'America's Got Talent' Recap: The Top 12 Perform
'America's Got Talent' Recap: The Top 12 Perform
Bill King
Bill King
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Before I get to the fact that we're down to our top 12 acts of America's Got Talent season 9 and that we're getting ever closer to crowning our million-dollar champion, I first have to address my current situation.

Not that anyone would ever (hopefully) question my dedication, but I spent the entire last week moving from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to Astoria, Queens. It's three times the space for $300 less, but that is the price of living in the big city.

The reason I mention this is because Time Warner is not able to set up cable in my new place until Wednesday, so I left a television, a Wi-Fi router, a modem and a cable box at my old apartment, just so I can be here to enjoy the madness with all of you.

It worked out because I got to spend the last five hours vacuuming the corners, mopping the floors and scrubbing the grapeseed oil my fiance puts on her face every night to prevent "aging" off the shelves of the medicine cabinet. If I could film a commercial testimonial for the Magic Eraser, I would happily do so. I honestly thought I was going to lose my security deposit because of it. 

But now that the apartment is as clean as can be, I will relax on my camping mat under my sleeping bag (I have work at 5am and won't be done with my rankings slideshow until after midnight) and settle in to some serious AGTing. My setup, in case you were curious...

I'm ready to enjoy a night of awesome talent, and I hope you are too! As always, the blog is live, so let's keep the conversation going on our second to last live performance show! (Oh, and if you're like, hey, why does BuddyTV look different? I am wondering the same thing. I did not get a heads-up about a redesign.) On to the show!

The Live Blog Starts Now

Nick Cannon welcomes us to the big show in a gray suit that is both dapper and pajama-like, which means we've only got good things to come. We're not even meeting the judges, so I have no idea what they're wearing, and Mara Justine is up first!

She's only 12, and getting the first spot is indicative of her 12th spot in my Top 12 rankings. She's dead in the water, but I hope she at least goes out with her best performance to date. Will she stay subdued and alone on stage? Or will she mess it up right from the get-go?

She's singing Pink's "Perfect," and the song choice matches the performance. I can't tell if it's my TV or a sound glitch, but there are audio issues. But not with Mara. I've got goosebumps all around, and I'm almost as emotional as she is. Stellar. STELLAR. She could not have done any better.

Mel B. deems it perfect in every single way, Howard calls her the little girl with the big voice and compliments her progression, Howie says she was great and Heidi agrees it was flawless. I've been begging for her to prove me wrong, and she just might have sang her way back into this thing. I'd love to eat my words, and she just earned it, big time. Props to my Jersey girl. 

David and Leeman Try to Top Mat Franco

Nick welcomes us back, and I always appreciate that they put super hot girls in the front row. They always seem to have really long legs. Good producing. David and Leeman are up next, which sticks with the theme of getting the seemingly less-likely-to-advance acts out of the way. Mara proved that wrong, so will the magicians do so as well?

They're both addicted to scratch-off lottery tickets, so they created a ticket where everyone is a winner. The judges will pick the winning numbers, with some help from balloons. Howie goes with 6, Mel B. 69, Heidi 41 and Howard 86. They pop the final unpicked balloon, which contains a scratch-off, and Howard scratches it to reveal three of the four numbers, but the last one is 85 instead of 86. The back of the ticket says that if any number is wrong, Howard gets David's and Leeman's jackets, which they remove to show that written on their backs is that Howard will be off by one.

The judges offer positive advice, but the ending was anticlimactic. It's fine to do the "off by one" thing, but it being hidden under the jacket was not as impressive as it would have been if all four numbers had matched the scratch-off. They clearly could have done that, but the twist was a miss. 

Sons of Serendip Goes Too Early

I'm seriously hoping that order doesn't affect the voting as much as it usually does because these guys are one of my favorites. They talk about getting inspirational feedback from a viewer, and it's what they do for everyone. 

From the first notes of Duran Duran's "Ordinary World," I've got chills. I just plain love these guys. In general, I am always pulling for non-singer acts to win, because there are plenty of singing reality shows, but I can't help but root for these guys. They are phenomenal. 

All the judges give them a standing ovation, and Howard compliments their growth and their ability to read the audience. Heidi calls it beautiful and majestic, Mel says they stepped it up and delivered, and Howie dubs them the best pure singers in the competition. Then he mentions Twitter talking about Mara's acoustics, and he hopes Radio City corrected it in time for theses guys. 

Christian Stoinev Goes Solo

Our hand-balancing dog trainer is finally taking my advice and leaving Scoobs out of the act. He was really down after his last performance and thought he was eliminated, but he was the judges' choice, so he's getting back to his roots to take advantage of the opportunity. 

The pooch is still in the intro, and then Scooby 2 starts off by balancing on a ball before hopping into his crate. Then it's all about Christian, and he does some impressive tricks elevated above the stage, but it's nothing quite like his one-finger champagne bottle trick. He does a backflip off his platform, but he should've kept the dogs out of it entirely.

Heidi thinks he's an amazing balancer, but she begs him to find a better balance between dog and him. Mel B. calls it one of his best performances to date, and Howie says it's amazing. Howard is "so pleased" with him and is happy that Christian took his advice. I dunno. Didn't do it for me. He has to pick dog or no dog. 

Emil and Dariel Take a Chance

The two rock and roll cellists have to do something different from their previous performances, or it will be more of the same. They bring their mother in for the intro, and she gets emotional seeing her sons remind her so much of her father. Her tears will certainly help them, but it's up to them to push it over the top.

They have the full band again, and it's Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." This song in particular would have been amazing with a vocalist involved, but the solely instrumental version just lacks any punch. It's too sleepy, and I hate to say it, but it's a miss. They have some people in the background sing the chorus, but it's too subdued to hit hard enough for them to make the finals.

Mel B. says "yes" a bunch of times over and over and over before calling it massive and telling them they're special. Howie loves Steven Tyler, and tonight, he didn't miss Steven Tyler. I did. 

Howard calls them phenomenal, but he says they need a Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth. Heidi has come to expect the unexpected from these two, but she thought this was safe. I'm glad someone got it right, even though Howie and Mel B. hammer her for being wrong.

Can AcroArmy Kick It Up Again?

They turned in one of the top performances of the season in the semifinals, and they're going to have to show us more insane new moves to keep it going. They had two finishers last time, and clearly having Ryan back helped. 

They start off with some crazy aerials by the judges' platform, and then they start tossing people around. There's lots of flying and catching and flipping, but I'm still waiting for that "one" move. I thought the best I was going to see was a couple of the girls flipping feet first and getting caught feet first, but then they build momentum and catapult a girl through the air to catchers below. It's great, but not as impressive as their previous closer, and that might hurt them.

Howie just says "wow" over and over, and he calls himself "heckless" -- whatever that means. Howard dubs them one of the best acts in the competition, and he wonders if TV catches the amazing of what they do (hint: it does, but last time was better). Heidi says they proved why they deserve to win, and Mel B. calls them "everything" before spouting off some Britishness and dropping an "off the chain." I don't know. Not as impressive as last time. Everyone is good at this point.

Quintavious Johnson Kicks Off the Second Half

If you were going to split the acts up, you have to imagine they think the second half is the more memorable group. And Quintavious is kicking off that second half. He knows everyone on the crew now, which is an extension of his amicable personality. But can he do anything different?

Choosing Mary J. Blige's "I'm Goin' Down" is a much different avenue for him, and he slays it as fully expected. It's, honestly, exactly what is anticipated at this point, and you have to wonder if brilliance is enough to overcome a lack of growth (when growth is not necessarily necessary). This mini MJ, or similar to when MJ was mini, has a career regardless, and he's spectacular, but I wouldn't be surprised if America takes another route.

Howard cites his special terrific-ness and dubs him a contender, Heidi thinks he's fun to watch in the Stevie Wonder sense, Mel B. says he could easily win this and Howie seconds that.

Mike Super Tries to Top Mat Franco

He wasn't my favorite of the advancing magic acts, and he employed Howard Stern prior to this. America's Judge signed something and shoved it down his pants, and Mike predicted something 10 days ago based on the audience's spending habits. Howard then opens that which has been most precious to him since Supes gave it to him.

Mike has Nick shuffle a bunch of cards and deal out eight of them, face down. He has a couple one-dollar bills from audience members, and then he throws Nick into a cash booth with them. The wind machine turns on, and Nick grabs one single bill, steps out and shows the bill to the camera. The serial number on the bill matches the cards that were laid out, and then Supes lights Howard's paper on fire to reveal the same number.

It's a solid trick that is quite baffling, but the overall show didn't sell me. Heidi loves it, though, and Mel B. calls it crazy and entertaining. I find it crazy, but not that entertaining. Howie lauds that Mike was his save pick, and Howard says he killed it and that dropping Desmond was the best thing he could have done.

Blue Journey Gets Some Help

These two don't necessarily deserve to go this late in the show. They have yet to put together a quality combination of dance, visuals and story into a mind-blowing routine, but the potential is there. Can they step up like Mara did?

The dude dances in front of a bunch of projected doors, before the chick busts through the wall and gets puppeted by an animated hand. She dances into some spotlights that appear from above, and then she jumps off stage before reappearing and marionette-ing it up a bit more. They do some cool ladder climbing with the background, but there is no discernible story.

Mel B. calls them unique, which she loves, but she found it repetitive and boring. She liked the ladder part, though. Howie wanted more, but Howard dismisses both and calls it dazzling. Meh. Heidi never ceases to be amazed.

Rapid Fire Emily West

We're jumping right to the phenomenal frontrunner Emily West. Her intro is her singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," a la Katharine McPhee's best American Idol performance, and I'm wishing that would be what she'd sing live. 

Instead, it's "Nights in White Satin," and while it's spectacular as usual, it's not as mind-blowing as what she's done before. That is, until the final notes, which I can only describe as awe-inspiring. But I don't know if the total package delivered with the same intensity as we're used to.

Heidi thinks she's perfect, Mel B. says she nailed it, Howie finds her haunting and Howard lauds her decision to pick The Moody Blues.

Mat Franco is On Deck

I was really hoping he'd get the pimp spot because he deserves it way more than Miguel Dakota. His intro is all about his brothers, who were playing sports while their nerdy brother was in his room doing magic. But it's all paid off, and they couldn't be prouder. The whole thing honestly makes me root for him even more. 

He has Mel B. put her cell phone on top of a tiny box, then he flips the cards to the camera, telling AMERICA to pick a card. King of Hearts, I choose. He shoots a cannon up to the ceiling, and the card that is stuck to the ceiling is the damn King of Hearts. He then has Howard pull a card, the 4 of Spades, and he makes Howard put his John Hancock on it. Then Mat has the other judges mix up the deck before making the 4 of Spades reappear on the top of the deck each time. Then at the end, Mel B. opens the box to find the Howard-signed 4 of Spades.

The judges love him, and America does too. Let's just put him through already. He's a pro, and the work ethic shines through. 

Miguel Dakota Gets the Pimp Spot

It's a sign that they want this dude in the final, cause at this point, I don't anticipate him putting forward the best performance of the night. So far, he hasn't hit hard enough for me, particularly with his rendition of a White Stripes classic. I think it's all about song choice.

He's going with the full band again, and it's the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter." It hits much harder because of the strength of the backup singers, and I imagine the pimp spot mixed with his sex appeal will propel him through. But there's just too much going on at once, and everything kind of blends together. 

Heidi believes his voice got lost in the loudness, but Mel B. disagrees and calls him a fully-fledged rock star. Howard is rooting for Miguel, but he doesn't think he lived up to Mick Jagger. Howie calls him the biggest star AGT has seen in nine years, which seems a bit extreme. 

So ... Yeah

Voting is now open, and America will decide which six acts move on. If I had my druthers? We're talking about Mara Justine, AcroArmy, Sons of Serendip, Quintavious Johnson, Emily West and Mat Franco. I know that's four singers, some acrobats and a magician, but that's who I think earned a spot in the finals.

No one surprised me more than Mara Justine, and she's in a tough spot going first and having audio issues, so my predictions will differ from who I think should be in the Top 6. But that's a conversation for Wednesday.

So who did you love, and who do you think came up short? Who are your Top 6, and who is going to end up watching the finals from the Reddi-wip After Party? Be sure to watch along with BuddyTV Wednesday night to find out. See you then!

You can watch America's Got Talent every Tuesday and Wednesday night at 9pm on NBC.

Want to add America's Got Talent to your very own watch-list? Download BuddyTV Guide for free for your phone.

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)