The time has finally come: America’s Got Talent is now live. Well, not right now. But it was last night.
Over two hours on Monday, 12 of the remaining 48 contestants performed for the 3,000 fans who packed into the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. They also hoped to impress judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne, who once again had the combined power to stop their performance with the push of a button. How did the acts fare? Read on for our complete breakdown.
Distinguished Men of Brass: You’d be hard pressed to find many people who’d put much stock in a marching band being a favorite to win this competition. But the D-Mob, as they love to call themselves, always bring killer energy. And their funky take on Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” was expectedly high-spirited, especially when they broke into a shimmy mid-song. The judges felt it was a decent performance, but they certainly weren’t raving about it. “You have to take it beyond a halftime show,” Mandel said. Stern added that the “sound gets muddled on TV.”
Edon: This yarmulke-rocking 14-year-old – that’s something we could never pull off – took yet another swipe at making a pop song into a piano ballad. This week it was David Guetta’s “Titanium,” with Edon doing his best Sia imitation (his prepubescent voice helps here). There was a bit too much production overpowering his voice at times. The judges thought otherwise, praising the young singer. “You hit every single note!” proclaimed Osbourne. Added Mandel, “From one to another, Jew are terrific.”
Jarrett and Raja: Based on their previous auditions, we had high hopes for these two magicians. After all, they were able to infuse a bit of music and some comedy into their illusion-based routine. But things got weird on Monday when Jarrett started out by belting “Singing in the Rain” before getting into a faux shower and making women appear behind a towel. The main problem was that you could see the women’s feet under the towel, ruining the trick. “It was rather cheesy,” Osbourne said. “You need longer towels,” she said as the audience booed the act off the stage.
Lil Starr: There’s no denying that, for a six-year-old, Lil Starr is one impressive dancer. And wearing lensless pink glasses, a la LMFAO’s RedFoo, while tap dancing to an LMFAO medley was downright genius. But on Monday Starr’s moves got lost in the commotion of the stage production. Mandel said she’s “the next Shirley Temple,” but Stern felt she hasn’t evolved. “I don’t think it is an act that can win,” he said. Sadly, we’d have to agree.
Todd Oliver: Maybe it was just us. But from the beginning we never understood all the fuss surrounding this dog ventriloquist. After another elementary showing on Monday, our opinion remains the same. Yes, Oliver did bring out another dog this time, who made some jokes about marking his territory on his owner’s pillow. But it all felt a bit forced. The judges concurred. “You’ve got to work on the material,” Osbourne said.
American BMX Stunt Team: With the X Games having just finished on Sunday, this team of half-pipe rippers and ramp shredders couldn’t have picked a better time to flaunt their skills. Their act was swift and proficient, with no flubs. They also were more confined this go-round, with a smaller stage adding a level of difficulty to their routine. “I bow down to you,” said Osbourne.
Nikki Jensen: The Australian singer took a self-admitted risk on Monday by singing without her guitar. Her mediocre rendition of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” didn’t do her any favors, either. There’s an admittedly intriguing element to her Alanis Morissette-meets-Regina Spektor warble. But her performance skills, as noted by the judges, are rather bland. “I don’t think you did anything that was memorable,” Stern said. Osbourne agreed: “You are capable of giving us more.”
The Scott Brothers: Stern has stated on multiple occasions that the dance acts this year feature some of the strongest competitors on the show. We’d have to disagree, and the evidence was in this brotherly combo’s whimsical yet cheesy performance. Wearing matching purple blazers and white fedoras, the brothers Scott unleashed synchronized dance moves that, while certainly cohesive, did little to create a lasting impression. Shockingly, the judges lapped it up. “You guys hit a home run tonight!” Stern said. Really, Howard?
Michael Nejad: Every so often there’s an act on a reality talent competition that gets absolutely pummeled by the judges. On Monday, the musician who fashions everyday objects – a baseball bat, shovel, vacuum cleaner, etc. – into homemade instruments was that contestant. True, Nejad’s odd take on Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” was, well, weird. But the judges – particularly Stern, in his most raw moment of the season yet – held nothing back. “Sometimes a shovel is so that you can dig your own grave, which you did tonight,” Stern said.
787 Crew: AGT producers have been playing up the emotional backstory of this Puerto Rican dance outfit for a few weeks now. The group spent nearly $4,000 to fly to their auditions and are out to prove that they are every bit as American as the rest. But their feel-good story couldn’t save them from a subpar performance on Monday. Their dance routine – a combination of b-boy moves and acrobatics – lacked the flair they’d previously demonstrated. “I think you’re in trouble tonight, boys,” Stern said coldly.
Shanice and Maurice Hayes – As far as father-daughter singing duos go, the Hayeses are top-notch. It’s hard to say, however, how they rate when you take away the “aww-how-cute” factor. Their take on Faith Hill’s “There’ll Be You” was quite solid. At times their vocal blend was noticeably lacking, but just when it seemed they might lose focus, Shanice, a vocal powerhouse, brought it home. “I’ve been worried about you guys,” Osbourne admitted. “But you nailed it big-time tonight!”
David Garibaldi and His CMYKs: This multimember dancing-paint crew are far and away one of the most inventive acts of the season. On Monday, painting a slick portrait of Mick Jagger in a matter of minutes and then finishing it off with a huge blast from a black-paint-spewing fire extinguisher, Garibaldi and his CMYKs mesmerized us, the judges and the audience. “If I were a woman I’d marry you now,” Stern told Garibaldi. “You are rock & roll,” added Osbourne.
PREDICTIONS: All signs are pointing to Edon, American BMX Stunt Team, Shanice and Maurice Hayes, and David Garibaldi and His CMYKs moving on.
TOMORROW: Tune in to find out which four acts America voted into the semifinals.
Last episode: The Battle Rages On