There are only three weeks left of AGT 2019, and MJ has asked me to write power lists for the remaining shows this season. She actually asked me at the beginning of live shows, but I wanted to wait one round. That way, I could more accurately judge the rankings based on three rounds of producer manipulation versus two.
Before I get into my predictions, a quick overview of my thoughts. I’ve been podcasting about AGT all season and this tweet I wrote last week sums it all up:
“If Simon is comparing acts on AGT, here are my comparisons:
1) Ryan Niemiller is the better comedian this year.
2) Eric Chien is the better magician this year.
3) Season 13 was a better season than this year.”
Now that that’s out of the way, what do I expect to happen this week? Keeping in mind that this is what I expect to happen, not what I want to happen, let’s dive into my power list. In reverse order:
11) Ndlovu Youth Choir – A choir has never won AGT, or even come close. And Ndlovu might be the better choir still in the competition, but it won’t matter. They needed the judges to save them last round and therefore they are almost certainly goners this week.
10) Ansley Burns – This tween singer has been consistently sabotaged by the judges and yet she’s managed to claw her way into the top 22. Unfortunately for Ansley, with only 5 acts out of 11 making it through, no amount of clawing will overcome the giant bus heading her way. It really sucks, and I hate watching children suffer, but I know that the producers on this show love making me do it.
9) Jackie Fabulous – I was genuinely surprised that Jackie needed the Dunkin Save last week, because although I don’t find her particularly funny, the judges, producers, and studio audience each week seem to love her. Jackie’s got great presence, but for me, her material isn’t as strong as her personality. And it’s really rare for an act to bounce back from the save, even when the results show isn’t a giant bloodbath.
8) Messoudi Brothers – These hand balancers have made it through because they look good with their shirts off. Looking good shirtless has never gotten someone through to the AGT Final all by itself. The act itself is impressive, but I couldn’t watch it for more than 5 minutes and I think America probably agrees.
7) Eric Chien – Judging based on talent, Eric Chien is the best act this week. Judging based on who has a shot to win AGT this year, Eric might honestly be at the bottom of the list. Simon will do everything in his power to ensure that Eric goes home, for no reason other than that Shin Lim won twice in the past 12 months, and Eric is just a clone of Shin Lim. I loved Shin Lim, and I love Eric Chien too. If Eric had waited a few years he could have easily duplicated Shin’s success. But unfortunately, I see a massive bussing coming for Eric this week.
6) Benicio Bryant – Now it gets more difficult. Benicio has the best voice of any kid singer this season in my book, and I really like him a lot. Unfortunately for him, last week’s song did not show it off at all. I think that unless Benicio has a true moment on stage this week with absolutely everything working perfectly for him, he’s probably going to just miss out on a place in the final.
5) Robert Finley – I think Robert is extremely likable, and can sing pretty damn well. But the reason he’s at number 5 and not higher on the list is simple: he’s not marketable at all. At this point in the competition, Simon wants singers that he can sign to his label. Robert has a nice story, but this week’s story competition will be dominated by Kodi Lee, for better or (probably) for worse. I think Robert will make it through to the final, but he won’t leave unscathed. The bussing starts this week and finishes next week.
4) Light Balance Kids – This spinoff of Light Balance is my personal favorite dance troupe this season. V.Unbeatable are more physically impressive, but Light Balance Kids are way more creative. This is one of the only acts this year I could see myself paying to see for an hour in Vegas. Having said that, the judges weren’t too keen on this act last time, and not without reason – their act does work better with higher energy music. I hope they make the final, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they get cut.
3) Greg Morton – Why is Greg so damn high on my list, considering that I really don’t find his act particularly interesting or exciting? Because YouTube views don’t lie. Greg got a ton of views for his first live show performance. Having said that, if Greg wants to make the top 5, he will need to take Howie’s advice (god, I can’t believe I just typed that) and improve his material. Impression Impression Impression isn’t enough to do well on this show, not for long. Impressionists need a story to tie things together, otherwise you’re just a parrot. And parrots are cool, but they aren’t millionaires.
2) Tyler Butler-Figueroa – Here’s a formula for you: Golden buzzer act + cancer survivor + genuine talent at the violin = sailing through to the final. Tyler had one of the weaker golden buzzer auditions of the season, but truly stepped it up in the first live show performance. I think if he continues to improve, he’s a lock for the final.
1) Kodi Lee – Kodi Lee is undeniably talented. He has a nice voice and he can play the piano really well. But I can’t get excited about him, mainly because the production keeps focusing on his story at the expense of his talent. I’m on the autism spectrum, and the judges comments towards Kodi and the VT that played before his last performance were borderline offensive to me. The way the judges treated Kodi Lee was a textbook case of inspiration p*rn. As Stella Young said in her TED Talk, inspiration p*rn objectifies “one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. So in this case, we’re objectifying disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you, to motivate you, so that we can look at them and think, “Well, however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person.” But what if you are that person? I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve been approached by strangers wanting to tell me that they think I’m brave or inspirational, and this was long before my work had any kind of public profile. They were just kind of congratulating me for managing to get up in the morning and remember my own name.” The crazy thing is, Ryan Niemiller is portrayed perfectly from a disability rights perspective. Kodi’s portrayal sets us back. And I’m not happy about it. If things continue as they did last round, Kodi Lee will win AGT, but the disabled community will lose. And I won’t be happy.