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.