Last night’s America’s Got Talent semifinals was a mix of the spectacular and the anticlimactic. Going into the event, all 12 acts had a (somewhat) similar chance of getting one of the final six spots in the finals.
Last week, I had no problem naming my top four acts right off the bat. But last night, well, I got stuck after choosing my top two. Now, those top two — which I will share with you momentarily — were beyond goosebump-inducing; they were mind-blowing. Off. The. Chain.
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Snap, Crackle, Blah
This week’s performances started out with a bang and I got all excited thinking, hey, this is gonna be great! Sometimes for writers it can be painful to sit through programming that’s just not our cup of tea. Competition shows always have the good, bad and the ugly and we gotta watch it all. But that’s the gig and that’s why we make the big bucks. Well, bucks anyway.
So, we gotta watch what we promised to watch and then we’re supposed to write about it, like it or not. Fortunately, we don’t have to say we like something when we don’t, but we do have to be professional/respectable/thoughtful. And if we manage to get across the professional/respectable/thoughtful message that we didn’t particularly care for something, we pray we did it in a professional/respectable/thoughtful enough manner that won’t get us black-balled from the networks because, well, we need the networks for all kind of reasons. #NecessarySymbiosis
What the hell happened? I’ll tell you, but let’s start with some context.
We’re Already Halfway to the Finals
Last week, my esteemed colleague Bill and I agreed on the majority of our predictions for the first six acts to advance to the finals. Sons of Serendip, Miguel Dakota, Mike Super (though I suspect Bill cringed and refused to look at the keyboard as he tapped out the name), Emily West and Andrey Moraru. These were our personal picks predictions for how we thought America would vote.
Though our predictions were in sync for these five acts, the synchronicity stopped there. America disagreed with us when it came to Andrey Moraru and he was sent packing. Well, some of America didn’t agree with us, but 328 of the 1201 readers who voted at the end of Bill’s semifinals part 1 recap said they will miss Andrey Moraru more than any of the other eliminated acts. So there.
Bill’s sixth pick was David and Leeman with whom America agreed, but whom I found underwhelming. My sixth pick was Mara Justine with whom America agreed, but Bill ranked as the worst act of the semifinals to date.
So those first acts were Sons of Serendip, Miguel Dakota, Mike Super, Emily West, David and Leeman and Mara Justine. All quality acts.
That’s the crowd that set the bar for last night’s 12 act. Stakes are high. Expectations are really high. And the tension, I expected, would be high enough to give me vertigo, though that would be a tough sell since I never get vertigo. Get my point?
Hands Down, Mat Franco and AcroArmy Will Advance
If they don’t, I am moving to the North Pole. Mat Franco, as most-perfect-woman-in-the-world (according to Bill King) Heidi put it, will have us thinking about and talking about his cell phone act tomorrow and the next day and for the week to come. He just frickin’ knocked the leather right off that ball as he sent it out of the park. Mel B., after she recovered from wanting to kick him in the family jewels for ruining her phone, said the man possesses a personality and a delivery that is larger than life. She went a little far with that, but he was awesome.
Part of what made him fantastic was that this act was bigger than the last, which was bigger than the one before that. He just keeps getting better, and that’s what Howard means when he says you have to be smart about this competition.
AcroArmy. What can I say about these guys? They were. Off. The. Chain. One gal got thrown and swung up and down and through so many times it’s amazing she can still walk. Their music was fantastic, their costumes were sparkly and attractive, and their show-stopping moments were numerous. I screamed twice and my whole body broke out in those telling goosebumps! #NailedIt
Jonah Smith Rocked the House
Jonah was first to perform and he (they) were really, really good. He has a rich baritone jazz tone that he knows how to work and he does it in spades. And … like the other two top predictions, he kicked it up a notch with kicking his piano stool out of the way. He’s got great vocals and an alluring stage presence. Howard said his delivery of OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out” was not a show-closer. It just wasn’t Jesus at the end of the wedding at Cana, but I disagree that it was a detracting factor. If Jonah Smith doesn’t advance, it will only be because he fell victim of first performance forgettability.
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Four Acts Fell Short of Grafanamazing
Howie Mandel made up the word granfanamazing (great + fantastic + amazing) to describe Blue Journey’s performance, but I found it disjointed and confusing. What was the point of the story? What was the story? Now that we know that the puppeteer is the real genius behind this act, I have a hard time getting into it. The judges were gentle in their critiques, but Howard nailed it when he said the performance might have put some viewers to sleep. I would be one of those viewers, Howard.
Kelli Glover, she’s a beautiful girl with a Whitney Houston richness and tone, but the Beyonce song she chose provided a very narrow range for her to showcase her talent. Even Mel B. said she was frustrated and disappointed. I really don’t think America will send Kelli forward, but I hope she keeps on trying because I miss Whitney Houston’s voice when she was young and not messed-up like she was in the end.
Smoothini. Oh, baby. I so wanted this performance to be show-stopping. I like this guy because we have the twins thing in common. Mine are 11 years old and run me ragged while his are fresh out of the oven and keeping him up all night … but there’s a kinship between people who experience the same hell joy in raising multiples. America loves him as well. He has one of the largest social media followings of all the performers on this year’s America’s Got Talent. If he makes it through, that will be why, because following Mat Franco made his tricks appear paltry.
Jaycob Curlee, the young man America adopted, started off sounding a lot like Kermit The Frog in his rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song” and ended sounding like a very young Dave Matthews. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The judges applauded Jaycob for making a huge splash on the biggest stage in America at Radio City Music Hall. But it’s unlikely he will advance.
Additionally, Wendy Liebman wasn’t bad, but she caters to the menopausal crowd who can relate to bone density loss and laughing at her husband in bed. You have to be married a long time to stay married despite finding your spouse’s romantic advances laughable. So I don’t think the main demographic that voted on last night’s acts will send this gal forward. #ThatIsAll
Too Many Dogs and Not Enough Baby Dancers
Baila Conmigo was the second act. I was blinded by their banana and bubblegum outfits. This group of dancers on crack lost some of its luster by failing to focus on the spectacular energy and technical precision of the Tiny Dancers. Elton John would agree with me and Howie who were disappointed.
Christian Stoinev and the Scoobys. Let’s be honest, folks. I could sit and watch Christian Stoinev’s beautiful physicality all day long, but his act has lost a lot of its magic with the inclusion of the doggy tricks. It was cute the first time, but it’s not been that cute going forward. Christian’s puppies are just like that opera singer’s dress, except that she took something off where he added to his performance. Both need to decide what they want to be. The lack of amazing hand balancing will be Christian’s downfall.
And Then There Were Two
Emil and Dariel were okay, I guess. But they didn’t top their previous performances. Yes, they are entertaining, but someone else is already out there doing what they do and doing it much better. Plus, electric cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser of 2Cellos are much, much hotter and loads more polished. Oh, and thrilling. 2Cellos is thrilling to watch. Emil and Dariel are jsut fantastic, but America might have voted for them so we’ll see what happens.
Quintavious Johnson, I am sorry. You got the pimp spot last night when Jonah was much more deserving of it. Kids’ voices just do not do it for me and I think America might be with me on this when it comes to doling out a million bucks. We will see tonight when the votes are revealed.
My Predictions for the Last Six to Advance
So here’s what I’m thinking: Mat Franco, AcroArmy and Jonah Smith are shoe-ins. I think Smoothini will advance because of his social media following, and Emil and Dariel will advance because their performance was flawless though unexciting in my book. Finally, heaven help me, I think America is going to advance Quintavious to the finals. AGH!
You can watch America’s Got Talent every Tuesday and Wednesday night at 9pm on NBC.
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(Image courtesy of NBC)