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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

America's Got Talent - Semi-Finals #1 - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Did Matt Wilhelm run out of tricks on AGT?
Now it gets serious. Every act in the semi-finals on America's Got Talent has proven that they deserve to be here. Mistakes can guarantee a ticket home. Out of the twelve acts performing, five will go on to the Top 10. Everyone had their game face on for America's Got Talent - Semi-finals #1 - August 23, 2011.

Tonight's lineup was a blockbuster one at that. Some of the very best acts of the season would be vying for America's votes. Sadly, some very good acts will be going home on Wednesday.

Sharon Osbourne summed it up in the opening of the show, "Being good is not good enough at this stage." All of the judges expected to see acts take that magical leap to stardom. All of the America's Got Talent acts did very well, except for one dismal failure. It was also surprising to see so many standing ovations through the course of the night. Even Piers got off his butt and applauded enthusiastically more than once.

I'll give you my picks for the top 5 qualifiers at the end, but right now, I'll give you a summary of what went down on America's Got Talent Semi-finals #1:
  1. Zuma Zuma - Dancing Acrobats - Las Vegas, NV - They had fire, lots of action and plenty of energy and excitement. Piers was enthusiastic, "Terrific." Sharon, "I don't think tonight's performance was as good as you last." Howie, "I don't think you stepped it up enough." This act may have run its course. There is only so much hopping and tumbling you can do. They'd be a terrific element in a Vegas production show or as an opening act, but I don't feel they can headline a show. 
  2. Beth Ann Robinson - Solo Dancer - Dothan, AL - This 14-year old is spectacular. She performed a flawless, beautiful dance. But is it a show? Sharon, "Another flawless performance from you." Howie, "Beautiful. It's like mesmerizing." Piers, "In the six years we've been doing this show, I don't think we've had a technically better dancer than you."
  3. Sandou Trio Russian Bar - Acrobats - San Antonio, TX - I've stated all along that this is a one-dimensional act - Russian Bar. Where do you go from there? The female member of the act even said in the pre-performance interview that you can only watch so much Russian Bar, so they decided to try something different; and it was an abysmal failure. The female member played piano and sang poorly, while another member of the group twirled on a ribbon from the ceiling. The piano was raised up, then rotated and she played and sang upside down, then it revolved to an upright position - so what. The judges were just as blunt. Piers, who had buzzed them 30 seconds into their act, "Biggest suicide mission we've ever had on the show." Howie,"I don't think you made a good choice." Sharon,"It was disappointing. And to do this, you're a mediocre singer."
  4. Kevin Colis - Singer/Guitarist - Texas - He sang a watered down version of Rhythm Of Love. Piers hit the buzzer half way through his performance and said, "I felt the occasion might have been a bit big for you." Sharon, "I thought I was watching the Wiggles. It was bland and forgettable." Howie, "I don't think you were up to par with the rest of the people."
  5. Matt Wilhelm - Stunt Cyclist - Chicago, IL - He had more choreography than his last performance and told a story about him being bullied, but he fell near the end of his performance. He suffers from the same problem as the Yellow Designs Stunt Team, another cycle act - how many times can you watch variations of the same trick? He did get a standing ovation from the crowd. Sharon, "You did really great." Howie, "It is not the time in the competition to make mistakes." Piers, "How long could I watch you? Probably about 15 minutes."
  6. POPLYFE - Band - Oakland, CA - With a cool stage that set the band up like an old Hollywood Squares set, they put their unique spin on the Beatles classic Come Together. To put it mildly, they made the song their own and completely rocked the house. They brought Sharon, Howie and the crowd to their feet. Howie, "You are stars and that is a headlining act." Piers, "We are watching a band that within the next two to five years is going to be a huge band in this country." Sharon, "You are winners."
  7. West Springfield Dance Team - Horror Dance Group - Springfield, VA - This is an act I just don't quite get. I've never been impressed with their performances, even though the judges have been quite favorable. Watching them perform this time, they reminded me of high school cheerleaders - nicely choreographed moves, without the flips, tosses and pyramids. However, the crowd gave them a standing ovation. Piers, "I thought that performance was better than the last two." Sharon, "Your choreographers are brilliant." Howie, "You stand out. You deserve to be here and stay in the competition. 
  8. Melissa Villasenor - Comediene - Los Angeles, CA - Her specialty that has gotten her through the competition are her impressions. She stuck to four basic impressions: Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Shakira and Christina Aguilerra. It is tough for a comic to get through this competition because comedy is best performed when there is time to build your set and win a crowd over. Having to go out, hit it for 90 seconds and hope for the best is an incredible challenge. Sharon, "You actually did the impossible. You made him (Piers) laugh." Howie, "I'm a huge fan." Piers, "I found it funny. I think America thinks you're funny."
  9. Team ILuminate - Electronics and Dancing - Los Angeles, CA - Week after week, they have upped their game and tonight was no different. Instead of telling a story, the theme was of a video game called ILUMI-GAME. The performers played against each other, just like a video game. It was fun and the moves were spectacular. All three judges and the crowd were wildly on their feet. Howie, "I just watched a million dollars." Piers, "I really think you're an exciting act." Sharon, "You should be famous already. This is a $100 million act."
  10. Daniel Joseph Baker - Singer/Pianist - Katy, TX - Before he went on, in the taped interview he said, "I'm not a one-trick pony. I'm an entire zoo." Playing a white grand piano in an outfit that would make Liberace proud, he showed so much command of the material and so much stage presence, you would have thought he was a guest star on the show and not a contestant. Another standing ovation that included Sharon and Howie. Piers, "You are a pure Vegas showman." Sharon, "Mrs. O just loves you so much. You're as camp as Christmas." Howie, "Daniel, you are a star."
  11. Miami All-Stars - Latin Dance Team - Miami, FL - Switching things up a bit tonight, they performed in Zoot Suits and 1940's style attire to an old classic from that era. They brought the house to their feet, including all of the judges. Sharon, "Your choreography was perfection." Howie, "You and team ILuminate are my favorite dance groups." Piers, "That was my favorite performance of the night." 
  12. Lys Agnes - Opera Singer - Denver, CO - Lys took a contemporary song and put her incredible vocal style to it. She appeared with straight hair and not her trademark braids. But she still looked stunning. She could win this competition on looks alone, she is that beautiful. Again, another standing ovation from the entire house and judges. Sharon, "You took my breath away." Piers, "Finally, something that moves me." Howie, "There aren't words to describe our looks, your beauty, your voice." 
Two acts, Sandou Trio Russian Bar and Kevin Colis might as well start packing their bags. Through the first five acts, I was thinking it might be hard to select five finalists and then POPLYFE blew the crowd away. They should definitely be in the Top 10.

My picks, based on the performances they gave on Tuesday:
  • POPLYFE - smoking set. Could not ask for anything better. 
  • Team ILuminate - probably the act to beat. I'd put them as the front runners. 
  • Daniel Joseph Baker - he's in a league all his own. A real bona fide performer. 
  • Miami All-Stars - they showed a new, diverse side to their dancing. Contenders, for sure. 
  • Lys Agnes - you cannot deny her talent. Add to that her looks and you have a winning combination. 
Performing next week will be (my favorites are in bold):
  1. Anna Graceman - Singer/Piano Player
  2. Fatally Unique - Urban Dance Team
  3. Gymkana - College Acrobats
  4. Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. - Singer
  5. Landon Swank - Magician
  6. Professor Splash - Daredevil Diver
  7. Silhouettes - Performance Art With Shadows
  8. Smage Brothers Riding Shows - Motorcycle Daredevils
  9. Snap Boogie - Street Dancer
  10. Steven Retchless - Pole Dancer
  11. Summerwind Skippers - Jump Rope Team
  12. The Kinetic King - Novelty Act
I like four of these AGT acts and have no clue how America will receive the other acts. A lot comes down to their performances next week. It's do or die. A few acts found that out the hard way tonight.

Lots of standing ovations for the winners marked America's Got Talent - Semi-Finals #1 - August 23, 2011. 

Photo by NBC-AGT

Related links:
AGT Website
AGT on Twitter
Nick Cannon on Twitter
Piers Morgan on Twitter
Howie Mandel on Twitter
Sharon Osbourne on Twitter

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