Australia’s Got Talent – Questionable Judging?

Australia’s Got Talent – Questionable Judging? ©

So, I was looking at the first semi final of Australia’s Got Talent on Tuesday 31/5/11, and first of all I have to say that I was very impressed by the talent on display. But when it came to the judging, not so much.
Question: Should the judges be allowed to judge each performance before votes are cast by the public? Many people are impressionable, and the judge’s comments would influence their decision, so there is the chance that a really good act that deserved to go through, won’t.

So is this a fair system?

Shouldn’t the judges give their opinions after the votes have come in by the public? That way, people will cast their votes for the acts they genuinely liked, without any bias.
Or maybe it’s all part of the politics of such a competition. The judges have their favourite, and no doubt want their favourite to win, so if they happen to sway a few votes (or several thousand!) that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

And how do you know that the counting of the votes is going to be fair? What’s to stop the powers at be altering the number of votes for one act to make sure it gets through? We don’t know what happens behind the scenes. We just believe that the counting is fair.

Based on the judge’s comments alone from Tuesday night, it seems very plausible that the judges want to influence the public’s votes.

Case in point (1): “Rock N Roll Rollers”

Bryan McFadden: “You did a great job. I did watch the rehearsal earlier, but tonight you did make the mistake at the end which is such a shame when you were doing that really fast thing, you took my breath away in rehearsal, but you screwed it up there. It’s a shame but you did make a pretty huge mistake in the semi finals of the show. If you make a mistake that big you’re not really giving your best, so on that I have to say I was disappointed.”

Okay Bryan I think we get the idea.

Bryan re-iterated this mistake, not just once, not twice, not three times, but four times! Maybe he thought the viewers didn’t get the message the first time, the second time, or even the third time!

I didn’t really notice the mistake myself, and I don’t think most of the viewers would have either. Kyle didn’t notice the mistake.

Kyle Sandilands: “I didn’t notice the mistake, and I was still impressed with the full on chooka chooka thing you did and luckily for you guys, nobody at home got to see the mistake either, so hopefully it won’t affect the judging, the votes, but Bryan has let everybody know at home that there was a huge error, so they will factor that in.”

While Kyle was more fair in his judging, by saying “but Bryan has let everybody know at home that there was a huge error, so they will factor that in” this just reinforces the unfortunate mistake in everybody’s mind, not necessarily helpful to Rock N Roll Rollers.

But I like Kyle, and I was pleased when he went on to say…

“What you kids do is a great message for parents that if you don’t let your kids play and run around on the streets, going to parties and living their life on Facebook, your kid can have talent as well.”

Case in point (2): Bree De Rome

Kyle: “Another fabulous performance. You’re a real find. Genuine. Authentic. I find you fabulous and can sit there and watch you for hours.”

Danni: “It’s your personality and the voice. That performance is how it should be done. Your voice is magnificent, like listening to a recording, like you’ve had 50 years experience.”

And there’s Bryan’s comments…

Bryan: “You just captured in 2 mins in that performance what it feels like to fall in love. You took everybody in this room to a different place, for that whole performance I was in a different world. You are just beyond incredible. I love every single thing about you, your voice, your performance style, your personality, how you look. If you had an album out now I’d listen to it on repeat, if you had a concert now I’d go to your concert. I’d be your biggest fan.”

I have to be honest, when I heard Bryan’s comments, I wanted to turn off the TV. If the comments by the judges, especially Bryan’s, aren’t enough to sway the votes, then nothing will.

I personally didn’t think the performance was as brilliant as the judges have made it out to be. Okay, Bree has a cute look, a nice voice, but did she really deserve so much praise? Compare her performance with Soprano Fiona Mariah’s. I much preferred Fiona’s performance, but unfortunately the judges didn’t.

Case in point (3) : Fiona Mariah

Kyle: “I loved that song. First time we saw you everybody leaped to their feet and you had a huge standing ovation and you felt the electricity in the room, but we didn’t get a standing ovation tonight, so to me that means that they (the audience) didn’t enjoy it as much, but you sang it beautifully. I did enjoy it and I think you’re amazingly talented.”

Bryan: “I was blown away by your original audition, I thought it was amazing, dramatic. For me I was really disappointed by that performance. I found it underwhelming. I don’t think it has to do with your voice, you didn’t recreate the drama you created in your first audition. It started really slow, it took you a long time to get to the big notes, which is what made us stand on our feet the first time, and you really only got there at the end, and to be honest with you, by the time you got there I was kind of over that performance. I put that down to bad song choice.”

Bryan says that the performance started really slow, but Unchained Melody is supposed to be a slow song. It’s an emotional song.

“It took you a long time to get to the big notes” he said, but the big notes are only in the middle and end of the song, so what would he have wanted her to do? Gone straight into the middle of the song?

The judges said that she didn’t get a standing ovation for this song, like she did when she sang Nessun Dorma in her audition, so therefore they said the performance wasn’t good? There’s always a standing ovation for Nessun Dorma. It’s like it’s programed in people’s mind that if anybody can sing it the audience will be up on their feet.

Is the judging really fair?

The judges put their comments out there in an attempt to sway votes, and people chat about it on Facebook and twitter, echo and quote what the judge’s say, which empowers the judges and gives them more credibility. The judges know that most of the voting audience is the younger demographic, and that many of them are very impressionable and more likely to take on board what the judges say when casting their votes.

I noticed 4 or 5 comments on Youtube from young people that were identical to what the judges were saying about Fiona’s performance, e.g. ‘disappointing, poor song choice.’

In the case of Jack Vidgen, who is one of the judge’s favourites, and in fact one of everybody’s favourites, the judges know that the younger generation are looking for an idol, so they can play on that. They can say whatever they like and know the younger demographic will support what they say because they are looking for someone to idolize, to look up to, like another Bieber phenomenon.

It’s all big business

The judges are happy to be controversial too. They attempt to create sensationalism. It’s a smoke screen that the judges are there just to judge. It’s a case of good cop, bad cop. They’re giving their own performance. They’re there to spice things up a bit, keep things interesting.

A lot of people like negative commentary because a lot of people are cynical, and also people are very quick to judge. When a judge puts somebody down, a lot of people enjoy that.

The order that the acts are shown also play a part in the program rating schemings. If they showed Jack Vidgen’s performance in the beginning for example, they could lose ratings. The producers usually save the favourites to last as a ploy because they know that there’s a possibility that you could tune out after you see the performance. It makes sense for them to push someone like Vidgen that’s going to make money for the network and help with the ratings.

Jack Vidgen is the perfect poster boy for the teeny boppers, the main demographic of this show, so pushing this guy is great. Ironically in my opinion this guy looks like a girl, but whatever. When people are sitting in their lounge rooms enjoying the performances, they don’t think about the show as a money spinner for the network. While we’re being entertained, we’re making the network rich. Like everybody signing into Facebook is making Mark Zuckerberg rich.

In conclusion

The judge’s comments are strategic and deliberate, in an attempt to manipulate votes, increase ratings for the network, and stir the pot if necessary.

The judging system isn’t fair in these competitions. If it was, the judge’s comments should be made after the votes have come in. This way all the acts get a fair go.

© Simone Cooper