Tuesday evening saw the finale of Season 5 of America’s Got Talent, pitting the Top 4 contestants against each other for one final appeal to the American viewing public for votes. With the winner getting $1 million, it is no small thing to win America’s Got Talent. But it is made increasingly difficult when a judge lifts one act over another, which was the case Tuesday when Piers Morgan not only buzzed Prince Poppycock during his performance but also pointed out that Fighting Gravity had been less than perfect in the blacklight performance. He further called attention to their “mistakes” in comparing them to the other two artists in the Top 4, Michael Grimm and Jackie Evancho. But will his obvious bias matter to the America’s Got Talent voters?
Prince Poppycock, whose outlandish costumes and stage designs and operatic voice have wowed the America’s Got Talent audience for the past several weeks, performed an opera number dressed in knight’s regalia for his final act. Piers Morgan didn’t even wait until the conclusion for buzzing him with an “X.” Although the audience gave Prince Poppycock a standing ovation, Morgan defended his action by saying that the singer “blew it,” that the serious number was “self-indulgent,” and that he had “lost the spark” he had had during his previous performances. Sharon Osbourne, seriously upset with Morgan’s use of the buzzer on the finale, agreed that the number was a bit self-indulgent but that it was Prince Poppycock’s right to be so on his last act on the America’s Got Talent stage. She noted it was a perfect choice. Judge Howie Mandel worried that the song may have been too serious.
But it got worse, after Michael Grimm’s soulful — and effortless — rendition of Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman,” Piers Morgan was all praise. He said that “unlike the previous contestant,” Grimm was what the show was all about and would represent America well. Sharon Osbourne took exception to Morgan’s aside against Prince Poppycock, but was all praise for the Mississippi crooner as well, noting that her husband, famed heavy metalist Ozzy Osbourne, had a $100 bet that Grimm would win the competition. Howie Mandel predicted that Michael Grimm would win the competition.
Jackie Evancho, all of 10 years old, performed a masterfully rendered “Ave Maria.” Everyone was on their feet by song’s end. Mandel labeled the performance “indescribable,” then went on to liken it to a “near-death experience” because of its beauty. “But in a good way,” he hastily added. Morgan noted in reverential tones that he had “never ever” seen an act on any talent show with the potential that Jackie presented. He also joked that the “bad news” was that Ozzy Osbourne had just lost $100. Sharon called the 10-year-old a “little angel.” She also complimented Evancho on mastering a difficult song, singing it “beautifully and with great emotion.”
The last act of the Top 4 fell to Fighting Gravity, the blacklight performance group that continued its run of strange and unique performances. Piers judged them as a “brilliant and clever act” that were destined for Las Vegas no matter what happened at America’s Got Talent. However, he noted that they made a minor mistake when one of their members was visible during the number and that it could cost them the win, considering that they had the “bad luck” of following a perfect act. Osbourne strongly disagreed with Morgan’s overly biased remark and praised Fighting Gravity for their creativity. Mandel offered that the group was what made the show unique and urged voters to vote for them.
After the show, Prince Poppycock called Piers Morgan a “big ninny.” He told People magazine, “If anything, he’s just looking to be divisive and create tension. It was just unfortunate. The act did not go perfectly because I had some technical difficulties but all in all, I have no regrets and no excuses.”
Prince Poppycock’s attitude is a good one to have, considering that his next performance will be on the results show and will not influence the voting.
In the end, Morgan zeroed in on his favorite — Jackie Evancho. He made it a point to compare Grimm, whom he had obviously favored over Prince Poppycock, with Jackie, telling Sharon Osbourne that her husband had just lost the money he’d placed on Grimm to win the competition. He then offered nothing but high praise to Jackie and afterward pointed out Fighting Gravity’s flaw in comparison to Jackie Evancho’s perfect “Ave Maria.”
Even though Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel made statements that may have shown some bias (Howie Mandel’s exuberant declaration that Michael Grimm was going to win, for example), their remarks weren’t as blatantly slanted as those of Morgan. And they weren’t negatively canted toward any of the other contestants, either.
It would seem that Piers Morgan may need a few lessons on impartiality while in the judge’s chair.
But in the end, it may not matter. As has been witnessed on other talent competition shows, sometimes judges’ biases can work against particular acts. In this case, that, too, would be a shame…
So… Of the Top 4, who will win? Although it is difficult to say, the sentimental favorite has to be Michael Grimm. A native of Waveland, Mississippi, his entire town was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. The feel-good favorite is 10-year-old phenom Jackie Evancho. For uniqueness and creativity, Prince Poppycock and Fighting Gravity are both frontrunners.
The Americas’ Got Talent Finals results show airs on Wednesday, crowning a new champion. Will the viewers choose a fifth straight singer as winner, or will they go with the unique blacklight performance group? It is difficult to tell, but everyone knows that Piers Morgan is banking on Jackie Evancho.