Why Is the Talent Level So Low on 'America's Got Talent' Season 12?
Why Is the Talent Level So Low on 'America's Got Talent' Season 12?
Derek Stauffer
Derek Stauffer
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
America's Got Talent season 12 is in the home stretch but it doesn't necessarily feel that way. While the acts have been whittled down considerably, no real frontrunner has emerged. Typically, when AGT enters the semifinals there are a handful of acts who really stand a chance at winning it all. In season 12 it seems like anyone could win and that isn't because the competition is so strong. There are no frontrunners this season because the talent just doesn't seem to be there at all.

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The Missing X Factor(s)

The talent hasn't been nonexistent or terrible in season 12. It's just been consistently unexciting. There are a handful of very talented contestants but none of them have that star quality. There's no one where it feels imperative that they win or that they're destined for bigger and greater things. In short, there's no one on season 12 like a Drew Lynch, a Jon Dorenbos, a Grace VanderWaal or going back even further in the show's history, a Mat Franco. Whatever quality made those acts so incredibly charismatic and likable, the season 12 group doesn't have "it." 

It's not like the acts can't sing, dance, do magic or whatever it is they do for a talent. Kechi Okwuchi is a fantastic singer and she's way more than her tragic past. Darci Lynne is unavoidably in the shadow of Terry Fator's success but she would be extraordinary on any other show. The talent isn't bad, it just lacks that certain edge that America's Got Talent seems to find and promote in its winners and frontrunners. 

It's not for lack of trying. America's Got Talent is trying to find acts with a great story to match their great talent and bring that out. The problem is this effort to find a good story has become desperate and transparent in season 12. America's Got Talent has always made an act's personality or story one half of their routine but it's been way too transparent in season 12. 

A Cult of Personality 

America's Got Talent has simply been too produced in season 12. Rather than let the talent speak for itself or have the contestants tell their stories in a natural way, the contestants' backstories have been put in the spotlight. The story of Evie Clarke's family is heartbreaking and awful. Yet America's Got Talent never lets viewers forget her dad is dying of cancer and that just makes the entire experience feel icky. It's not heartwarming anymore, it feels exploitative. It's hard to remember Evie Clarke is a singer at all, not just a young girl with a dying dad, based on how the show presents her. 

Season 12 isn't just emphasizing tear-jerking stories either. The only reason an act like Mirror Image made it through to the quarterfinals is because they were such ridiculous characters. They were definitely memorable but for all the wrong reasons.  

Mirror Image was emblematic of the fact that America's Got Talent wants big personalities and characters in season 12 but doesn't understand how to achieve them. The most memorable contestants on the show are those known for their talent, not their backstory. 

The Singer Problem

It doesn't help that season 12 is overloaded on singers. Part of the blame can be placed at America's feet. America did vote through many more singing acts than any other category. Still, the judges brought through way more singers than magicians, comedy or daredevil acts. America was just following their lead.

The singers that have been chosen have good to amazing voices but they're not distinctive enough. None of them feels more important than the others so they all sort of blend together in one big musical mess. 

The talent that has been brought to the live shows in AGT season 12 isn't all that bad, it's just been overly produced. If there was more variety in the acts and and more effort to emphasize talent over story or personalities, things might be different. Maybe things can be turned around in the semifinals and beyond but ultimately it might be a very good thing that America's Got Talent season 12 is almost over. 

What do you think? Are the semifinalists of America's Got Talent season 12 less exciting and talented than in previous seasons? What do you think the show needs to do bring more talent to the finals? Let us know in the comments below!

America's Got Talent season 12 airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC. Want more news? Like our America's Got Talent Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of NBC)