Good Lord, how many times am I going to have to type out the same cities, just in different combinations? I am just not a fan of the format this season on America's Got Talent
, and I personally think it's affecting the quality of the acts, or at least how they're portrayed to us.
In seasons past, we've more or less (with occasional exceptions) viewed the performances from each location, as a whole, in one or two complete parts. Therefore, we got to see the best and worst each city had to offer in one or two sittings. That made "the one act to watch" in New York or San Francisco a choice between the upper echelon. But all the jumping around has seriously diluted the talent pool.
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Let's recap: we started out in New York, Los Angeles and San Antonio, then traveled to New Orleans and San Antonio. Then it was off to Chicago before more acts from New York and LA, then back to Chicago and a third installment (that was oddly only 40 minutes) from San Antonio. Then next week, we're -- ta-da -- headed back to New Orleans? Oh well, at least I have Heidi Klum's previously-seen super-low cut revealing black top to look forward to.
I also feel like there haven't been a ton of hugely original acts. It's the same clusterbomb of singers, dancers and acrobats, with the occasional stunt team thrown in. I'd be hard-pressed to choose a "one to watch" for the entire audition process so far. Here's hoping there are hidden gems that we won't be seeing until Las Vegas and beyond.
Anyway, enough of my ranting. On to the acts!
First, a roundup of the advancing acts I'm not recommending you watch:
The chick with the dog was good, and said dog could probably hack it with season 7 winner Olate Dogs, but c'mon, after what brought down the house last year, one pooch is pittance and has no chance.
The basketball twirling version of the Waltons is impressive, for sure, but it's too busy to really follow and there's only so much you can do. Without the hook of being related, the fact that they ride giant unicycles wouldn't hold up to a real acrobatic dunking team, and look how far those have gone.
The country singer girl, the weird beard guitar player, the group of 26 acrobats and dancers, the 12-year-old singer and the group of seemingly Asian girls doing Indian-style dancing with the choreographed hand motions were all talented, but just more of the same old. And even the dancers who incorporated the TV screens weren't gimmicky enough to over-impress.
As for the 10-year-old DJ and out-of-breath rapper, the podunk Indiana hip-hop dancer and the four-foot four-inch tall rapping Native American Jesus brothers, well, they've certainly got the gimmick. But I don't expect any of them to be able to work their magic a second or third time.
The weird version of Bruno Mars was certainly intriguing, and his personality does make you want to see more. But his song was so borderline horrible that the act will fall apart once it actually IS horrible.
And finally, how many awesome-sounding gay opera singers with disapproving parents can we highlight? Is this really a more prevalent issue than we've realized? And my apologies to Branden James, but Jonathan Allen's parents kicked him out on his 18th birthday and he hasn't seen them since. Your mom was there cheering you on and crying. He wins. Or loses. Or I guess you both lose when it comes to your parents condemning your God-given lifestyle that no one has any natural control over. But, hey, I can't sing like either of you. So count your blessings, you damn angels.
Now to the acts with star potential. The Iraq war vets who capped the show with a rock band performance were among the best, considering both talent and backstory. But I just can't sell myself on whether they're anything more than just a highly entertaining bar band. Plus, I feel like we're going to get a healthy dose of Skynyrd and other redneck-y southern anthems. Still, it's inspiring and fun to watch again.
Here's where it gets tough because I'm going back and forth between the last two. But since Howard Stern is desperate for a rock band and for a magician, I might as well keep them together. So the runner-up this week is juggler/stunt man David Ferman.
He definitely scores points for originality, and if he can ramp up the danger without blowing himself (or anyone else) up in the process, he could really go far. But he also has to be careful not to screw up while staying fresh, and that's going to be the challenge for him.
That means my one act to watch for (this round of) the Chicago/San Antonio auditions is the Chicago Boyz and their acrobatic jump roping.
I'll be honest, I don't know if I'd have picked them if they didn't have the nine-year-old boy they used as a human jump rope, but I'm interested to see what else they can do with that little guy. There is also huge potential here to mess up a lot of things (including a nine-year-old boy!), so it's extremely important to put together nearly flawless routines. But how insanely difficult is it to time all those flips to avoid a rope?