The first 12 semifinalists of America's Got Talent season 9 performed last night. Once again, America got to vote (or gets to, if you're reading this before noon) for their favorite acts to move on to the next round.
As Nick Cannon predicted in the first five minutes of last night's two-hour competition, the time was going to fly by, and it certainly did. It was, for this viewer, one of the easiest collections of performances to evaluate. We're to that point, people, where we're no longer asking ourselves who should get another crack at the brass ring, but who shouldn't. There is a difference. On one hand, we are looking for who to advance; on the other, we are looking for reasons to kick people out. That second one is the hand we are dealing right now.
America's Got Talent Recap: The Semifinals Begin >>>
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The Wild Cards Were Wilder Than Expected
Listen, my colleague Bill King provided an excellent diatribe on the
lack of logic of the judges' wild card choices. In short, Flight Crew Jump Rope seemed a sure thing and Mike Super had a decent chance provided he drop his guardian angel, but the Bad Boys of Ballet was a shock. No worries, though, they most likely won't be advancing tonight due to some errors and a lack of stellar commentary from Howard Stern.
The First 12 Are the Hardest
Some performers love to be first so they can set the bar, or so they can just get it over with and relax (?). Others prefer to be last so they know what they are up against. I'd rather be somewhere in between. As far as firsts and lasts go, America's Got Talent knows how to schedule 'em for a rousing evening of start-to-finish entertainment. The evening started out with an energetic and fun performance by Flight Crew Jump Rope and ended spectacularly with Emily West in the pimp spot. Did the order of events influence the outcome? I'll leave that up to you.
On deck last night were Bad Boys of Ballet, Emily West, David and Leeman, Mike Super, Andrey Moraru, Flight Crew Jump Rope, Paul Ieti, Sons of Serendip, Miguel Dakota, Dan Naturman, Aerial Animation and Mara Justine.
Mistakes Were Made
Bad Boys of Ballet: Already we know Howard wasn't that turned on by them and he has a good point. Their performance didn't give us much of anything new. Howard was very picky, granted, but when we look at the others on the docket from last night, they were not in the top six.
Paul Ieti: I love you, Paul ... kiss kiss ... but the honest truth, as Howie Mandel pointed out, is that Mara did better this time around and there's only one prize. Paul's beautiful big heart broke right there in front of us while he received his critique, but all of America knows his life as a professional singer is only over if he wants it to be. He's an American Icon now. The man has a heart of gold. If nothing else, the USO would eat him up. War touches us all. Man, I cry on the street corner when the boys come home on that big bus and I don't even KNOW anyone in the military. Paul, there is a place for you, you just have to find it.
Aerial Animation: Howard gave Bad Boys crap for the female dancer being off stage for a moment and I didn't even notice it. However, the gal doing the storytelling in Aerial Animation was off screen for an uncomfortable amount of time while being picked up by the bunch of balloons. The act was disjointed last night and has never been that polished.
Flight Crew Jump Rope: The audience favorite who won a Wild Card save made some mistakes last night. Just one or two, but it was a reason to eliminate them for voters who are having a tough time choosing. If they were in town here, I would definitely go see them.
Dan Naterman: This guy has grown on me. Why? Because his jokes are original. Rapport, originality and timing are three of the most important elements of a good, sustainable comedic genius. Unfortunately, last night was not Dan's best performance, falling flat enough that much of the audience didn't laugh. Howie get's Dan's humor, but Heidi Klum gave him a swift kick in the arsch (that's German for 'ass').
David and Leeman: This was a somewhat tough call because this act is a judge favorite. Though they haven't overstayed their welcome, it's time for them to go. The "Which walnut shell is the jelly bean hidden under?" is the oldest trick in the book. Even if the shell is a paper bag and the jelly bean is a spike made of pointy tungsten carbide, there's much better material out there. David and Leeman are charming, but in comparison to the other three magic acts, they don't cut it.
Some Act Advancements Are Indisputable
Emily West: The gal's got pipes all day long. And glamour. And pipes. She's a force. She really is. Howard had all kinds of criticism for Miguel Dakota and couldn't stop himself from calling Mel B.'s taste or mental state into question, but he almost dropped to one knee and kissed Emily's feet. Hands down, she was the best performance of the night. Don't take my word for it, though. You just gotta see and hear it for yourself:
Miguel Dakota: At a very close second was Miguel. Man, he is the whole package. I was so glad when he threw off the hat because those escaping curls were giving a bit of a little boy look, and when I think of Miguel Dakota I sure as hell ain't thinking juvenile thoughts.
Mike Super: My pal, Bill, is gonna dispute this because he wasn't that impressed with Mr. Super's performance last night. The thing is, we all know that magic is all about slight of hand. The magician makes us look at the ceiling while he does something with a hand under the table and we miss it. The degree to which this is impressive is directly proportionate to how impossible we think it is to hide whatever it is the guy's doing under the table, right? well, how about putting triangles on the palms of over 100 audience members. Wha--? Mike blew us all away last night. His act is bigger than favorites Matt Franco and Smoothini and he might actually have a shot at $1 million.
Intuition is Sometimes Right
Sons of Serendip: These guys are amazing. Their music is classic, emotional, and what else can I say? I just feel it in my bones. When it comes down to the final two acts to duke it out, who knows if they can beat the skirt off Emily or Miguel? They will, I guarantee you if given the chance, give the competition a run for their money. Another reason my gut tells me they are in the top six is that their performance was flawless.
The Last Two Acts on My Dance Card
Mara Justine: This little girl with the enormous voice will go forward because she has an amazing voice that knocks the socks off most of the other acts, but that is as far as she'll go because Emily can kick her ass vocally all day every day. Her song choice last night didn't highlight her strongest vocal assets.
Andrey Moraru: He's as graceful as the best ballet dancer without being creepy like contortionists. He's a judge favorite. That's why, despite his mistakes, he is my final pick of those who will go forward tonight.
Remember to Vote...
If you get to this article before noon, you can still vote on Google and on the America's Got Talent website
. You get 10 votes per site. Then tun in with Bill tonight and see if America agrees with you.
You can watch America's Got Talent every Tuesday and Wednesday night at 9pm on NBC.
(Image and video courtesy of NBC)