Tonight, 150 contestants will perform for 20 remaining spots in New York. These are the "standby" acts that inexplicably got a chance over the Bandbaz Brothers. At 1:00 am, performance day, Turf is performing on the Vegas strip. the next morning, he is late to the stage and a producer has to come get him. Nick Cannon goes to the group to pep them up. They are more than just "standbys" to him.
Magic is up first, much to my delight. The first act is Hawley Magic, who does a double levitation. Howard wasn't impressed. Giani is a mentalist, but not as good as Eric Dittelman. He wrote down his "predictions" of what the three judges would say, but oddly wrote "Bilan" instead of "Milan" for Sharon's place. "There's no place called Bilan," Sharon tells him.
Jarrett & Raja consider themselves the next Siegfried & Roy. They do large-scale illusions, and for their Vegas performance, they bring out an entire orchestra from a tiny red box. That was cute, and the other magicians were intimidated.
The next category is Bands. Boy rockers, The All Ways tell us they "go crazy" when they perform, but their energy was underwhelming to me as a rock band. The other bands were impressed, though. Wordspit, the Illest! take a play on "New York, New York," and The All Ways deem them the competition. It's a lot going on for me, but maybe I'm tired. The Hillbenders were cute, and Dillon Havins and Friends will always make me laugh. I loved him going around, eating an ice cream cone, asking questions only the annoying little brother in an 80s movie would ask.
The Emily Anne Band was quite talented, I think. They're my favorite of the bands, despite the matching leopard dresses. I also like the Distinguished Men of Brass, who brought more energy than The All Ways if you ask me. I liked their little bit at the end with the splits.
The danger category is next. The standby danger acts. LionDanceMe is up first, and nobody jumped on anyone's head or fell this time. Cliff's Demo Team beat the crap out of Cliff, which I won't deny enjoying, and Kota Sports almost made razor scooters cool. Then there's this guy with the cobra who puts scorpions in his mouth. How annoying. Serengeti Steve had cockroaches in his mouth, just for effect, then he took the snake out of the basket and threw it around. I am not into this act at all.
Kid acts! Don't you just love them. "Some of 'em dance really good and some of 'em sing good," Lil Babywockee said. I won't lie, I love seeing a little six year old popping and locking. Her best Vegas friend, Lil Starr, made up a whole new tap dance. It's still a little pageant-y for me, with the face pulling, but she is talented. Danielle Stallings is actually quite good and I don't know why she hasn't gotten more airtime. The Cos Fam danced, and that act can only last so long before it's creepy. Tevin McGuire was good, but not as good as Danielle Stallings.
Unity in Motion was quite exciting to watch, with their acro dancing, despite a couple mistakes. I like mistakes, they make things more interesting. The Williams Bruthuz have stepped up their game a bit, but I still agree with Howie that it's not a million dollar act. They admitted that not everything went as well as they'd hoped.
There is an entire category for Aerial Acts. Summer Lacy is up first, and she switched to aerial hoop, after doing well on aerial chains in her audition. She's quite likeable, so I want her to do well. That girl is STRONG. I mean, damn, the things she can do! The other aerialists give her props, because hanging by just your neck is difficult to do.
The Benn Mendoza Circus has a lot going on, but I suppose Cirque du Soleil does, too, and that's what they're going for. Less dancing, more aerial stuff, Benn Mendoza Circus. It might have been a hot mess. I think Donovan & Rebecca are the ones to beat in this category. This time they're doing an aerial rope act, and it's got a lot of danger, plus it's thrilling to watch. He spun her around on the rope and she held on with ONE HAND. Give me a break, that is insane.
There's also an entire rap category. I can already tell you that my least favorite act in this category is the cocky The Rhymatist. For his audition, he was dressed like he was applying for a job at Target. Burton Crane is in this group, for some reason, but so is Granny G, so they can be together in their insult to the art form. Rob Hayes was, understandably, not excited to see them in his category, which he takes very seriously. How seriously can you take THIS show, though?
The Rhymatist was boring, Svet played the fiddle/violin as well but Burton couldn't understand him. Granny G had a special surprise for the judges that did not go over well. She ripped her dress off to reveal a burlesque outfit. The judges loved it. Whatcha gonna do, Burton Crane? He is not going to do as well, that's what he's going to do.
We're an hour into this mess, and no closer to a Top 48. Sharon notes that it's interesting to see the acts "without the audience going crazy" behind them. They may be regretting some of their choices. But there's no time to think about that now, the dance acts are up next.
Battle Born, a breaking group from Vegas, performs first, followed by Old Shoes, New Shoes. Old tappers got it goin' on. The Lisa Clark Dancers were just strange and off-putting. The Scott Brothers were the far better, more entertaining, grown-up version of the Williams Bruthuz.
Inspire the Fire is a dance group, and also a show choir. They're dressed for The Sing-Off. A guy missed his flight, a girl twisted her ankle, and another girl threw up, but here they are. They're not the best dancers or singers, but they do both so that's something. Howie loves them, of course. He can bring them back for the Wild Card show.
Finally, the novelty category! No one has any idea what anyone else in this category is doing. I really enjoy Dave Girabaldi and His CMYK's, dance-painters. They created an Elvis portrait, and it was awesome. I love it. John Pizzi, virtual ventriloquist, was far less funny this time around. Far less funny. What is Michael Nejad doing and why haven't we seen him before? That's some entertainment. Oh, that's right, he plays unexpected objects, like a shovel! I like it.
Rock Star Juggler, Mike Price, was as exciting as juggling can get, but The Two Bits have all that and a bag of chips. Big Barry's thing is that he's short, he wears a white suit, and he is a bad singer. It's unbearable.
OK dancers, it's your turn. We're focusing a lot on Turf and his bad attitude. I guess it's almost charming how little he and Stepz give a f***. Linsey Norton gives a f***, and she's up first with a very similar routine to the last one. Turf says if she performed that on the street he would give her a hundred dollar bill. I would love to see Lindsey Norton perform on the streets. Elusive has some pretty exciting breaking moves, but is it a million dollar act?
Turf notes that Stepz is using too many props and not dancing enough, but once Stepz starts with the dancing, it's pretty neat. Turf is a wreck. But his bone-breaking style is remarkable. His routine made me laugh, and the judges cringe, so it's working. He tells the judges that this means everything to him, and I want to believe him, but I also think he doesn't care about this rag-tag show.
It's time for the judges to decide. Many children are eliminated, but not Lil Starr, Danielle Stallings, and Unity in Motion. Lindsey Norton and Elusive are moving on, along with Dave Girabaldi and His CMYK's, and Michael Nejad. Two more magic acts move forward, to the strains of Coldplay's "Fix You" which has the right mixture of tragedy and triumph.
Many of my favorite bands were eliminated, but The All Thats, Wordspit, the Illest!, and the Distinguished Men of Brass will move forward. Inspire the Fire is moving on, but the ventriloquist and the Two Bits (NOOOO!!!) are eliminated. Cobra-kisser, the karate kids, and the razor scooter guys are eliminated, but LionDanceMe is in. LCD - Lisa Clark Dancers, and the Scott Brothers are going to New York. The old people rappers are not. Thank god.
The other three rappers, Summer Lacy (what?), and The Benn Mendoza Circus are ending their journey here. I'm so glad that Donovan & Rebecca are going to New York, though. They deserve it, out of anyone left in this standby group. Big Barry is moving forward because ... I don't know why. I don't get it. Give me The Two Bits and Summer Lacy over him any day.
Only Stepz and Turf remain, and it will almost certainly be Turf, the star of this entire two hours. Stepz is eliminated, and Turf is moving on as our hero. Because he wants it so much! We have to like someone who wants this so much that it completely crumbles them.
So there you have it. The Top 48! It's sure to be a weird one.
(images courtesy of NBC)