America's Got Talent Review: Not Everything Stays In Vegas Week
There sure are a lot of hours of America’s Got Talent on each week, but I guess it takes time to widdle all of the acts down to just 48 lucky entertainers. On Tuesday’s show the judges got down to business and told some performers “thanks for coming but you will not be staying….because you are going directly to Hollywood!” Those lucky people, who were at first greatly disappointed and then very excited were: The Silhouettes, Squawk Opera, Lys Agnes, Professor Splash, the Rhinestone Ropers, the Fearless Flores Family, Melissa Villasenor, the Captain and Maybelle, Team iLuminate, and the Miami All-Stars. For the judges their performances didn’t need a second chance to impress, so hopefully they will be ready when they get to L.A. I can’t imagine Professor Splash sticking around much longer.
The judges reviewed the audition tapes on a bus and decided to divide the remaining contestants into two groups, the “Favorites” and the “Standbys.” If you have ever been standby for a plane you know right off the bat that most of the second group isn’t going anywhere. The favorites performed on Tuesday and the rest performed on Wednesday and the ones the judges picked will fill out the rest of the 48. Which seems like a lot of performers to me, but I also wonder why they don’t just add two more acts to round it out to the top 50.
The “favorite” acts were split up into groupings of magicians, singers, jugglers and dancers. For the singers, Cindy Chang’s dream of being the next Susan Boyle were dashed by her very nervous and “warbly” performance, and 90′s sounding group 4Play were sent home as well. The judges did give Bieber clone Dani Shay a second chance after she completely blanked during an original song. It’s obvious she has the singing chops and the judges wanted to hear something they already knew. For her second performance she did a wonderful rendition of Ray Lamontange’s Trouble. Why they gave Dani a second chance and not Cindy, I don’t know, but I am glad they did.
Also making it through to Hollywood were: singing sister act Mona Lisa, magician Scott Alexander, comedians Geechy Guy and J. Chris Newberg, dance group Fatally Unique (worst dance group name ever), bands PopLyfe and Fiddleheads, the Yellow Designs Stunt Team, juggler and impaler Frank Miles, the on fire juggling of Charles Peachock, singers Shay and Meeks, and the crazy athletic and strangely hypnotizing pole dancer Stephen Retchless. The talking parrot Echo, who wasn’t really into performing without a crowd made it through the second audition as well. Because Howie
loves them, and knows that Piers
hates them, the dancing gnomes, Funny Little People, are also moving to the next round.
Joining them in Hollywood are some of my favorite acts: the Kinetic King and his Popsicle stick kinetic sculptures, street dancer Snap Boogie (I wish he had a different name) and the car washer who is also the reincarnated Sinatra, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. Lady Gaga wannabe Daniel Joseph Baker made it through despite throwing his foot up on the piano and almost ruining his audition. I fully agree with the judges about letting Costa Rica’s Mauricio
go to Hollywood. Despite the haircut the shiny shirts, tight pants, and lounge lizard performances, he always manages to entertain me.
On Wednesday the “standby” acts got a chance to prove their worth in front of the judges. Even though these are the performers who didn’t make the first cut or were not on the favorites list, they’re still some of the stronger acts on the show. Wednesday’s episode proves that America’s Got Talent can have a good solid show in an hour and not have to put on three hour marathons like they usually do.
First the magicians took the stage. Landon Swank did a whimsical levitation illusion (they’re not tricks) using balloons and his fiance. Seth Grabel pulled off his illusion despite a clumsy mistake by one of his assistants. Mistakes aside I prefer these magicians over the ones who made it through already.
Then it was the kids turn. I don’t think any of these kid acts should go to Hollywood. I’m not trying to be mean, but I find a lot of their acts very affected and I wouldn’t go see some kid sing or dance just because they’re a kid. With that said, dancer Tanner (a.k.a. Lil T), age 6, was adorable as he hip-hop danced around the stage. The youthful excitement of Avery and the Calico Hearts was contagious. Sh’Boss Boys did their thing, (w)raping. And Eleven-year-old Anna Graceman sang an inappropriate-for-her-age Adele song. She has a great voice but I just don’t buy her singing that song. She has no connection to it (because she’s 11) so her performance goes from impressive to gimmicky. Since she is in all of the promos and seems to be a fan favorite I suspect I’m going to sit through a number of her performances. The judges know what gets them ratings so they let all of the kids through except Tanner who was told he wasn’t going to Hollywood with his mom by his side. It was the cutest rejection ever.
A few more dance groups went through, like the bondage themed female dancers that had Piers drooling by the end. And Sam B, the bigger than life “dancer” did a inadvertently (belly) revealing routine which got him a ticket to Hollywood. The judges pulled a “we can’t decide, so we are going to have America decide” (did you read that in Sharon’s voice?) and sent him on to Hollywood. I’m fine with letting any weird or unorthodox or even kinda bad acts through on America’s Got Talent because that’s what the show is for, showcasing entertainers you wouldn’t see anywhere else.
For example the danger acts! Fire is a theme this year with the danger acts. They all seemed to be on fire, literally. The trilling Sandou Russian Bar Trio even incorporated fire into their balance bar routine. The Smage Brothers and their uncanny bike abilities made the judges, especially Sharon, squirm in their seats, but both acts made it through.
The novelty category featured one of my favorite acts - Meet Me at Fairfax and 3rd. The octogenarian duo of a piano-player and a handstand-er (?) revealed they rehearsed for three whole hours. As one of them played the piano the other peeled a banana, took off his shoes, and started to do a handstand on a chair when a cell phone started ringing. He, of course, stopped doing a handstand and answered it. They were obviously not moving on but it was one hell of a great way to go. Some kid with a yo-yo and a juggler did though.
Whew, that’s a lot. But I am looking forward to next week to see what these 48 great American acts show us next. 48 is still seems like a lot of acts to me.
Season 6, Episodes 10 and 11 (originally aired July 5 and 6, 2011)
America’s Got Talent airs Tues/Wednesdays at 8pm EST on NBC.
For another opinion, check out “Top 48 and Vegas, Baby!” by Kelley Lynn.
Photos courtesy of NBC and Chris Haston.