Ten finalists laid it all on the line, so will it be one of six singing acts (including three kid singers), a trio of acrobats, an aerialist, a poet or a daredevil dance duo who take the whole thing?
After one of the craziest summers in modern history, “America’s Got Talent” finally emerged with its Top 10 acts, ready to put it all on the line for that shot at a million dollars and headline show in Las Vegas.
This season saw COVID-19 wreak havoc with the show’s production schedule, and lead to virtual auditions and performances. Even tonight, one of the finalists was still having to compete from their home country.
Another who has been doing that since the live shows began actually made the trek to show off their skills live in front of the judges -- and the transition actually did not serve them or their act well at all. In fact, it might have cost them a million dollars.
This season, America has a ton of singers to choose from in this finale, as well as a few different types of acts like an aerialist, acrobats, dancers and a poet. Six singing acts and four non-singers.
It’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out in the final results, as singers can start to sound alike and you might find yourself craving and supporting something different as the night progresses.
Or America will just continue to love singers. And half of the ones they advanced to these finals are kid singers, proving America is still absolutely in love with young people who can sing. But are any of the three good enough to win? Or even make our Top 5?
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
And just for fun, I'm gonna rank them from worst to first to see how my favorites do and whether or not you get it right (i.e. agree with me). And then I’m going to try and predict how YOU will vote before Wednesday nights’ finale so I can embarrass myself again with how wrong I get it.
(singer) Roberta had a solid vocal throughout this, but it was missing that emotional connection to a powerful song that should resonate even with her 11 years on this Earth. The biggest problem is that it all looked over-rehearsed, from every movement she made with her body to when she walked forward to even when she went for a big note. The song wanted a genuine heart at its core and this felt more plastic. Respectable, but she felt out of her depth with that particular song.
(singer) You don’t take on Carrie Underwood unless you are ready to slay Carrie Underwood. We weren’t sold on Kenadi making it to this round after her performance in the semi-finals and she didn’t do enough to redeem herself this week, especially after a soft start on this one. But there is a kernel of something there where she could grow into someone pretty special. This piece got stronger as it went along and she did share an emotional connection with it, but it’s not stronger than every other vocalist here.
(dancers) So much of dancing with these kinds of tricks is hiding the setups so they look seamless and even more mind-blowing. In the past, BAD has moved so quickly from one to the next that we barely saw any of their transitions, but this week way too many of them were not only telegraphed but on full display. We saw heaves and hos and hoists and all those things that should look effortless. For the first time, this looked like effort and work. The stunts themselves continue to amaze and continue to show us things we’ve never seen before, but it wasn’t as clean or non-stop exciting as in the past.
(singers) Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” is having a bit of a moment this year, and the guys definitely put a cool country spin on it. Not every moment worked perfectly, with each of them having an awkward solo moment that wasn’t as strong as the whole. But together, they remain an impressive force. They also knew how to close the track the right way, going big before they (probably) go home. Still, this is the genesis of an act that has a real shot of making a mark in country music if they keep putting in the work and their unique stamp on music.
(acrobats) They found new ways to twist it up a bit and add new layers of danger, with a hint at how much further it could go with the added element of danger. That’s what you need to do at this stage of the competition as we are looking not only for a winner but an act that could headline a Vegas show. The Bello Sisters might just have the diversity to do that, or the ability to expand into it. And while they do remains utterly mesmerizing every single moment they’re doing it, it is a little slow at times for the limited time they have on this platform.
(singer) A big voice on a big song with a few signature power notes that “American Idol” contestants would be proud of, and yet this left us feeling more flat than at any other time she has hit this stage. Either it was a disconnect to the song or that it felt somehow less authentic, like she was trying to show off (we get that this is part of what she should be doing) than really bearing a piece of her soul through her artistry. America responds to a connection, and it felt lacking here, which is no knock to her incredible voice.
(aerialist) Who knew Alan had that many more tricks up his sleeve for an aerial act? There were a whole slew of new stunts in this one, and his vertical spin toward the end was incredibly cool to watch. The swings and flips were both terrifying, and a bit rudimentary compared to some of what we’ve seen, but across the season he has shown not only the craziness necessary to do this, but the creativity to find new ways to put our hearts in our chest, and that’s how you build a full act.
(singer) Every season, we see young singers with voices beyond their years, and Daneliya is definitely the one for this year. She brought it all to bear on a powerful interpretation of Sia’s “Alive.” Not an easy song to sing on a good day, Daneliya had no problem with the different levels the song took her vocally and she made us believe every note. It’s an incredible skill at such a young age, proving she has that extra something that can elevate a good singer to an artist.
(singer) Archie was already a beautifully powerful singer with an incredible story and then he took it up several notches for his best performance of the season. There was so much heart and passion in not just his vocal but every facet of his presentation of The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” He used his voice like a jazz saxophone, riffing as he pleased and caressing the notes throughout to a gentle crescendo packed with emotional power.
(poet) Once again, a showstopper. Beautiful imagery, Brandon is as strong a writer as he his a performer. His words could create a play as monumental and life-changing as “Hamilton,” put many rappers and singers to shame. And his delivery is lyrical, powerful and so emotionally authentic. For all that 2020 has taken from us, it has given us this amazing gift, shining a light on this artform and its ambassador. Seriously, this is Brandon’s season, isn’t it? We’re done here?
If they follow seasons past, Terry Crews will give us the full rankings of the Top 5, and so we divided our rankings above. But, that doesn’t mean we’re confident America is going to agree with us all the way.
The way we’ve been going this season with our predictions, we’d almost expect our bottom 5 to wind up in your Top 5. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but some of them could creep in.
The biggest wild card for us -- as they’ve been all season -- is Broken Roots. They’ve defied expectations and with their country music roots, they are definitely connecting in the heartland. And traditionally, that’s the portion of America that seems the most invested in voting on shows like this.
We think that’s what has helped propel Kenadi Dodds to this point as well, and who knows, maybe she’ll crack the Top 5 with America as well. If so, we’ll feel pretty confident we know which parts of this country are participating in this voting process.
So does that mean she or Broken Roots might have a chance to win? We really don’t think so. We think it’s probably a three-horse race for that title and those horses are Brandon Leake, Archie Williams and Cristina Rae.
It also might depend on just how many singers America wants to vote for or, as Howie wondered, if all those vocalists will start to cancel one another out and elevate other non-singing acts like Alan Silva and the Bello Sisters?
If America goes all singers, Broken Roots could crack our Top 5 and knock Alan Silva out. Otherwise, they’ll probably take out Daneliya Tuleshova as we really do see America putting them in their Top 5.
Okay, moment of truth time. And with very little confidence, these are our final picks for America’s vote.
5th - Archie Williams
4th - Alan Silva
3rd - Broken Roots
2nd - Cristina Rae
1st - Brandon Leake
Is “AGT” ready for its first poet winner? We really think so as nobody has connected in such a raw and visceral way like Brandon, and we think this America today in 2020 is really going to respond to him.
We’ll find out what you did as “America’s Got Talent” crowns its Season 15 winner on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.