America's Got Talent
Season 8 premiered Tuesday night to 10.9 million viewers, down a smidge from last season's opener but also way up from the Season 7 finale. It was still the top show of the night, thanks in no small part to the combination of Howard Stern and some smoking new judges.
Nothing against Miss Sharon Osbourne, but even at age 40, Heidi Klum may be the perfect woman. Even if she spells "booty" with an i and says "I had an itch" when she means "I was itching to dance." And I'll take Mel B.'s British accent any day of the week.
The premiere was as much about the new judges' interactions with Howard and Howie Mandel as it was about the talent America possesses without which there would be no show, but I will say that they definitely seemed like they were all having fun. Some have expressed a concern that reality shows die once the entire original judging panel is replaced, but I have hope that won't happen since the most popular judge didn't even sign on until Season 7.
Howard Stern has such a loyal following, and the addition of my REAL one to watch, Heidi Klum, can only help. I mean, if you were Howard and Howie, who would you rather sit next to? Piers Morgan?
But I digress. In between all the horrid waste-of-time acts and judges' banter, there were actually some memorable performances. The premiere oddly covered three locations (New York City, Los Angeles and San Antonio), which leads me to believe they either made more stops OR they're shortening up the audition process to get to the live shows faster.
Either way, there were more than a dozen acts that stood out above the rest. But which will go the farthest, you ask? That's the purpose of this "One to Watch" article, as I'll make my best guesses after each audition show as to which act has the meddle to withstand the tests of time and originality while also avoiding common pitfalls.
The premiere had all the classic success stories. There was the Pacific Boys Choir, an impressive comedienne/impersonator out of the game for five years, a shirtless Asian yoga dude performing an aerial routine for the first time ever, hot chicks clogging, a guy with a doll and a green screen and even crazy dancing hat guy and Special Head the levitator.
And you have to mention the three Hype dancers who "threw" their routine together overnight, the 60-member choir and orchestra that somehow made "Call Me Maybe" even more annoying and the 30-year-old girl trapped in a 10-year-old's body who actually looks 20 but has the beautiful version of a 40-year-old smoker's voice. That kid was awesome.
Here's the act that everyone is talking about: Modern silhouette dance troupe Catapult. They are NOT my act to watch.
Look, I was just as impressed with them as everyone else. They were original, talented, likable and, most importantly, they told a story and told it well. But novelty dance acts like this (particularly ones that are so much more impressive in person) don't tend to win it all.
There is constant pressure for each performance to top the last, and they eventually fizzle. Look at last season alone. Light Wire Theater, the sand painter, even David Garbaldi and his CMYK painters, all kind of turned into the same-old, same-old after weeks of seeing it following the initial standout performance that it usually failed to live up to.
I enjoyed the act, and I genuinely hope they prove me wrong, but it's so hard to come up with multiple coherent stories that you can tell by twisting your body. And as soon as the viewer loses the story, the act loses the vote.
No, my one to watch this week might be a bit controversial. It's Kentucky country singer Marty Brown.
Yes, it was disingenuous to portray a guy with four record-label albums and one song that made it on the Billboard Hot Country chart as an old newbie dragged to the audition by his wife to chase his dream. And yes, he's not one of your cookie-cutter inspirational auditions of someone who doesn't know how good he actually is until the audience lifts him up. But the guy is totally this season's Tom Cotter. He's polished. He's been there.
Marty Brown may have released four studio albums, but they were all more than 15 years ago, way back in the early to mid 1990s. He certainly wasn't a commercial success, with his one song reaching No. 74 on the country chart. That doesn't even qualify him for one-hit wonder status (and yeah, yeah, we'll get to Tone the Chiefrocca). He probably quit because it got too hard, and always felt like he came up short. To me, that gives his story some credibility.
I don't care if you think Marty is a big 'ol fake, because those tears from the audience members and his wife were real. So were his after the standing ovation he got. The guy is a seasoned pro, and as long as he brings that emotion every week, I think he'll go far. His wife summed it up best after his performance. "It's time to put your star back in the sky, where it belongs."
But enough about Marty. Here's what you were all humming after the show. Hard to believe he wrote it a decade ago, and we're only hearing it now...
You can watch America's Got Talent Tuesdays at 9pm on NBC.