Top 10 America’s Got Talent Acts

The finale of Season 8 of America’s Got Talent is on tonight, and the winner will be announced tomorrow.  In honor of my favorite show, I have gone through, season by season, and picked out the 10 best acts to appear on the show, which premiered in 2006.  There have been so many hundreds of acts that it was hard to pick only 10 and unfortunately some truly amazing acts had to be left off.  Here are the honorable mentions: Michael Grasso, Elli Mattson, Eric Dittleman, Neal E. Boyd, Fighting Gravity.


#10. Silhouettes

   Silhouettes are a dance group from Denver, Colorado consisting of 42 members raning in age from 4 to 18.  They perform behind a screen, using a back light to cast their shadows on the screen.  They amazed the judges with the images their bodies could contort to form, and the colorful stories they told through their dance.  In the finale, consisting of only 4 acts, the group performed a routine about a young girl who dreams of seeing the world.  They finished 2nd in Season 6, behind Landau Eugene Murphy Jr, a jazz singer.


#9. Donovan & Rebecca

  This act is on this list purely because of one performance.  In the Quarterfinals of Season 7, acrobat couple Donovan & Rebecca gave a brilliant performance using aerial silks.  With “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol as their background song, the couple gracefully glided through the air, in a performance that showed incredible strength.  They somehow only made it to the next round through the judges’ choice, after finishing 4th or 5th (the show doesn’t reveal which) in the voting, and were eliminated in the semifinals.

#8. William Close

   Musician William Close had already accomplished an incredible amount in his career before auditioning for America’s Got Talent in Season 7.  He installed the world’s largest stringed instrument, named Earth Harp in a 1,000 foot valley.  Close went on to install over 100 Earth Harps throughout the world.  On the show, Close dazzled the judges with amazing performance after amazing performance, as he advanced all the way to the finale.  However, Close finished 3rd in the voting behind comedian Tom Cotter and Olate Dogs.

#7. Barbara Padilla

   Not only is Mexican-born Barbara Padilla incredibly talented, she is also extremely inspirational.  Padilla was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lyphoma, and was told she may she never sing again due to the radiation from chemotherapy damaging her vocal chords.  However, she won a full scholarship at the University of Houston, through her operatic voice, while battling cancer.  The disease has since gone into remission, and Padilla wowed the judges and crowd with her emotional first audition in Season 4.  She advanced all the way to the finals, and somehow lost to country singer Kevin Skinner, in one of the worst decisions in America’s Got Talent history, in my opinion.

#6. Tom Cotter

   I have to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of comedians in general.  Too often, they’re just not funny.  But Tom Cotter was very different.  In Season 7, Cotter made history on the show by becoming the first comedian to make it to the finale (this would later be achieved by Taylor Williamson, who will perform tonight).  He was eventually named the runner-up, losing to Olate Dogs. Tom Cotter was unique is his quick-fire delivery, and confidence, which helped him advance so far in the show.

#5. Nuttin’ But Stringz

   Damien and Tourie Escobar, two brothers from Queens, New York City make up the amazing musical group Nuttin’ But Stringz.  The group mixes classical music, through their amazing violin playing, with modern hip-hop.  They made it to the final 5 of Season 3, and were the favorites to win the million dollar prize, in the eyes of judge Piers Morgan, but surprisingly lost to opera singer Neal E. Boyd.  Since then, the group has released an album, which was popular in Japan, and toured around the world, performing for companies such as Boeing and CBS.  Their music has also been used in numerous TV shows, movies, and even the 2008 Summer Olympics.

#4. Kenichi Ebina

   Kenichi Ebina was just another act on the show, until he put on one of the best performances in the show’s history in the quarterfinals of Season 8.  Dancing to a video he had made himself, perfectly in time, the judges unanimously declared Ebina the favorite to win the show.  He then followed up his performance with an even better one, dancing to a video of himself.  His timing was so perfect that he appeared to be dancing in a mirror.  Now, the 39 year-old is the favorite to win the show, and if his performance tonight is anything like his recent performances, he’ll have my vote.

#3. Team iLuminate

   It was tough to choose between Fighting Gravity and Team iLuminate.  Both are incredible black-light dancers using the technology of glow-in-the-dark costumes. Fighting Gravity may have come first, but Team iLuminate really perfected the art, and finished 3rd in Season 6, although they should’ve won. The technology they created has since been used by artists such as Christina Aguilera and The Black Eyed Peas.  They have also performed at MTV’s VMAs, the Billboard awards, and on Good Morning America.

#2. Terry Fator

   The first real star America’s Got Talent produces, Terry Fator is a ventriloquist who won Season 2.  Often, the season’s winner isn’t the best act and leaves many fans feeling the wrong act won.  But not Terry Fator.  The year after Fator won, he was signed as a headliner by Vegas casino and hotel The Mirage.  He celebrated his 1,000th show at the casino earlier this year, and is worth approximately $100 million.  Fator’s success lies in the way he mixes ventriloquism with singing.  He was actually a lead singer of a band, named TEXAS The Band, which helps to explain his excellent voice.

#1. Jackie Evancho

   In Season 5, America’s Got Talent decided to add a YouTube live show, where the 12 acts who received the most votes out of the acts chosen to have their videos on the YouTube channel perform fro 4 spots in the next round.  They had no idea what the YouTube show would produce. Jackie Evancho, only 10 years old, gave the judges and the audience the biggest surprise ever, with her incredible voice.  Although she controversially lost to singer Michael Grimm, Evancho’s career has been by far the most successful of any contestant.  Her first EP and album both reached number 2 on the Billboard 200, and she has set multiple “youngest solo artist” records, including – to go platinum, to debut in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, and to be chosen to perform at the Carnegie Hall.  She was also named the Classical Artist of the Year for 2011 by Billboard.