We've reached week four of America's Got Talent
five-week quarterfinal period, with another 12 acts performing. With three individual singers, a band and a choir slated to perform, it looks like musicians are in for a tough time distinguishing themselves tonight. On the other hand, comedian Taylor Williamson, easily the strongest comedian of the audition period, will stand out by default, but might have a tough time wrangling fans from the bigger, showier acts. I'll be live-blogging the proceedings right here.
Live blog starts now:
3 Penny Chorus and Orchestra
This choral group performs another classically inspired take on a pop song, this time "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift. While the comic dichotomy is the main hook, I'm a huge fan of the entirely credible classical arrangement -- who knew Taylor Swift could be so thoroughly improved by counter-melody and key changes? The judges are hung up on the fact that they already get the so-called joke, but the audience is clearly on their side; I really do hope they get a good vote turnout, because they're a great combination of talent and entertainment.
Up next is the tomboyish kid singer Chloe Channell, singing "Done" by The Band Perry. Save for one ill-timed swallow, it's a startlingly professional performance -- I'm always a little put-off by kid singers performing material about adult relationships, but I can't argue with the voice here.
This 14-person family basketball-twirling troop didn't get all that much time in the audition segment, but they get the audience on their feet tonight. I'm a little blown away that something this holistically cheesy is on my television right now, but I can't say part of me isn't charmed.
This dance troop uses a high-tech technique called video mapping, in which they project images onto the stage exactly like five or six other acts. As Howard notes, Kenichi raised the bar on this type of routine last week, and sensEtion's performance is all over the map -- most of the time they seem to be performing some kind of abstract psychedelic disco Apple commercial, but they undermine their own artsiness by dropping in oddly literal imagery like a dog in a box and an American Flag. End of the road for these guys.
I don't even remember seeing these kids' audition, but I think they might be the best band still in the competition, with a maximum age of 14, no less. They play a pretty kick-ass version of "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath, with standouts including an awesome nine-year-old drummer and a great shreddy lead guitar. I do feel for the singer here tonight: she does just fine, but she's called out by every single judge for failing to live up to the band around her -- the bass player isn't anything special, either, but he gets by unscathed.
After that comes strength/acrobatic act and Magic Mike extra Timber Brown, throwing some nice poses while spinning really fast from a twirling globe. I'm honestly not really engaging with this one, but the judges are absolutely blown away by it, crowning it the best act of the night.
This girl has a great voice, plays piano well and is insanely pretty -- I think she might have a shot here. Bradley plays a beautiful stripped-down version of Cher's "Believe," and finds a heart in the song that most people probably never even knew was there in the original. Her version of this song is going to tear up iTunes, and Cami will be back in two weeks for the semifinals.
Tummy Talk was one of those acts that many felt hurt the show's credibility by passing, and that's more or less borne out here. To their credit, Tummy Talk doesn't just repeat the audition: they incorporate instrumental percussion, costumes and a story. Unfortunately, they are a fun gimmick act that shouldn't have been passed through in the first place.
I like this guy. He enters the stage to "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, and closes by listing a standing ovation on his to-do list and getting one. To be fair, I do partially agree with his chief detractors, Mel and Heidi, that some of the material misses -- the joke about jihad would have worked better 10 years ago -- but as Howie notes, stand-up is about more than the sum of its parts, and he's a very good performer.
This synthetic ice skating act is just as awesome as it was in auditions, but it suffers from being pretty much exactly the same routine as before, right down to the framing of the aerial elements. I guess it might be unfair to criticize them for being monotonously brilliant, but that's what they are.
David has been great at coming up with creative ways to almost kill himself, but he's had a hard time shaping his act: he starts with extreme danger, and continues until he's arbitrarily done. The same is true tonight: David juggles fire upside-down above a vat of gasoline, but the climax is him counting to 50.
Though he's best known as a coal-loving small-town veteran, viewers might be surprised to learn that Jimmy Rose is also a musician. He finger-picks "Heaven" by Heart, earning a standing ovation from the crowd but thoroughly reserved praise from the judges.
That's another evening of America's Got Talent in the can; get your votes in and check back here for the results!