'America's Got Talent' Quarterfinals Part 1 Preview: The Live Shows Begin at Radio City Music Hall
'America's Got Talent' Quarterfinals Part 1 Preview: The Live Shows Begin at Radio City Music Hall
Bill King
Bill King
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
After what seemed like an endless number of trips through some of America's greatest cities (and Los Angeles), we have finally arrived at the live shows of America's Got Talent, at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

It's quite the upgrade from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, which they basically still billed as New York City anyway. It's like when Kevin McCallister gets off the plane in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and sees Midtown Manhattan from the airport window. Sorry, Mr. Culkin, both LaGuardia and JFK are in Queens, and Newark Liberty is in Newark. No views like that at any of our airports.

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As the first 12 quarter-finalists get set to take the stage tonight, I am happy to report that all but one of my "one acts to watch" advanced past Las Vegas, and the only one who didn't was a co-one act to watch with gay opera sensation Jonathan Allen. Even though Paul Thomas Mitchell (or Tommy Mitchell, if you prefer) came up short with his Maroon 5 cover, he still had one of the best auditions of the season. 

Also, if you consider some of the travesties that DID advance, you could argue Paul/Tommy and several others seriously got the shaft. Tummy Talk, the Struck Boyz, 2Unique, Tone the Chiefrocca, SensEtion and Aaralyn and Izzy have no place in this contest. But since the folks at AGT were nice enough to offer a heads-up as to who will be in group one, we can analyze the studs and the duds later in each preview article. 

I'm assuming we're going to have five quarterfinal shows with 12 acts each and the top four moving on. Then a sixth live show will feature the YouTube acts, rounding out our top 24 semifinalists.

Here's a summary of the first group, what I expect and who I think will be moving on. I see seven with potential. Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments section at the bottom!

Branden James: Branden is one of our two gay opera singers with the unaccepting parents, though his mom seems to have come a long way since his audition. That alone puts him a step behind Jonathan Allen, whose parents kicked him out on his 18th birthday; plus, he's not quite as polished. But he should move on with a good performance.

Aaralyn and Izzy: Howard Stern was right when he said this act couldn't advance past Las Vegas. But somehow they did. And now we have to listen to a little girl scream again. Woo.

Special Head: I'm not gonna lie. I love this guy. But not 100% for his illusions. It's for his dedication to the character. Every time, he tells the story of how his travels led him to a guru who taught him to manipulate his body, and he sticks to it, with his cane and his not smiling. His tricks are good enough to move on, but he took a slight step back in Vegas. He could go either way. 

Fresh Faces: Cute and bubbly kid dancers. But they're nowhere near the cream of the dance crop.

Anna Christine: Here's how I described her after her audition. "The 30-year-old girl trapped in a 10-year-old's body who looks like a 20-year-old but has the beautiful version of a 40-year-old smoker's voice. That kid was awesome." She could make the semis, but I don't see her winning anything.

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Kevin Downey, Jr.: We don't know much about him, other than that fact that he's a comedian with a very similar name to a Hollywood star who bounces around on the stage like a weirdo. We haven't heard more than a joke or two, but he'd have to be hilarious for America to warm up to him and send him through. I'm surprised he made it this far.

American Hitmen: The rock band of ex-Marines is the closest thing to a favorite in this first group. I presently have a top six list I consider the best of the best, and they're not on it, but I'd be shocked if they didn't advance.

Hype: One of the best dance groups of the season because they actually tell a story with their moves. Also should be an easy advance. 

Tellavision: They dance around with TVs that compliment their moves, but even "What a Wonderful World" wasn't enough to add inspiration to their last performance. They have an original act, but the gimmick isn't enough if the dancing and story aren't there. 

Alexandria the Great: I was not impressed with her daring escape from the bottom of the pool, but then again I'm very skeptical of most escape artists in general. It strikes me as a gimmick and an illusion, like there's always a fail-safe to protect the person. Then it just involves knowing how to pick a lock and having a touch of show(wo)manship.

Kristef Brothers: These guys are your standard strongman act, but they add a twist of comedy to their routine. Howie Mandel did not appreciate the tone change, but I agree with Howard that it adds a fresh take to it. It's still a bit strange to watch their best friend manlove in those costumes.

Collins Key: This is another guy I love and he could, in fact, become the heartthrob of magic that he wishes to become. He definitely needs to come out with a trick as big as the venue, and he could use a bit more showmanship to go with his good looks. His previous tricks, while amazing, were small and done directly with the judges, so I'm not sure if he can handle the big stage. I'm pulling for him though. 

So that's the roundup of the acts we'll see tonight. I think American Hitmen and Hype are locks, and I round up my preliminary assessment by putting through Collins Key and the Kristef Brothers, but I could see Branden James, Special Head and Anna Christine eking out a spot in the semifinals, and possibly Alexandria the Great if she stuns me by doing something spectacular. But we'll certainly reassess after the performances. Who are your favorite acts from this group? 

You can watch America's Got Talent Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9pm on NBC.

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(Image courtesy of NBC)