Being inside the Dolby Theatre during NBC’s Season 13 finale of “America’s Got Talent,” I can attest that the collective gasps from the audience were deafening when Courtney Hadwin was eliminated. This 14-year-old singer, who embodies such classic rock stars as Janis Joplin and James Brown, was the frontrunner to win the $1 million prize all season long, but failed to even make the Top 5. Instead, America chose close-up magician Shin Lim as the next act to join the “AGT” winners list. While viewers continue picking their jaws up off of the confetti-covered floor, scroll down to see four reasons why I believe Courtney lost to Shin.
Fans thought she was safe
It’s simple, really. Since Courtney was by far the most popular act heading into the “Americas Got Talent” Finals — whether from YouTube views or from social media — fans didn’t feel the need to pick up the phone and vote. You could practically hear viewers saying, “She’ll be fine! She’s got this!” Unfortunately, that means Courtney’s season-long frontrunner status may have actually hurt her when it mattered most.
Singers split the vote
Thanks to the success of reality TV shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol,” it’s apparent that America can’t get enough of aspiring singers showing off their powerful vocals. In fact, a whopping four singers made it to the “AGT” Finals: Michael Ketterer, Daniel Emmet, Glennis Grace and Courtney. Since each of these singing acts is so popular, there was no doubt a vote-split between them, resulting in all of them coming in fifth place or below. The Top 4 acts of the season — a magician (Shin), an acrobatic group (Zurcaroh), an electric violinist (Brian King Joseph) and a stand-up comedian (Samuel J. Comroe) — all benefited from that vote-split.
She was too polarizing
Courtney was the favorite to win “America’s Got Talent” from the moment she initially auditioned and earned Howie Mandel‘s Golden Buzzer. However, unlike previous frontrunners like Season 11’s Grace VanderWaal or Season 12’s Darci Lynne Farmer, Courtney was too polarizing among viewers. While some of them loved her rock star voice and unique dancing abilities, others simply didn’t get the act. Because she was too divisive to appeal to everyone, Courtney couldn’t cross that finish line.
America didn’t want another shy teenage girl
After back-to-back triumphs from Grace and Darci, it seems as though America didn’t want to reward another shy teenage girl with the $1 million prize. Instead, voters chose only the second magician in “AGT” history following Season 9’s Mat Franco. Will Shin end up being as successful as Mat, whose Las Vegas show continues selling out tickets? And will Courtney’s fans follow her from reality TV to the main stage? Stay tuned.