Thursday, July 5, 2012
America's Got Talent - First Quarterfinals Results
The tension is so stiff you could cut it with a... actually, there's no tension at all, because Howard Stern's mouth is as big as his ego and he was so eager to play the prophet last night, he may have actually influenced the results. Television voters tend to be sheep. Everybody with any sense knows within about six acts who has any prayer at all of going through. We must give a very special shoutout to the people in charge of both sound mixing and lighting last night, because they almost assuredly contributed to the failure of several of these acts.
So, America, who blew you away, and who just blew? They are all packed into the Green Room like very competitive sardines who smile as they contemplate blowing each other's brains out, or at least stepping on each other's toes.
"Oh! So sorry! It's crowded in here!"
"Yeah, it'll be a lot less crowded when eight of you losers get eliminated."
Nick introduces the judges. The crowd screams so loudly for Howard, his head grows two more sizes. Nick asks the judges how hard it was for America to decide, and I say, aloud to the TV, "Oh, not too hard. Besides, Howard told me what to think, anyway." Seriously, I figured out two of the successful acts all by myself, but I might have gotten two singing winners tonight wrong if Judge Howard Stern had not laid it all out for me. Sharon says she has no idea who is going through, and of course that's wrong, because Howard told us all yesterday.
The first three called up on the stage: Michael Nejad (the guy who got buzzed three times for playing a vacuum cleaner badly), Shenice and Maurice, and Nikki Jensen.
Oh, hold me. The suspense is killing me. Oh, sorry, it's just indigestion. This is pretty obvious. Michael Nejad has to know he's going to his doom. I am not sure what Nikki is thinking, poor thing, since she didn't actually stink up the joint.
The recap reminds us of how very badly Michael Nejad's act went down... boy, they like rubbing salt in those wounds, don't they? Michael gets a moment to talk back. "Howard! Go to hell!" Good for you, Mike, even if the vacuum cleaner DID suck. The recap then reminds us that, despite sound mixing problems that should get several people fired, Shenice and Maurice killed it. It's all extremely heartwarming. Nikki Jensen, singing alone with a quirky voice, can't compete with that, although she's more musical than a vacuum cleaner.
Howard, based on these three acts, can you call? Oh wait, you already did. Howard thanks all three of them for competing and giving them content for their television show. Howard reminds Michael that he was awful, and tells Shanice and Maurice that they had a spectacular night. He wishes Nikki was as good here as she was in Vegas.
The act going through to the semifinals... can you feel the suspense? No, neither can I. It's the two people who performed well to universal praise. Duh. Shanice and Maurice are through. Never saw that coming. Maurice thanks God, the judges, and the fans. Shanice thanks God, and the fans, too. Wonder where she gets it from?
After the break, Nick offers us a chance to party with the contestants. Lil Starr tells Howard off. We are reminded of how much the Scott Brothers rock. Nick is kind to the contestants who do not have English as a primary language.
Then we watch a live advertisement for Cirque de Soleil, whom I might consider going to see live if they didn't cost a hundred bucks. America's Got Talent probably should not hook up with Cirque de Soleil too often... they are actually, you know, good. Amazing. The comparison hurts.
Who are the next group? The Scott Brothers, Lil Starr, and 787 Crew. So we have a small child and a sloppy dance group known for very emotional outbursts going up against a precise, mean, professional, dancing machine. They are not doing a good job of providing the suspense. We are reminded that the Scott Brothers were amazing. We see this very sweet child flailing about the stage. We see her run to her mother's arms, sure she's done her very best. She probably has. She's adorable, and she's six. We see 787 Crew attempting to maintain focus as these horrible lighting directors create chaos around them. Howie tells them they didn't step it up. Sharon tells them there will be a next time.. but there won't.
Nick asks Sharon if it's a difficult call. Only if you are blind and deaf, Nick. We have amazing and professional, childish and cute, and sloppy. No, it's not difficult, whatever Sharon must say. Sharon does not want to hurt people's feelings. But the Scott Brothers are through, because it's the only sane decision. I see that poor little Lil... her real name is Liliana Rosa, if you care to know - standing there all alone, with nobody to help her absorb the disappointment, and I am worried about her. One of the guys from 787 takes a moment out from his own disappointment to hug her and show her towards her adults. The Scott Brothers thank America. Howie agrees with America's choice. Howard tells them that they blew the singers away last night.
I think America's Got Talent does not want another singer to win. Hmmmm...
Next three: David Garibaldi, Jarret and Raja, and the American BMX Stunt Team.
BMX were probably on the cusp this year. They could have made it. Somebody in that team somewhere is shouting in his head, 'DAMMIT! David Garibaldi? REALLY???? Dammit!" Jarret and Raja just trudge meekly towards their fate. Somebody on the BMX crew needs to shoot the lighting guy for making them perform almost in the dark.
The recap reminds us that Garibaldi triumphed and the audience booed Jarret and Raja. The magicians looked pretty dejected and confused afterwards. Then we are reminded that the BMX guys were riding in very dim blue light. It's a wonder nobody got hurt.
Howie tells the BMX guys that they were spectacular live - but their magic was not captured on television. Of course not. We could not see them. Howie tells Jarrett and Raja that they deserved a better response than they got. (No, not really, Howie. They need to understand what went wrong so they can improve on this.) Garibaldi is amazing. Howie knows who is going through. So do I. It's Garibaldi, of course - the only act in this round of twelve with an outside chance to win the entire competition.
I hope the BMX riders are called back for the wild card show. The judges were right. These guys deserved to go on. Their failure is not entirely their fault.
Howard tells David and his crew that they were the best act of the night and could end up in the top five. I agree with this; my only concern is that there are three outstanding art acts in the competition this year and they are eventually going to be up against each other. Will the audience eventually get tired of watching David paint musicians, or will he come up with a new angle on his act?
There's only one spot left and three acts that want it. We see the Green Room. The Distinguished Men of Brass are all seated comfortably together. Todd Oliver sits leisurely with his dog, looking pretty relaxed, right next to a teenager in a yarmulke who appears to be so nervous he's about to throw up. Hang in there, Edon. We will now get nearly half an hour of filler as you sit there and stew.
Let's watch this group of twelve acts go sightseeing together! Yes, apparently they made them hang out together socially all week! Watch Michael Nejad chat with one of the BMX guys! See Lil Starr, looking like a refreshingly ordinary child, gaping at the size of the buildings! Watch them all eat pizza and drink Snapple. Shot after shot after shot of Snapple.
Now, while Edon tries to keep his dinner down, let's listen to Will. I. Am, who, like Edon, sings as he plays the piano. OK, remind all these amateurs that they are amateurs, Will. Pretty soon we have Fergie, jugglers, acrobats, fireworks, and the kitchen sink on the stage with them. "That was hot" says Nick. Yes, Nick, some of those performers were shooting sparks, literally.
We are back in the Green Room now. Todd Oliver is grinning. He's a show biz veteran and knows how to present himself to the camera. I don't think he's cocky - well, maybe he is - but he's the most polished. The Distinguished Men of Brass are all hiding behind Nick, and poor little Edon, front and center, still looks vaguely green.
In the recap, we are reminded that the sound mixing almost drowned out Edon as he sang his little heart out. He did, however, get a standing ovation. Howard thinks he's humble and nice. Todd's dog still has a crush on Sharon, but the jokes were weak. The Distinguished Men of Brass sounded muddled. Well, yeah, Howard, the sound mixing killed them, too. I notice that this group, the first to perform, is the last to be presented in the results.
Two of these three acts were among the top five vote getters on performance night. The judges will decide who of those two acts goes through. I hold my breath; Todd Oliver was almost panned last night. Surely, if they want any suspense at all, they will eliminate him first.
Nope. The Distinguished Men of Brass got the lowest number of votes this round, and they are out.
At this point, of course, anybody with a memory knows it's all over. Prophet Howard has already told us what's going to happen. We already know he's going to vote for Edon. However, they have to prolong the agony a little bit more, so Nick asks Edon to tell the judges why they should vote him through. Oh, boy, kid, you didn't know this competition had a debate and speech element, did you? Maybe he did. He's actually prepared for the question: Edon thinks they should pick him because the show is about finding undiscovered talent - as opposed, perhaps, to propping up show business veterans who don't really need the exposure? Todd speaks next, and he sounds like a commercial. He also sounds bored, like he's given this speech before... and like he knows he's toast. He remembers the critiques, even if the producers are assuming that we've forgotten.
So let's have another commercial break, just to prolong the non-existent suspense.
Howie gets to speak first. He meanders and delays, but Edon... is The Chosen. Oh, great, more Jew jokes. Is it going to be like this every round? Howard is next. He praises Todd Oliver's original dog act as if he had not already revealed his hand, and then says that he wishes Edon, the child prodigy, had waited a few years to come on the show. However, the act going through... is Edon.
Big shocker. Howard, next week, don't call the winners ahead of time. The show is not really about you and it made the last half hour of the results show really predictable and dull. Best moment of this reveal: color begins to come back into Edon's face and he looks like he can breathe again. I notice that Todd does not shake Edon's hand on the way out. I think he's masking some understandable irritation with the way this was handled. Maybe they will have him back on the Wild Card to make it up to him. Maybe Howie will write him some jokes, too.
Sharon cheerfully informs us that she also would have voted for Edon. This might be true, but Todd's left the stage. I don't think anybody with any class at all would have looked at this boy in this situation and said, "Oh, I like that other guy better, kid."
The first four quarterfinalists through on America's Got Talent: David Garibaldi and his CMYKs, Shanice and Maurice Hayes, The Scott Brothers, and Edon. That's it until next week!