The Got Talent franchise has spanned across the globe. In America, we have America's Got Talent, which is a full blown talent show of acts of all kinds and all ages competing for $1,000,000 and a headlining show in Las Vegas. There are, however, plenty of others that include Britain's Got Talent and others from countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, France, Korea, and the list keeps going on and on. America's Got Talent will be making its eighth season premiere on June 4th, with returning host Nick Cannon, returning judges Howie Mandel and Howard Stern, and new judges Mel B (of "The Spice Girls") and Heidi Klum. Due to an agreement in Howard Stern's contract, the live shows will be filmed in the New York area to allow him to do his radio show in addition to AGT.
To celebrate the return of the eighth season, I will be conducting a countdown of the ten best auditions that have ever occurred on the show. While the auditions are vital in just about any reality show competition, this show features auditions that are just so spectacular. The reason may be that anybody can participate on the show and it doesn't matter how you look, how old you are, or what kind of background you come from. This led to many of surprises, which in turn contributed to the magical element of this program. This top ten list will include universal selections, though many of them will be from the American program, because many of the memories I had of the competition came from seeing them instantly on the weekday evening that it was showing. The others came from visits to YouTube or through emails of these spectacular auditions.
To kick off the list of ten...
#10: Doogie Horner (American, Stand-Up Comedian)- On the fifth season of the show, we began seeing an evident new direction once Howie Mandel came onto the show. Howie held an interest in contestants that were bizarre and out of the ordinary, even if it didn't add up to raw talent. This would not always please Piers Morgan, the brutally honest judge who held no interest in acts that were ridiculous and to him worthless. Doogie appeared on an episode where stand-up comedians were being booed off the stage. Doogie started out by telling strange jokes (like the one about pregnant women and about eagles, though his joke about eagles was quite funny). What really allowed him to stick out was when he fed into the booing audience, insulting them and telling them how they, too, suck, and that he wants to hunt them down. Sharon and Howie were impressed, while Piers did not find him funny. Doogie did provide to be an underdog, as he made the live shows and won Piers over, enough to be one of his wildcard selections. Doogie Horner's the only comedian on my list, but he is perhaps the most memorable, right from that audition of his.
#9: Maya Wirz (Swiss, Opera Singer)- I learned about Maya Wirz while browsing different countries and their Got Talent series' and coming across the Swiss version of the show. Maya, a 49-year-old school bus driver, discussed how she was a fan of Britain's Got Talent sensation Susan Boyle (who will be on this list, but that's all I will say) and that she wants to become a successful singer like her. She sang opera in a way that felt like a magical carpet ride across paradise and it was absolutely sensational. Maya Wirz would go on to win the first edition of Die grossten Schweizer Talente.
#8: Kevin Skinner (American, Country Singer)- One of the key moments in the fourth season of America's Got Talent was when Kevin Skinner came onto the program, entering in a wool sweatshirt, jeans, and a cap, telling the judges the he was a chicken catcher in the south, painting an image that he represents the heart of the south and providing an innocent kind of charm to his personality. He then went on to sing "If Tomorrow Never Comes" by Garth Brooks and proved that he has a sensational, country music voice. He got a standing ovation from David Hasselhoff and was told of the potential he holds in the competition. Kevin Skinner would go on to win the competition.
#7: Lawrence Beaman (American, Bass Singer)- Lawrence Beaman came onto the show with a deep, booming voice and nervousness filled his veins. He was nervous to the point that Piers told him to calm down. The moment he held the stage, he began hitting the deep, powerful notes to the classic song, "Old Man River," and was given a standing ovation from just about the entire audience and from all three judges. He then began breaking down on the stage to the point where Sharon went and gave him some tissues to wipe his weary face. This showed open, honest passion from a man who came from a humble background and just wanted an opportunity to make a name for himself. Beaman truly took that opportunity and went onto the top ten to prove himself as a worthy competitor.
#6: Terry Fator (American, Singer/Ventriloquist)- Of all of the champions in America's Got Talent history, I believe that Terry Fator was the greatest. Every performance he gave was something to look forward to, because he was able to use his puppets to impersonate various singers. Impersonating the singers and figures is difficult enough, but being able to do it through an act of ventriloquism is beyond extraordinary. In his audition, he brought Emma Taylor onto the show and she sang "At Last" and sounded exactly like Etta James. At the end of the performance, she also did an impersonation of Ashlee Simpson, which was hilarious and showed that Terry Fator was meant to be a performer. I rooted for him throughout the second season of the show and was thrilled when he won it all.
#5: The Voices Of Glory (American, Singers)- The Voices Of Glory were two brothers and a sister (ages 16, 11, and 9 at the start of the show) who sang as a trio. Their emotional drive came from singing to their mother, who three years prior was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. While she was in a coma, the three of them would sing to her bedside while incidentally singing to the others in her hospital room. As they told Piers when he asked what happened to her, she is not only alive, but was also backstage. They went on with their performance of "God Bless America," which was a simple song choice, but at the same time an incredibly emotional, heartfelt tribute to the country. Their voices went so well with one another and their execution showed that they were passionate about music. Piers called them the "pride of America," which has to be one of the strongest compliments given on a reality show competition from one of the harshest critics. They have since grown and evolved, finishing in fifth place in the competition. While there have been stronger performers on the show, this has to be the most emotional, powerful audition I have witnessed on the American version of the show.
#4: Paul Potts (British, Opera Singer)- Before this series, Potts sold mobile phones, then he came on and proved that he was a talented force to be reckoned with. For the first four seasons of Britain's Got Talent, the judging table was a dream panel from a brutally honest state of mind. When you have Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan, and Amanda Holden together, you are sure to only have the absolute best making it through during the competition. Paul Potts performed a flawless, clear version of "Nessum dorma," which proved that anybody from any background could go anywhere. Indeed he did go just about everywhere, as he was the first champion of the series.
#3: Freddy Amigo (Swedish, Opera Singer)- Freddy Amigo was a Swedish nurse as he entered the competition, proving to have that silly uncle sense of humor. Then the stage was his and he performed an operatic piece in a theatrical style. In many of the Got Talent competitions, opera singers will more than likely stand at the center of the stage and perform their piece. Like Prince Poppycock in America (who was very much about show and character), Amigo relied on physical movement and robust acting in order to execute his performance, though he was the character and he didn't rely on a disguise. He delivered a powerful, entertaining performance that wowed absolutely everyone and he did quite a job throughout the competition. His emotions of feeling overwhelmed were quite contagious and being the viewer, it was quite a show to be able to see.
#2: Susan Boyle (British, Singer)- The global evidence to the expression, "you can't judge a book by its cover," is defined by Susan Boyle and her third season appearance on Britain's Got Talent. When appearing on the show, she was 47 years old, unemployed, looked like an ordinary middle aged woman, and wanted to be like Elaine Paige. Then she told the judges she would be singing "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables and knocked it out of the ballpark. From the first notes of the performance, she proved that she has the most theatrical voices in the world. Her voice surprised everyone, especially those that believed she was just there for a day out. Her attitude was so innocent that when she finished performing, she walked out like it was a one-time gig. This is where she was wrong, because she became a global superstar. While she finished in second place in a dance group known as Diversity, she is recognized across the globe and she remains active with producing new albums, many of which are covers. Personally, I still get goosebumps listening to her initial audition of "I Dreamed A Dream."
#1: Sung-Bong Choi (Korean, Opera Singer)- If there is anybody that is going to top Susan Boyle on any Got Talent series across the globe, it would be Sung-Bong from South Korea. He had an emotional story to tell, as he was placed in an orphanage when he was three and then ran away after feeling uncomfortable with the environment it had to offer. For the next several years, he roamed from place to place, living a brutal childhood. It was only when he got older that he completed his G.E.D. test. He would seek happiness when he heard other people sing, which inspired him to become a singer. I usually like to look at the talent the performer has to offer and not judge based off of an emotional story, but the combination of his background and his powerful, operatic voice that holds such powerful emotion leads me to feel choked up inside. There are plenty of people that will surely be unable to go without breaking down or shedding a tear when Sung-Bong performs. There is no way that you cannot make it through Sung-Bong's audition video without feeling some kind of numbing emotion. There's just no way!
Here are ten of my personal favorites at the moment we speak, which is bound is change in the event that I see more auditions, develop change in hearts, or if new auditions come along that are spectacular, which will be quite difficult with those I have up right now. I have the link for each video listed under the appropriately ranked audition. I do not own these videos, I am just directing you to the best outlets in my mind. Hope you enjoy the videos as much as I did and be sure to catch the new season of America's Got Talent tomorrow.