Junior Eurovision alum Daneliya Tuleshova‘s journey towards a possible America’s Got Talent title was built on positivity. From week to week, the judges showered her with glowing reviews and her legions of fans praised everything from her vocals to her unconventional song choices, eye-catching fashion choices, and relatable personality. Everything seemed to be lining up for her to have an amazing, potentially life-changing result.
Unfortunately, the road to the title hit an unexpected snag close to the finish line, as the Kazakh songbird was surprisingly cut from the field during the finale’s initial round of voting reveals on Wednesday night.
The evening started off with a one-hour recap show where the judges and contestants each reflected on their respective journeys from the auditions, through each competition stage, and ending with the live finals Tuesday night. Following that stroll down memory lane, it was time for the finale to get started. Most of the contestants were given an opportunity to let their hair down and perform with another well-known recording artist or past AGT act. Daneliya herself performed a duet with American singing star Ava Max on Ava’s song “Kings and Queens” (the fifth single off of Ava’s debut studio album Heaven and Hell, released on September 18th).
With staging that looked like they were deep inside a DNA strand, Daneliya gave an arguably even better performance than on finals night. The cool style of the song was a natural fit for her, and she and Ava blended their voices as if they had been singing together for years. Even Daneliya’s hip glittery dress seemed to give the performance added lift. Just after the song ended, Ava herself was dishing out compliments, saying, “This girl has a KILLER voice! Watch out world!” (Talk about validation!)
After the guest performances wrapped up (and the finale SERIOUSLY bogged down in tempo, thanks to some corny and unneeded filler segments with host Terry Crews and judges Sofia Vergara, Howie Mandel, and Heidi Klum), it was finally time to find out who advanced to the top five:
After aerialist Alan Silva grabbed the first spot in the grand final over Italian acrobatic trio, the Bello Sisters, it was time for the second pairing to be announced. Cristina Rae, a 30-year old singer from Nashville, Tennessee was announced first, and stepped forward. Then, to most fans’ shock and disappointment, Daneliya was announced next, meaning that one fan favourite was unexpectedly going to be up for an earlier than anticipated elimination.
You could hear some of the shock in the audience reaction, and read the confusion in Daneliya’s face, as she seemed to know what the result would be. Seconds later, the result was announced — Cristina was through, and Daneliya’s hopes were dashed.
Through some haphazard camera work (both with far away shots and too much motion), fans of Daneliya weren’t even provided a proper goodbye, as she seemed to just instantly disappear from the stage as the host and judges basked in the happiness of Rae’s advancement to the final five. Minutes later, Canadian pre-teen singer Roberta Battaglia (even younger than Daneliya at 11), Chicago country guitar/singing duo Broken Roots, and Californian spoken word artist Brandon Leake completed the acts making it into the top five. After one more round of cuts eventually cut the top five to a top three (with Rae, Leake, and Broken Roots advancing yet again), spoken word artist Brandon Leake was eventually crowned the winner of America’s Got Talent‘s fifteenth season.
It didn’t take long for a social media storm to whip up, as fans debated various theories about what happened with the vote (everything from blatant nationalism, to judges’ tone-deafness to talent, to producers outright cheating the vote, to the six singers in the final possibly diluting their fan base for any one of them to the point other acts were able to take advantage).
It is well known that in the 15 seasons of AGT, there has really only been ONE true non-American winner (that being British ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, in 2016’s season ten), so perhaps hoping that Daneliya could create a big enough fan base to buck this trend was too much to ask? (Even with her previous exposure to American audiences on the one season 2018 talent contest The World’s Best, that one would have thought might set her up well for success)? Fans are left wondering for now…
To her credit, Daneliya seems to have chosen to take the high road. Taking to her Instagram account (@tuleshova_daneliya) just a couple of hours after the result was revealed, Daneliya issued a personal message to John Piermarini, a senior casting producer on the America’s Got Talent staff. She thanked him for making the AGT journey happen for her, and for all his support and kind words:
Now that’s how to change a stinging disappointment into a positive! No doubt this ability to enjoy and appreciate the journey, rather than focus solely on the results, will help Daneliya slay whatever goals she sets for herself and conquer any challenges that pop up in her life from here on out. We say well done to the Kazakh queen!
Are you proud of Daneliya’s journey on America’s Got Talent? Do you think she should continue to expand her horizons beyond her homeland? What do you hope is next for her? Let us know in the comments below!
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