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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!

August 16, 2017 I Written By

I'm obssessed with the entertainment industry, especially offbeat and nerdy things as well as those that involve live performance. The only thing I love more than geeking out over the things that entertain me is sharing in my excitement with others who share the same passions. America may have talent, but Canada has an up-and-coming blogger who is ready to take the internet by storm!

America’s Got Talent Season 12 Quarter-Finals Show 1: Act Lineup

We’re just days away from the start of the Season 12 live shows, and I have to admit I’m pretty relieved we’re past the messy and questionable Judge Cuts portion of the season. After last night’s “Road to the Finals” episode, the AGT twitter page released a preview of next week’s performers.

There’s been a bit of confusion as to who is actually on next week’s roster. Eleven acts have been confirmed by pretty much every source, and they are:

Angelica Hale (child singer who received Chris Hardwick’s Golden Buzzer)
Artyon & Paige (child dance duo who Simone red-buzzed during the audition round)
Billy & Emily England (roller-skating siblings who previously competed on Britain’s Got Talent)
Christian Guardino (teen singer who received Howie’s Golden Buzzer)
Darci Lynne Farmer (child ventriloquist who received Mel’s Golden Buzzer)
In the Stairwell (military a capella group)
Just Jerk (South Korean hip-hop dance crew)
Preacher Lawson (the only stand-up comedian to make it past Judge Cuts this season)
Puddles Pity Party (singing sad clown)
The Singing Trump (singing/dancing Donald Trump impersonator)
Yoli Mayor (singer)

There has also been some speculation that Kechi is also part of this episode’s lineup, as she appeared for a split second in one of the previews, but I think that was simply an editing error since there seems to be no evidence pointing to her being on. Seeing as we have singing acts taking up 18 of 36 spots in the live shows (which makes exactly half of the remaining acts singers unless we have a Wildcard singer, which I’m highly doubting) and there are already seven (over 1/3) of them confirmed for Tuesday’s show, I’m assuming they’re going to spread them out somewhat evenly over the three Quarter-Finals episodes which would mean no Kechi next week.

Speaking of spreading things out evenly, note that we have three out of nine Golden Buzzers up this week, and I assume that’s how it will be in each group this round. We also have three Wildcards that as of this posting have yet to be announced, and I’m guessing they might be spread out evenly as well, which would make one per Quarter-Finals episode. Last year they actually had an episode with one, another with two, and then one with zero, so I guess they’re not guaranteed to have them spread out evenly, but the empty spot for Tuesday’s show probably means we’re getting one this week. And the Wildcard hype this season is so strong I have a feeling they might give us one each week to keep the speculation and buzz going. Now, none of the remaining magic acts are performing next week, so I’m expecting a magician Wildcard to take up that last spot (I have to assume there will be at least one magic act as a Wildcard). Not sure who it will be, especially since after the results this week there are even more acts to add to the “potential Wildcard” list, but I still think Tom London has a good chance, as well as Henry Richardson, Jeki Yoo, and maybe even Will Tsai.

The Quarter-Finals are generally when we say goodbye to most of the “fodder” acts, so it’s usually pretty straightforward and easy to tell who will advance and who will be eliminated. Darci and Angelica are locks to sail through this round (they’re actually the current top two favorites to win the whole thing over on Goldderby) and Singing Trump and Artyon & Paige are very likely to be sent packing, with In the Stairwell most likely joining them. Preacher, Just Jerk, and Puddles will probably end up advancing, whether it be from Tuesday night votes, the Dunkin’ Save, or the Judges’ Choice.

Which means the last acts moving forward are probably going to be two of Christian, Yoli, Billy & Emily, and whatever magician ends up on this episode. On paper Christian may seem like a lock, with his inspiring backstory and Golden Buzzer under his belt, but a lot of people have already seemed to forget about him. It’s tough to call where he’ll end up on Wednesday but think he’ll probably be a Dunkin’ Save candidate unless they put him on at the end up the show and/or really play up the “almost going blind” thing in his package. I doubt either Billy & Emily or Yoli will be in the top five and if they’re in the Dunkin’ Save zone I think they might be on thin ice. I have a feeling unless the Wildcard magician bombs they’ll end up in DS territory at worst, since there is quite the crowd for magicians on this show and everyone loves a good redemption arc.

So I guess my preliminary predictions for next week’s “winners” are:

Angelica Hale
Christian Guardino
Darci Lynne Farmer
Just Jerk
Preacher Lawson
Puddles Pity Party
*Wildcard*

Let me know you’re thoughts and I’ll be back soon when I will FINALLY give my rundown on the current pre-live show format!

August 10, 2017 I Written By

I'm obssessed with the entertainment industry, especially offbeat and nerdy things as well as those that involve live performance. The only thing I love more than geeking out over the things that entertain me is sharing in my excitement with others who share the same passions. America may have talent, but Canada has an up-and-coming blogger who is ready to take the internet by storm!

Pure America’s Got Talent Season 12 Judges Cuts 3 and 4: Power Rankings

It’s funny: while these last two groups for Judge Cuts were noticeably stronger than the first and second, I found myself disagreeing with quite a few of the choices and I actually think most of the acts that made it through aren’t as likely to make it to the end (potential Wildcards notwithstanding). I really wish we could trade some of these acts for the rejected ones but today I’m going to get right to it and save the ranting about the results and overall format of the auditions and Judge Cuts rounds for a few days from now. Remember, this list starts with who I THINK will get the farthest in the competition and goes down from there; I’ll share my opinions on each act of course but the order they’re in is reflective of how I’m predicting the general audience will react to them, not necessarily how much I’ve personally enjoyed them.

1. Diavolo: I didn’t understand Laverne’s comment about not seeing how they’d fit into the Vegas scene, because truth be told out of every act this season I think this is probably the one that is best suited to carry a full Vegas show. There are several strong dance groups this season, but Diavolo is the one I’m thinking will provide the most variety and is the most likely to keep the audience on their toes. I fear a lot of the other dance groups (and non-dance acts, come to think of it) are going to grow stale pretty quickly if they can’t step it up, but I don’t have that worry with Diavolo, which is why I think they have a good shot at the Finals.

2. Merrick Hanna: Okay…so…awkward moment there with that Golden Buzzer prediction, huh? (Seriously though, why did Seal press it in such an odd fashion for a fairly basic pop singer?) Anyway, despite not getting the coveted GB, I think Merrick is probably going to do well in the competition. He’s built up quite the following in his short time on AGT so far, and he seems to be someone a lot of people in the anti-singer brigade have really latched onto. I definitely think he’ll get past the Quarter-Finals but my concern is that his act might start to feel tired after that. His dancing mainly seems to be robotic-style, and there are only so many ways that can be kept fresh after several performances. I think the trick here is going to be heartstring-pulling (in his dancing, not his pre-performance packages). If he can keep telling stories like he did back in his audition, he might have a decent shot at the Finals.

3. Preacher Lawson: Being the only comedian left this season, Preacher essentially has an entire sub-market of the AGT audience all to himself right now. He’s also another performer the fans itching to support something other than vocal talents seem to have really taken to, not to mention the general viewing audience. There was a little backlash towards his Judge Cuts routine for ablest material, but even some of those detractors seemed more mixed than totally negative (they seemed to like that the person with a disability in question got a happy ending). Of course, most comedy is going to be somewhat controversial (and really, the backlash for Preacher was NOTHING compared to that of the political jokes from Lori Mae last season) but if Preacher can continue t deliver routines that will entertain more people than not, I could see him making it far.

4. Kechi Okwuchi: I’m kind of torn as to whether or not Kechi will make it all the way to the end. She has a pleasant voice, but what most people remember about her is her backstory. Now it is a powerful one, but we have so many this season that they may not be enough to take a person far. Also, someone on Reddit today pointed out that while AGT has more than its fair share of tragic backstories, it’s generally the people with the most memorable personalities that go far. Now, I’m absolutely positive that we’re going to have at least a couple people with sad backstories make it to the Finale, but the people that do are probably going to have more than that to fall back on. As I said, Kechi’s voice is great, but there are stronger in the competition, and she hasn’t really gotten to show a lot of personality so far. If she can show her fun side, I think she has a shot at making it to the end.

5. DaNell Daymon & Greater Works: I was originally going to put this group a little lower on the list, but then I remembered what happened when another singing group that I barely paid attention to that had an emotional backstory competed last season: they made the Finals. Greater Works seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people, so I’m not making the mistake of sleeping on them like I did Linkin’ Bridge.

6. Celine Tam: Celine is an interesting case because she’s someone I could see going very, very far…in another season. I think this live show group not only has the most singing acts we’ve ever had, but the most child singing acts we’ve ever had, and I’m already seeing people closely comparing some of them. Celine’s “counterpart” in this regard seems to be fellow 9-year-old Judge Cuts Golden Buzzer recipient singer (of presumably Asian heritage, no less) Angelica Hale. And I think those comparisons are exactly what is going to be her downfall in the competition, because most of the comparisons I’ve seen between the two have been in Angelica’s favor; people seem to prefer her =”powerhouse”-style voice over Celine’s more childlike one (which actually bothers me because those people probably don’t realize that the way Angelica sings is probably damaging to her still-developing vocal chords as such a young singer, but unfortunately that’s an issue that’s also been in previous seasons that I doubt is going to go away any time soon). It also won’t help that Angelica’s Quarter-Final is before Celine’s, so I’m sure when she inevitably passes through her first live show with flying colors that Celine will have some hard expectations to match when her turn comes. I still think she’ll probably make it to the Semi-Finals, but I’m doubting her chances at getting the last week at this point.

7. Johnny Manuel: As I mentioned in my last point, the amount of singers this season is probably going to become a roadblock for a lot of the acts that fall under that category. I presume it’s going to be like last season when most of them made it through the first round of live shows pretty easily but then saw a mass exodus in the Semi-Finals, with many early favorites not even making it to Dunkin’ Save territory. I was talking to some other AGT fans on twitter last night about the Golden Buzzer singers alone, and many of those people couldn’t even remember them all. While Johnny obviously wasn’t one of them since we’d just seen him receive his from Seal, I barely remembered him from the auditions until they reminded us of his backstory (and even then I didn’t remember what song he performed the first time). It seems like his story of his failed music career is pretty controversial within the AGT fandom, with some finding his presence in the competition unfair because of it, but if he’s going to compete I’m glad it’s out in the open and not hidden from the audience (Brian Justin Crum, anyone?). At this point, I feel like he might become somewhat forgettable like some of the other singers have seemed to, but I think he’ll probably make it to the Semi-Finals and miiiiiight have a shot at squeezing into the Finale.

8. Billy & Emily England: These two seem to be pretty polarizing in several ways. Some dislike the fact they’ve already competed on a Got Talent show, but again, I appreciate that the show is being open about that instead of sweeping it under the rug (Laura Bretan, anyone?). However, most of the people who don’t like them seem to find their performances and general demeanor overly sexual (I don’t find them or the act I’m about to mention to be that way, but I find it weird that these two are getting tons of accusations of incest and Junior and Emily aren’t). If I had to guess, I’d say they’re probably gone next week but if they can squeeze into the Dunkin’ Save zone I think they miiiiiiiight have a shot at the Judges’ Save depending on who’s there with them.

9. In the Stairwell: I was pleasantly surprised to see these guys make the live shows, but I think they’re most likely goners next week unless maybe they really play up the military angle. (American audiences do love their veterans!) Either way, they’ve already made it farther than I thought they would, so I’m going to enjoy them for however long they last!

10. Mike Yung: Mike is one of the singers I think a lot of people have kind of forgotten about. I actually enjoy his voice more than most others this season, but there seems to be a trend of older singers being eliminated early in the live shows, and I have a feeling this might be the case with Mike. I guess he could POSSIBLY make the Semi-Finals, but I HIGHLY doubt he’s going all the way to the Finale.

11. Pompeyo Family Dogs: I love these dogs and this family so much, but it’s clear a lot of others feel differently. Many people were disappointed by some of last night’s results, and this act took a lot of the heat from that. I would love to see them at least make it to the Semi-Finals, but that seems kind of unlikely right now.

12. Brobots & Mandriods: I really like these guys, and if they were on a season with less dance acts I think they could make it somewhat far. However, they’re going to up against giants like Diavolo and Light Balance and I don’t think they’re going to be able to grab viewers in the same way those acts might. From the looks of it, it seems likely that they’ll be in the same Quarter-Final as one of those two groups and I fear that might spell the end for our Brobots and Mandroidz.

13. Oscar Hernandez: Okay, I LOVE this guy, and he was one of the acts I thought really stepped up his game in the Judge Cuts. However, he’s another performer that took a lot of heat for the decisions made in his JC episode, and it doesn’t look like a lot of people have him as their favorite right now. I’d love if he could somehow make it to the Semi-Finals, but yeah, I’m doubting that’s actually going to happen.

14. Artyon & Paige: I think these two are great and would love to see them stick together as a duo for a long, long time. However, I was quite confused when they announced they’d advanced over some of the other acts last night, and it seems a heck of a lot of others agreed with me. Judging by who else is in their live show next week (which I’ll be talking more about in the next few days) I’d be shocked if they even made it to Dunkin’ Save territory.

What do you think of this group of live show acts and their chances to do well?

August 9, 2017 I Written By

I'm obssessed with the entertainment industry, especially offbeat and nerdy things as well as those that involve live performance. The only thing I love more than geeking out over the things that entertain me is sharing in my excitement with others who share the same passions. America may have talent, but Canada has an up-and-coming blogger who is ready to take the internet by storm!