Since I won't get another chance to recap America's Got Talent until next week, I'm trying an experiment tonight. I will be writing up the 12 performances live and posting the entire thing shortly after the show finishes. This will include my personal ranking of the acts and predictions of who will make it through. Let's get this started.
First up are Miami All Stars. They are the Latin dance troupe that was put straight through to the live shows as a judges' choice. They had what I consider to be the best dance audition in the history of the show. Their music was taken out right from underneath them within hours of the live show due to licensing issues. Can they step it up and actually compete?
They start with some dramatic coupling synced to sound effects before all the dancers take the stage for some high energy couple stunts. This performance is all about a large unison group and small featured stunts. There's just a really cool vibe about the whole thing. The costumes are a bit garish in HD, but they are dancing up a storm. By the end, the moves are starting to get a bit repetitive. It's clean and energetic choreography. It just seemed a bit limited in scope and formation. No X's from the judges.
Next up is singer/songwriter Dezmond Meeks. He's the guy with the James Brown look and the Little Richard performance style. Will he stay behind a piano or will he start to dance?
He's dressed in a golden cummerbund and bedazzled captain's hat. He's singing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction, but the song is almost unrecognizable with all his riffing. The dancers in gold beaded costumes are a huge distraction. I think the staging is a big misfire here. And now he's dancing and still not singing the melody. Apparently the cummerbund is actually a corset. My mistake. And cue the confetti canons. This is pretty bad. No X's from the judges.
Next up are Those Funny Little People. They're the full-body puppeteering act with choreography and lip-syncing. Piers hates them. It's a sucker bet to assume he won't X them on the live show.
I love that the manager gets to introduce the act. The set is filled with streetlights. Are they doing Singing in the Rain? I sure hope so. Yes they are. The choreography is old Hollywood musical. Piers buzzes them. Shocker. Now there are gay men descending from the ceiling and wings to dance with the female puppet singing It's Raining Men. Rubber ducks are falling on the project screen. It's pandemonium. Best drag act ever, no? The inflated inner-tubes and swim fins are a nice touch. Howie and much of the audience gives them a standing ovation. 1 X from the hater.
Next up are the Fearless Flores Family. They're the family of motorcycle stunt riders. Hopefully they do more than put young children in a steel cage on motorcycles.
The kids are in the cage covered in blacklights. Nice presentation, but they're using that awful Pump It song by the Black Eyed Peas. The're hanging onto a sheet together while riding. This act cannot sustain a full Vegas show. Talent, yes, but not for long stretches of time. Now mom is hopping in on the action, which puts the act at a total standstill. The might run out of time. There is a high danger level and a lot of skill, but I don't find this particularly compelling. Absolutely no climax or rhythm to the act. No X's.
Next up are Squonk Opera. They're fantastically bizarre. I'm predicting 2 X's. Sharon will hang in there, but Piers (who already X'd them) and Howie will lose interest fast.
Lots of stuff hidden onstage to start. The singer is in a gorgeous gown. Wings are rising on stage to cover her in scrim. Beautiful nigh sky projection against the risen fan. Now a piano playing hands projection. Might be live. Horns and moons ascending. This is brilliant. Band ascending onstage. A sun has appeared in front of the band. Piers X'd it. Singer rising on the moon. It's beautiful. No one will get this. I love it though. The whole act is brilliantly conceived and could sustain Vegas. Horned man with wings. Just a fantastic song and exploration of space and time. If Cirque du Soleil can headline in Vegas, so can Squonk Opera. Sharon X'd them. Wtf? Fabulous performance. Two X's.
Next up is J. Chris Newberg. He's the professional comedian who does the short funny songs that are totally hit or miss. I predict a train-wreck if the audience doesn't get behind him immediately. Piers will X him again.
He gets a back-up guitarist. He starts with mocking his own image and a bad PETA joke. Really terrible one-liners against guitar strumming. Piers X's him Now there's a children's choir onstage. A children's choir with bad painted on goatees. They're singing a song about bad ideas. This performance is just a bit too scattered. "Club Baby Seals" in Alaska is a good line. One X.
Next up is Snap Boogie. He's the street dancer from Boston with the insane ticking skills. I like him a lot. However, I'm not sure he can sustain a Vegas show. We'll see.
There is bar-code imagery on the projection screen. Some kind of shadow figure is standing behind his initial popping. It's actually a gaggle of dancers in black body suits. I'm...not sold on this. He's so great at this stuff, but the back-up dancers are screwing with my head. He has officially exhausted his dancing wheelhouse by repeating that one-heel spin and ticking body wave again. The mirror projection effect of infinite Snap Boogies is awesome, unlike the performance. Ok, not great. Poor staging choices for a very talented dancer. No X's.
Next up is Echo of Animal Gardens. This is the imitating parrot that does shtick with a trainer. He is a very talented animal, but he's hit or miss. Will he respond well to the giant live audience?
Two birds instead of one? Excellent. Fantastic set with live projection of environment. Uh-oh, they're repeating a whole bunch of material. Echo sings better than a lot of the singers on the show; that is pretty funny. Very limited material. Buzz them judges. Second bird is not cooperating at all. That set is absolutely gorgeous. Not so hot, but no X's.
Next up is The Fiddleheads. They're the old-fashioned bluegrass band doing covers of new music. Sadly, they are not a newgrass band, but an actual bluegrass band. I'm not sure what to expect.
They're dressed in leather pants and vests. They're doing a cover of Billie Jean. The singer is completely separate from the band tonight. I'm not sold on that. No one is moving their feet off the ground except to count beats. Wait, now there's gentle choreography. They have moved into a line behind the singer. Constant mic feedback issues. Well-played, NBC. The singer is very good, but this whole thing is just very awkward to look at. How do you X Squonk, who actually put on a stageshow, but not The Fiddleheads, who stand there and repeat the same licks for 90 seconds? No X's.
Up next is Duo Aero. They're the two-person single trapeze act. They're very talented, but how far can they go with this?
A jazz theme to the act tonight. Interesting choice. They're very connected to the music and doing aerial choreography. This is thrilling and fascinating. It's very well-planned. Now they're swing dancing on a trapeze. Great concept for a live audition. Started to lag, but then they did a crazy drop stunt. Maybe a little to twee for Piers as he X's them after their toughest stunt. They end with a one leg grab that scares me and a burst of explosions. 1 X.
Next is Anna Graceman. She is the pre-teen singer/songwriter who clammed in Vegas on the piano part. I predict she'll make the finals since America goes bonkers for young singers. A young singer even one the first season.
She's onstage with an open-topped piano singing What a Wonderful World. The projection screen is...waves? Aurora Borealis? I can't tell. I can tell she's riffing way too much. Who is the music director on the show and where do I send the criticism for encouraging vocal histrionics? She's wearing a bedazzled leather jacket. She's not even a teenager, wardrobe stylists. Let's be realistic here. There's a random group of people crouching in front of the stage that I don't think we are supposed to see. Apparently they're audience members that may have been there the whole show. It looks like they're sitting on the floor. No X's. The judges need to learn to criticize children in a contest with adults. Way too much leeway for comparability mediocre talent.
Sandou Trio Russian Bar closes out the show. They do Russian Bar. That's the four inch wide flexible balance beam that an acrobat is tossed off of by two people holding the bar. It's shocking.
They are insane. A bed of nails? You're allowing yourself to be thrown 30 feet in the air over a bed of nails? And people think Squonk Opera is crazy. Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Nice dramatic music and the theme is great. The acrobat is very dynamic onstage. The bar actually looks like it's going to fall into the bed of nails when she lands on it.She is now lighting the bed of nails on fire. Cuckoo. Cuckoo. I think it moved just a bit to slow and there isn't enough variety to safely create a Vegas headlining act. However, the group is phenomenally talented. No X's.
Ranking the First 12 Quarterfinalists 1. Squonk Opera 2. Those Funny Little People 3. Sandou Trio Russian Bar 4. Duo-Aero 5. Miami All Stars 6. Echo of Animal Gardens 7. Snap Boogie 8. J Chris Newberg 9. Anna Graceman 10. Fiddleheads 11. Dezmond Meeks 12. Fearless Flores Family
Who will move on?
I'm predicting Echo of Animal Gardens, Anna Graceman, Those Funny Little People, and Sandou Trio Russian Bar will move on. Alternate: Fearless Flores Family in place of Echo or Miami All Stars in place of Sandou Trio Russian Bar.