Why Barbara Padilla Lost America's Got Talent

Barbara Padilla Finishes Second

On Wednesday, September 16, 2009, Barbara Padilla, the polished and talented opera singer who survived cancer, finished as the runner-up contestant on the latest season of America's Got Talent. Kevin Skinner captured the title and million-dollar prize. Although Kevin will headline the upcoming Vegas show, Barbara will also appear. You can get further information on the show at nbc.com.

In my hub on Kevin Skinner, I explained six reasons that probably contributed to his win. While Barbara may or may not have been the most talented contestant, most online fans agreed that she was talented even though many of them are not opera fans. Even if we assume that Padilla was the most talented contestant, there are many factors that may have contributed to her loss.

First, Barbara had a compelling backstory. As a cancer survivor, you have to feel for her. While Kevin Skinner had a catchy back story as a former chicken catcher trying to make it as a country singer, Barbara's story was just as compelling. Fans complaining about Kevin's back story really can't look solely to that as the reason for Barbara's loss. In fact, they really had the two most compelling back stories in my opinion. So something else had to play a part in the finale results.

One possible reason is just the fact that Barbara Padilla is an opera singer. Many people think that opera singers are the best or some of the best singers, but others just cannot listen to it more than a couple of minutes. The truth is, many people would never vote for an opera singer. They just don't like how it sounds to their ears, and no cries to "vote for talent" will ever get them to pick up the phone and start voting for an opera singer.

Similarly, people at home who vote on these reality competition shows are almost always going to vote for what they like, not which contestant theoretically has the most talent. After all, what is talent? Talent can be defined so many ways. And on a variety show like this, it is an even more elusive concept when the choice is among singers, dancers, comedians, magicians, and other variety acts. How does one even compare a singer with a dancer? This is basically impossible to answer.

Actually, though, the mere fact that Barbara is an opera singer does not provide an answer as to why she lost. We know this because Neil Boyd, an opera singer, won last season. However, it is a common theory that one season's winner will be different than the next season's winner. Perhaps the regular voters who vote every season decided not to vote for another opera singer. Indeed, look at a show like American Idol. Almost every winner has been different than the others. And every winner on America's Got Talent has been very different except for the fact that they have all been singers (even ventriloquist Terry Fator was a singer).

Because this show has a contract in Las Vegas to put on a show after the season, the producers of America's Got Talent have tried to ram the idea down everyone's throat that the most suitable act for Vegas should win. However, this is not talent. This attempt by the producers has failed, as they have tried for two years now to get another Vegas act to follow in the footsteps of Terry Fator. As we can see from the results, most voters clearly do not care about that (although some have bought that ridiculous angle). Therefore, this does not seem to be the reason that Barbara lost. After all, country is not big in Vegas, either.

Personally, I don't think that Kevin's back story relegated Barbara Padilla to second place in this competition. Rather, personality likely played the biggest part.

The truth be told, my belief is that Kevin Skinner comes across as someone who legitimately wants to entertain, and I can assure you that others felt the same way. With a personality like Kevin's, people are moved by his persona. But with a personality like the one Barbara Padilla has, people must be moved by her talent only.

Perhaps it was difficult for Barbara to express herself fully because English is not her first language. Perhaps she is just a naturally quiet person. Whatever the reason, Kevin's genuineness just came out better than Barbara's. I never got a sense that Barbara was there for us fans. Rather, I got a sense that Barbara was there for herself. Anyone is free to disagree with that, but that was my feeling.

But I do think that Barbara is more talented than Kevin based upon the way that I judge talent. Apparently, that is not the way Kevin's voters saw it, though. However, I would not give the voters a hard time for simply disagreeing with me. Those who commented on my Kevin blog said they voted for Kevin because they were moved by his performances. To some people, this is the ultimate talent. Therefore, in their minds, they were voting for the most talented contestant.

I sincerely think that Barbara Padilla does want to entertain and is genuine. Contestants in the future should keep in mind that their job is to move and stir the emotions of as many watchers as possible. They can do that by showing more versatility, which Bianca Ryan, Neil Boyd, and Terry Fator did. I wish her the best and hope that her career skyrockets after this.

Update - October 4, 2009: According to Barbara Padilla's official Twitter, she is in Vegas now and rehearsing for duets with The Texas Tenors and Lawrence Beamen.

Barbara is scheduled to appear in the after-season production for America's Got Talent contestants from October 7th through December 13th. The venue is Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada. I'm not sure about actual dates or showtimes.

Update for October 7th - Barbara Tweeted that she was getting ready for dress rehearsal. The Las Vegas show with Barbara and the America's Got Talent contestants kicked off tonight.

Several people were wondering if Barbara signed a record deal. No, she has not, but I'm not sure if she has been negotiating with anyone yet. I think she has just been focusing on this show for now.

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Comments 22 comments

ayong manfred keyaka 4 years ago

Could anybody please send to me any CD he has on americas got talent, i just started watching the show and so want the ones I have missed to catchup with you ayongor@yahoo.com


ERICA DERINSE SULLIVAN 21 5 years ago

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Ingrid Self 5 years ago

We have just finished the series in New Zealand, and I was surprised by the final results. Well, let me correct that - I was surprised by the eliminations in the final, but by the time we reached the last two, I did not think Barbara would win. As someone before has noted, the Hoff said the the world is her stage. Kevin seems a nice man with a nice voice. I wish him success. However, as far as Vegas goes, it takes a lot to hold an entire show together - I would like to see a variety show with the top five as the goal, and just the money as the ultimate prize.

Oh, and can we have Jerry Springer back please?


Oscar 5 years ago

Barbara Padilla, as an opera singer is amazing, there are very, VERY good and/or popular opera singers, but some of them have not enough heart, and that's what Barbara has, and very much, you see and feel that emotion, and plus, her singing has dome particularities, her voice has some hues that distinguish her from the rest of the opera singers.

On the other hand, yes, Kevin has much emotion, much feeling, just as Barbara, BUT as a singer, and not as a country singer, but for any musical genre (much less an opera singer, of course) he has not a great voice, in fact, it's just an average singer, so that's what can indicate who's got a real talent, and the obvious opinion of many, many people about Barbara should had been the winner confirms that. For me the reason Barbara didn't win is just one, and I see that from a perspective the people at U.S. may not see (or want to see): because she is not north american, she is not one of them! She is a mexican singer, and that a mexican opera singer could defeat an all-american southern country boy at AMERICA'S GOT TALENT... would not like to many, many people!!


paddy 5 years ago

If U.S.A.really believes in talent and not sympathy votes,then if they want to be respected world wide,,then make do the right thing and give credit where it"s due regardless of race or social status..Barbara by a long mile and they did it again with that beautiful child singer.


Kagiso 6 years ago

The standing ovations and reaction of her audience after each performance clearly demonstrated why Barbara won by a wide margin. The obvious inappropriate choice of the Kentucky drawler as winner leaves one to consider two possibilities:

1-Was the result manipulated by the organisers?

2-Does the fact that she is a Mexican by birth have anything to do with it? Well, obviously not. After all, this is the USA!

Anyway, I have no doubt that in five years time Barbara will thrill millions worldwide with her magnificent soprano solo's from European to Asian concert halls and we'll all be saying Kevin Who? David was so right when he told Barbara: "Forget Vegas! The world is your stage." She does deserve better than Vegas and AGT!


Beverly 6 years ago

As a musician (singer) I believe that talent is not something that is taught. Skinner and Grimm have a talent that has been perfected through the years naturally. They probably, after they have won, will get training which will advance them in their careers. The little girl how came in 2nd this year is truly an amazing little girl. She is in the process of training her talent to become a great opera singer. Barbara was actually taught from a little child to use her talent and strengthen it. Talent is the God given ability, and the training strengthens that talent.


Marilou 6 years ago

Sorry I commented before on the wrong page. It

comes down to the fact that people felt sorry for

Kevin, out of work chicken catcher, poor and down

on his luck. He was SO the under-dog and people

felt Barbara would make it on her talent. He

certainly won't. He is only a so-so singer and it

is good he has that money. He will need it.


Annia 6 years ago

Nothing against Kevin Skinner personally, but his singing is as flat as my chest!!!


Scarlett 6 years ago

I'm going to agree with the new title, America's Got No Taste. Example: those two sisters with cystic fibrosis. While I have nothing but sympathy for anyone suffering from this disease, their singing abilities are nowhere near the standard needed for a competition of this level. But as usual, America voted for their sobby backstory instead of talent. And because they got through, another act with real talent did not. I have no doubt these girls will NOT win.


Molly 6 years ago

Barbara was/is the most talented of all candidates on

AGT. Kevin Skinner couldn't sing his way out of a paper bag! This showed how unfair, unreal AGT is! If all you have to do is cry, mumble and look sad to win, that makes for a new show called, AW, Poor Me! I no longer watch the show...it is not about TALENT !!!!!


Mike 6 years ago

Barbara is phenominal. Kevin is good.

If Kevin would not have won, he would be back in Mayfield, KY. washing cars and singing at the fair. Kevin needs Vegas more than Barbara.

Barbara did not need to win, she only needed to show up.

Her talent is God given!

America made the right choice.

The producers made the right choice.

Why lock up the greater talent in Vegas, when the world is to be conquered.


sasu 6 years ago

i love barbrap she have to win i love u girl kipe it u


BusyBee 6 years ago

Opera music is not for everyone to listen - the word ' opera' is often stereotyped as a boring music, not worthy to listen.I would say 'If one doesn't understand it, he/she doesn't like it'. And many prefer enjoying easy and simple tunes over serious music compositions. and it is just fine. Usually voting is based on everything else but talent, so we can be surprised with the winning outcome.

I liked Kevin's performance because I love classic country music, and I love listen to Barbara singing because I love opera music. In my opinion, they cannot compete with each other - they are from two different worlds of music. I wish them both only success!


Hans Athmaram 6 years ago

Padilla should have wreaked of talent, she has a Masters degree in music, in particular, opera music. Skinner is just your avergae guy and what the show is about.It's about those people that won't normally get a chance.Padilla, did not need AGT, she could have got anywhere with the contacts she made at the university.I am from South Africa and Skinner captured me with his very first audition.He may not be as talented, but his humaness won me over.


dorothy smith 6 years ago

I thought American Idol was about talent! I was very disappointed that Barbara Padilla did not win. She had more talent in her little finger, than Skinner did in his whole body. Yes, he had a pleasant voice, but not one that I would go out and spend money just to hear him sing. There are millions of people in the world that can carry a tune, but that don't mean they are talented. That's how I saw Skinner, just another singer who could carry a tune, nothing more. Granted, not everyone likes opera, but Padilla wreaked of talent,and in my opinion, that's what the people should be voting on. I thought that's what American Idol was all about. TALENT!


Marie Mangiaracina 6 years ago

I sincerely feel that Kevin Skinner won because of the female population. I was disappointed, but then again I dont expect him to go very far. Therefore I am glad that he came home with the money as he will never see that kind of money again with his type of talent. In my opinion he was just a so so singer.


SharonO 6 years ago

Yup Margaret, it's supposed to be a talent contest.So Kevin won 'cause he's got talent! He's way more talented than Barbara, he's touched the heart of America, and he won! Kevin way to go! you're America's country boy! Good luck, and please please make a cd, your fans are all waiting for you!


monamona 6 years ago

Like stated before, talent is in the eye of the beholder. i personally was more moved by Barbara than Kevin or any of the others on the show. There was a total connection with Barbara. I loved the way she smiled through her song, and I felt called to pray along with her during the Ave Maria. Her heart was there every time.

I also think it's a shame that the performers are somehow blamed for the producers decisions to edit and package stories the way they do. I mean really, what kind of choice do they have. Anyhow, I wish all the performers luck in their careers. And now that the contest is over we should hope that they are all able to work together, side by side, to make the Las Vegas show a success. Who knows, they may all just become best buds :)


Margaret 6 years ago

It is supposed to be a "talent" contest and therefore Barbara should have one. Since the last show I have retitled the show "America's Got No Taste".


Emma 6 years ago

First of all, i congratulate you on this well-written article. Nice job, i like how you point out that BOTH Kevin and Barbara have incredible stories behind them, not just only Kevin.those who claim Kevin won for his story of being a chicken catcher are completely wrong. If America had judged the contestants based on their life stories, Barbara should have won. Second, you were right in saying that Kevin's genuine, non-contrived personality won America over. Barbara seems like a gentle, decent lady, but she lacks that charm and appeal Kevin has to folks. If you followed the show, you may have noticed how the Hoff constantly repeated that Kevin was what the show is about. The purpose of the show is to discover new, never-have-been-exposed talents, and Kevin is just perfect for it. Coming a stage the 1st time, casually dresses, humble demeanor, not trying to be anyone but himself, keep in mind that his goal is to deliver the song emotionally to the audience, Kevin is truly the winner. Some think Barbara was the most talented contestant on the show, but to me, Kevin deserves that title more than anyone else.Talent can be defined differently, its not necessarily about having the best voice or being the best singer vocally. Personally i think Kevin's talent is not singing,to be accurate, its SINGING FROM HEART and his ability to bring a song to live, to move an audience. When it comes to touching people with your voice, Kevin could do that better than anyone else on the show, therefore he was the most talented person. In addition, Kevin plays guitar and writes song. He just possesses that kind of UNIQUENESS, CHARISMA that draw people to listening to him, no matter if you're a fan of country music or not. Kevin 100% deserves to win, i'm so thrilled that his dreams have finally come true after years of hard work. And i'm sure millions feel the same way too.


DDB99 profile image

DDB99 6 years ago

The secret will now be exposed: I am, indeed, an America's Got Talent fan!!! ha! :)

I agree that Barbara Padilla is certainly one of most talented acts on the show, however, I didn't want her to win... Why? You nailed some of the reasons..

1. She is talented enough, and now exposed enough, to "make it" without winning the show.

2. I didn't like the way the show rammed her sob story down our throats week after week. Kevin Skinner didn't have a sob story.. he had the average person's story. Whether you were a white collar CEO who lost their job due to the economy or you were a chicken catcher... you could related to Kevin. Anyway... I don't think Kevin's story pulled the heartstrings of America the way Barbara's did... but I think the producers went one step too far and tried to pull too many of those heartstrings. It was overdone. (I do, however, rejoice with Ms Padilla for her current good health)!

3. I loved Kevin's humility. He truly appears to be a humble man. This won me over.

4. I was awed by Ms Padilla's talent but wouldn't want to listen to her for more than 1 or 2 songs.

Talent is in the eye of the beholder, right? Judging talent is rarely an objective endeavor. We tend to rate more highly those we enjoy listening to/watching. So, to me, although Ms. Padilla is indeed talented I preferred Kevin.

For the record, I am neither an opera OR a country music fan!! But I DO prefer country over opera! So there you have it.

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