The brand-new Judge Cuts round of America’s Got Talent season 10 continues, with 20 more acts set to perform for one of seven slots available in the Radio City Music Hall live shows. And joining the panel as guest judge is Heidi’s choice, Michael Buble.
The singer, with his own Golden Buzzer at the ready, has some big shoes to fill following NPH, and he also gives us the rare double-Canadian judge tandem, which I think is called a toonie. Oh, and it’s Mel B.’s birthday. Happy birthday, Scary Spice!
Once again, I’ll recap in reverse order of how I rank the performances, and then we can see if the judges agree. They were pretty much on point last time, so here’s to hoping they can keep the streak going.
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20. The Chippendoubles
The Chippendoubles, a group we haven’t seen before, have a bunch of masked and cloaked people who impersonate celebrities. I don’t get what’s going on, and they quickly get four X’s. How did they even make it through the audition round?
19. Chris Jones
The man who hypnotized Howie Mandel into shaking hands without a glove turns his talents to Michael Buble, who “wakes up” halfway through, as he is not, in fact, hypnotized. And Chris Jones is pissed. Whatever, it’s still better than the Chippendoubles.
18. Scott Heierman
The bearded, cross-dressing, high-heel-wearing, pizza-delivering Kentuckian is back for another comedy set, only this time he blanks, forgets all his lines and tearfully bombs in what has to be the biggest disappointment of the season thus far. Still, his half a joke is better than Chris Jones and the Chippendoubles.
17. Doctor Danger’s All-Star Team
The daredevil group, complete with a little person and a dude with a fake leg and a hook hand, auditioned by crashing a school bus into a vertical wall of school buses. To follow that up, little Mike jumps a motorcycle through a ring of fire and over a tiny gap, then turns and rides through eight walls of fire before falling off the bike and getting extinguished. It’s pretty terrible all around, and Howard and Howie both hit their buzzers. How they ended up at 17, I have no idea.
16. Shirley Clair
This 87-year-old spitfire has done just about everything one can do in a lifetime, having been a model and socialite starting at the age of 17. She’s sassy and likable, and her “The Best is Yet to Come” is just fine. But, unfortunately, there’s no way it’s a million-dollar act. I’m just amazed so many acts were able to push her to 16.
15. Wes Barker
An escape artist who we’re seeing for the first time, Wes wriggles out of a straight jacket while a countdown screen slowly reveals more parts of his naked body. He finishes mere seconds before his junk is exposed, and while it’s an entertaining backdrop, the trick is pedestrian.
14. Nastasya Generalova
She’s another newb, a 15-year-old in tights who does an acrobatic floor routine with a jump rope.
13. Facinet Sylla
This dude — whose audition we didn’t see — runs, jumps and flips around the stage in tremendous fashion. Howard calls him the most ripped man he’s ever seen, but Howie doesn’t think it’s Radio City material.
12. Center Stage
The mixed-gender troupe kicks off a dance montage, incorporating a mix of ballroom and acrobatics. It’s good, but not on par with acts that have made it far in previous seasons.
11. Daniella Mass
The opera singer came from Colombia to chase her dreams, and this marks the first time her mom is seeing her perform on stage. Her “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” is fantastic, but it lacks the polish and professionalism that is likely necessary to get her through. Still, it’s a nice moment for her and her mother, and it gives Michael Buble the opportunity to show off his Spanish skills.
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The all-dad group, made up of former professional dancers who are now family men in their 40s and 50s, puts together a fine routine that gets the audience bobbing their heads. They’re more likable than they are amazing, but that might be enough to get them through.
9. Jenna Renae
The singer whose audition we didn’t see gives a stirring rendition of Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” but Howard wants her to own the stage more. Additionally, her frumpy appearance prompts the judges to dub her forgettable. But the talent is there.
8. Selected of God Choir
The gospel choir headed by a husband and wife gets the pimp spot, and the Detroit-based group has seen their fair share of troubles throughout the recession. I’m never a huge fan of choirs in this competition, but taking on Beyonce’s “Survivor” is a calculated risk that pays off. They’re not in my top seven, but I expect them to squeak by based on the judges’ praise and Michael Buble’s invitation to work together.
7. Benjamin Yonattan
Benjamin is the 14-year-old blind dancer who looks at life through a straw, and since his audition, his vision has dropped from 4 to 7 degrees all the way down to 2 to 5. And it might have had an inverse impact on his dancing because it’s actually better and more technically sound than last time. This kid is like Daredevil, but I worry he’s more backstory and inspiration than legitimate contender.
6. DM Nation
The all-girl Canadian group once again mixes Matrix-style slow-mo with a lot of rapid-fire hand movements, and I said after their audition that they’d have to pull out some sort of unique signature move or gimmick if they want to stick around for the long haul. It’s good and the best of the dance numbers, but it remains to be seen if they can do something truly different.
5. Aiden Sinclair
The man who spent five years in federal prison and used that time to teach himself magic prior to turning his life around kicks off the show, looking to improve upon the card trick that landed him into the Top 80. He wraps a deck of cards with a rubber band and tosses it to Howard, asking each judge to choose one card and remember it. He then correctly guesses all five. And, thus, the bar is set high.
4. Ryan Shaw
He’s a once-record-label-signed, three-time Grammy-nominated singer who now performs at weddings, but he garnered goosebumps during his audition. He does a rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that’s just exquisite, and I don’t know how he’s even eligible to be in this competition, but he makes the other singers pale by comparison. Still, Michael Buble would’ve liked a more powerful song.
3. Uzeyer Novruzov
The circus performer wowed in his audition, defying gravity while jumping around on a ladder, and his goal is simply to make everyone happy. This time, he builds the ladder up more than a dozen rungs, stands on the top and walks around the stage. Howie thinks Uzeyer is exactly what we celebrate on AGT, and Heidi calls it a feel-good story. Then Buble gives it a shot, prompting Howard to buzz him.
2. Ira the Puppet
Puppet Ira serenaded the love his life with “You Are So Beautiful, Mel B.,” only to have the Spice Girl reject him as the only dissenter. So he’s back, with his mom on the bass guitar, in an effort to win her over again. And this time, it’s an absolutely astounding version of “Let’s Get It On.” The shtick is still hilarious, and there’s no way Ira doesn’t make it through.
1. The CraigLewis Band
The Atlanta-based duo has been singing together for 10 years, and they’ve been through thick and thin. They’ve also been told by friends that it might be time to hang it up, but then they surprised everyone in their audition. This time, they’re singing MJB’s “I’m Goin’ Down,” and their talent and likability is muddling an already competitive singer category. Plus, they performed immediately after Ryan Shaw, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for him. Michael Buble ponders for a bit but eventually goes with the Golden Buzzer.
You know, with seven acts to go, I was sure that some quality performers would be leaving. But so many folks bombed in the latter half of the show that there aren’t that many question marks. So who joins The CraigLewis Band?
First to learn their fates are DM Nation, Facinet Sylla and Center Stage, with the all-female group moving on.
Next out are DADitude, Nastasya Generalova and Benjamin Yonattan, and the teen with the best/worst story is headed to Radio City.
Uzeyer Novruzov is joined on stage by Wes Barker and Chris Jones, and this one is so obvious I don’t even need to name the advancing act.
Daniella Mass is moving on, while the journeys of Shirley Claire and Scott Heierman have come to a predictable end. It’s the first pseudo-surprise for me, as good as Daniella was, and I speculate it means the end of the line for the reformed jailbird magician.
Aiden Sinclair heads to the stage with Doctor Danger’s All-Star Team and Ira, and either way, I’m not going to be happy. And it’s the puppet to the live shows.
That leaves Ryan Shaw, Jenna Renae and Selected of God Choir for the final spot, and the shadow of the CraigLewis Band looms again. The choir advances, and it’s a travesty that Ryan Shaw, as professional of a background that he has, is eliminated.
I would have taken him and Aiden Sinclair over the choir and Daniella Mass, but maybe there are wildcards in their futures. I always prefer a non-singer to win anyway, which is why I thought Aiden deserved a shot. Who were your top seven and do you agree with the Judge Cuts?
The 10th anniversary rodeo continues next time, with Marlon Wayans joining the panel to cut 20 more acts down to seven. Who will advance next?
You can watch America’s Got Talent every Tuesday at 8pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)