'America's Got Talent' Recap: The Wild-Card Round - Rolling Stone
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‘America’s Got Talent’ Recap: The Wild-Card Round

Previously ousted contestants return for a shot at redemption

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Todd Oliver performs on 'America's Got Talent.'

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

With all those preliminary rounds out of the way, it was finally time for the semifinals on America’s Got Talent, right? Not so fast. On Tuesday night, in yet another attempt to prolong an already drawn-out competition, AGT held its annual wild-card round, bringing back 12 previously ousted contestants hand-picked by the three judges for a shot at redemption. Four will advance on tonight’s results show. How did they do?

Howard Stern’s Picks:

Spencer Horsman: This modern-day Houdini returned for one more death-defying escape act: Horsman had 90 seconds to free himself from eight padlocks while locked inside a tank steadily filling with wet cement. Time ticked away and the cement started to obscure Horsman’s face from view. Was he going to die on national TV? Of course not! The young daredevil escaped, his body and face covered in cement gunk, only able to mutter the words “I’m alive!” The judges loved it. “That’s what you gotta do to win!” Stern said.

Todd Oliver: The concept of pet ventriloquism is hardly appealing, but somehow this Branson, Missouri, native makes it work. Stern had told Oliver in the past to be more topical with his material. So on Tuesday the comic and his pooch, Irving, went with a winning presidential-themed set. The best joke? Irving, a black-and-white Boston Terrier, says that rather than vote for the black guy (Obama) or the white guy (Romney) this election, you should vote for him and get both. Afterward, Stern was beaming. “You did me proud,” he said. “That 90 seconds flew by,” added Sharon Osbourne. “Great material. Very slick.”

Horse: Yes, the nutshot champion was back  Stern simply couldn’t get enough of him. And things went the way you’d expect: Horse began his routine by getting his junk smacked with a golf club and later capped it off by climbing to the top of a podium and landing in the splits position atop a long wooden column. Stern, of course, loved every minute of it. “I think you’re hysterical,” he said, before accepting Horse’s offer and launching several tennis balls out of a canon at his crotch. “You,” Mandel told the man whose nether region was surely sore by that point, “are nuts.”

Ben Blaque: What initially surprised us about Stern bringing back this crossbow-wielding performer was that it seemed as if Blaque had run out of tricks. Wrong. His stunt last night was mind-blowing: Rather than shooting at his assistant, he turned the arrows on himself by first positioning a trio of crossbows, then blindfolding himself, putting an apple atop his head and, using a bell as a point of reference, shooting a target to set off a chain reaction of crossbow mayhem that ended with a bolt piercing the core of the apple.

Howie Mandel’s Picks:

Jarrett and Raja: We’d be lying if we said we saw this one coming. After they were literally booed off the stage in their last AGT performance, Mandel brought back this illusionist duo, saying he believed they had been “treated wrongly” the first time. How did they respond? In stunning fashion, that’s how. Raja began the routine in a rectangular box, playing a baby grand piano. The box was then closed, lifted up and quickly exploded, revealing that Raja was no longer in it. Then the camera panned to the back of the audience where Raja stood, fully intact, playing the same baby grand. “I’m so excited!” Mandel exclaimed. Stern couldn’t help but agree. “You redeemed yourself,” he told the relieved twosome.

Kristin Sandu: In what was one of the season’s most crushing moments, this young acrobat who specializes in balancing atop odd-shaped objects fell from his perch, to the shock of the judges. Mandel felt Sandu deserved another chance. Sadly, it did not go well. Surrounded by fire, Sandu built his contraption, hoisted himself onto it and, despite balancing for a few seconds, wobbled back and forth before everything came crashing to the ground. He was nearly inconsolable, but the judges did their best to ease his pain. “I really enjoyed it, I truly did,” Stern said. Added Osbourne, “You have awfully big kahunas to come back and try it again.”

Sebastian “El Charro de Oro”: The young mariachi singer, a clear-cut favorite from the start, returned after his shocking ouster several weeks ago. This time he promised  “a little bit of mariachi, a little bit of Frank Sinatra.” What followed was a cheesy rendition of “New York, New York,” interspersed with some Spanish lyrics. Stern was skeptical, but Osbourne told Sebastian he had stolen her heart, and Mandel loved it, too. “I think you are a star!” Mandel proclaimed. 

Andrew De Leon: If any contestant this season appeared to be a frontrunner based solely on an audition, it was Andrew De Leon. A freakish-looking opera singer who had never performed outside his bedroom, De Leon caught the judges by surprise from the get-go. But then he bombed in Vegas and was quickly sent packing. Luckily he got another shot on Tuesday and didn’t disappoint. Yes, his falsetto-laden vocals were a bit shrill. But given his lack of training, his opera-style performance of “Unchain My Heart” was winning. “In this night of redemption, you redeemed yourself,” Mandel said.

Sharon Osbourne’s Picks:

All That: Osbourne seemed to enjoy the prospect of this all-male clogging team oiling themselves up and ripping off their shirts even more than she did their dancing skills. For their return performance, the toe-tapping crew staged what appeared to be a competition between themselves and a fake team of cloggers projected as silhouettes on a screen behind them. The intriguing idea however, didn’t quite redeem an adept, but bland performance. “I’m gonna be totally honest,” Mandel said. “I don’t think it’s exciting enough.” Stern concurred: “It won’t be enough to get you through.”

Jake Wesley Rogers: After bowing out several weeks ago following a frighteningly gaudy take on Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” this coiffed singer returned to do, um, a Lady Gaga tune? Apparently Rogers didn’t learn from his initial song-selection mistakes: his rendition of “Edge of Glory” resembled something you’d hear at a karaoke bar. Osbourne was diplomatic, but the two male judges pulled no punches. “You don’t make that connection with the audience,” Stern said. Mandel added, “I think this is not the year for the singer on America’s Got Talent.”

Banbaz Brothers: This nephew-uncle acrobatic duo was one of our favorite acts all season, and we were seriously bummed when they were eliminated. Thankfully, Osbourne felt they had more to offer, and they stepped up their game last night with a stunt that one member said killed his grandfather’s cousin (whoa!). For the performance both men had knives sticking out of their mouths. Then, one member held himself up with an arm upon the other’s shoulder, linked up his knife with his partner’s below, and miraculously stood straight up in the air using only the knife as support. “It was breathtaking,” said a mesmerized Osbourne.

Lindsey Norton: Nothing stood out to us about this teen dancer from Florida so we were surprised to learn Osbourne had brought her back. Norton’s performance on Tuesday was more acrobatic than dance – continuous backflips, contortions and so on – and while undeniably slick, it was hardly memorable. Stern and Mandel both agreed that she might be in trouble come Wednesday’s results show. “I’m afraid, as proficient as you are,” Stern said, “you might get overlooked.”

PREDICTION: It’s going to be a close call, but we’re betting on Spencer Horsman, Todd Oliver, Andrew De Leon and Banbaz Brothers to advance in Wednesday’s results show, which also includes a performance from Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen.    

Last recap: YouTube Night Winners Advance      


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