Things truly turn tense on “America’s Got Talent” when it becomes America’s decision to decide whose dreams come true, and tonight’s August 12 national tally to decide the seven acts to be semifinalists started with a real surprise in the group eligible for a real-time save. Super-selling urban pop sensation, OMI, got spirits up right away with his hit, “Cheerleader,” complete with his own beautiful squad. It was a magical night of memories, gratitude, joy, and surprise that only this competition delivers at the highest emotional levels.
Despite all the tension, Heidi Klum was in her own heaven, singing “Biddy-biddy-bum-bum” into every ear around her, still delighting in the exuberant performance by Alondra Santos last night. Speaking of the 13-year-old singer, it wasn’t long before Nick Cannon announced that she, Samantha Johnson, who closed the first-round of life performances to roars of applause after her “California Dreamin’” performance, and sibling dancers, The Gentlemen, comprised the group of performers in sixth, seventh, and eighth place, would be up for America’s save vote. The news stunned even shock jock, Howard Stern, who said there should be an “America’s Got Talent” police force and jail, because to have particularly these performers fighting for survival was a crime!
The first vote was between Triple Threat, the Arkansas trio who lost their harmonious magic and their innocent charm in their most important performance, and Piff, who didn’t make Heidi very happy with his trick, putting sweet pooch, Mr. Piffles, in danger of losing his life, dangling in a box, for his trick. The announcement came that the Magic Dragon magician, and his dog, would live to see the next round.
Sexy contortionist, Vita Radionova, and heartfelt singer, Benton Blount, went toe-to-toe, so to speak, next. Melody took it over movement, as Blount heard the news that he was going to the semifinals. He only said “everything,” when asked what this moment meant, and that said everything for the stay-at-home dad who has sacrificed for his son and his dream. Heidi Klum said that “emotion” is what speaks in his songs, and hopefully, he has much more to say, and many ways to say it.
A moving montage of past winners put an exclamation point on just how life-changing the competition can become, even if that means being able to make a living, following a passion over a paycheck . Last year’s winner, and the competition’s first-ever magician to take the title, Mat Franco, did a sparkling routine with bottles and glasses of wine disappearing and multiplying in cardboard tubes. His magic always displays that simple can be stupendous, and his genuine charm is his true attraction. To go along with his show at the LINQ resort, he has a September 7 television special, to further the questions of “How does he do that?” while everyone watches.
Power dancers, Craig and Micheline were set against dance-animation team, Siro A, for the next vote. This was nearly a certainty after the reception for the Lenny Kravitz routine that the team performed, and they took the vote, with lots of smiles, but very few words in English. Howard Stern spoke the words for them, praising how they were always unpredictable, fresh, and original.
It really hurt to see superlative performers, comic, Drew Lynch, master ventriloquist, Paul Zerdin, and high-bar artists, Show project, in a single group. Lynch and Zerdin gave knockout performances, and deserved the audience and the panel’s love that flowed their way. Zerdin was announced first as a semifinalist, but Nick told Drew and the gymnasts not to go anywhere. Next came news that Drew was an approved semifinalist as well, and the young man who makes his challenges his entrée into laughter was clearly overcome with gratitude. Howie Mandel praised that for Drew, “disability becomes THIS ability.” Beautifully said, sir.
At last, the revelation for the save vote arrived, and Samantha Johnson was tearful in thanking America for their support. Mr. Stern also gave thanks for the decision, and that left Alondra and the creative, dancing brothers awaiting their verdict, which the judges would decide. Heidi Klum threw her vote to the energetic Santos and the infectious song. Mel B also chose Alondra, and surprisingly, Howie, who called her “a blossoming flower,” chose The Gentlemen. Howard said he had to give his vote to the performer who most stepped it up, choosing Santos, as she gave thanks with credits rolling. The evening marked a first for this author, too, in covering the competition since its beginning. Every prediction made came to fruition, for the first time.
The competition airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays on NBC, and more stars are sure to be made.