I want to be right up front that I am not an expert on talent shows, and the opinions I do have are hugely Grace-slanted, but I do have some points that I feel are worthy of discussion, so here goes.
The 2016 season of AGT appeared to have had an unusual number of talented performers over previous seasons, and even those that followed. This is no better illustrated than looking at the finals where every act was worthy of a winning position. Records show that season 11 finals were the only episode that received a standing ovation from every judge for every act.* Technically, Mel B did not stand for Tape Face as she was on stage, but her comments afterward tend to make you believe she would have done so, making it a perfect 40. Season 13 was the next closest at 39 stands by the judges for the finals. Season 10 winner Paul Zerdin had no judge standing for his final act. There were even a couple red buzzers for acts in the finals in prior seasons. This only points out the extraordinary talent Grace was up against in season 11 along with the fact that less than 1% of the final vote separated the top 3 performers. As a side note, Grace, along with Darci Lynne share the fact of receiving the golden buzzer along with a standing ovation from every judge for every performance. Again, technically, Simon didn’t for one of Darci’s, but given the chance, I’m certain he would have.
There is a lot of anti-talent show sentiment expressed on various media sites and forums that would trash this discussion, but for the sake of this discussion, I lean toward the position that the judges are not prejudiced in any shape or form prior to any audition or performance. That being said, I am still amazed that Simon Cowell reacted like he did after Grace’s audition. I say this from watching Simon during Henry Gallagher’s audition on BGT 2015 where Henry performed his own song in a like manner as Grace to a somewhat lukewarm reaction from Simon. Honestly, I feel Mel B and Heidi Klum’s comments after the golden buzzer for Grace went along with the crowd and their fellow judges just to be nice. I’m probably mistaken, but personally, I don’t believe Grace won on her audition. She deserved the golden buzzer as much as anyone, but, for me, it wasn’t her audition that won the competition. I will say that there are times I wish she would not have been buzzed through, because then, we would have five performances to drool over instead of four! Also, there are technical aspects of music that I’m ignorant of that all four judges may have recognized in Grace that influenced their decision. Don’t get me wrong; Grace’s audition was outstanding from every angle including a point where she appears to have forgotten the lyrics but handled it with grace we have all come to love! True talent.
The quarter-finals moves this discussion to a completely different level. If the judge’s comments after Grace’s second performance were accurate, then I’m the odd ball with my prior thoughts on her audition. It seemed apparent that the industry shared a fair bit of excitement over Grace, which again, I’m favoring the point that the judges were saying it like it was. One of the most surprising digressions from conventional thinking took place at this performance where Grace didn’t play by the rules of the game and performed a different, outstanding composition of her own. Many artists have chosen to elaborate on the success of their audition only to end in failure. I still personally choose this performance of “Beautiful Thing” over the one on her album. She seems a little unsure during the first few seconds, but loses that quickly, and belts out a stellar performance that took down the house including Nick Cannon. Grace’s laugh in response to Nick’s question about uke lessons was the icing on the cake that doomed all the other talent from that point forward. Grace’s actions, reactions, and Simon’s comments are where “Perfectly Imperfect” was born, and it has only gone uphill from that point forward.
Grace’s performance of “Light the Sky” for the semi-finals was spectacular in every way, but number 3 on my list out of the four. She probably gets the audience going on this one as much as any with most standing and clapping along with the tempo for much of the performance, at least what you can see on reruns. Nick Cannon’s comments on “Beautiful Thing” and “Light the Sky” are priceless, which, in themselves are a true measure of talent.
The finals performance of “Clay” did nothing to distract voters from marking Grace on every ballot they could get their hands on. By now, she’s been through three performances in front of crowds, and is starting to show a natural aptitude for being on stage. This song choice along with her performance rates a number 2 on my list. Outstanding! I have often wondered if “Gossip Girl” would have fit better, but by the finals, I don’t think it mattered what she sang. “Just a Crush” would have likely finished it off just as well.
All the performances on the night of the Finale were strictly for entertainment purposes, and every act did nothing to hurt their vote. In fact, I feel Tape Face would have moved ahead. To the risk of wearing out this thought, I lean toward the fact that his performance was not rehearsed, and if that is the case, it was nothing but raw talent. Back to Grace, her announcement of Stevie Nicks was beyond priceless, which by the way, had that ever happened before where a performer took over the duties of host, even temporarily? It was her first time, but she shot the ‘love her’ arrow through every heart of every person in the audience! Her interaction on stage with Stevie already shows natural talent for the stage beyond her years. Remember, she’s only 12 at this point.
Grace’s actions and reactions during the process of elimination is something that I never tire watching. She is obviously acting like a twelve-year-old, but she’s supposed to be. You quickly get the sense that “who cares whether I win or lose; I’ve had so much fun, I gave it my best shot, and I’m cool with that.” I truly do feel sorry for Sophie Dossi because I believe her heart fell when she heard her name along with Grace. If that was true, she handled it very well, which is true talent. Grace’s ‘waving down the lights’ during 5th and 4th place eliminations crack me up every time! Truer stage talent is hard to come by. By 3rd place, she’s starting to realize she could really win this whole thing, and she starts to become visibly shaken. Poor girl! I won’t even get started on the argument of why she went up against the Clairvoyants for first and second place, but beyond a shadow doubt, America got the winner right on season 11. Why? First of all, raw talent. Secondly, doing things her way regardless, and last, but not least, being herself at all times during the entire competition.
All the best,
This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUxwUey_Hn8&lc=UgwcBspJmo9AGRg3O0h4AaABAg