The first twelve acts compete for America's votes on the quarterfinals of America's Got Talent! Who wowed? Who fell apart? Only four acts will move on, so they've got to raise the bar for themselves to advance tonight.
Some of them did. Some of them demonstrated why they should never have been chosen... over Andrew DeLeon.
In the pre-show we get to see a lot of very bad acts get buzzed again, and we get an update on Ron Christopher Porter, the voiceover guy. He's gotten a job working on a movie, so AGT has made at least one dream come true this year. Not bad for a guy who did not even go to Vegas.
As we go live to the new arena, we see that the producers are very much aware that it's almost the Fourth of July. You could hold a political convention in this arena, or a Presidential Debate.
Nick Cannon grew some hair. He announces the judges, who make their entrances as if they were the reason we are here... well, for some people, Howard Stern actually is, and I will hand it to him. Tonight I realized, for sure, that he's clearly the most articulate and discerning, if the most arrogant, of the judges. Ah, the Xes are ready. They will be used a couple of time tonight. Twelve quarterfinalists will perform tonight. Only four will survive the round.
The Distinguished Men of Brass have the unenviable job of going first. They remind us that they have all lost their jobs, and that they are trying to a bad situation into a dream. And then... they perform. About fifteen seconds into their act, as I watch them attempt to "Go Big" I realize that they really are.. a marching band. They are precise, and well - trained, and giving it their all, but I've seen this done almost as well at the Rose Bowl Parade each year. It's a grownup version of the typical football halftime show. They are very good at a very fairly conventional skill.
Howie: Take it beyond a marching band, beyond a half-time show.
Sharon: You've got it going on.
Howard: You won't got to the top unless we narrow it down a little bit in the future.
Howie and Howard suggest that having some of the guys do some solo work might help set them apart in future performances. I am not completely sure there will be future performances. They are probably in the top six in terms of how they did tonight, but their position is really difficult.
Edon performs next. He is singing "Titanium" and there's a high note that that he may not be able to reach. He sounds tremulous when he begins, but his voice gains strength as he goes on, and the applause grows by the time he hits the chorus. By the last crescendo, he's singing with great passion and power, and he's got the crowd on its feet. It's a standing ovation on national television. Edon Pinchot is fourteen years old, and he's an Orthodox Jew wearing a yarmulke. This may be the most triumphant night of his young life.
Sharon: Amazing song choice. You hit every single note. You sang with great emotion.
Howie: Did you get a standing ovation at your bar mitzvah? "Jew" are terrific.
Howard: Just out here now, you nailed every single note, I think you really did a great job and what I love about you is, you're not a show biz kid.
Edon has hit it out of the park, and he looks very good going in to tomorrow night. I am very pleasantly surprised and happy for him. Yes, Nick, it is probably much, much better than puberty.
Well, we've had a good act and a great one. Let's cleanse our palate with something cheesy and poorly done. Now we've got Jarret and Raja, who are quick to tell us that they are outsiders in the world of magic. Other magicians don't understand the pairing of a pianist and a magician. The act that these two show us tonight... will not make it any clearer for anybody. Jarret begins the act by performing "Singing in the Rain" as he steps into a shower. He makes three towels dance, but even from home I can tell that these are just girls dancing under the towels, and it's not really all that amazing when they appear, or even when Raja ends up in the shower. The crowd is booing as they end their act. Loudly. Really loudly. BUZZZZZZZ! goes the audience!
Howard: What you've gotta do is bring the pizzazz that you had over in Vegas.
Sharon: It got rather cheesy when you began to sing "Singing in the Rain..." and then when you were doing the tricks with the ladies, we could see their feet!
Howie: I thought it was a good trick! (The audience boos.)
Yes, Howie, the people at home could see how they did the trick. I was not mystified. These guys are toast.
Can something more amateurish follow that? Sure! It's Lil Starr! She's six! She's cute! She does the same five dance moves over and over again, very enthusiastically! If she was performing for her kindergarten talent show, she'd be the best one for sure! But here? No. Howard lays the truth down before she even starts: she is great for her age, but it's basically a dance recital act. She gets out there and gives it every ounce of energy in her little six year old body. It's clear she's got a lot of talent, but she's a little limited in the variety of the moves she can make, and if she were an adult she'd get buzzed. That's what separates her from Edon and Sebastien. They would be declared pretty good if they were adults performing at the same level. Lil would not. The crowd goes crazy for her - who has the heart to not applaud a tiny little girl who tried so hard?
Howie: You've gotta change your name. It's not little, it's BIG! Big Starr! I think you're the next Shirley Temple.
Howard: You are an adorable young lady, and there's no doubt you're going to grow up to be a great dancer... I have to be very very honest...I don' t think you're up to it. I think every time I've seen you it's been the exact same act. It's brilliant for a six year old.
Sharon: She doesn't need a story with the way you shine! You're amazing for six years old. Do not listen to what Howard says.
Perfect analysis, Howard. Some people in the audience realize he speaks the truth, and some of them want to hang him in effigy for saying mean things to Miss Precious. I think Howard's idea that her choreographer build a storyline around Lil's rountine is brilliant, and might be the push she needs to become a headliner... but everybody is booing him too hard to recognize that he's trying to help her. I think she's on the verge of becoming tiresome, and I hope she does home, but it's hard to gauge how far a voting audience will go to keep a little girl from crying.
Todd Oliver raises his dogs on a ranch. One year a ventriloquist won America's Got Talent, but I don't think he's going to repeat that feat. His living doggy dummy flirts with Sharon, and it all goes downhill from there. These jokes are old, tired, and hokey.
Sharon: I love the idea of the act and what you do. I think the only weak point is some of the material.
Howie: I think the material doesn't live up to the expectation. The act is great.. I just wish what they were saying would make me laugh.
Howard: Maybe the dogs really have to come out a little stronger. The act should be more topical. (Then he suggests that Todd make fun of Mitt Romney.)
Well, this guy is not moving on to the next round, but possibly Howard has told him what he needs to do to make the act more effective.
American BMX Stunt Team performs next. They hurl their bikes up and down these ramps, sometimes doing flips, and after awhile, I feel like I've seen all this before. However, they are doing a lot in a tiny space. It's a very busy, frenetic act.
Howard: You're still holding my attention, and you're better than your main competitors.
Sharon: I know how dangerous this stage is, and what you've done in this confined space, and I bow down to you.
Howie: For me, the act seems to be stepped up because we brought it on a harder, more confined stage. This is a good live show and you deserve to go on.
Nikki Jensen decides to perform without her guitar. She's singing "The Scientist" by Coldplay. I still don't care for her thin, nasal voice. This is not her fault, but the sound mixing in this arena is absolutely terrible and it does not help her. The instrumental is drowning her out. That happened to Edon, as well.
Howie: I think you did wonderful. You gotta be a star, you gotta be electric.
Howard: Tonight, I think you did a nice job. I don't think you did anything to be memorable.
Sharon: It's your performance that's lacking. I need to feel emotion.
I do not think Nikki Jensen will be moving on. She's not passionate enough.
The Scott Brothers need to step it up to stand out in a sea of strong dancers... and they do. They begin with arm movements that make it look as if one arm is going from one brother's body to the other. It's really intricate and fun to watch. They end with a move where each of them holds out a bowler hat and dances circles around it while the actual hat stays stationary; by the end, they've got mouths agape and people on their feet screaming with enthusiasm. I knew they were good, but this is really startling. They have stepped it up in a big way.
Sharon: You are original. What you do is original, and I sincerely hope you are in the four that go through.
Howie: If you look at every move you do, it's not original. But the way you do it is original.
Howard: The dance category is super tough. You guys hit a home run tonight.
The Scott Brothers brought it when they absolutely had to. I did not expect them to stand out tonight, but they are possibly the best act of the evening.
It's very unfortunate that Michael Nejad has to follow this. Actually, it's very unfortunate that Michael Nejad was chosen for the top 48 at all. Tonight, his homemade instruments sound dissonant and ugly on the big stage. Howard buzzes him almost immediately. With a great deal of effort, I can make out that he's trying to play "Moves Like Jagger", but he sounds like hell. The shovel violin sounds like it's being played by a tone-deaf child. It's shrill and painful. When he attempts to play the vacuum cleaner, Howie buzzes him, and finally Sharon buzzes just as the act ends. Nick kindly tells him that he's impressed, "... because I don't know how to play the vacuum cleaner." It is the most entertaining moment of this awful segment.
Howard: Sometimes a baseball bat is a baseball bat, and that's all it's good for. Sometimes a shovel is so you can dig your own grave. You did that tonight.
Sharon: Is almost completely drowned out by Howard, who loses his temper over several of the very bad acts Sharon and Howie forced him to put through.
Howie: Now that I see it on a big stage, it doesn't click.
787 Crew remind us that they are from Puerto Rico. Howard points out that they are crumbling and nervous. They come out in costumes that remind me of Michael Jackson and Moonwalker, and they attempt to wow us with some very difficult tricks that would be more impressive if they were a little more perfectly in sync. The light show around them makes the stage very busy, and it's all a bit much. After the very precise Scott Brothers, this looks sloppy. One guy clearly falls during a jump.
Howie: Your first two performances were better than this performance. You didn't step it up.
Howard: I think you're in trouble tonight, boys.
Sharon: I don't think you're in trouble.
I think they're in trouble. Remember, Sharon... only four of these acts are getting through, and the Scott Brothers were clearly better.
Shanice and Maurice Hayes are next. Howie thinks the father is holding his daughter back. Howard thinks, as I do, that the dad is the heart of the act. As they begin to sing, I feel that this is confirmed. They are standing out among the musical acts tonight precisely because they are singing to each other, and they are communicating honestly in a way that is very touching and warm. If the sound mixing in that arena was not so abominably bad, they'd be wonderful.
Sharon: I love cheese, and I love you!
Howie: Tonight, no you did not hold her back. This was huge.
Howard: Dad, you are the heart and soul of the act. Your daughter is beautiful. You are going to be back.
David Garibaldi and His CMYKs close the show with a bang. This time, the song is "Paint it Black", and the person he's painting is Mick Jagger. Despite all the dancing and flailing and colored lights, it's basically the same act we've seen before... until the end. They dance as they paint what appears to be a blue tinted mirror, and pretty soon Mick appears to be taking shape. However, he's clearly not done yet. Now they've got this huge canister... what are they going to do with it? They are going to Paint It Black, of course, and as David proceeds to cover all his hard work with black spray paint, I feel a little disappointed... until he turns the mirror around. There is the finished picture of Mick. The crowd goes bonkers. It's a nice twist to a very good act. The judges stand, too.
Howard: Tomorrow night we're going to see four acts go through. You're definitely going through. Edon is going through, Scott Brothers are going through, and Shanice and Maurice Hayes are going through. (Howard then proceeds to preen and entice the crowd to applaud him.)
Sharon: You are rock and roll and I love you!
Howie: Each and every time it's different, it's surprising. (Howie then endorses Howards picks and courages America to vote for the good people.)
My own picks: I think the Scott Brothers and David Garibaldi are shoe-ins. Edon has a very good shot, and so do Shanice and Maurice Hayes. I still think the American BMX team or the Distinguished Men of Brass could possibly sneak in there. Unfortunately, I'm afraid Lil Starr might, too. I think it's safe to say that Todd Oliver and Michael Nejad will not be back.
My recap of the Results Show is here