America's Got Talent
season 12 got off to a strong start overall with the first Golden Buzzer of the season in the premiere. Singing ventriloquist Darci Lynn was adorable with a very cute backstory and she completed deserved her Golden Buzzer. Darci was apparently just setting the stage for the season, though.
The second episode of season 12 offered up an even more heartbreaking, in the best way, singer with Mandy Harvey. Mandy wowed the judges and reduced the audience to tears with very good reason. Mandy's audition was capped with Simon pressing the Buzzer for Mandy, sending her straight to the live shows. Golden Buzzers aren't always used wisely on America's Got Talent
but it is impossible to not think that Mandy deserved one and has a real shot at winning the entire season after being introduced to her.
A singer is never just a singer on America's Got Talent. Every act, at least every featured act, has story going into their audition and Mandy is no exception. Mandy lost all her hearing at age 18. She became ill and as a result she lost her ability to hear very quickly. If that wasn't tragic enough, it happened while Mandy was going to school for music.
Of course, since she is appearing on America's Got Talent that wasn't the end of Mandy's journey as a musician. It was more like a pause button. Like other AGT contestants who have had disabilities, Mandy rallied and managed to make her way back to doing what she loved, singing. Once again, though, Mandy is a little bit different from the usual America's Got Talent contestants. There is nothing in Mandy's performance as a singer that is defined by her inability to hear. If you don't know Mandy was deaf she would still be fantastic, but knowing that she has no idea how exactly she sounds, Mandy is nothing short of extraordinary.
America's Got Talent typically attracts singers of the kitschy variety. They don't have the best voices conventionally and are far from technically perfect. The usual America's Got Talent singer has a twist to them and that is why they have arrived on the show. In some cases the singers have even tried out for other purely singing competitions and failed. Mandy's backstory does function as that twist but Mandy herself doesn't have that second-hand gimmicky quality to her. Mandy's story is special and a part of her identity as a singer but it is not what makes her special. Mandy's raw, unfiltered and magnificent talent is what makes her special.
Mandy's backstory is enough to break anyone's heart. Someone being forced away from something they love, in this case music, due to an illness is horrifying. Yet it is Mandy's talent as a songwriter and singer that is the most heartwarming part of her audition. There has never really been an audition as life-affirming as Mandy's debut on America's Got Talent
. In fact, the franchise hasn't seen something this pure come out of an audition since Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent.
Mandy is a perfect mixture of what America's Got Talent brings to the reality TV landscape. She has the tug at your heartstrings story but it is backed up (and exceeded) by an enormous talent. Mandy makes you want to cry but also cheer for her and that is why she is solidly in the front-running of the season even though it has just begun.
What did you think of Mandy's audition? Were you moved by her story and performance or did you feel it was nothing that special? Do you think she is good enough to win America's Got Talent or is it way too early to tell?
(Image and video courtesy of NBC)