America's Got Talent Finale Predictions
Can Favorite Barbara Padilla Take the Title?
Note: This article gives predictions on the fourth season finale of America's Got Talent. Click HERE to see my new pick to win the fifth season.
After a disappointing second half of the semifinals, the 2009 season of
America's Got Talent is all set for its finale on Monday, September 14.
The finale will be live on NBC, and other information is available at
The initial auditions of this 2009 season suggested a high level of
overall talent. As is so often the case on this show, though, producer
Simon Cowell and his cohorts seem to pass through lesser talent in
favor of some of the better acts.
In particular, three contestants showed siginificant promise this
year but were summarily cut in an airplane hangar before the second
round of cuts. One would hope that Ciana Pelekai, Kari Callen, and
Talen Noble-Latz will be discovered by other media or brought back
next year, as they all three showed the potential to go far in this
The theory behind passing through inferior talent is that it is a
ratings ploy or an attempt to create controversy, and fans of the
show are often upset by this strategy. Yet, America's Got Talent
remains as the top show for the fourth straight summer.
Nonetheless, many solid contestants were picked by the judges and
producers (handpicked favorites are a staple of America's Got
Talent) and have made their way to this year's final. And a couple
of nice surprises have emerged to challenge the favorites.
In previous years, I have been very successful at picking the winners
of America's Got Talent. However, this year presents a more difficult
picture as far as predicting a winner.
In Season 1, I felt that Bianca Ryan was the clear favorite, and she
went on to win. Season 2 had two solid contestants in Terry Fator and
Cas Haley, and I picked Terry, who won and has now gone on to sign
a huge $100 million contract. A lot of online fans picked Nuttin'
But Strings to win in Season 3, but I came through again with a
relatively unpopular pick among online fans. Neil Boyd was my pick,
and he took the title despite not being the favorite among the judges.
My confidence in picking the winner this year is not as strong, though.
However, one thing I am more confident of is that there are three favorites -
Kevin Skinner (the "Chicken Catcher"), Lawrence Beamen, and Barbara
Padilla. A handful of other acts, such as The Texas Tenors, Grandma
Lee, and Hairo Torres, are possible winners but substantial longshots
to take the title and the million-dollar first prize.
What is so difficult here is that each favorite has both strengths and
weaknesses. Kevin has technical problems but is a very emotional singer.
Lawrence, on the other hand, is technically great and has a deep, sexy
voice, but he has a voice that does not fit songs like the Alicia Keys
piece he tried in the semifinals. Barbara Padilla is definitely a
skilled opera singer and has the great "back story" of being a cancer
survivor. However, she has stuck to opera 100%, and that shows a lack
of any kind of versatility. Even Neal tried to mix it up with a
reasonable degree of success instead of sticking strictly to a
more traditional opera style.
Although Barbara is a fantastic singer in the genre of opera (at least
to a fan like me who is admittedly not an expert in opera), I am not
going to pick her as the winner of this season of America's Got Talent
for one reason - lack of versatility. Versatility has been key in the
success of past winners. It is clear that Barbara has not developed
anything close to a generalized set of singing skills. She is opera
through and through. That is fine for an opera specialist but does
not always work for a variety show. With that said, I will not be
surprised if Barbara pulls out a win. The competition is just too
close to be that confident this year.
Will Beamen or the Chicken Catcher Pull Out an Upset?
That leaves Lawrence Beamen and Kevin Skinner. These two guys clearly
cannot do what Barbara does, but they have other skills to offer. Kevin
actually suffers from the same lack of versatility that Barbara does -
he is going right back to country every round and will undoubtedly
stick with country for the finale (most likely a Garth Brooks song).
Kevin is special in one way - there is some kind of emotion in his
performances and stage presence, and people who don't focus on
technicalities will be happy to send their votes to Kevin. Emotion
is THE element for some music fans, and Kevin is popular among
this group of fans. He also has that "everyday guy" kind of thing going
for him, and that resonates with a lot of fans.
In some ways, Lawrence Beamen seems like the best pick to win America's
Got Talent 2009. The women seem to swoon over him, he has that sexy
deep voice that reminds you of Barry White, and he has put forth a
great effort to show versatility (much like all the past champions).
Beamen has sung a Broadway song with good range, a pop song with a
nice, sultry tone, and faltered a bit with the Alicia Keys song during
the semifinals. He is also good on a technical level.
Some music fans and even fans of America's Got Talent tend to think that
opera is the hardest genre to sing, and it may be the hardest to sing
from a traditional technical perspective. That gives substantial votes
to Barbara. As I said previously, emotion is what other fans focus on,
and that gives lots of votes to Kevin. But will either of these contestants
win? They certainly both have a shot.
I really enjoy The Texas Tenors, Grandma Lee, and Hairo Torres. In fact,
I gave Grandma Lee the highest score in the semifinals. But I think she
does the same basic act every time, so she starts to look like a one-trick
pony. In addition, a comedian has never won, and Hairo suffers from the
same weaknesses. He is as unique a dancer as Grandma Lee is funny, but
singers or acts involving singing have won every single year on America's
Got Talent. I would be thrilled to be wrong just to see someone different
actually win, but the past is not on their side.
The Texas Tenors actually have a better shot to upset everyone and take
the title. They do have pretty much all the elements necessary to be
successful in the real world. However, group acts rarely win on variety
competitions. For whatever reason, solo acts are more appealing overall
to fans who vote on these shows. While I believe The Texas Tenors have
a great chance to be successful after the show, they just don't have
the type of act that usually wins on these shows. And I just don't see
anything special enough to buck that trend, especially since they are
not as talented as Barbara Padilla in the opera field.
In the end, I am going to go against the weight of Kevin's emotion and
Barbara's amazing cancer back story and technical proficiency. And I predict
that Lawrence Beamen will win the 2009 season of America's Got Talent. He
has the appealing blend of emotion, versatility, and engaging vocal tone that is
most consistent with previous winners of this show. This is a tough prediction
to make, and Barbara Padilla is probably the odds-on favorite before the
show. But past history suggests that winners have certain qualities in
common - the same qualities possessed by Lawrence Beamen. I would not want
to bet money on it, but I believe Lawrence Beamen will walk away with
the million-dollar prize.
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