As the lesser talents on Season 5 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” fall by the wayside, already a soulful singer from Mississippi is leaving an indelible impression. 30 year old Michael Grimm seems a clear early front-runner and likely favorite.
In a show that pits magicians versus strongmen versus middle-aged cheerleaders and some frankly bizarre acts, the singers already appear to have an edge. Despite the program’s efforts to distinguish itself from “American Idol” by allowing contestants of all ages and all talents, somehow the singers still steal the spotlight.
Among those singers, Michael Grimm stands out. Without Grimm in the competition, I might give the edge to Oscar winner and “Precious” star Gabourey Sidibe’s mom, but despite her humble subway-singer roots, she’s really already won the ultimate prize. Sacrificing her own career to give every opportunity to her kids, and then seeing that sacrifice pay off in such a big way is reward enough, methinks.
On the other hand, if we’re to believe Michael Grimm’s backstory, the quiet young man from Mississippi has had it even rougher. Surviving Katrina with his hopes for the future and dreams of singing success intact make Michael’s story quintessentially American. And talk about transformation; Michael got a real makeover for his semi-finals appearance, eliciting the judge’s comment, “you sure clean up good!”
Still, if my memory serves, we are just coming off the Season 4 win of another shy young male singer who also managed to convey a quiet sincerity, soul and dignity in his voice. I see a lot of similarities between Season Six winner Kevin Skinner and Season 5’s Michael Grimm. So that would be my only worry for Michael Grimm’s future on Season 5 of “America’s Got Talent”. There’s always the risk that voters will choose a nonsinger just to mix things up.
I’ve got to hand it to the cast replacements on the “America’s Got Talent”, host Nick Cannon and celebrity judge Howie Mandel. I’ve really warmed up to Nick Cannon. His easy, friendly, none-too-serious style is not only infinitely more tolerable than Regis Philbin’s corny schtick, he’s actually an enjoyable addition to the show.
I didn’t think anyone could replace David Hasselhoff, and frankly I miss his out-of-focus intensity and effusive if misplaced emoting. No one does over-the-top quite like the Hoff. But Howie Mandel has happily left his “Deal or No Deal” mindless banter behind and appears to give an honest effort at real criticism and praise as a celebrity judge on “America’s Got Talent.”. In fact, I prefer his judging style to Sharon Osborne’s softie persona and Piers Morgan’s snooty British airs. Some advice for Piers – that British bit isn’t playing so well on these shores ever since BP did a boo-boo!