Another 12 acts perform this week, another four acts move on tomorrow — America’s Got Talent is officially in full swing. Tonight’s episode is slated to include a few of the most interesting auditions, including opera singer Jonathan Allen and the kid-spinning gymnastics act Chicago Boyz. Hopefully, that translates to a big night for the show.
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Aerosphere Aerial Balloon Show
This act is probably way more impressive in person: the giant balloon indoors is doubtlessly pretty spectacular in person, but it doesn’t impress quite as much when occupying up a corner of the TV set. As one might expect, the live audience is smitten with them — it just remains to be seen whether the voting public agrees.
It has to be said up front that there are a few missteps in this routine, but with an infectious energy, a wealth of content and a pretty spectacular finish, they overcome their minor flubs. The Chicago Boyz made a strong impression in their audition by twirling their youngest member as a human jump rope, and they up the ante this week by repeating the feat while spring-boarding the other members above them.
Mitsi School of Dancing
This Chinese folk dancing troop didn’t really make a strong impression with me the first time around, but they do quite well tonight. While about half the routine is entirely static in terms of blocking, it’s tough to overstate how captivating their perfect synchronicity is.
Kelsey and Bailey
This is another act that’s probably cooler live — and done in your friend’s apartment, honestly. The girl and dog pairing is very cute, but there’s not much going on here. The judges are justifiably brutal, and I suspect this is the end of the road for this act.
Brandon and Savannah
This act is hampered by pretty significant intonation problems from the get-go, as teenage Savannah gets off on the wrong tuning and then dominates the mix. The performance might have come off a little different live — that seems to be a running theme tonight — because the crowd and the judges are unabashedly enthusiastic.
Illusionist Leon Ettiene and Romy Low
The hook to this trick — that they perform the routine backwards under the pretense of revealing the secret before a magic twist ending — is kind of interesting. Unfortunately, the execution is pretty incoherent, leading Howard to X them. I do think Howard jumped the gun, and that it would be wrong to judge this act without considering its twist ending, but I’m in agreement with him that they could have done much better getting there.
Deanna has been pretty spotty for me so far, and the backstage narrative that she’s an amazing singer who couldn’t get work because of her body has upstaged her voice at every turn. That said, tonight is easily her best performance so far. It’s kind of funny that a huge, garish production of “I Want to Know What Love Is” is considered dialing things back for her, but it really is and good on her for it.
David “The Cobra Kid” Weathers
As one might have reasonably predicted, David’s act is basically just him poking and grabbing at an extremely dangerous snake. Not that I’d ever attempt it myself, but there’s not much in the way of visual interest here.
The much-loved, disowned-by-his-family-for-being-gay opera singer Jonathan Allen has some ups and downs with this arrangement of “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha: his build-up to the song’s initial “This is my quest” is pretty spectacular, but the dynamics and motion of the performance are oddly all over the map after that — maybe it’s just a matter of taste, but for me the performance peaks too soon. That said, I don’t think he’ll have any trouble making it through, and there’s no denying that he could be great in his next appearance.
Having apparently drawn inspiration from Back to the Future and Michael Jackson videos, this Japanese dancer’s backstage video endeared him to me more than his audition did. What a pleasure, then, to see him deliver such a triumphant performance tonight. Kenichi integrates video in a way that puts like-minded acts to shame, dancing through a funny, thoroughly engaging game world in which he plays a variety of dancing characters. Howard gives Kenichi a rare standing ovation — he makes a point of noting that he saves that gesture for truly transcendent works — and Howie literally begs the audience to crown him the million dollar winner. I’m with him 100%.
Without so much as a commercial break, we segue straight into the impression work of Jim Meskiman. Though impressions are a somewhat limiting field of expertise, Jim definitely has a great presentation here, preparing short bits as celebrities impersonating Ben Franklin, then allowing the judges to call out his targets at random. He understands that this act lives or dies on building momentum, and he delivers perfectly.
The American Military Spouse Choir
For the big finish of the night, we have a capable rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” from the American Military Spouse Choir. I have to say, this act kind of stresses me out: I feel like if I don’t love it then I’m a bad American, but I’m still waiting to be wowed by them. So, taking a cue from Howard’s hunched, sheepishly hypocritical standing ovation at the end here, I’ll just say God bless America and leave it at that.
That does it for another week of America’s Got Talent; tune in Wednesday night at 9pm on NBC for the results.
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(Image courtesy of NBC)