Jackie Evancho America's Got Talent Finale Review
10-Year-Old Opera Sensation Receives Star Treatment During Finals
10-year-old opera singer Jackie Evancho burst onto the national music scene as a contestant during the YouTube quarterfinals of the fifth season of America's Got Talent. Jackie instantly garnered attention for her adult-like opera performances. The shock factor of such a mature-sounding voice coming out of a 10-year-old girl's body made Jackie an instant favorite of the producers, judges and many fans. Indeed, Jackie is so good that many fans of the show have accused her of lip syncing or otherwise being a fake. Although it seems clear that Jackie is the real deal, there is still a possibility that some of her performances were "enhanced" by live autotuning or some other computerized voice-enhancing device. Just go back and listen to her quarterfinals performance and compare it to later performances. The difference is so obvious that only a fool couldn't see that some kind of funny business seems to be going on.
Jackie did a nice but rather understated performance of "Ave Maria" during the Final 4 finale on Tuesday, September 14, 2010. But the bigger story among AGT watchers is the brazen favoritism shown toward Jackie during the finale. Piers basically declared Jackie the best time and time again during the final broadcast. This is not really such a problem, as the voters could and often do simply ignore the judges' comments about who the public is "supposed to" vote for. But what was striking was the outright lie that Piers Morgan continued to perpetrate.
Morgan claimed with a straight face that Jackie Evancho gave a "perfect" performance. Coming from a seasoned judge and talent scout, this is nothing short of a brazen lie. Even the relatively "uninformed" (I will admit to not knowing much about the technical aspects of singing) can hear that Jackie is far from perfect as an opera singer.
I will only point out one thing because that is all that is necessary to debunk Piers's bogus claims -- Jackie has a very noticeable unnatural and unrefined vibrato. We don't need an opera expert to hear this. It's as plain as day to anyone who has actually heard a great opera singer. Their vibrato is consistent, unwavering and flawless. It is laughable for Piers Morgan to claim that Jackie gave a perfect performance.Simply put, it is a lie and attempt to secure an America's Got Talent win for Jackie Evancho, who somehow became the producers' favorite. Thanks for losing your head, Simon Cowell. This decision to use manipulation to push Jackie to a win is truly inexplicable.
For starters, Jackie is not going to get a Vegas show. She is simply too young. People won't line up to buy tickets to see her as a headliner. So pushing Jackie as the show's favorite makes no sense from that perspective.
Second, she almost certainly won't be a big seller if she gets a record deal. Opera rarely sells well. Yes, Jackie is more of a popera or classical crossover singer like Josh Groban and others. But her young age suggests that it will be nearly impossible to find a way to successfully market her to the masses. Just think about how difficult it is to get sales for a child of this age. She could try to go the Charlotte Church route, but Charlotte was like 14 when she started having her success. What examples are there of a 10-year-old opera singer being a successful recording artist? Choosing to lie and manipulate to push Jackie to a win makes little sense from a recording-star perspective.
Now, that simply leaves the issue of who should win based on talent. This is subjective, of course, but how many times do we have to hear her voice crack or to listen to her unnatural vibrato and lack of power before we can conclude that she is, in fact, a flawed singer at this time? Michael Grimm hasn't missed a single note the entire competition. One would wonder what the judges/producers are listening to if they truly think she is "perfect." The whole thing just smells like a rotten egg. Something doesn't jive. It is understandable to have Jackie on the show. In fact, I personally gave her the highest score in the Top 10 because I thought she did just enough on a fairly weak night for the other top contestants.
But here comes along the Top 4, and Michael Grimm nails "When a Man Loves a Woman." I personally didn't think the song was a great song choice because it didn't give Michael enough opportunities to show his substantial power. But he did nail the performance for what it was, and it had a few high spots. Jackie's version of "Ave Maria" had some beautiful notes to be sure. But there was a complete lack of power throughout, unskilled vibrato and a shaky voice in parts. Only a watcher completely ignorant in spotting obvious singing flaws would not be able to spot Jackie's problems. The whole show wreaks of dishonest favoritism.
So, the results will be announced on Wednesday, September 15, 2010. There is a strong chance Jackie Evancho will win at this point. I had actually picked Michael Grimm to win it all after the initial auditions were over. But when Jackie came along during the special YouTube round, she was an obvious favorite (if not the favorite). Nonetheless, I predicted that Jackie would not win for the reason that even I, as an untrained observer, can hear her flaws and the fact that she simply isn't as good as Barbara Padilla, Neal Boyd, Paul Potts and many other opera singers who have appeared on America's Got Talent, Britain's Got Talent and other talent shows.
What I didn't expect was the rampant and nauseating favoritism I saw during the finale. People untrained in spotting talent tend to comprise the bulk of the voters on these shows. Many of those people are already inclined to vote for Jackie simply due to the shock factor or that she's cute (don't even get me started on all of her canned responses that the public is too dumb to spot).
But now they have the show lying on her behalf to magnify the ignorance even further. The judges should be there to let the public know something about talent, hopefully helping the public decide who is the most talented. That's not what happened tonight. Instead, we get Piers buzzing a nice (although admittedly somewhat underwhelming) Prince Poppycock performance. And then we get Piers continuing on through the night finding ways to praise Jackie with lies and deceit. It's the most blatant attempt to railroad all the other contestants in favor of one that I've seen in 7 years of watching reality TV (competition) shows. Fantasia received similar treatment in the third season of American Idol, but it was plainly obvious that she deserved most of that praise.
That's simply not so with Jackie. Every flaw has been ignored by the judges--completely ignored every single round. It makes me want to not watch the show again, but I will certainly be back. Jackie Evancho will probably win America's Got Talent, and the reality that reality TV is nothing more than a popularity contest will rear its ugly head once again.