“America’s Got Talent went live from Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday night and not only started with a masterful performance but ended on a perfect note as well. There were a couple of weak spots for the first Quarterfinals show, but, as Judge Howie Mandel summed up the night while critiquing the last contestant, “This is the best show we’ve ever had.”
The first 12 acts hit the stage for America’s votes Tuesday, and, as Bill King at BuddyTV recapped going in on August 11, barring anything catastrophic, comedic magician Piff the Magic Dragon, singer Samantha Johnson, Korean dance group Siro-A, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and comedian Drew Lynch (the jokester with the stuttering disability that he uses for material, a la Josh Blue) were all locks. They’re talented and the audiences — and the judges — have loved them. As for the rest of the field, it appears a toss-up and getting through to the Top 21 (what a strange number for the Semifinals) actually depends upon their performances.
First, let’s get the poor and sub-par performances over with. The college-boy-band crooning trio Triple Threat were only so-so with their cover of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” and being so-so will get one a poor rating on “America’s Got Talent” (and anywhere else when you’re given a national audience to perform before). It got the guys three buzzers (the only buzzers of the night, actually), with only Judge Heidi Klum abstaining from hitting the buzzer (because she actually liked the saccharine performance?). The Ukrainean quartet of Olympic athletes Showproject were good gymnasts but their timing was off during several instances, and, as Judge Howard Stern pointed out, it could cost them points. And then there was contortionist Vita Radionova, whose sparkly body suit could not overcome the absence of a “wow” factor (which begs the question why the judges even put acts like these through when they know that, besides talent and artistry, America will not vote for them, because, in the end, they simply aren’t a million-dollar act that someone would pay to see).
Then there were the good acts that probably didn’t do enough to get through. If one takes into consideration Bill King’s predictions, there were should only be two spots to fill. And if America sides with the kids, those two slots would be locked by Alondra Santos, the mariachi-singing 13-year-old that originally didn’t make the live shows, (She got a call-back when two slots opened up for the Quarterfinals.) and The Gentleman, the diminutive dancing duo. Anyway, so good might not be good enough if the kids get the vote and the locks get theirs.
Craig and Micheline were good. Very good. But the acrobatic dance duo didn’t, like the contortionist, provide enough greatness and will likely be left behind. Singer Benton Blount was good as well, making the A Great Big World’s “Say Something” into his own. The verse seemed a bit weak but when he hit the chorus (Judge Mel B noticed and put it down to nerves), he belted it like a pro. And Piff the Magic Dragon was just “good.” His magic trick, having Howie guess which suspended box his little chihuahua (Mr. Piffles) was in, bordered on the cruel (his assistant attacked the chosen boxes — no blood, no Mr. Piffles!! — before Judge Howie turned on the Woodchipper of Destiny). A good trick, it might have been better without the woodchipper, shortened in length but with the jokes still incorporated, because Piff’s comedy is excellent.
The aforementioned Alondra Santos seemed to own the stage when she performed her mariachi pop song, a small army of dancers providing even more color than her rainbow cake-topping dress. Following Siro-A, the videomapping dance group was a challenge in itself. They started the show with an excellently rendered dance number — where their timing was not off (very, very important in the way they perform) — that had the judges ecstatic. The Gentlemen did a great job of dancing to Pitbull and Ne-Yo’s “The Time Of Our Lives,” pulling off moves usually seen only in movies and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Ventriloquist Paul Zerdin got annoyed with his puppet and left him alone on stage, so the puppet continued the show without him (because he said he could perform without Zerdin), only to slump into handless mode when Zerdin returned to the stage (the joke, of course, being on Zerdin, who thought the puppet had been a sitting lump the entire time he was gone). Comedian Drew Lynch had everyone laughing along with the antics of people and the way they treated his service dog as if he could talk, then getting miffed at him when he attempted to talk for her — because they thought he callously gave his dog a stutter.
But the show-stopper of the night came when singer Samantha Johnson nailed the 60s The Mamas & the Papas hit “California Dreamin’.” It was soulsy and rock-infused. There was a huge hang-ten wave curling behind her. And she was dressed to kill, all very stylish and professional. The “America’s Got Talent” judges loved her. Howie Mandel was simply beside himself with praise. He got so carried away, he extended it to the crew of the show, enthusiastically claiming it was the best show “America’s Got Talent” has ever had.
So Which 7 Acts Get Through?
Bill King was likely correct in his assessment of the locks (even Piff the Magic Dragon, who even got mixed reviews from the judges), so that would mean Piff, Samantha Johnson, Siro-A, Paul Zerdin and Drew Lynch will likely get through to the Semifinals on America’s vote alone. So who gets the other two slots?
The Gentlemen, Alondra Santos, Benton Blount, and Craig and Micheline all gave worthy performances, but at the end of the day, The Gentlemen and Alondra Santos rocked it — and they’re just kids!! — and will likely take the last two positions.
For a different perspective, take a look at Gold Derby’s post, which has the five locks, Benton Blount, and Triple Threat as the seven most likely to make it through. Gold Derby’s odds board is based on reader polling and, you never know, just might have a thumb on America’s pulse on this. But here’s the thing, if it comes down to the judges choosing the final act going through and Triple Threat is an option, rest assured, given that three judges buzzed them, they won’t make the Semifinals. (Just sayin’.)
To find out, tune in to “America’s Got Talent” on Wednesday night for the first Quarterfinals results show. “America’s Got Talent” will air at 8 p.m. (EST) on NBC Television. Special guests for the night will be OMI and Season 9 winner, magician Matt Franco. Round two of the Quarterfinals will air at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 18.