Monday 13 February 2012

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America's Got Talent Live

Last night while watching the Grammys, I had one of those "Aha! I've been there!" moments. The Grammys were being held across the street at the Staples Center (where we've also been), but my moment of remembrance came when the shot panned across the road to the area outside the Nokia Theater. That's where some of the live Grammy performances were taking place, and a couple of years ago we were standing right there, waiting to see America's Got Talent Live. We're big fans of the show, possibly because it's one of the few shows that runs original programming in the summer while we're on the road, so when a particularly good season finished with a live show in Los Angeles, we made plans to be there.

One of the things I like about America's Got Talent is that I've always figured I'd make a good judge for the show. I think I'm reasonably adept at spotting talent; the acts that I key in on early usually make it fairly far in the competition, and I still claim that I was never fooled by the Milli Vanilli scam of the late 80's (although I may or may not have a "Girl You Know It's True" CD on my shelf somewhere). I just think that I would be a little harder on some of the acts than the current judges are, definitely a little more Simon than Paula. That's OK though, because I'm alright with my choices being unpopular and people booing me. It actually happens more than you'd think in the living room at home.

This had been the fifth year of America's Got Talent, and the finals were easily the strongest since Terry Fator won in season two. Taylor Mathews, Christina and Ali, Anna and Patryk, and Studio One Beast Society were all on the tour, and in the 10 minutes or so that each of them were given to perform, they did a great job. Then there was Prince Poppycock. I didn't get Prince Poppycock when he was on the show. His outfits kind of creeped me out, and I found him more annoying than anything else, but his live show was fantastic. It probably didn't hurt that he was from Los Angeles, and the first 10 rows seemed to be his close personal friends, but he certainly changed my mind about him and I'm proud to announce that I'm no longer creeped out by Prince Poppycock. Well, no more than I was surrounded by 2,000 men in sailor suits at the Cher/Village People concert. I never understand fashion.

The act the kids were most excited to see though, was Fighting Gravity. They were the group of blacklight dancers who blew away most of America, except apparently for those who actually vote as they finished third in the competition. Their show was amazing to watch, except for the people who didn't understand the three times repeated announcement to not take pictures. Seriously folks, flash photography and blacklight dancing don't mix. Is it that hard to understand? Even occasionally being able to see the people who were supposed to be hidden by darkness wasn't enough to spoil their performance though, and my kids loved every minute of it.

Of course, I may have had an ulterior motive in playing the Super Dad. Sure I was happy to fly my children across the country to see Fighting Gravity. That sounds like the kind of thing a cool Dad would do. It wouldn't have sounded nearly as manly to say that I was dragging my family to Los Angeles to see a ten year old opera singer, but I was really there to see Jackie Evancho. In possibly the greatest example of why America should never be allowed to vote on anything, Jackie came in second that year despite her amazing voice and mountains of charisma. If it's possible, she sounded even better live, and I'm so happy that we actually got to see her perform, despite not having a clue what she was singing about. When even the teenage boy is paying attention to an opera singer, you've got a definite superstar on your hands.

The last half hour of the show was given over to season five winner, Michael Grimm. There are lots of words you can use to describe his performance; average, plain, mediocre, but the words that most of the audience seemed to clue in on were "Time to leave". I know Los Angeles audiences are famous for leaving early, but Mr. Grimm didn't even get through his first song before the exodus began. We stayed for three songs before bailing out, but by that time the audience was down to almost half it's original size. I truly hope that Michael Grimm goes on to have a decent career, I just think it's apparent that as far as America's Got Talent is concerned, the wrong person won.

With that many people leaving early, there wasn't really any quick way to get out of the area, so we grabbed a Starbucks and hung around outside the Nokia Theater. I probably drank my mocha right where the Foo Fighters took the stage last night, and my kids sat and played their iPods on the spot that David Guetta performed. I love seeing places that I've been on TV as it reminds me of great adventures that we've had. It also reminds me that it's a good thing we don't let the public vote for the Grammys or we might have been watching someone win the Michael Grimm lifetime achievement award last night.