'America's Got Talent' Recap: Go Big or Go Home - Rolling Stone
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‘America’s Got Talent’ Recap: Go Big or Go Home

10-year-old mariachi band frontman, a human cannonball, a plus-sized pole dancer and more

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Lulu and Nick Cannon perform on 'America's Got Talent.'

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

And the auditions continue. As is the case with most reality-based talent competitions, the process of narrowing down the crop of contestants is a long, drawn-out process. But it’s hardly surprising:  auditions equal more episodes, which equals more money for the network. So after stops in L.A., New York, Florida and St. Louis, America’s Got Talent headed to Texas for Monday night’s episode. More specifically, the circus visited the home of barbecue, live music and good times. We’re talking about Austin. Let’s see what the big state of Texas had to offer.

The Good (a.k.a “The Real Business”)

Sebastian “El Charro de Oro” de la Cruz, singer: If you’ve ever been to Mexico (or a Tex-Mex restaurant trying to imitate an authentic Mexican environment), chances are you’re familiar with mariachi bands. That being said, it’s not often you see a 10-year-old as the frontman of one of those multi-instrument outfits. De La Cruz, a little kid with a big heart, wowed the judges (and us) with his massive chops – particularly impressive considering the little man stands no more than four-and-a-half feet tall. “I did not expect that big voice to come out of that little body,” exclaimed Sharon Osbourne. Howie Mandel called him the “little Mexican Jackie Evancho.”

Bandbaz Brothers, acrobatic duo: Acrobatics and balancing acts aren’t usually our thing, but this uncle-nephew duo made us reconsider. At 59 years old, the elder member of the duo hadn’t performed in 11 years. But little rust showed, aside from a bit of shaking in the performance’s most tense moment, during which the younger member used his uncle’s head as a base to stand upright. However, this small bit of vulnerability worked to the duo’s advantage: the judges liked the “edge-of-your-seat” aspect of the performance. And so did we.

Joe Castillo, artist: Figuring out how far Castillo, a middle-aged man who “uses light and sand and tells stories,” will go in this competition is debatable; his ability to transform sand first into an image of two soldiers looking at an American flag and then swiftly maneuver it into the Statue of Liberty, as “God Bless the U.S.A.” blared in the background, was quite astounding. Seeing as the judges put him through to Vegas, hope he’ll be able to elevate his performance in the weeks to come.

The Eh (a.k.a. “Not So Much”)

Timothy Michael Poe, singer: Placing Poe in this category is strictly based on an analysis of his talents. As a veteran of Afghanistan, we have nothing but the utmost respect for this native Texan, who unfortunately suffers from a stutter as a result of a grenade-related injury suffered while he was deployed. Poe sang an adept version of Garth Brooks’ “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” While we knew the judges would put him through based on his story alone, the reality is that his voice was nothing special. Poe seems like a great guy, one we’d look to for a shining example of overcoming adversity. But is he a $1 million act? Not quite.

David Smith Jr., human cannonball: This devoted father and husband has been supporting his family for 15 years by shooting himself out of a cannon. It’s apparently in his blood, as we learned his father kept the same profession. There’s no denying the danger involved in Smith’s act, especially considering it was raining outside when he performed in Austin, causing his landing net to loosen up. Yet Smith executed the daredevil-ish stunt with precision, and the judges were impressed enough to put him through to Vegas. But we must wonder: where does the act go from here? How many more times can the judges (or America, for that matter) be impressed? We think not very long.

The Just Plain Bad (a.k.a. “The Bizarro Bunch”)

TenderBox Circus Sideshow, freakshow act: Continuing a trend of featuring acts that specialize in some form of self-mutilation, this trio threw darts at each other’s bare backs, dropped bowling balls on one another’s crotch and held a cinder block up to their head while using a hammer to cause more brain damage than was likely already present. We agree with Howard Stern on this one: “a colossal waste of time.” 

Lulu, pole dancer: We applaud anyone who gives it their all, no matter their respective act or talent. So while we have no disrespect for Lulu, a heavyset woman who tried her hand at pole dancing, it was hard not to wonder if the show’s producers only brought her out for laughs. Which is wrong. Then again, Lulu’s cringe-worthy pole-dancing act did lead to host Nick Cannon trying his hand at it. Which was nothing short of hilarious. So there’s that. 

We Hardly Knew Ya

Edan, singer/pianist – We didn’t learn much about this young boy who played the piano while singing a spirited rendition of OneRepublic’s “Good Life.” Inspired vocals? Yes. Enough screen time? Not at all.

Last week: The Love Boat


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