When you look at the entire timeline of winners on “America’s Got Talent”, you can see a sudden shift on the show in the last couple of years to a place that might just save the show. Up until Season 7, the show seemed to be turning into “The Voice” or “American Idol” and continually racking up singers as the final winner. Of course, since it’s all by decree of the public (or so we assume), it also creates the contradictory problem of those singers trying to make a successful career beyond the “AGT” stage. So far, none of the singers have really become major successes. Only runner-up Jackie Evancho is listed as the most commercially successful singer out of any that’s competed there.
Why then did the winners suddenly shift in a completely different direction starting with Season 7 and Olate Dogs? Prior to that, only Terry Fator was considered to be a novelty act with any real chance of success. But he had the advantage of also being an amazing singer who so happened to parlay that into the twist of a ventriloquist dummy impersonating a famous singer. It was an amazing act that still is to this day, making him the second most successful performer in “AGT’s” history.
After Fator, the idea of a novelty act winning seemed outrageous. Even today, there may be more than a few questioning whether spinning plates or other oddball actions set to music can ever be successful other than as barely there opening acts. Then there’s the oversaturation of magicians, despite a few standing out from the crowd.
After Kenichi Ebina won last year as an official novelty act, what does it say about the direction of the show and the taste of the audience demographic? Mind you, Kenichi Ebina has mad dance skills beyond anything we’d ever seen. You have to imagine him having his own tour or getting a 10-year multi-million-dollar deal to play Vegas at any time. Regardless, the fact that new talent other than singers are winning “AGT” now, it makes you wonder if a new demographic is watching the show, or there’s been some subtle influence to tilt it this way.
One factor may be judge Howard Stern who might have scared some families away from watching as they used to. In the beginning, there seemed to be a younger demographic tuning in that kept saving the younger singers and performers. Once Howard Stern entered the picture, however, everything shifted into more unique performers moving to the forefront.
For some, that might have been the best thing to happen to the show in order to prevent the pre-teen crowd from flooding the phone lines for the “Idol”-like singer. If the aforementioned demographic actually moved on to “The Voice” (arguably the best singing competition extant), that means those age 18-34 are most likely watching “AGT” now, if not perhaps older. It’s the sweet demographic spot most shows covet and giving more hope to novelty acts having a significant chance this season and into ensuing seasons.
This probably isn’t lost on novelty act artists, and no doubt they’ve lined up even longer this year to show acts that go beyond drilling power tools into their nose or doing gymnastic stunts. It may also educate more of the public on just how many people are still doing novelty acts out there as much as there are singers. Unlike singers, though, they can’t be accused of being all alike thanks to even stranger novelty acts being invented while you read this.
In another few years, more novelty act winners on “America’s Got Talent” will finally prove every competitive reality show on TV doesn’t have to be about demonstrating the extreme American oversaturation of singers and dancers.