We're so close to the end of the season, I can almost forgive the show for taking an extra two weeks to get to the Semifinals. Tonight, the first 12 competitors aim for a spot in the finals. Now, this does not mean the show ends in two weeks. Chances are, there's a Final 8 and then a Final 4 before the winner is declared. Maybe they'll switch formats this year. Who knows? We know now. The show announced during the broadcast that there will be a Top 10. That means 5 acts are moving on in each Semifinals. As always, we'll be doing the play by play recap live tonight. Sound off in the comments throughout the night. I love hearing what you guys think.
Up first tonight is Zuma Zuma. They're that great acrobat/tumbling team that stepped it up with giant pole work in the live shows. What other tricks do they have to show us?
There is a stack of chairs on the stage. They're performing to Sean Paul's "Temperature." They're starting by tumbling over and under a flaming limbo stick. One member is doing a handstand on top of the giant stack of chairs. Someone is eating fire. Three of them are stacked on top of each other right now. They're really stepping up the danger level tonight. The routine doesn't seem as guided as it normally is. It's not quite random, but it isn't building to a grand crescendo like their past performances. No X's.
Second tonight is Beth Ann Robinson. She's the YouTube round teenage competition dancer. With her level of training, is she able to come up with another routine as strong as the bird cage audition with so little time?
Beth Ann is dancing in front of a mirror in a pink toga-like dress. The stage is mostly bare. There's a random twinkling background, a large disco-ball on the ceiling and fog machines. Her dancing is solid, but this song might be a bit too slow to grab everyone's attention. It's much more traditional in competition-style than her more broken positions from the YouTube show. Her fouettes are beautiful near the end of the routine. No X's.
Next is Sandou Trio Russian Bar. They are the high flying tumbling act on the skinny Russian Bar that have performed with fire and spikes. Last time, they promised a different apparatus. Will they follow that promise? Will that new apparatus be supported by the judges who loved the Russian Bar?
Why is there a piano onstage? Why is it flying? Why is the girl playing the piano? What happened to the stunts? She's...not a great singer. The one guy is doing stunts on a rope. She's singing "Angel of Mine." One X from Piers. The judges don't look happy. The piano is now rotated 180 degrees off of the floor. This is boring. You can see the PVC harness that is holding her up. She's losing her pitch while the piano spins. And the camera is opting to focus on the girl, not the guy doing actually dangerous stunts. 1 X. Horrible choice.
Kevin Colis is next. He is the white guy with a guitar from the YouTube show because of course a talent show has a white guy with a guitar. Can he do what so many WGWGs have done before him and overwhelmingly win a talent show for being a generic WGWG?
Kevin is by himself onstage in a suit. He starts the Plain White T's' song "Rhythm of Love" off-key. The audience is already clapping along. His diction is atrocious. The word is not "EEEEEr;" it's "ear." This guy could be good with training. He's not there. He gets to the bridge and Piers X's him. Good. Do people actually know this song? He ends on a solid falsetto, the finest moment of the performance. 1 X.
Next is Matt Wilhelm. He's the YouTube bike act that performs blacklight routines on a bicycle. I was underwhelmed. Can he do enough to stand out from Team iLuminate? They do have a much larger fanbase from having appeared on the show more than two weeks ago.
He's starting with a stage filled with street props that glow red and blue plus two back-up dancers. His bike was just stolen. This is some kind of hardcore street-themed number and it's kind of absurd. I think the dancers are demons. They have snake-like horns coming out of their heads and might be hooked up to wires. I like his green shoes. I think he did every single one of these stunts last week. And he fell off the bike. It's clearly not intentional. No X's for that? Yup. No X's.
The next act is PopLyfe. They're the young band that Piers thinks would work better as a solo act for the singer. I praised their last performance as one of the best band performances in the history of the show. Can they improve upon that?
PopLyfe is performing "Come Together" by The Beatles. The stage is a large scaffolding similar to the set of Next to Normal. Each band member gets their own cube. I think this is the wrong key for their singer to perform in. It's relying on her weaker head voice. Her diction is very soft tonight. She can just belt the second verse out in this key. It's not the most compelling stage visual and it's not a particularly dynamic song for a band this young to perform. The guitar player is soloing under the lead singer riffing. It's not great. I think this might be the worst they've done on the show. No X's.
West Springfield Dance Team kicks off the second hour. They are the horror/movie-inspired gigantic dance squad. Last week in the Wild Card round, the judges said they weren't as special, while I loved that routine even more than their first audition. Can they continue to gain fans with such a strange approach to thematic dancing?
The stage is suggesting a radioactive meltdown. It's a zombie dance, ladies and gentlemen. They're doing very military-esque movements in the hip-hop vernacular. It's really cool looking. Their zombie make-up is on point. The lighting design is really setting them apart tonight. Their ghastly skin is picking up whatever gel is flashed on them. It's beautifully staged. The steps aren't' as advanced as last week, but they're doing more of the big stage pictures. They end the dance on the ground with the one male dancer ripping off part of his face. Fabulous. No X's.
Next up is Melissa Villasenor. She is the impressionist/comedian that the judges were underwhelmed by in the Quarterfinals. I wasn't a big fan, either. Can she actually put together a cohesive routine with recognizable celebrities this time?
Melissa is by herself onstage with a set of curtains behind her. She's starting with a Sarah Silverman impersonation. It's decent. Is Sarah Silverman mainstream enough to appeal to the America's Got Talent audience? Wanda Sykes is next. It's a great Wanda Sykes. The act is a little bit slow tonight. I thought I'd prefer her working with more context, but I actually prefer her connected gags. Her Shakira is horrible. She's doing another Christina Aguilera impersonation. She's good at it, but this is 3/3 performances with Christina as her big closing impersonation. No X's.
The next act is Team iLuminate. These are the led-clothed dance crew. With the amount of programming involved in the routine and the choreography, have they had enough time to create a compelling new stage scene?
There's some kind of video game theme to the act . The costumes have multiple colors each this time. It's a nice change. They're performing to a remix of LMFAO "Party Rock Anthem." The act starts with Tron imagery. One of the costumes is half out. That's unfortunate. It ruins the Mortal Kombat illusion. The Street Fighter illusion leading into a dancer flying to the ceiling is great. Now they're actually dong the dance from the music video for "Party Rock Anthem." It's great. I think I prefer their routine to "E.T." from the Quarterfinals, but this was very good. No X's.
Performing next is Daniel Joseph Baker. He's the singer/piano player that I praised for actually putting on a show with pop music. How much further can he push his act without losing the focus on the music?
Daniel is performing Adele's "Turning Tables." He's dressed in a white Renaissance-accented coat. His hair is covered in glitter. He's on a platform above the stage by himself. The piano is spinning. I don't think he's getting dancers tonight. It's very Liberace in presentation. Daniel stands up for the end of the song. He's much more compelling as a singer than he is as a singing-pianist. No X's.
Miami All Stars are up. They're the Latin dance academy from Florida. I loved their first audition but thought the Quarterfinals performance was a little messy. Can they keep it tight again with so may dancers onstage? And will they stick to Latin dance or branch out to their other training?
Miami All Stars are doing a swing routine tonight. It actually plays into their strengths. Many Broadway shows in the late 90's/early '00's ran for years doing large ensemble swing routines in zoot suits. This one is very clean and stunt heavy. The audience is getting into it. It really does look like a scene out of Swing!. I'm excited. I want to see what else this group can put together in the Final 10. Very nice. No X's.
Closing out the night is Lys Agnes. She is, without a doubt, my favorite singer in the contest. I did just name her most likely to win the whole contest. Can she continue to show that opera can be accessible and flashy enough for Vegas?
Lys is singing "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence. She sounds amazing. The stage is very moody with two large angel statues and matching black candelabras. There's a wrought-iron fence in front of the projection screen. This arrangement is very jarring. She jumped from the first verse to the bridge. Strange choice. She's avoiding the chorus for some reason. A chorus is rising like the fog rolling on the ground. She's acting this song to perfection. It's another stunning vocal. I just wish the stage images weren't as cliche. No X's.
- West Springfield Dance Team
- Miami All Stars
- Team iLuminate
- Beth Ann Robinson
- Lys Agnes
- Zuma Zuma
- Daniel Joseph Baker
- Melissa Villasenor
- Matt Wilhelm
- Kevin Colis
- Sandou Trio Russian Bar
- Kevin Colis
- West Springfield Dance Team
- Team iLuminate
- Miami All Stars
- Lys Agnes
The show started very slow tonight. Acts took risks with story and style that just didn't work. The second hour picked up considerably and ended strong. I will not be surprised if no one from the first hour moves on. I still think Kevin Colis is a safe bet because of his type and what it represents in audience vote talent shows.
So what did you think? Favorites of the night? Biggest mistake? Anything on your mind related to the show? Sound off below. I'd love to hear from you.