So according to Hypable, there are quite a few changes that we’re going to be seeing this season on AGT – some of them seem like positives, others…not so much. Let’s count them down, shall we?
Change #1: Auditions in front of the judges were only held in New York & L.A.
In previous seasons, we’ve gotten to see the judges travel across the country to various cities were auditions were held in order to see the talent onstage – last year, they went to New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, & New Orleans. This year, initial auditions in front of the producers were held in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, and my hometown – Indianapolis But those who passed muster at the initial auditions had to fly to New York or L.A. in order to audition for the judges – and I’m just a tad bummed, not only because I would have loved to have seen the judges out & about in my hometown, but I thought the local flavor of some of the audition cities was what made those initial rounds so fun to watch. We got to see all the mariachi performers in line in San Antonio, all the jazz in New Orleans, the Latin flavor of Miami, etc. But according to Howie, the fact that the talent from all of those cities funneled into just two really made the live auditions more challenging, since the didn’t have the comfort zone of performing in their hometown.
Change #2: No “Vegas Week” this season – it has been replaced by “Boot Camp”, which was held in front of a live audience at Radio City Music Hall.
In lieu of holding “Vegas Week” in order to determine the Top 48 acts this year, AGT opted to hold a 3-day “Boot Camp” round of auditions in front of both the judges AND a live studio audience in NYC. It was apparently taped last week. Despite what the name implies (and the event of the same name from the X-Factor), it sounds basically the same as Vegas Week – just not in Vegas, and with the addition of a live studio audience. While I rather enjoyed seeing the contestants hanging out in Vegas and in some of my favorite hotels, I guess I don’t particularly mind this new Boot Camp switch-up – I think the addition of a live studio audience may actually influence the judges a bit more to pick acts with more broad-spectrum appeal, as opposed to acts that only they themselves might find appealing. I kind of wonder if an act like Milton Patton (who seemed wildly popular with viewers last season, but was eliminated in an instant decision in Vegas last year) may have fared better in the Boot Camp format, and if a more polarizing act like Aaralyn & Izzy may not have advanced to the next round if done in front of an audience.
Change #3: There’s something called the “Golden Buzzer”.
Apparently, it’s a one-time “judges’ save” – another buzzer situated on the judges’ table between Heidi & Mel B. that any of the judges can hit in order to save an act that’s about to get eliminated due to the other 3 judges saying “no”. The catch? It can only be used once per season, per judge, so it encourages the judges to use it only when they feel strongly about an act. I think as the judge that’s the dissenting opinion most often (and the one that is most likely to like stranger acts that the other 3 judges don’t “get”), Howie is the one that will most likely benefit from this new buzzer - and he allegedly already used it during the initial audition rounds. I’m a little unclear on when it can be used, though – if it’s only when the other 3 judges say “no”, does that mean it can only be used during the initial auditions, Boot Camp week, or if the act lands in the judges’ choice slots during the live shows? Or can it be used to save an act that would have gotten eliminated regardless, based on the viewers’ votes? Does it expire after a certain round, like the judges’ save on American Idol? And most importantly – will it preclude the judges getting a “wild card” pick at some point? Since the wild card was basically a judges’ save (with a slightly different format), it almost seems redundant to tell them “Ok, you get this golden buzzer in order to save an act that’s about to get eliminated…but you also get a wild card pick later in the season, where you can bring back any eliminated act!” So I guess I’m curious how this whole thing works.
So what do you think of the changes this season? Are they an improvement…or a downgrade? Don’t forget to set your DVR’s to record the premiere, which is only 4 days away!!!