You know it’s going to be a good night when Nick Cannon walks out sporting a bejeweled turban — and so began the season 11 finale of America’s Got Talent. By and large, the Clairvoyants, Jon Dorenbos and Grace VanderWaal seemed to be the favorites, though judges Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Mel B and Howie Mandel lavished praise on all of the final 10 remaining acts. (Though they weren’t fooling anyone into thinking that Tape Face — the guy who literally performed with tape over his mouth — was going to take home the million-dollar prize or headline in Las Vegas.)
Yes, the show doubled as an ad for products ranging from upcoming movies to baked breakfast goods, but it also featured performances from superstars including Il Volo and Stevie Nicks. Here was how it all went down … and who came out on top.
Sal Valentinetti teamed up with the cast of Jersey Boys to belt out “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” and remind everyone just how likable a guy he is. Tape Face was up next and somehow got Jon, BJC, Viktor and one of the guys from Linkin’ Bridge to sit on chairs and then fold on top of each other like a cardboard box. Then he removed the chairs and took one for himself … just in time to watch the preview for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Brian Justin Crum came next, reprising his much-lauded version of “Creep.” The musical vein continued as Il Volo sang with opera sensation Laura Bretan, while Viktor Kee juggled, and Sofie Dossi dangled from a hoop in the sky. Grace performed “I Don’t Know My Name,” followed by Stevie Nicks singing “Landslide.” Stevie didn’t actually perform with Grace, however, so it seemed like the powers-that-be just wanted the audience to make a loose connection between the two songstresses. (Somehow it’s hard to picture Stevie doing something this commercial in her younger days … but you never know.) Rounding out the musical acts was Linkin’ Bridge, who performed with season 6 favorite the Silhouettes. The group got a standing ovation, but that didn’t have any bearing on its standing in the voting results.
The final two acts to perform were the Clairvoyants and Jon Dorenbos. The Clairvoyants brought Paula Abdul into the performance, which involved them predicting a set of random numbers shouted out by the judges that then appeared on a lottery card. It was a stunning trick, but it was semiruined since Paula couldn’t read the numbers on the card. (Seriously? No one could warn her to bring glasses?) Jon was last and basically put a playing card back together after Paula tore it to pieces. She didn’t have to read any fine print for that one, so it went better.
The Final Five
No, not the gymnasts, but the final five acts in the running to win this thing, and they were: Sal Valentinetii, Jon Dorenbos, Grace VanderWaal, Brian Justin Crum and the Clairvoyants. Out of that group, the only one that didn’t seem completely obvious was Sal, and (spoiler alert) he didn’t stick around long.
Cannon then announced that Sal had landed in fifth, Brian Justin Crum nabbed fourth and Jon Dorenbos was in third. If he was surprised he didn’t go farther, the NFL player didn’t show it and used his five seconds of air time to praise the backstage crew of the show. In other words, he’s a class act, on top of all of his other talents.
The Winner Is …
And so it came down to the Clairvoyants, with their Vegas-ready, polished act, and Grace VanderWaal, the quirky young singer who some people have dubbed the next Taylor Swift. Cannon did his best to leave as much empty air time as possible so as to torture these last two standing as long as possible, but ultimately, VanderWaal won. Cue confetti and tears!
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