And away we go. Monday night was the first night of the AGT season where America finally got a chance to vote, and it’s about time we got to this point. With only a few exceptions, I have no problem with the acts that Howie, Sharon and Howard put through to the live shows (in New York now, not Hollywood). On this night, as is the norm, we got a little bit of everything. It’s nice to see that now that Piers Morgan is gone, the judges’ buzzers are going off a lot less frequently. In fact, hardly at all. Which is nice to see.
Here are the twelve acts that performed on Monday night, in the order that they performed in.
#1. Distinguished Men of Brass - Actually, if you haven’t seem them, it would be more accurate to call them “Distinguished Men of Brass and Percussion”, as there are quite a few drummers along with the rest of the brass instruments. What particularly makes them stand out to me is that they dress in very natty black suits, play, sing and dance in nearly-perfect rhythm, and are just a class act all the way. If I’m being honest, however, their performance tonight wasn’t as good as past performances, as it seemed more like a really cool halftime show than a Vegas act. I blame the production… there was just too much going on around them, and they don’t need that.
#2. Edon - Edon’s two performances (his original audition and in Vegas) didn’t get more than a few second of airtime each, but the kid’s got a very powerful voice. And his rendition of David Guetta’s “Titanium” was brilliant. His tone is about what you’d expect for a 14-year-old (and he’s adorable with his little red yarmulke), but he’s got the pitch to back it up, and he’s damn good on the piano. A very inspired performance.
#3. Jarrett & Raja - It’s an interesting act, combining music and magic. But if you’re going to do any kind of magic on this show, it has to be serious to be good. And this act wasn’t. They performed a simple set of illusions to the melodic but corny strains of “Singin’ in the Rain”, and while it was proficient, it isn’t something that I would want to see again.
#4. Lil’ Starr - When you picture a six-year-old girl dancing, it’s usually just a plea for attention. But despite her age and her wee frame, she is a fierce dancer. The problem is, how can one tiny girl, no matter how adorable – and believe me, she is – command a huge stage all by herself without having it look like a recital? It’s tough, but she barely pulls it off. She’s just non-stop energy. What she needs is a bunch of girls her age that are as good as her. By herself it is just not enough.
#5. Todd Oliver - If you haven’t seen this guy, what he’s done is attach a prosthetic mouth onto his pet pug, Irving, and he uses some technique to make the mouth open and close while throwing his voice. Certainly the dog gets points for putting up with that shit, but I don’t find the guy the least bit funny. This show’s already had one ventriloquist win, and one is enough.
#6. American BMX Stunt Team - Two years ago, one guy on a bike doing stunts wowed me. Last year? A team of brothers jumping motorcycles indoors caught my interest. Now? This whole concept is played out. Watching bikes do tricks on a half-pipe is just not interesting or exciting to watch any more. To their credit, there were no mess-ups or spills, but I’m beyond caring.
#7. Nikki Jensen - There is a dearth of quality female singers this season, and I personally love Nikki’s voice. Picking “The Scientist” by Coldplay was the perfect choice. That being said, her voice is not the kind that overpowers you, and I can see why America might not pick up the phone for her. I really hope they do, because I think she’s capable of doing a lot better. Plus, she’s hawt.
#8. The Scott Brothers - So many dance acts think the key to entertaining the audience is doing acrobatics or contortions or stuff like that, but it’s not true. What this pair of fortysomethings do is create a totally original way to play off each other, remain perfectly fluid and in synch the whole time, and be totally unique. Dance crews are a dime-a-dozen, but THIS was fantastic. I want more.
#9. Michael Nejad - It’s nice that some acts make it through on mere novelty, and a guy who buys his “musical instruments” at Home Depot certainly qualifies. A retired musical teacher who turned a broom into a flute and who knows what else, was very entertaining in Vegas. Tonight he tried “Moves Like Jagger” on a wind instruments he crafted from a baseball bat and a vacuum cleaner and a violin/shovel, and it felt very Gong Show to me. Only three X’s were doled out by the judges on this night, and Michael got all of them. He won’t be back.
#10. 787 Crew - I was shocked a few years ago when a hip-hop dance crew succeeded in beating Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent, but I just can’t foresee that ever happening on this side of the pond. The reason? We are a nation saturate by dance programs. Between DWTS and SYTYCD, we have our daily fill. And no matter how good this group of Puerto Ricans are, from their steps to their costumes, it won’t change that.
#11. Shanice and Maurice Hayes - Daddy-daughter acts are sweet, but this duo’s really got the singing chops. Despite being more then four decades her senior, Maurice really has a lot of soul, and Shanice is just a powerhouse. Their rendition of Faith Hill’s “There You’ll Be” was very stirring, and I had no doubt they’ve move on to the next round.
#12. David Garibaldi and his CMYKs - Never has pure art been this extreme. David and his four buds leap around the stage, flinging paint at a large stationary canvas, and within two minutes it’s become a clearly discernable picture. Throw in some choreography, some Stones music and some flashy lights, and this could easily be a Vegas act. Truly one of this season’s biggest surprises.
So, based on the performances, I hoped that the acts to go through on viewer votes were The Scott Brothers, The Hayes Family and David Garibaldi (because not only were they great, but they had the benefit of performing in the second half). I then predicted that the judges’ choice would come down to either Nikki Jensen, Edon or Lil’ Starr, with Edon prevailing.
Unsurprisingly, both Howard and I called the viewer votes correctly. Shanice and Maurice made it to the semifinals, along with The Scott Brothers and David Garibaldi and his CMYK’s. The judges vote came between Edon (no surprise) and Todd Oliver (big surprise), and thankfully, there will be no more stupid talking dogs the rest of the way.
See you next week!