Game on, America’s Got Talent. I can’t begin to hide my disappointment at Team USA’s extra time loss to Belgium in the World Cup knockout Round of 16, so I apologize in advance if I just hate everything.
I will try to bring a positive attitude and open mind to the acts that advance, but they’re really going to have to wow me. Any humor I inject will probably be self-deprecating, so I hope everyone is ready for a bumpy ride.
Not for nothing, I wouldn’t be that upset if the sixth audition show is the one that highlights the noteworthy terrible acts. Everything has been too good so far, so we’re due for a stinker. Like Chris Wondolowski shanking one on an open net. And if you don’t know what that means, consider yourself lucky. And un-American.
It’s telling that the show kicks off with Heidi Klum picking up Nick and the other judges, taking them on a frightening drive to the studio. I think Heidi is one of the most perfect people in the world, but as a guy who can parallel park in a spot the exact size as my car, she doesn’t strike me as someone I’d like to get behind the wheel with. Unlike Tim Howard. That man can drive me anywhere.
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Rogue is a magician who makes use of women’s intuition, like that’s something guys can figure out, and he entices Mel B. to be his assistant. He puts a bunch of empty staple guns and one full one into a bag, and he makes Mel shoot him in the head with the (hopefully) empty ones. I think? Or maybe he just didn’t feel the staples in his head? I’m not really sure exactly what he did, but all the judges love it and put him through. Okay. Off to a rousing start. Like when the US gave up six scoring chances right off the bat.
(Update: I watched it again, and I still think it sucks. If it’s just a slight of hand in which he doesn’t put the loaded staple gun in the bag, then it’s all wasted showmanship. But we’ll see what he does next.)
Strongman JD Anderson breaks a baseball bat and then rips a license plate in half with his teeth, 12-year-old Quintavious Johnson sings like an angel and Ryan Penke (spelling?) balances a couch in/on his mouth and then simultaneously juggles and eats apples. It’s rapid-fire talent, like the above-mentioned scoring chances. All were gobbled up by Tim Howard Stern (paying attention, “before and after” Wheel of Fortune?)
The Hudson Brothers seem normal until they come out dressed like women intent on calling out wretched women who get involved in other wretched women’s business. It’s truly awful, and Howard is adamantly against it, as is Heidi. But Howie and Mel B. love it, prompting Howie to inexplicably use his Golden Buzzer to send them through. Just move to Belgium, already.
Loop Rawlins is a cowboy rope spinner who dives, ducks and jumps through his lasso. Then he lights it on fire and does the same tricks. The crowd goes wild, but I think we just saw the entire act. On a set piece in extra time, he’s kicking it over the crossbar.
The bands with original music take over, which Howie hates. Jonah Smith rocks the house (with Howie pining for covers), then Beach Avenue does their best Lumineers impression with a song that’s not quite worthy but still good. Heidi says that the song would be stuck in everyone’s head if it was on the radio five times. But that’s why it’s never been on the radio. Like Wondo didn’t prove he belonged on the national team. Could’ve been a hero … just sayin’.
A chick with a ukulele and her boxman/guitarist band (Livy, Matt and Sammy) do an awesome “Pompeii” cover, and comedian Joe Matarese from Cherry Hill kills by joking about how kids suck while performing in front of his kids. Yeah, kids SUCK! Love this guy, even though no one has ever heard of him. The judges’ comments move him to tears, and we can call both these guys supersub DeAndre Yedlin. Nothing but bright futures.
Sal Gonzalez is a Marine who lost his leg in Iraq a decade ago, and after his standing ovation, he and his guitar wow the judges with a rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Like Jozy Altidore, he’s an injured striker who just scores, plain and simple.
Joe the Birdman has trained Tica the parrot to say funny things and sing songs, Josh Wright plays a paint-spewing and firework-shooting piano, and a chick spins around inside a giant hula hoop. They all have the shelf life of a Graham Zusi corner kick. Either it’s a goal or it’s worthless.
I don’t even care that they’re all pretending it’s Mel B.’s birthday. That’s why when she blew out the candles and wished for a US World Cup victory, it didn’t come true. Who am I kidding? She wished for England. Either way, a waste of a pretend birthday wish. Feel me, Wayne Rooney?
Three dudes in suits do a pretty cool dance, and American Idol wannabe and waitress Kelli Glover (who apparently LOVES being a waitress) got cut in the Vegas round in 2009 but comes back for an admirable encore. They’re closers, like Clint Dempsey, but they’ll come up just a little bit short in the end.
Darik Santos is our awkward comedian of the season, only he’s not that funny. His back and forth with Howard Stern is hilarious, but his set has maybe one good joke, much like Michael Bradley’s one good ball in four World Cup games. His pun-based style is not for me, but the judges put him through with three yeses.
We close out the show with old man winter and Albert Einstein look-alike Ray Jessel, who is 84 years young and whose wife is, adorably, his everything. He loves singing about love gained and love lost, and he’s playing the keyboard and singing an original song about, you guessed it, that special woman. It’s nice and touching, until he mentions that said woman has a penis. It’s hilarious, but in no way worth $1 million, but through he goes. He’s the DeMarcus Beasley of the bunch who, even after becoming the first American to appear in four World Cups, proved he still has something in the tank. But he’s not winning.
The Bad (Unfortunately Not Longer)
Maximilian is a beaded lady singer with a kick-ass body for a dude, but a voice that is best described as, well, what I would expect to come from a bearded lady who isn’t already working professionally as a bearded lady. Perfect for a third-string goalkeeper.
Some kid eats a bunch of dead reptiles, but the highlight is Nick devouring a scorpion. Maybe it’d be impressive if they were alive, like Julian Green in the last 15 minutes.
Secretary K. Lyn Baker is the perfect example of the mocking bad auditions I hate to see. She forgets the words to “Bad Romance,” and it’s generally awful followed by an ill-advised split injury. It’s a Jermaine Jones/Fabian Johnson MIA performance.
A montage of buzzed acts is dedicated to the members of the 23-man roster who didn’t see any playing time in the tournament. The “God Accepted My Friend Request” rap goes out to Landon Donovan.
Going Home After an Admirable Yet Subpar Performance
I’m proud of all these acts. I really am. For a brief period, say once every four years, they inspire a nation and prove that America does, in fact, have talent. But outside of one or two of them, we won’t remember much a few months from now. Sure, people will wonder if the talent will catch on like it does in the rest of the world, but most will go back to not caring pretty quickly.
Except us die-hards. We’ll survive, sure, America’s Got Talent jerseys finally able to be washed after three-plus weeks of constant, stinky wear. And we’ve sadly realized the penny we collected from that one-cent check sent from Capital One is not actually lucky. At least not when it comes to soccer matches or scratch-off lottery tickets.
In reality, though, comedian Joe is the only one who stood out to me as having end-game potential from this one. Otherwise, I wasn’t really impressed with anyone. What about you? Which act stole the show for you? And do you see any of them making a long run towards a golden goal? Or are they all destined to come up short, yet still head home to an adoring homeland that will soon forget the legacy they briefly left behind?
That’s all for this latest round of auditions. I apologize to those who didn’t get the soccer references, but I hope those who did appreciate them. This one is going to sting for a while, especially considering Tim Howard’s historic performance will likely be his last on such a big stage. But much like I hope all the advancing acts feel about their performances, #IBelieveThatWeWillWin … in 2018.
You can watch America’s Got Talent every Tuesday at 8pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC)