This evening marks the end of the regular Top 60 Radio City Music Hall performances on America’s Got Talent, as another 12 perform and another four advance — my money is on Sprice being among them. It’s likely that we’ll have some sort of wildcard round next week, though the details haven’t been made public yet — I imagine we’ll hear about it sometime tonight.
The live blog starts now:
The Virginia State University Gospel Chorale
A triumphant performance from these guys: the vocals are solid and energetic, the soloists are fantastic and most, important, they know how to use this stage. The music is powerful in itself, but their TV-ready spectacle is what puts them over the edge. It’s a visceral feel-good performance, and I suspect voters will really respond to that.
I guess this is our first wildcard of the season, as this 10-year-old contortionist is given a second chance when Red Panda withdraws for personal reasons. Her routine is comprised of slow, deliberate movement with an emphasis on shapes, and while she struggles a bit picking up a flower with her teeth at the end, it’s an impressive routine especially due to her short prep time.
This soulful, pudgy Texan was a stand-out in the auditions — I think Brandon and Savannah were disqualified in part because his take on “Too Close to Love You” was so superior. Tonight, he tackles Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble” and knocks it out of the park again. I think you could fairly argue that his presentation isn’t quite as “big” as his competitors’, but it’s entirely in keeping with his personality.
This kid DJ/rap duo is fun and all, but they’re out of their league, no question. The huge, colorful old-school hip-hop number they stage is fine for what it is, but there’s no confusing it with a real, professional concert.
Given the amount of daylight currently present in New York at 9:47pm ET, I suspect that Sam Johnson’s outdoor performance here might be pre-taped. Johnson climbs to the top of an 80-foot pole, ties his leg to it, then holds on as the pole comes swinging down like an amusement park ride. I have mixed feelings about this one: there’s no arguing with the danger here, but the act doesn’t appear to require talent so much as a crazy amount of guts — that’s not nothing, but it’s not perfect for this competition, either.
I have to say, this couples contortionist act really works for me — though to admit my emotional bias here, I’m in the bag as soon as the first strains of Glen Hansard’s “Falling Slowly” hit. Duo Resonance combines the strength of the KriStef brothers with the grace of ballet, and it’s a modest, elegant high point of the evening.
D’Angelo & Amanda
Oh yeah, there were those sibling kid dancers. They perform tonight, with the older brother D’Angelo and his partner Amanda up first. They dance a pretty spectacular paso doble, and while the sibling rivalry/pre-teen romance packaging is kind of dumb, the talent speaks for itself.
Selena Mykenzie Gordon
Another young singer here, talented for her age, but not great overall. She sings Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most,” and loses the pitch quite a bit when the song gets intense. It gets awkward when she refuses to admit to Howie that she was off, and he hounds her for her mistakes afterward. I’m pretty sure that this is the end of the line for her.
In his backstage tape, John is pretty candid about how the comic’s lifestyle took a toll on him, and how getting sober meant building an entirely new set around his domestic life. That adds an extra dimension to a set that might have felt a bit too safe otherwise, and it makes it easy to root for him when he draws applause from the crowd with his three-word parenting bit at the end, even if I didn’t laugh all that much. I have a feeling this brand of humor will resonate with the general American public a bit more than his fellow comic Taylor’s, and I won’t begrudge him that.
This is what I’m talking about: Sprice lives up to the promise of his initial audition, crafting a new machine that spans the Radio City Music Hall stage and ends in fireworks. Howard and Mel B are mixed to negative on it, and I obviously think they’re nuts. Just because the act doesn’t fit their conventional understanding of showmanship doesn’t mean there’s no energy here: Sprice brings potential and kinetic energy in spades.
Ruby & Jonas
As the younger sister of D’Angelo, Ruby and her partner Jonas are destined to split votes with the kid dance segment of the audience, and that’s likely to give them trouble. Much like their close competitors, they dance very well.
This is a very sweet routine about growing up, performed as always in silhouette. It’s always a bit of a risk to go sentimental with an act like this, because the unconventional mechanics of the story-telling could come off as silly given the subject matter. With the proviso that your mileage will almost certainly vary, I have to say I was really touched by this: the shadow of a woman’s head turning into a tree and having a kid swing from it is a kind of quirky idea, but it’s also a surprisingly poignant one. It clearly resonates with the judges, too, as Howie and Howard offer up their closing remarks with a lump in their throats.
That does it for the Top 60; tune in Wednesday at 9pm on NBC to see who makes it through.
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(Image courtesy of NBC)