|Was Landon Swank magical enough to advance on AGT?|
Those fortunate 10 were staying at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. All of the judges stopped by for some fun with the anxious contestants, trying to lighten the load that would be thrust upon them on Tuesday night.
Kicking off the show, Michael Grimm, last year's winner, performed a song from his new album. He looked so much more mature and confident than the last time we saw him on an AGT stage. It is great to see him come so far. His career has taken off. Along with a new album, he's on tour with rock legend Stevie Nicks who also has new music to promote. Grimm married his Lucy and the home he wanted to build for his grandparents is almost completed. He'll also be performing at the Flamingo in Las Vegas in December.
Stories like Grimm's are what America's Got Talent is all about. If it wasn't for the opportunity that AGT afforded him, he'd probably still be singing in little bars around the bayou. But he's a star now and his star is rising.
Without any other special guests, Nick Cannon brought the ten hopefuls to the stage one-by-one. Here is how they did and the judge's reactions:
- Miami All-Stars - Latin Dance Troupe - Miami, FL - Dressed in athletic attire, the group showed a lot of athletic prowess and precision dance moves, but it failed to impress the judges. Piers buzzed them about two-thirds of the way through their routine. He said, "You became a cheerleading act. You went from being an explosive Latin dance act to a silly cheerleading act." Sharon added, "You could have been more sophisticated. This was not the right choreography." Howie, "You took the Miami out of it."
- Lys Agnés - Opera Singer - Denver, CO - Straying from her operatic style, she chose to put her twist on the Aerosmith song, Dream On. Oddly, she sang in a very low register, which is completely opposite from where Steven Tyler warbled when he made the song a hit. Sharon questioned the move, "At the beginning of the song, I thought I was listening to Cher. Why did you sing the song in such a low register?" Howie, "I don't know if taking such a big risk and giving us a different voice worked." Piers, "I felt like I was watching someone give us everything they've got."
- Landon Swank - Magician - Wasilla, AK - The 26 year-old magician was slick, producing a goldfish from his mouth (a trick my friend Mac King does in his afternoon show at Harrah's on The Strip in Las Vegas). He also shoved his hand through the side of a fish tank. Howie approved, "That was really amazing." Piers was flummoxed, "I'm not quite sure what I've seen." Sharon was thrilled, "I love your relaxed presentation that you give. It's so modern."
- Anna Graceman - Singer/Pianist - Juneau, AK - With her hair clipped and pinned back like she was getting ready for a school photo, she seemed to lose a bit of the edge when her hair was flying around with her soaring notes. She performed without her piano and did a great job with Cyndi Lauper's True Colors. Piers said that her high range made up for her mistakes in the low range and added, "You have got the most amazing lungs on you." Sharon, "You did a great job." Howie, "You're 11 years-old, you're brilliant, you're a star, but this performance was not as good as your last."
- Silhouettes - Performance Shadow Artists - Denver, CO - Discarding the drapes or parachutes that they used in their last performance, they went back to the style of staying behind the screen and creating shapes that were overlaid with photos - a stunning presentation. When they were done, the crowd cheered and cheered - in fact, you could barely hear Sharon's comments because the crowd would not let up. Sharon did eek out, "That was exquisite." Howie, "Definitely the first finals act I've seen." Piers, "You guys come along, you tell a story, and tell us a story that makes people proud to be American."
- Smage Bros. Riding Show - Motorcycle Stunts - Elkhorn, WI - Engines roared as the two brothers hopped from ramp to prop to rail, the whole time threatening the life of their daredevil assistant, Tony Smalls. Twice during their routine, they dinged Smalls - once in the head and another time on his leg. Howie, repeating a line the Smage Bros. used last week, "Wisconsin is now famous for more than beer and cheese. Now they have the Smage Bros." Piers was unimpressed, "It was a bit disappointing." Sharon countered, "It was just amazing."
- POPLYFE - Pop Band - Oakland, CA - Always pulling something new out of their musical bag of tricks, they performed an explosive Jackson 5 medley that brought down the house. All of the judges were on their feet, too. Piers, "You are a great pop band." Sharon, "You've got it all going on and I know I'm going to see you next week." Howie, "America, you are idiots if you don't start voting and put these guys through."
- West Springfield Dance Team - Horror Dance Team - Springfield, VA - Different makeup, basically the same act. Piers buzzed them. Sharon, "I know when you're performing what to expect. It's too predictable." Howie, "I don't think you're living up to to final quality." Piers, "To surprise us, you could have come out without the makeup. But at this point we all feel like we've seen it." Ironically, Piers was the one that put them through, bumping Daniel Joseph Baker from the competition. Baker, I'm sure, would have put on a much more exciting performance. But I wasn't judging that night.
- Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. - Crooner - Logan, WVA. - Dusting off another classic from one of Sinatra's old friends, Dean Martin, Murphy swaggered through Ain't Love A Kick In The Head. Howie gushed, "You're a great guy with great talent. You deserve this." Piers, "We were talking before the show. Who would I pay to watch for an hour and a half? It would be Landau Eugene Murphy." Sharon, "What can I say? Vote, vote, vote."
- Team ILuminate - Dance/Electronics/Performance Art - Los Angeles, CA - Their creativity and choreography have not faltered on their climb to the Top 10. Tonight was no exception. Another WOW performance, which brought the entire house to their feet. I even gave them a standing ovation in my living room. Piers, "I've done this show for 6 years. I've never seen a more original, dynamic act." Sharon, "I can't believe you're not already famous." Howie, "You are one of the best acts you can see live."
- Silhouettes - This can easily be a headlining show anywhere, Vegas, LA, New York, right now. You can see that they are not cornered by a certain style or hook. Imagination is their only limitation. They've performed spectacularly and should be in the final four.
- POPLYFE - A band with a story - hard scrabble background, tough upbringing, yet such a positive vibe comes from them. In the taped segment before they performed, you really get a feel for the love that this band has for each other. Add that to house rockin' performances and you have a group that should be in the final four.
- Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. - I wonder if Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin ever worked at a car wash. Another great human story. I've driven through Logan, West Virginia and you tend to keep on going. Landau is on a magical ride and I hope it pays off for him.
- Team ILuminate - They bring so much to the stage. They could be a finalist for their dancing, but when you add the electronics and the performance art of their act, you get a triple threat that may make them the ones to beat this year.
Photo by NBC-AGT
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