Okay folks, we’re in week four of America’s Got Talent season 9. We’re not even half way toward the live shows at Radio City Music Hall and the entertainment continues to get better, making it a true challenge to choose an absolute favorite among the top acts of the night.

I’ve watched and re-watched my top five picks (God bless the internet) enough times to burn their images into my screen and I still hesitate to name one performance above the other because they all were off the chain spectacular. Dang it all, AGT, why you gotta be so good? 

Let the Games Begin Again

This week’s crop of performers came from a broad range of disciplines once again from dance groups to tight rope acrobats and celebrity impressionists to magicians and tweens spouting wildly inappropriate humor once again. For a complete list, check out America’s Got Talent Recap: Bikini Opera and Other Rapid-Fire Talent. And by the way, Bill, I see your bikini opera singer picture at the top of your recap and I raise you one bare-chested hand balancer. The difference is, my hand balancer rocked, but the naked singer, not so much. Her voice was okay but her disrobing was an affront to her talent. Bam!

Like my colleague Bill wrote in his recap of last night’s event, I am wondering where all the bad acts are being stashed. Has this year’s crop of performers been of a consistently higher quality than in the past eight years or is NBC’s America’s Got Talent going to spring it all on us in one two-hour session? The only consolation if they do that is that those of us at home wielding remotes can time shift our viewing and skip all the crappy parts. 

Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Mel B. and Howard Stern will make it worth our while regardless and Nick Cannon is always a gas especially when he tries to copy a performer’s act. The best part of Doctor Benji’s performance was when Nick went up to his funky microphone and sang into it. That totally rocked. 

Lots and Lots and Lots of Skin

Yeah, there was a lot of skin last night. When it’s not gratuitous it can be a really good thing. Like when your act is all about the strength of your body, then it’s a great idea to show that body off. As a matter of fact, bare chested men just make a gal happy. What can I say? Mel B and Heidi agree because they experience the rare happiness of gazing upon a shirtless male with well-turned biceps and really strong hands. It just makes us happy. 

Which brings me to my first of five picks. Christian Stoinev is the incredibly strong hand-balancer who balances his entire 180 pound body on one index finger plugged into the mouth of a champagne bottle. What made his act stand above the other balancers we’ve seen is this finger trick as well as his ability to ‘jump’ from one hand to the other with incredible ease. Amazing. Goose bump scale: 8.7.

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Tiny Dancers, Magical Numbers, Singers and Aerial Performers

Next is the Colombian salsa dancing troupe, Baila Conmigo. The adult dancing was fine. It was just as fast and exacting as John and Andrew’s performance on night two. What made them extraordinary was who danced with them. After the first thirty beats, in came all these little people and they were just as fast, just as technical, just as on point as the adults. Those kids were not just cute; They were talented and focused. Amazing. How any one could think their dancing wasn’t good is beyond me. Goose bump scale: 8.8. (I told you it was a close competition!)

Mat Franco was another extraordinary magician just like my first pick from last week, Smoothini. I would hate to be the one who had to choose between these two performers. What made Franco stand out, other than his bewitching and gentle charm was the story he told using cards that magically matched every number he mentioned. Dang powerful stuff, people. A joy to watch. Goose bump scale: 8.9.

All of these performers gave me chills up and down my spine, but none so much as these next two acts: Paul Ieti, the military vocalist, and aerialist Laura Dasi. Both had fantastic stories. 

The Fluid and Beautiful Aerialist

Laura Dasi’s arial performance gave Howie the opportunity to affirm Dasi’s (and ours as well) courage in the face of our challenges and we love him for saying so. He’s such a calming personality and he knows what he’s talking about. Dasi’s ruby performance on a swath of beautiful purple silk was much better than the previous aerial act with the woman being chased by a cartoon bear. Dasi’s dance was emotional and fluid and beautiful. Her story about losing her hair was moving. She didn’t remove her wig on stage, but afterward she did it for the camera. 

It needs to be said that when she removed her hair, her sparkly smile and twinkling eyes came to life. I say screw the wig, lady. You don’t need hair to be beautiful. I think Howie would agree with me. Goose bump scale: 9.2.

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The One Act to Watch: A Soldier By Your Side

Paul Ieti is the soldier singer who uses his voice to calm his comrades, family and friends as they stare down their most frightening foes, even death. His voice was wonderful calming, his demeanor was unassuming, humble and shy. Whether you are a three year old child or a burly 27 year old body builder, this is the man who could bring the tranquility of Jesus straight into your heart. His is the voice you want with you when you are scared. His story and his rendition of Rihanna‘s “Stay” is haunting and beautiful. Goose bump scale: 9.25.

Check him out yourself, friends. You may find yourself wanting to join Mel, Heidi and Howard in hugging this gentle giant with the tender heart and voice.

America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8pm (and this Sunday at 9pm) on NBC.

(Images courtesy of NBC)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV