Wednesday, July 22, 2009

America's Got Talent?

I do not watch that much TV right now because we do not have cable, and so most of the TV that we watch is actually through our computer. Our Internet provides us with basic TV Channels. I have watched very little recently, but I have watched America's Got Talent, and I find the show somewhat objectionable because it was not planned to represent fairly all of those who participate in their show. I enjoy watching it because it shows people with talents, but it is put together in a way that favors some acts over others, namely comedians and musicians.

The TV program, started in 2006, is an NBC production and spin off from Fox's American Idol, both created by Simon Cowell. It has not had the commercial success of American Idol, but has done very well. American Idol has averaged around 30 million viewers in the past three years just in its season finale, whereas America's Got Talent pulls in around 10 million viewers for its finale. America's Got Talent has also brought to the stage a number of highly skilled entertainers, and has made Susan Boyle a household name. The main difference between America's Got Talent, and American Idol is that American Idol limits its contestants to a specific age, and performers can only sing. America's Got Talent allows calls itself a talent show that whose contestants' talents include magicians, singers, dancers, gymnasts, and comedians. Both shows use a similar elimination system so that the competition can take place over a period of time, or a season series, instead of a one-event talent show night. This system works well for American Idol, because you are comparing apples to apples; however there are problems when you compare apples, to oranges, to bananas, and to every other fruit in the basket.

I am going to list the top 10 performers of the last three years and state what they did in their act, just to demonstrate what performers generally do well in the competition.


1. Neal E. Boyd - Singer 2. Eli Mattson - Singer 3. Nuttin' But Stringz - Music Group 4. Donald Braswell II - Singer 5. Queen Emily - Singer 6. Paul Salos - Impersonator 7. Kaitlyn Maher - Young Singer 8. Wright Kids - Young Musical Group 9. Jessica Price - Singer 10. Joseph Hall - Young Impersonator


1. Terry Fator - Ventriloquiest/Comedy/Singer 2. Cas Haley - Singer/Guitarist 3. Butterscotch - Beatboxer/singer 4. Julienne Irwin - Youth Singer 5. Jason Pritchett - Singer/Guitarist 6. The Glamazons - Choir 7. Robert Hatcher - Singer 8. Sideswipe - Martial Arts Group 9. Calypso Tumblers - Tumbling 10. Duttons - Music Group.


1. Bianca Ryan - Youth Singer 2. The Millers - Musical Group 3. All That - Clogging Ensemble 4. Taylor Ware - Youth Singer/Yodeler 5. Celtic Spring - Step Dancing/Fiddling 6. Realis - Acrobat Group 7. At Last - A Capella Group 8. Rappin' Granny - Rapper 9. The Passing Zone - Juggling 10. Quick Change - Magic

Red - Singer/Comedy, Blue - Other, Purple - Singer, but specialized enough to act more like an "other" act.

There they are. Those are all of the Top Ten Finalists on America's Got Talent. Tell me now, if you wanted to win America's Got Talent, what field would you work in? Music? Comedy? Tumbling? Magic? I hope it just hasn't occurred to me that Comedy and Music have made a complete sweep of the finalists, and a near sweep of the three top ten finalists. I will now list all of the acts that are not Music/Singer or Comedy-related.

2008 - no one really, but the closest will say is Number 10 - Joseph Hall

2007 - 8. Sideswipe - Martial Arts, 9. Calypso Tumblers - Tumbling

2006 - 3. All That - Clogging 4. Taylor Ware - Yodelling* 5. Celtic Spring - Step Dancing/Fiddling 6. Realis - Acrobat Group 9. The Passing Zone - Juggling 10. Quick Change - Magic

*(Yes she is a singer, but because yodelling is her showcase more so than her singing ability I don't mind putting her on this list or taking her off)

In the past two years two (or three) non comedy/music routines made it to the top 10. In 2006 the closest anyone got was number 3. All that, the Clogging Group. No one else really had much of a chance to win, not because of a question of talent, but because of the system.

America's Got Talent requires you to perform, come back, and perform again. If you do well, you perform, and then come back again. Whoever can come back and win until the others are eliminated is the winner. This system gives singers and comedians a distinct advantage. Imagine you are a singer, and you perform any given number. You then pass the round and have the chance to perform again. All you have to do is change up your song, and then you have a completely new act. A winning singer has to learn one new song and sing it well in order to win the competition. In comedy, the stage is not much different. With the right comedy writers you can write new jokes, and tell them the next week. However, this is NOT easily done for dancers, magicians, tumblers, and jugglers. A dancer must change songs, choreography, and then make it look different from the week before. After a couple months there is only so much you can do with the same kind of dance routine. The same goes with the other acts. How many times can you pull a bunny out of a hat and make people go "WOW," yet learning how to pull a bunny out of a hat takes years of developing. Sets and equipment take long periods of time to construct, so in a week by week competition these acts generally look more tiring, because people lose interest. I loved Taylor Ware, and thought that she was worthy enough to win a single competition. I incuded her on the list even though she is a singer, because her talent is so singular that it is really hard to replicate week after week. Coming up with a new yodel every week that will impress everyone all over again is nearly impossible.

This is why I feel there is an unlevel playing field in America's Got Talent in favor of comedians and musicians. Good luck to those with interesting or different acts. The grand prize for America's Got Talent is an opening act in Vegas. From my outlook there are going to be a lot of Musicians and Comedians performing at the Mirage.

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