Kenichi Ebina deserves to win.
I know I usually start my America’s Got Talent predictions by breaking down who I don’t like, but this is the finals and it doesn’t seem right to approach it that way.
And not only will I make my case for him being the cream of the crop in a season with some quality talent at the end, I will also explain why I think his masterpiece finale performance might be the best of the entire season.
And I’ll tell you exactly why you didn’t feel that way when you watched it.
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In Support of Kenichi Reason #1: Originality
Kenichi has delivered more memorable performances than any other act this season, in part because most of the other finalists (Forte, Cami Bradley, Jimmy Rose) basically do the same thing every week and the other two (Collins Key, Taylor Williamson) literally couldn’t be successful if they did.
But Kenichi could, in theory, just dance every week and still be entertaining. But he not only brought something new to the table with each performance, he also gave us things we’ve never seen before. He was innovative.
In Support of Kenichi Reason #2: Creativity
Cami Bradley was creative because she found a way to make each of the songs she covered uniquely her own. Taylor Williamson was creative because he had to come up with new material for each and every set that was all his own. Collins Key was creative because even if it was a tried-and-true magic trick, it had to come through in his showmanship. Forte was creative because they put together the harmonies that gave us goosebumps. Jimmy Rose was sort of creative because he wrote that song about the coal.
But Kenichi literally invented his performance pieces. There was Kenichi the writer, Kenichi the dancer and Kenichi the director. Taylor is the only other act that requires such invention, and while he’s extremely likable and made me laugh several times in his final set, I’ll take Kenichi’s genius over Taylor’s every day.
In Support of Kenichi Reason #3: Talent
The singers gave us music. The magician gave us magic. The comedian gave us comedy. Kenichi accomplished all three, plus dance, with enough left over to make those middle school talent shows tolerable for all the parents in America.
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In Support of Kenichi Reason #4: A Wall of Kenichis
I bet you did the same thing I did. The same thing Mel B did. The same thing people in the audience did. You watched the nine-member Kenichi gang dance around the stage and thought, eh, it’s good, but it didn’t wow me as much as the video game battle or the dance-off with his reflection.
And you’d be right. But you’d only be right because you’re so wrong.
The reason Kenichi’s final performance didn’t blow you away, the reason it left you feeling like it wasn’t as good as his others, is because it was so good you didn’t even notice. The precision was so on point that it looked too easy. And I worry that will cost him the title.
But I assure you, there was nothing easy about it. Particularly considering he only had a week to do it.
I mean, think about it. A normal choreographer putting together a nine-person dance routine can plan it out, then send nine actual human dancers out there to rehearse it, continually run through it and tweak where it needs work. He or she can watch how it plays out, see deficiencies and, if the timing is off, yell, hey, goober, pick up the pace on the third turn.
But Kenichi didn’t have the luxury of any of that. He not only had to choreograph all nine parts and pre-record eight of them, he didn’t even know if any of it would work until he was done. He literally had to dance the same routine at the exact same pace nine times in nine different costumes. Then he had to make sure they synced up with each other. And if not, he had to tweak it and do it again, all in one take.
And if it wasn’t hard enough to just have them (him!) dance the same number without any variation, he also made them (HIM!) interact with each other (OTHER HIMS!).
Oh, and the ninth performance was live. And he had to be in perfect unison with the eight other Kenichis. And he couldn’t see any of them because they’re all inanimate objects on a flat projection screen behind him, and not actual people around him.
With all that work involved, it’s amazing it didn’t blow everyone away. But Kenichi’s talent might end up being his fatal flaw. It was so good, and so precise, and so perfectly choreographed that it didn’t look difficult at all. It just looked like nine people dancing on stage at once like any other dance troupe act would do. And I desperately wanted one judge to point that out. But my desires were futile. Much like Taylor Williamson’s with Heidi Klum. And mine with Heidi Klum, for that matter.
All that being said, I would not be disappointed if Forte or Cami Bradley won it all. Forte was consistently brilliant all season, even if you can’t really differentiate between performances all that easily. (They pretty much all had lasers.) And Cami stole my heart with her sweet voice and uniquely original sound. Plus, she’s a super hot hotty hot hot hot.
Collins Key presents a conundrum for me, because I like him and think his tricks are current and entertaining. But even though his last performance was his best, I still don’t think it’s all quite come together for him like it will eventually.
I know a lot of people like Taylor Williamson, and he’s grown on me as a comedian. But he’s better for a chuckle than a laugh riot, and I can’t imagine watching him do a one-hour set like the heavyweights of the comedy world.
And as for Jimmy, well, I like him more than I did. He’ll do fine in the country world, but he was in over his head.
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And so here we are at last. I haven’t been perfect yet, and I don’t intend to be here, either. There’s no “what I want” vs. “what I think” will happen this time around. Just what should happen.
Sixth Place: Jimmy Rose
Fifth Place: Collins Key
Fourth Place: Taylor Williamson
Third Place: Cami Bradley
Second Place: Forte
First Place: Kenichi Ebina
And it will probably work in the complete reverse order. Who do you think should win season 8 of America’s Got Talent?
And as always, thanks for reading along with me and Ted Kindig all season. We write for the readers, and without you, well, there’d be no readers. So we hope you enjoyed it all as much as we did, and we look forward to seeing you again for season 9! (And don’t forget to come back for Ted’s live finale blog tonight!)
The America’s Got Talent season 8 finale airs tonight at 9pm on NBC.
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(Image courtesy of NBC)