winner not the judges. I would have never believed that there could be such blind and incompetent judgment of talent by the American people who made this decision. This decision is a disgrace to America's Got Talent and a wake up call to talented performers at a national level and around the would who witnessed this unfair decision. It is now clear that the American people have no idea what true talent is and that America's Got Talent needs to let the judges pick the winners or come up with some other means of adjudication so that a disaster like this will never happen again. As the 'Ave Maria' sang flawlessly through Jackie's' lips opposed to 'When a Man Loves A Women ' the decision should not even have been close. This was a “no brainer” and the American people rewarded this Godly blessed talented girl with a major fumble. I pray she is too young to realize the magnitude of this incompetent decision. Imagine a 10 year old opera singer holding her own with Sarah Brightman, one of the greatest opera singers in the world. I was so shocked at this incompetent decision, I wonder if America's Got Talent could see this was a major tragedy or are they as blind as the people. I concluded two things from watching this disgrace, first - If America's Got Talent want to continue being a top viewer production they better take the judgment of talent out of the hands of the people and second – from this terrible decision by the people, I will never watch America's Got Talent again.

missmussal you are craby go make a sandwitch or go to the bathroom while the commercials. As for me I did'nt notice the comercials. I have watched the show and though I love Jackie and did not really care the much for micheal who I think probally is a want to be, (most of the idol winners)
second place is actuall more fitting for a 10 year old, (other then losing the million dollers) I don't know if I would want my 10 year old having her own show in vegas. I am sure Jackie is getting lots of offers and family will b e able to pick and chose. Go Jackie even though you came in second you amazed everyone that was watching! What a star, but mostly you touched the hearts of many people! I have never sat through one opera song in my 48years but sat through all of your songs and think that I have come to
the fact that it is very beautiful and would have never taking the time to listen to a adult opera but my eyes have been opened, and the proformance of you and Sarah Brighton Awesome and Amazing!

Although I am an avid opera fanatic and consider both PP and JE phenomenal, I have difficulty ignoring and not falling for Michael Grimm’s vocal talent, consistent perfect delivery, and relevance to the majority of Americans. He has the perfect qualities to win America’s vote. I wish him the very best!

Sorry Ninn, but awarding Michael Grimm first place over Jackie Evancho after watching their finals performances is akin to awarding Tim Conway's "The Old Man" character first place over Usain Bolt, even after watching Bolt literally run circles around the old man enroute to a several lap victory!

Yes, it was too long and had too many commercials (and this coming from someone who watched it online with only 1 or 2 commercials for each break), but I'm pretty sure they've always been like that. Even though his performance this week wasn't the greatest, I wish Prince Poppycock had won. That being said, I think Michael deserved it as well.

As for Jackie, she's good for an opera singer, but how many people who watch AGT are into opera? I don't care about opera and to me, sitting there for 2 hrs watching a 10 yr old sing songs in a language I don't know and therefore the songs sound the same for the most part, just standing there not doing anything interesting, would be quite boring. I think others may feel the same.

I think you may be mistaken about a sigificant number of people feeling the same way as you do, Faye. I have always absolutely despised both opera and classical singing (which is actually not what Jackie sings, she sings classical crossover, not opera), but I absolutely love listening to Jackie Evancho! I too have no idea what the lyrics of some of her songs are, nor do I care. I could listen to (and do listen to, thanks to "stealing" a used copy of her debut CD "Prelude to a Dream" for a paultry $375) Jackie Evancho for hours, and will pay ANY price to see her when she performs live on the tour which begins October 1, 2010.

Sara Brightman has had a wonderful career with great reviews from some of most acclaimed critics in the world. It was very nice of her to show up to give this little girl part of her dream. I highly doubt she is envious of anyone. I do not know if it has been acknowledged by anyone else, but Jackie sings at a faster pace then professional classical singers so she does not have to hold her notes as long. This makes it very hard for a professional to do a duet with her.Also saras voice is so strong and powerful if she sang like she normally does you would not have heard Jackie. This is truly a gracious talented woman who gave Jackie all the room on stage she needed to have her moment.

Actually, Dee, when Jackie joined Sarah in this song, they continued in the tempo established by Sarah (which was in fact slightly slower than Jackie's tempo in the beginning) and so it was in fact Jackie who had to adjust to Sarah's slower tempo, not the other way around - at no point in this performance did Sarah have to sing in Jackie's tempo. Of course Jackie's voice is smaller right now, but it is remarkably big for a ten-year-old and has the potential of becoming much stronger in just a few years.

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