really extraordinary episode: launch of Grace Vanderwaal
For the historical record.
Most reviewers, even prolific ones, do not bother with individual episodes of "bubble gum" variety shows like this one. Especially because these shows by their very nature seem to start each new season with the implied "message" that all prior seasons are instant trash, and the only things of value are the producers and the hosts.
(All of which is a topic for another day).
However this season brought us Grace Vanderwaal, a 12 year old who not only won the season but immediately booked a Vegas gig. Which may or may not interfere with her homework. And mean she needs special permission to stay up late.
Since Vanderwaal shows every sign of being a true once-in-a-blue-moon phenom, I wanted to add my notes for future fans and members:
* she came out of nowhere. Her mother booked her for the show without telling her. She is a self-declared shy kid with only a few friends, most of which did not know that singing was her hobby. Those kids may need therapy for the rest of their lives and have to deal with with the constant fear that they are always "missing something."
* her parents claimed she had been song-writing since age 3 and then posted home video on Youtube to back up their claim. The sight of a 3 year old holding a pencil over paper and composing a song is one of the most extraordinary sights I have ever seen. I will never forget it.
* Grace herself is honest, self-effacing, polite, mannered, articulate, charismatic, charming, and extraordinarily photogenic. One suspects that product endorsements will follow quickly.
* her first performance was a moment in history. A song she said she wrote in her bedroom because "she was bored" went viral and bounced around the world. Instant fans and wannabees covered the song at home with their own cameras and mikes. It is one of those songs that stays in your brain for hours after you hear it. I expect many older artists to cover it in the years ahead.
* she was Golden Buzzer'd to the finale, which left millions of AGT viewers confused and angry. Was she really that good? Was she a one-hit wonder? How good was her voice, really? Internet debates raged on even though the answers were in the many self-made Youtube videos she had already posted.
* she was 100% poised and in control on that first performance. On each subsequent AGT performance she was falling apart with nerves and her voice was affected. No one seemed to notice.
* while the rest of the world waited for the live shows, her family (Grace herself?) made a brilliant career decision. She gave a free concert to local residents in Suffern NY. It was a hit. This, combined with the viral Youtube fame, clearly convinced the AGT producers that she was a serious contender. That concert was a game-changer.
* somebody gave her a "new camera" and she continued to add self-made DIY brand new songs to her growing Youtube collection, even though mic pickup was still poor and her voice drowned out by the ukulele. Again, no one noticed. Or cared. Even Paul Simon would have been jealous.
* she clearly had no outside advisers or managers at the time. The proof is that one of her new tunes done in this period -- "THE GOOD JUST GETS BETTER" -- was as good as her original audition ("I Don't Know My Name"), and could have been an instant hit. But in fact she never performed it on AGT, preferring to do lesser songs that strained her range and did not have the same impact. But she won anyway. Wow.
* Just the music rights to those two tunes could send her through university, I think. And have enough left over to buy a house! They are that good! In fact, if she never sang other song (unlikely!) she could make a living as a songwriter. Another wow.
So, that's the review. This one goes into the IMDb archive and may help Grace's future biographers. Based on her age, many of them could still be in elementary school themselves.
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