Last night's $1.35 audition train for America's Got Talent included groups of dancers, all manner of animals, magicians, and singers with stories that plucked at our heartstrings and made music with them.
This week is a challenge for those wanting to pick one act above all others because the best acts of the night were from five completely different genres. You see, this is why it's tough to have a show whose theme is broad. The Voice is about, well, singing. So You Think You Can Dance is obviously about dancing, America's Next Top Model --> young beautiful women and men!
Making the Impossible Possible
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So, what do you do when all those acts are thrown together in one competition? How do you judge them on the same scale? You can't. You just can't. Especially when the best of the best are amazing in very different ways.
Here's the other thing: How much should we allow the context of an entertainer's life to elevate or detract from their performance? From a marketing perspective, one could say the story sells the act, right? And many times that's true. There are entertainment economists, analysts, and profitability experts who can rattle off the percentage of revenue generated by a performer's story in comparison to how much is organically generated, meaning sales from people who don't know the story but buy based upon what they've seen of the act itself. It would be interesting to hear the experts' take on this whole thing, but right now all we know is what we see, in this moment, and as we go from one act to another listening with our hearts and counting the goose bumps on our arms and legs.
What are We Looking for Anyway?
So this presents the question: What is America's Got Talent's true goal? Is it the entertainment industry's brilliant attempt to find performers that viewers can become invested in emotionally, thereby ensuring a prepackaged successful after market product? Or is it simply to entertain us? Clearly, both purposes are at play here and I applaud the eclectic collection of performances accepted into this mix, but it doesn't make it easy to judge for any of us. Then again, nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy, is it? And what we see on America's Got Talent is a hell of a lot of fun to watch. So let's get to it.
Group Dance Performances, Magicians, Solo Artists, Animal Tricks, Oh My!
Was there any kind of act missing in last night's America's Got Talent? The arrow guy with the wig ... yikes. I'm a little concerned about the judges' taste. Archer Bob Markworth who shot off his assistant's clothing was questionable, but got past the judges.
The athletic shirtless bandits who called themselves The Team were delish, but they moved too fast. If only the hand balancer from the Ukraine had been shirtless, I think I could have voted for him. His music was soothing and beautiful, his strength and control were amazing and the definition of grace.
We had groups of dancers, the best of which was The Atlanta Professional Dance Academy. Wow. Their entire performance was really beautiful. They were like blooming flowers from their delicate and fresh costumes to their velvety silky fans. These gentle ladies get my honorable mention. Goose bump scale: A solid 5.
Singer Justin Rhodes was fair competition for The Atlanta Professional Dance Academy, but my favorite solo performance for the evening was Anna Clendening whose backstory was more compelling, and more importantly, her voice was much, much more unique and haunting. She gets a goose bump score of 6.
And The Winners Are ...
Now, the two performers that really entertained me were solo acts, bar magician Smoothini, the Ghetto Houdini and comedian Jodi Miller. As a matter of fact, I don't even want to have to choose between these two.
Jodi's comparison of men to cats and women to dogs was spot on. Her attitude, her smile, her voice and her jokes were phenomenal. And her material was fresh - something I've never heard before. That's a feat in itself! Goose bump score: 8.
Smoothini, the Ghetto Houdini. He just blew me away. It's possible he has sold his soul to the devil because there is no logical explanation for what that man pulled out of the air and how he did it over and over. It was IMPOSSIBLE! He was humble, charming without being obnoxious in the least, and he is most certainly gifted. This man wins my vote for week three of America's Got Talent, but only by a hair. Can't wait to see more material by both of these final contestants. Goose bump score for Moothini: 8.3.
America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Images and video courtesy of NBC)