Can Celine Tam make it to America’s Got Talent finals after being slammed by judge Mel B for second time?
Former Spice Girl says child star’s performance was no ‘magical journey’ even as Simon Cowell calls it ‘massive step up’
Nine-year-old singer Celine Tam Tsz-kwan is hoping that her rendition of a Disney song will be enough to make her dream of reaching the finals of America’s Got Talent come true, after getting mixed reviews from the celebrity judging panel.
The Hong Kong child star took to the talent contest stage for the fourth time on Tuesday night, local time, kicking off the semi-finals show with Auli’i Cravalho’s Oscar-nominated hit How Far I’ll Go, from the Disney movie Moana.
“I wish I could be the perfect daughter,” she sang, wearing a pastel outfit as she stood in front of a projection of clouds.
“My biggest dream is to win America’s Got Talent and hopefully meet Celine Dion,” she told the audience after her Broadway-style performance.
Celine is up against other young performers, including 10-year-old Angelica Hale, who closed the show on Tuesday night with a powerful rendition of David Guetta’s Without You, prompting all four of the judges to get to their feet. Supermodel Heidi Klum even told Angelica that she was her “personal favourite”.
In the face of such fierce competition, Celine’s dream could be out of reach if fans agree with former Spice Girl Mel B, who hit out at her song choice for a second time.
“For me the song was way too musical theatre,” the judge said, as the audience booed. “I know you can go lower and higher and take us on a magical journey. You didn’t give us that.”
But the other judges disagreed, with the notoriously tough Simon Cowell looking awestruck as he said: “Wow, wow, wow.”
“This was a massive, massive step up. The song was perfect for you. The way you controlled the song was fantastic.”
— Frank Summers (@Ashlandian) September 13, 2017
Fans took to social media during the performance and, as with Celine’s previous performances, the reception was overwhelmingly positive.
“Just because Mel B is dressed up in a Frozen-themed ensemble, doesn’t mean she needed to be so cold to little Celine,” one wrote, referring to another Disney movie.
“Celine singing Moana is everything I needed to turn today around,” another viewer tweeted.
Celine’s fate in the competition will once again be decided by the American viewing public, who can vote for their favourite performer. She will find out if she has made it to the final during a live results show on Thursday morning, Hong Kong time.
If Celine gets through to the final, she will compete against nine other acts next week for the grand prize of US$1 million.
Celine had taken to social media ahead of her big performance, telling followers she felt “great and excited”, and asking them to give her their support.
Father of Hong Kong-born America’s Got Talent star Celine Tam answers allegations of cashing in on daughter’s success
She has won fans the world over since shooting to stardom in June, when a clip of her audition, in which she sang her namesake Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, went viral.
She has since performed on the America’s Got Talent stage twice more, winning praise from Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox for her rendition of Michael Bolton’s How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, but copping criticism from former Spice Girl Mel B after belting out Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s ballad When You Believe, from the movie The Prince of Egypt.
Celine began singing at age three, and was coached by her father, singing teacher Steve Tam Shun-sang, who calls himself “Dr Steve”.
In 2015, Celine also sang on the British version of the talent show, and at Hong Kong’s National Day reception in front of guests including then chief executive Leung Chun-ying.