Running Down the Finalists For <i>America's Got Talent</i>

I make no secret of my love for America’s Got Talent. I’ve been watching the show since Season 3, and I’ve enjoyed every one. I’ve never really been a fan of reality television, nor have I been interested in any of the other competition shows, but by random chance I turned my TV on one night in 2008, and there it was, a group of three children singing hymns with surprising skill and emotion. They hooked me immediately, and I was along for the ride.

CBR Lead Programmer Frank Beaton is also a fan. We discovered our mutual appreciation for the show, and he made what I think is a very astute point about what differentiates America’s Got Talent from other competition shows: You genuinely want each contestant to succeed. I attribute that to the variety-act style – it’s not singer versus singer, it’s unique talent versus unique talent. You discover your favorites along the way, but you quickly realize you could be surprised at any given moment by any contestant.

The Spinoff crew has bugged me about contributing an AGT wrap-up, but I always used the excuse that I’m too busy. With the finals airing last night, I figured I’d give it a try.

It’s the best night of competition all year – when those contestants who’ve really put in the time and effort, who’ve done the 10,000 hours of practice, get to really show off. The line-up for this year’s finals is fantastic, so let’s get started!

The following is presented in order of appearance.


I really love what this guy does. Every single time, he holds my attention and surprises me, and tonight was much of the same. Beautiful artwork, expert presentation, I’d happily hang one of his art pieces on my wall. Do I see him as a headlining act in Vegas? Not really. I see him as a touring artist doing installations at unique places around the world, and I’d even travel to see this guy work. But I don’t see him winning this. Again, expert in every way, but just not our winner this year and just not a Vegas act.


Tom, Tom, Tom. So happy for you, bud. See, I feel like he’s my bud. That’s how good this guy is. What I think is most interesting about Tom is from his first audition to this one last night, he’s always performed at an incredibly high level. He didn’t just have an OK audition and rose along the way, the guy has been consistently delivering 120 percent every single performance, and that’s impressive. This guy’s been at it for 25 years, he knows what works. He has loads of material. I can see him playing a month at a venue in Vegas easily. He could be a winner, which would be really quite special. No comedian has ever won this program.


Look, these young dancers are amazing, and I’m so happy for them. Really excellent. But I honestly found this performance to be one of my least favorite of theirs. That whole thing with giant sheet – was it an effect? Was it a magic trick? I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on and I rewatched it five times. You guys are great, but this show isn’t yours to win.


How can you not like this guy? He makes live art with sand! SAND PEOPLE! Wait, that’s something different. At any rate, his audition was great, but who would have thought he’d make it this far? He deserves it, because he has a really unique act, but that’s not a Vegas show. It’s something, I don’t know what it is, but it’s not winning AGT.


We knew from his audition that he had a very good chance of winning it all, but you know what that performance was last night? The championship performance, and possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen on America’s Got Talent. A patriotic piece of music to appeal to patriotic saps like me, but sung so perfectly, with such a unique performance that I don’t know how someone could not enjoy that. And did you catch the unbridled joy Close was playing his Earth harp with? He had this really happy, serene smile. I want to see this guy live more than any other contestant.

We live in an era where “star” is a label put on too many people, but this guy is a star in the truest sense of the word. Truly unique.

I’m going to go watch that again.


Fantastic. Just a fantastic act. As Sharon said, they just make you happy. I think they’re a very close third, but I hope someone finds a way to get these guys performing in front of large crowds. At least at a major theme park, but hopefully somewhere permanent where they can get the attention they deserve. These two men are expert dog trainers.


I hate to say it, but Tom Cotter, I don’t think you’re going to win. My vote would have to go with William Close and his orchestra. Masterful performance.


That without Piers Morgan, Howie Mandel just doesn’t work as well as he used to. Those two had great chemistry, but now Howie sounds whiny and occasionally comes off a bit creepy. He was, at times, the cringe-worthy judge. Howard Stern’s been a great addition to the show, just as I expected. Hope he stays on for a long time to come. Same for Sharon Osbourne and host Nick Cannon.

See you all after the grand finale! (It airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.)

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