It’s time to advance the first six acts to the America’s Got Talent season 9 Top 12, and frankly, it’s a crapshoot. After 12 semifinalists hit the Radio City Music Hall stage Tuesday night, I was in constant disagreement with the judges and, at least for one act, apparently, America.

I knew it was going to be a shaky experience just two performances in, after Howard and Howie poo-pooed the amazing acrobatics pulled off by Flight Crew Jump Rope and then immediately heaped praise on Mara Justine’s all-over-the-place Kelly Clarkson impersonation.

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The judges told Flight Crew there was no room for the tiniest mistakes, then they all agreed that Andrey Moraru can mess up as much as he wants and it doesn’t matter. Then there were the inconsistencies, as Miguel Dakota, Dan Naturman, the Bad Boys of Ballet and Aerial Animation were all wonderful and terrible at the same time. 

Howard also had a huge problem with the only female Bad Boy being off stage for four counts of whatever, but then he had no issue with the chick from Aerial Animation disappearing for an awkwardly long time.

The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that Sons of Serendip and Emily West were spectacular, while Paul Ieti came up woefully short. Paul’s missteps were apparently a big deal, while Mara’s can apparently be overlooked. As for Emily, I’ve watched her performance three and a half times, and it might be the best of the entire season so far.

Then there are the magic acts, with both David and Leeman and Mike Super offering quasi-redeeming performances. The former is still plagued by an elongated setup that allows for too much chatty wiggle room from the judges, but they did a much better job of filling in the gaps with comedy this time. It was a show, and a good one.

The latter Supes, even sans Desmond, is the great divide here, and I’ll admit up front that I’m probably in the minority. Sure, maybe David and Leeman’s trick wasn’t all that mystifying. But I just don’t get the nearly across-the-board celebration of what I deem a rather pedestrian bit of magic. But the judges ate it up, and voters likely did as well. It’s just another inconsistency. 


As always, there’s a chasm between what should happen and what will happen. Esteemed colleague, Catherine, predicts that Emily West, Miguel Dakota, Mike Super (the three are “indisputable”), Sons of Serendip (“intuition”), Mara Justine and Andrey Moraru (“the last two”), but I respectfully beg to differ.

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In my opinion, the six acts the deserve to move on are: Emily West, Sons of Serendip, Miguel Dakota, Andrey Moraru, David and Leeman and Flight Crew Jump Rope. That’s not going to happen, especially when you consider that America is going to pick the sixth act, live, in real time with the Snapple Save. And Flight Crew went first, which is never a good thing.

So my predictions for what will actually happen are as follows: Mike Super makes it in over Flight Crew. The rest I’m sticking with. Then again, there’s always the chance that Paul Ieti wins the fan vote. On to the show and the Grande finale!

Remember, the blog is live, and hopefully all of the issues with the comments section are fixed now. So be sure to keep the conversation going!

The Live Blog Begins

So much for the Grande finale line, as the 21-year-old pop star is leading off. Another traditionally-clad but glittered-up Nick Cannon introduces Ariana Grande, who is wearing little cat ears to go with her short skirt, fishnets and thigh highs. Maybe she’s having some issues with her earpieces, but I can barely understand a word she’s mumbling. But let’s be honest. I just don’t care. Let’s just watch her for 49 minutes and then do rapid-fire results. 

Then it’s time for the recap of the recap of the show, with the poignant moment coming when Ieti cries backstage over possibly blowing his opportunity. America eats that sh–, err, stuff up. Tears equal votes. 

So it turns out the acts that garnered the fifth, sixth and seventh most votes are all eligible for the Snapple Save, and that means Aerial Animation, David and Leeman and Mara Justine are on the chopping block. Voting starts now, so Google “Snapple Save” in the next 30 minutes and vote for David and Leeman! It’s so easy, even I just did it!

The First Results

As we return from commercial, David and Leeman are holding a narrow 45 percent-to-42 percent lead, with Aerial Animation waaay behind. But somehow, all three add up to 101 percent. So there’s that.

After waste-of-time filler at the Reddi Wip After Party, it’s time to push through the first act. Nick calls out Flight Crew Jump Rope, The Bad Boys of Ballet and Mike Super, and it’s make or break for the predictions right off the bat. It’s wildcard against wildcard against wildcard, which basically reaffirms that the judges’ picks sucked. 

Mike Super is in the Top 12

Yep. Way to go America. And congrats to you, Supes. Now win me over. I’ll gladly eat my words in two weeks. 

Howie Does More Stupid Stuff

Since AGT could only lock down one bit of talent, it’s time for a filler skit of Howie Mandel donning a wig and a goatee and helping show attendees find their seats. Yeah, he’s not the best usher. And saying he’s the funniest isn’t that big a compliment. Because most ushers aren’t funny at all. Go grab a drink or a snack or something. I’ll let you know if you miss anything. 

Welcome back. You didn’t. Though I almost nearly thought about pretend smiling a little bit when he makes the kid eat his sandwich before seating him, and when he makes the three girls get down on the ground. Almost.

Back to the Results

Andrey Moraru and Sons of Serendip are out next, and unless they’re both through, we’re in for our first shocker. 

Sons of Serendip is in the Top 12

Wow. I’m not totally surprised, because everyone else loved Andrey a bit more than me. And I pointed out his hiccups and that he seems to do the same thing every time. But it’s still unexpected. And it opens the door for Paul Ieti.

We’ve got three acts out, two through, three competing for the save and two locks in Miguel Dakota and Emily West, that leaves Ieti and Dan Naturman as the unknowns. I’m assuming that of the save candidates, two make it, since they’re the fifth, sixth and seventh vote getters. So does that mean we’re pretty much set?

Green Room Interviews and Guest Questions

After a nice video made for Paul Ieti by troops in Kandahar and an interview with the Naturman, it’s time for everyone’s least favorite waste of time — fan questions. An old woman wants to know how many naps Howard takes, and a shirtless man asks Heidi  what her perfect date is.

Then it’s celeb time, with former AGT judge Piers Morgan asking the final question. He calls Nick’s outfit offensive before asking Howard, Heidi and Mel B. if they agree that Howie is the single most annoying person on the planet. But it’s all in good fun, because Howie took great pleasure in annoying Piers.

On to the next result!

Emily West, Paul Ieti, Miguel Dakota and Dan Naturman all step forward.

Emily West is in the Top 12

Howard advises her not to rest on her laurels just because she’s the front runner. There are three acts still on stage, and it would be the shock of the night if Miguel goes home.

Miguel Dakota is in the Top 12

As it should be. And now it comes down to America. My predictions were pretty spot on, the only exception being that either Mara Justine or Aerial Animation will be in the Top 12 instead of Andrey Moraru. And I doubt many people would argue that either deserves it more than our elegant hand balancer. 

But that’s how it goes, and it’s not overly tragic. Andrey would have been hard pressed to win the whole thing anyway.

America Makes Its Decision

I’m not sure if the top two vote getters advance, or if it’s the Snapple Save winner and whichever act got the higher total, but I AM sure that David and Leeman are going to nab one of the spots. 

I put Aerial Animation’s potential higher than Mara’s, just because of the act’s unique qualities, but I would LOVE her to put a professional aerialist on the silk if she sticks around. I think that’s how it becomes a million-dollar act, with her still doing the drawings and animations. I said it last night, at some point you have to know when to stop playing and go behind the scenes for the good of the show. A pro takes it to another level — a Vegas level.

Aerial Animation, David and Leeman and Mara Justine take their spots on stage, with Mara easily getting the biggest ovation. 

Mara Justine wins the Snapple Save and advance to the Top 12

Boooooo. I ranked her 12th in the performance rankings, and yet here we are. And so, there’s just one spot left, and two acts who want it. Of course it’s now up to the judges (why do I always forget how it works?), and I don’t see any way they don’t pick Aerial Animation. Even if America picked David and Leeman. Stupid judges.

Heidi loves Aerial Animation’s storytelling, but David and Leeman were more entertaining in the semifinals, so that’s her vote. Howie appreciates David and Leeman’s comedy, and he’s picking them too. Howard locks it down for the magicians, and I am proven wrong, yet again. I guess the judges do get it right sometimes.

What’s Next?

No huge surprises out of this one, though Andrey’s elimination stings a bit. Mara Justine’s appeal is just greater, I guess. Though it’s pretty crazy that four singers and two magicians make up half the Top 12, with half of next week’s acts in the same two categories. 

The second group of semifinalists seems like a slam dunk, projection wise. Advancing from next week’s show are (likely): Emil and Dariel, Mat Franco, Christian Stoinev, Quntavious Johnson, Blue Journey and Jonah Smith. Eliminated are Jaycob Curlee, Baila Conmigo and Wendy Liebman. And AcroArmy, Smoothini and Kelli Glover could makes waves.

Who are you excited to see again? And who do you project rounding out the Top 12? Were you upset over Andrey Moraru being sent home? If so, you probably should’ve voted. And what’d you think about the rest of the results? OK with how it all turned out?

Be sure to tune in next week and watch along with BuddyTV as the second group of semifinalists hit the stage! See you then!

You can watch America’s Got Talent every Tuesday and Wednesday night at 9pm on NBC.

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(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order