kenichi ebina

Kenichi Ebina (Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC.)

The America’s Got Talent Season 8 finale aired on Wednesday and after a season packed with great entertainers giving us some unforgettable moments, the winner of the season was announced. The predictions made from his very first audition turned out to be spot on as Mel B would say, and it was no surprise when Kenichi Ebina was pronounced the Season 8 winner.

Each contestant had a chance to perform with a bona fide “star”. Other solo performances included Earth, Wind and Fire, The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, Icona Pop and Luke Bryan.

Cami Bradely was the first to be eliminated in sixth place. I was a little surprised that she didn’t come in ahead of Collins Key. Maybe she would have done better on the X Factor or Idol. After all, last season the winner of American Idol also took iconic songs and sang them in a way that rendered them unrecognizable, but Cami has a much better voice. She was paired up with Gavin Degraw for a duet of his newest single, “Best I Ever Had”. It wasn’t bad.

Collins Key took fifth place. He was obviously disappointed and maybe even a little surprised going by the heartbroken look on his face when Nick made the announcement. He is only 17 and he has a long way to go before he is good enough to win America’s Got Talent. Collins’ duet was with Kathie Lee and Hoda who came up out of the audience to act as his lovely assistants. He did the same sort of trick he always does, making something supposedly randomly chosen, appear in an envelope that Kathie Lee had been sitting on throughout the trick. He seemed a little nervous and even overwhelmed by the reality of what was happening around him, but who wouldn’t be at his age. His tricks are good, but his delivery needs some refinement. He’ll get there, I’m sure.

Forte coming in fourth was a genuine surprise to me. I was sure they would have done better than both Jimmy Rose and Taylor Williamson. They are far more talented than either of them, but that country demographic and the “Taylords’ on Twitter make up a large percentage of voters. They performed with Josh Groban and sang a song called “Brave”. The harmonies were great but Josh was a little dwarfed by the other three. He mentioned that he had brought one of the guys out of the audience at his show in Madison Square Garden to sing on stage and he was impressed with him even then.

Jimmy Rose took third place and looked thrilled at the announcement. I believe him when he says that he’s amazed he’s made it this far and seemed perfectly happy with coming in third. He’s a genuinely nice guy and I was so glad he was voted into the finals over fellow country singer, Marty Brown. He sang a duet of “I Hold On” with Dierks Bentley. Jimmy’s voice sounded great paired up with Dierks but Jimmy used his guitar more as a prop than a guitar throughout the song. I’m thinking he didn’t want to take a chance on making Dierks look bad and decided to eliminate any possible distraction from giving the best vocal he could.

Finally, it was down to Taylor and Kenichi. Taylor, the runner up, looked like he always does, a doofus. Is that an act? I mean really. His co-performer was James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio. He did a setup as if Taylor was on his show and went through his traditional questionnaire with him. Taylor’s jokes, which relied heavily on his imagined connection with Heidi Klum, fell kind of flat for the most part. His brand of humor paired up with James Lipton’s intellect and dry humor was a disaster, but it was generous of Mr. Lipton to give it a shot.

Also, James Lipton introduced a tribute clip of Nick Cannon highlighting some of his antics over the seasons he’s been host of America’s Got Talent. He really is under-appreciated for the contributions he makes to the show. He holds the whole thing together and should be recognized more often for that accomplishment.

Kenichi Ebina was paired up with Il Divo and Heather Headley. Kenichi came out and did some dance moves and then disappeared. It was a ridiculous pairing and made no sense at all. Why couldn’t they have found someone, anyone, who was better suited to perform with Kenichi. The Blue Man Group comes to mind, but maybe they weren’t available. It also made no sense to pair these singers. They did a Italian/American version of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from the Lion King. Heather Headley is a fabulous soul singer, but she really didn’t fit with these guys. I would have preferred to see Kenichi do another performance all by himself or with his group of other selves.

Finally, Nick Cannon was ready to announce the winner. After the obligatory pause for dramatic effect, which lost its dramatic effect a long time ago, Nick announces that Kenichi Ebina is the winner. Of course he is! Even with confetti in his hair, Kenichi managed to look poised and composed. I wish his family could have been there to see him win. I’m assuming they weren’t or we would have heard about it.

Kenichi is not everyone’s favorite, obviously, but I think he deserved to win. I’m sure his upcoming Vegas act will be a huge success and he’ll become a fixture on the strip. What did you think of the results? Did you think someone else should have won? I’d be very interested to read your opinions below in the comments section.



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