The first group America’s Got Talent Season 10 semifinalists hit the Radio City Music Hall stage Tuesday, and even though it was a pretty solid night of performances, there are some clear divisions between the contenders and the pretenders.

That first line goes between the top two spots at this point, with Craig and Lewis, better known as The CraigLewis Band, establishing themselves as the pair to beat, at least from this group of 11. They were on an entirely different level from the rest of the competition, and that’s a lot for me to admit, considering my general AGT anti-singer sentiment.

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After that, there are several acts with the potential to win it all, followed by a few that need work and the poor souls who showed they can’t hang with the big boys. 

So Who Stays and Who Goes?

Well if you hadn’t noticed, esteemed colleague Derek Stauffer has been kicking my ass in the prediction department. But I’m happy to say we are at a general consensus with how this should play out, and we’ve both labeled our potential bubble acts as such to temper expectations and acknowledge that there are several appropriate outcomes. 

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We agree that Arielle Baril, Ira, Mountain Faith Band, Benton Bount and Metal Mulisha Fitz Army have performed at Radio City for the final time, and that The CraigLewis Band, Siro-A, Drew Lynch and Oz Pearlman are safe. 

That leaves Derek Hughes and Samantha Johnson in the running for the final spot, and while The Stauffs ultimately went with magic whereas I chose the singer, here are some nuggets from our descriptions.


On Derek Hughes: “Derek’s semifinals act was so different from all of his other performances. Since Derek’s been successful up to this point, that change of pace could spell his doom.”

On Samantha Johnson: “In terms of talent-level and quality of performance, Samantha should absolutely be safe.”


On Derek Hughes (placing him fifth in my rankings) — “It was cute but rather boring, and at this stage of the competition, you have to keep the excitement rolling and pack as much as you can into the short time you have. And I worry he’ll be on the outside looking in.”

On Samantha Johnson (fourth) — “My only concern is that she unexpectedly landed in contention for the Dunkin’ Save last time. Still, she should be safe, as she had the first big moment of the night.”

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So we’re on the same page in that both could have issues even though they’re worthy of making the finals. If it were up to me, though, I’d take both and leave Drew Lynch on the sidelines. I love the guy, but he needs to pull together a tighter set to get the most out of his time. 

Or maybe Mountain Faith Band wriggles their way into that final spot just so readers Rumple and jberryl can throw it in my face again. Let’s get to it, and keep those comments coming. The live blog begins now. 

Welcome “The Illusionists”

We’re kicking things off by jumping right into the special guest performers — The Illusionists — who are returning to Broadway for a limited run of their new show. 

It starts off with a guy who does lifelike shadow puppets with his hands, and it’s a touching story of a baby growing up into an old man, to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” It’s absolutely fantastic, and I want this guy to do shadow puppets at my wedding. And everyone’s wedding.  

Seriously, why haven’t we seen a shadow puppet artist in recent years? Freckled Sky and Freelusion need to take note, because this is how you mix your talent with storytelling. It’d be amazing enough if he just went up there and made a horse and a rabbit and a dog and an old man, but to weave them all together with an emotional hook is perfection.

(Seriously, I recommend watching this video.)

Then it’s some fire tossers and a guy who balances himself on the tip of sword before it impales him. There’s a reason these guys are pros. 

Recap, a Dunkin’ Duo and Rats

After we run through the customary recap that focuses as much on Mel B.’s gross eye infection as it does the talent (seriously, how do you properly judge when you’re looking at everything through tinted lenses indoors?), it’s time for the first results of the night. 

It’s once again up to voters, as the acts that came in fourth, fifth and sixth will be competing for the Dunkin’ Save. The three in danger are Benton Blount, Samantha Johnson and The CraigLewis Band, and I’m like what the what? There’s still a chance to get this right, though, if Benton goes home. 

Either way, go vote for The CraigLewis Band. Right now. You have time, because we’re headed to the Dunkin’ Lounge. So nothing to miss, you know? 

(This one … up to you.)

We return to find comedian Taylor Williamson, now an apparent AGT lifer, doing his best Nick Cannon impression to plug the America’s Got Talent Tour and then introduce another Illusionist act.

Dan Sperry, who was a contestant on season 5, has a deck of cards with phobia names written on them, and he makes a prediction about Mel B.’s card. She pulls “rat,” then opens a box with a life rat in it. And that’s how you spice up an old favorite, with vermin. 

(Only if you don’t mind live rats)

The First Finalists Revealed

Nick calls out Metal Mulisha Fitz Army, Derek Hughes and Mountain Faith Band. 

Derek Hughes is safe

Wow. It’s not a surprise that he’s through, but with Siro-A a lock, it means we’re not going to see either Drew Lynch or Oz Pearlman again.

Arielle Barile, Ira and Oz Pearlman are next to learn their fates.

Oz Pearlman is safe

And so both magic acts are in the finals, and with Piff still on the market, perhaps Howard Stern’s “year of the magician” prediction is accurate. 

So it would appear at this time that our lovable stuttering comic didn’t make the cut, unless it’s a big time shocker and Siro-A is out. But I find it so hard to believe Benton got more votes than either of them. 

On a side note, it may play out that the acts I ranked 1 through 5 are the ones in the finals, which would give me my first real head-to-head victory over the Stauff-Man. And of course it comes the one week I started out saying I agree with his assessments. 

Back to the Magic Show

The Illusionists are in charge of the filler tonight, but when you’ve got tricks like these, it barely qualifies. Let’s just call it entertainment. 

The dude is taking the Houdini straight-jacket escape to the next level, hanging upside down and lighting himself on fire. At least he’s wearing flame retardant gel on his head. 

He makes his way out pretty quickly before extinguishing himself, but at its heart it’s still just a guy busting out of a straight jacket. I can’t do it, but I figure if you know how, it’s not all that much different doing it while you’re on fire. But still fun to watch.

A Shocker Either Way

Back to the results, and so Nick summons Drew Lynch and Siro-A in what has to be the most dramatic elimination to date. Drew looks positively sick, but maybe America felt similarly to Siro-A as I did?

Drew Lynch is safe

Wow. I don’t think anyone saw that coming. But at least if I’m going to be 100 percent wrong, it comes at the expense of an act I was never completely sold on. I know a lot of people loved them, though. 

Howie the Magician

Then it’s Howie’s turn to don the magician’s cape, and he got a quick lesson from The Illusionists on how to break free of handcuffs. So they cuff him into a chair, but it’s boring without a “jeopardy,” or that which happens to him if he fails. So they lower a box over his head full of his biggest fear — all the trash collected from the cans at Radio City. 

He yells cut a few times, but following an epic fail, he is covered in germs.

(Mostly for the assistants)

That should lighten the blow of Siro-A’s departure. 

The Dunkin’ and Judge Saves Go To…

It’s time for the final results, and we don’t need an extra commercial because the judges have to already know what they’re going to do regardless.

Benton Blount, The CraigLewis Band and Samantha Johnson take the long trek to center stage to learn the results of America’s second vote, which was the highest save total of the season.

Benton Blount wins the Dunkin’ Save

Poor Samantha Johnson, fate sealed in undeserving fashion. At least we have a general idea of who I’ll be placing at the bottom of the finals rankings. Unless Gary Vider squeaks through.

Time for the judges to make their decisions.

Heidi chooses Samantha Johnson

Mel B. chooses Samantha Johnson

Howard chooses The CraigLewis Band

Howie … talks a whole bunch … and … chooses The CraigLewis Band

The tie is broken by the votes cast Tuesday night, and…

The CraigLewis Band is in the finals

Whew! Holy crap. I don’t have the nerves for this kind of tension, and these are just results that I am not a part of and technically do not affect me at all. I can’t imagine what it was like for the people who actually performed. Howie’s drawn-out decision had me on the edge of my seat (which is actually my bed … the fiance gets the living room). 

Onward and Upward

And so the first half of the finals roster is set, and I for one am at peace with how it played out. Siro-A was deserving for sure, but it’s a shocker I can live with (my future mother-in-law, not so much). 

What about you? Are you happy with the acts that advanced, or do you think Siro-A or another eliminated act were more deserving? 

The lineup next week includes 3 Shades of Blue, Alondra Santos, Alicia Michilli, Daniella Mass, Freelusion Dance Company, Gary Vider, Paul Zerdin, Piff the Magic Dragon, Stevie Starr, Sharon Irving and Uzeyer Novruzov.

The non-musical acts will stand out yet again, with the early leg up going to Piff, Freelusion, Paul Zerdin and Stevie Starr. The rock band, comedian and Mariachi singer have their work cut out for them, while singers Alicia Michilli, Daniella Mass and Sharon Irving will be expected to compete for the final spot. The circus act is the wildcard, since no one knows what Uzeyer is going to pull out of his ladder. 

Who are you most excited to see again, and can the Professional Regurgitator really make it to the finals? Tune in next week to find out. We’ll be watching live right along with you.

America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8pm on NBC.

(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