Pure America’s Got Talent Season 12 Live Show #1: Power Rankings

The Quarter-Finals have FINALLY started (this is actually the latest the first live show of the season has ever been scheduled) which means the fate of the performers is now in the audience’s hands…well, mostly. We’ve still got the Judges’ Choice at the end of the Wednesday episodes (plus the red buzzers are still in effect, but, well, they might not always leave the impression the judges are hoping for) but the rest of the outcome is up to us. Who will move on from our first group of hopefuls? Here’s the vibe I’m getting from the audience right now. (And remember, this is based on the general reactions I’ve seen from viewers, and not a ranking of my personal opinions on the quality of the acts.)

1. Darci Lynne: I have to say I was a little disappointed that it seems like there’s going to be a set formula for all of Darci’s AGT performances, since having watched her on YouTube I know she is capable of a lot different things with her ventriloquism. I did enjoy her new puppet last night, and I think bringing the adorable Oscar the Mouse on showed good vocal range in both speaking and singing, as well as more of her natural chemistry with her little friends (and those coming after her about “stolen material” can either shut it or call out everyone in the cast for the same thing, since when it comes down to it pretty much every act on this show has taken inspiration from somewhere else). This performance made me realize I think I prefer her banter with the puppets more than the songs, although her closed-mouth singing ability is definitely impressive. I would love to see an act where she’s just doing a comedy routine with a character for a few minutes, but it seems the focus is going to continue to be on the singing. Either way, it doesn’t really matter since she’s still a lock for the Finals and one of the top contenders for the grand prize.

2. Angelica Hale: Looking at the comments around this internet, this was probably the least-objectionable performance of the night. Even I, someone who usually has a problem with Angelica’s unhealthy style of singing, thought this performance was appropriate for her. I think both she and Darci are locks for this week’s top 5 (aka the “do not pass go, do not campaign for the Dunkin’ Save” group) but I have Angelica below her because the anti-singer brigade seems to have warmed to Darci’s multi-talent act more than Angelica’s straight-up vocal performances. I wouldn’t say she’s a 100% lock for the Finals quite yet, but I still think she’s one of the three acts in the live shows with the best chance of winning.

3. Bello Nock: This was the act that won the night for me, and Bello certainly seems to have a lot of people rooting for him. Last night I posted a rant about the Golden Buzzers, and one of my major complaints was that there seems to be little purpose in having them if they’re just going to be used for acts that would easily pass through Judge Cuts anyway. However, I’ve thought about that and I think their main function as of now is for the judges (and host) to select acts to be “hyped up” throughout the season. The “marquee” performers, if you will. It doesn’t work with every Golden Buzzer act, but it’s worth noting in both of the previous seasons Golden Buzzers have been present, the winners have been Golden Buzzed. And if the GB’s are a way to get people invested in an act by billing them as the “stars” of the season, Wildcards are a way to get them invested by billing acts as the season’s “underdogs”. The audience loves when an act proves the judges (I think Simon in particular) wrong, and when an act gets “robbed” in Judge Cuts, there is nothing more satisfying then seeing them return and kill it in the live shows. This, coupled with an act that stood out in a sea of singers this week, is why Bello is likely to pass through tonight. Yes, there were a few complaints about him “stealing the idea from the circus” (like other acts don’t “steal” from famous singers/pop culture/YouTube?) but I don’t think that’s going to have any major negative effect on his chances this round. Since Bello doesn’t have much competition in his genre, if he keeps up the variety and high performance quality I could see him as a contender for the Finale.

4. Preacher Lawson: Speaking of contestants with virtually no competition in their genre, we have Preacher. As the “last comic standing” this season, Preacher will stand out in pretty much any group they put him in. The response to comedians is never universally positive, since everyone has a different sense of humor, and some simply aren’t fans of stand-up. However, in Preacher’s case I saw many more fans than detractors last night, and when I looked at the “I voted” posts, I saw more from him than most other acts. I figure at worst he’ll be in the Dunkin’ Save group, but my first guess would be top 5 of the week.

5. Puddles Pity Party: I had a hard time settling on who to put in the last “home free” spot, and to be honest whenever I picture tonight’s episode I see Puddles in Dunkin’ Save territory. But he’s here because I really can’t tell who would beat him in votes besides the four I already talked about. His act seemed to get a mixed response, mostly regarding the song choice of “Royals” which I found surprising given that people were BEGGING him to do that one (it’s his most viewed video on YouTube). But yeah, his segment seemed to be one of the ones that generated the most BUZZ last night (HAHA GET IT?) and I think that will help him in the end (as I said earlier, the audience loves to prove Simon wrong). If he does end up as an option for the Dunkin’ Save I think he’s pretty likely to win that vote, seeing as the act that gets it tends to be whichever is the most internet-friendly of the three (Puddles has a big following on YouTube). Either way, I honestly can’t imagine this week’s performance being his last on AGT.

6. Christian Guardino: I’m kind of surprised at how little I’ve heard about Christian since last night, him being a Golden Buzzer and all, but I guess when 8/9 of the GB’s go to singers, some are bound to get lost in the shuffle. Also not helping is the fact that both songs he’s performed on the show have been done by someone else this season (Yoli did “Make it Rain” as her second audition song, and Darci performed “Who’s Loving You” last night). I like his down-to-Earth personality-as I’ve seen several people mention, unlike some of the others he doesn’t seem like someone trained from a young age fro stardom, which is refreshing-but the vibe I’m getting is that a lot of people just sort of forgot about him by the end of the show. His story might help him, but he wasn’t the only act to have one last night so that might be kind of a wash. I guess Christian could realistically end up anywhere tonight, but I’m gonna leave him here in Dunkin’ Save territory for now.

7. Just Jerk: I’m not really sure what the general consensus regarding this group is after last night. Most people I saw mildly enjoyed them and sent them a few votes. Being the only dance troupe of the week might have helped them a bit, but it’s hard to tell how much. I doubt they’re making top 5 tonight (though I would love it if they did!) but I think they might have a shot at the Dunkin’ Save/Judges’ Choice (most likely the latter).

8. Billy & Emily: I think the most common reaction to these two was “amazing talent, but not something I’d pay to see a full show of”. I think after three performances we may have seen the limit of their abilities, but I’ve seen some people send them votes for the sake of variety (mainly those who don’t want the Semi-Finals to consist mainly of singing acts). I’d be surprised if they got through automatically, but Dunkin’ Save/Judges Choice seems to be a potential position for them to be in tonight (again, most likely the latter).

9. Yoli Mayor: Despite the mixed reviews from the judges (and my general disdain for pop singers on AGT) I actually enjoyed her performance last night, but her mixed comments plus her lack of pre-live show hype (8 singers-including three of the ones in this week’s group-got a Golden Buzzer, but she did not, and she doesn’t have a fun persona like Puddles or even Singing Tump) puts her in a tough position. I think she will ultimately be eliminated tonight, just not sure whether it will be automatically or a loss of the Judges’ Choice.

10. The Singing Trump: I was originally going to have him lower, but I actually saw more people vote for him than several others so he’s here. I think having him be on this week was poorly timed (even though the AGT producers had no way of knowing what would happen over the weekend) and some of the judges’ comments also seemed to be a viewer turn-off. I guess he’d have a shot at the Judges’ Choice if put in that position, but I don’t even think he’s going to make it that far.

11. In the Stairwell: I really like these guys, but I had to disagree with everyone saying how this was their best performance yet. They seemed to be out of tune quite a bit and had a running order position that tends to get an act lost in the shuffle by the end of the night. I didn’t see very many people voting for them, but I may be underestimating the military vote. I think they’re probably goners tonight but for auditioning on a dare, they haven’t done half bad in the competition by making it this far!

12. Artyon & Paige: These two were at the bottom of my previous Power Rankings, and here they are again. But this time, I don’t want to see them go! Their act is definitely one that has improved exponentially with every performance they’ve given us. I was shocked at how well they could hang with the other last night! Unfortunately, not a lot of people seemed to agree with me, and I didn’t see very much voting support from them, so I predict their AGT journey ends here. But I’ve seen some commentary from people in the dance world, and if what they say is to be believed, Artyon and Paige have a very bright future in their craft. Way to go!