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“The Illusionists: Live From Broadway” Review

Image result for the illusionists live from broadway

I don’t normally review things on this blog other than Got Talent episodes, but this week I was fortunate enough to see a show that has a lot of tie-ins with the franchise. The Illusionists is a series of live shows who’s casts are each made up of several performers who specialize in various areas of magic. There are a few tours currently running and starting up in the future, including one travelling North America from January to June. For now there are two productions running during the month of December (one in Toronto, Ontario and the other in Wilmington, Delaware and Washington, DC) both of which feature performers who will become part of said North American tour as well as some other special guests.

The Illusionists portrays its performers as the Justice League or Avengers of magic. At the beginning and end of the show (as well as in promotional material) they all stand together onstage in a way that is very reminiscent of what you might see on your typical comic book movie poster. The superhero vibe is furthered by the fact that every performer in an Illusionists production is given a nickname that describes their “powers”. This year’s Toronto production features “The Trickster” (Jeff Hobson) “The Daredevil” (Jonathan Goodwin) “The Manipulator” (An Ha Lim) “The Unusualist” (Raymond Crowe) “The Eccentric” (Charlie Frye) “The Deductionist” (Colin Cloud) and “The Grand Illusionist” (Darcy Oake).

The cast of each Illusionists production is expertly crafted to ensure a variety of talents are represented. As the show’s emcee of sorts, Hobson got a good chunk of the stage time, much of which was used to interact (and mess around) with the audience. To be fair, his shtick did get a little cheesy at times – which I’m sure will be a delight for some people and maybe not to others – but the audience interaction added another dynamic to the act (at the performance I saw, this was most notable during a moment in which a young boy refused to give him any easy answers). An Ha Lim had the least amount of time on stage, but still made a strong impact with his award-winning card-conjuring magic. And as the only Canadian in the cast, Oake is a sort of homeland hero in the Toronto production, sharing the story of what sparked his passion for magic and amazing the audience with his signature dove trick (as seen on Britain’s Got Talent).

Fresh off his run in the most recent season of America’s Got Talent, Colin Cloud will inevitably be one of the bigger draws of this year’s tour. As someone who’s covered all of his performances on the program as well as other similar acts in the past, I’ve come to learn a lot about mentalism – his genre of choice – and that it can be controversial in more ways than one. However, as I said all summer, it’s not just the trick itself that makes a magic performance, but the presentation of it. Seeing Cloud command the stage live with his own personal brand of illusion, class, and wit was truly a treat to behold. (Being selected as one of the lucky participants in his second-act segment was just the icing on the cake. :P)

The Illusionists also goes beyond the typical conjuring, vanishing, and mind-reading typically seen in magic shows. Humorous vaudevillian segments from Charlie and Sherry Frye transports patrons back to a time where stage magic was simpler, but no less fun to watch. In addition to performing what was probably the most whimsical trick of all in the first act, Raymond Crowe’s signature shadow puppetry act (as seen on Australia’s Got Talent) was a clear crowd favorite. Doing Got Talent coverage has made me realize how difficult pleasing an audience with a danger act can be, but Daredevil Jonathan Goodwin somehow manages to have just the right stage presence to grab the audience while still maintaining a certain ominous vibe to keep the tension and suspense from start to finish during each of his segments. The audience is always acutely aware of the dangerous and painful aspects of his stunts, but it never quite gets to the point where it becomes unwatchable (except maybe for the most squeamish patrons).

Being a magic show, plenty of audience participation is inevitably incorporated into The Illusionists. (At the performance I saw, multiple illusionists unknowingly selected the same man to be involved in the show, which soon became a running joke.) If you’re not comfortable being pulled into the action, I highly suggest avoiding the front rows and any orchestra-level aisle seats when buying tickets for the show. On the flip side, without spoiling anything I am happy to report that audience members who aren’t sitting close to the stage will still have the opportunity to be part of the performance (without being unwillingly dragged onstage!).

The Illusionists will be presented across North America between December 2017 and June 2018. (For those wondering, the tour beyond the holiday season stops will feature Toronto cast members An Ha Lim, Colin Cloud, Jonathan Goodwin, and Jeff Hobson, as well as Wilmington/Washington performer Kevin James, aka “The Inventor”.)  Tickets for the full list of dates can be found on the show’s website.

December 15, 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!

A Vegas Venue, a Seattle Church, and the Royal Variety Performance – AGT Alumni Update

We may be trucking through the off-season, but there’s been lots of news in AGT Land so far this month!

First and foremost, America’s Got Talent Live in Las Vegas was a huge success! There were some great throwbacks to the summer show as well as some new material from Darci Lynne Farmer, Angelica Hale, Preacher Lawson, and Light Balance, including a few collaborative performances! (Photo credit to Angelica Hale on Instagram.)

Her run is Vegas may be over (for now!) but Darci Lynne isn’t slowing down – she recently announced a series of shows in her hometown of Oklahoma City. Darci Lynne: Homecoming will be onstage at The Criterion on December 16-17 2017, and tickets are selling fast!

Seattle-area AGT fans have an upcoming treat of their own. Gold Creek Community Church’s annual Gold Creek Christmas show has a special twist this year: several Season 12 contestants will be performing, including singers Evie Clair, Kechi, and Christian Guardino, dancer Merrick Hanna, and dog act Patrick & Ginger! There are three performances scheduled over December 15-16, and tickets can be purchased here.

In other Season 12 alumni news, last week Colin Cloud announced his involvement in this year’s Royal Variety Performance. If you’re unfamiliar with the tradition check out the link, but the show is an annual tradition in Britain and is known for featuring a, well, variety of different performers from comedians to sideshow acts to West End stage show casts. (So basically everything we hope to see in the AGT live shows instead of an abundance of karaoke-style pop singers.) And just to give you an idea how prestigious the RVP is, a performance slot is the grand prize for AGT‘s own sister program Britain’s Got Talent. This year’s winner and representative is musician Tokio Myers, and in addition to all of the BGT champs some other alumni from AGT have participated in previous year’s performances.

The 2017 RVP is set to tape later this month and will be televised in Britain and other Commonwealth nations in December and January, but those living in America and other countries will more than likely be able to catch clips of the performances when they are inevitably uploaded to YouTube. And since I’m expanding this blog to cover BGT in the spring (and need some filler content between now and then :P) I’m planning to review the show here on Pure AGT next month! (Photo credit to Colin Cloud on Instagram.)

Finally, I’ve mostly refrained from posting about this since one of our sister sites pretty much has it covered, but AGT Season 5 alumnus Lindsey Stirling not only recently released a brand new Chirstmas album entitled Warmer in the Winter, she was officially announced as a Dancing With the Stars finalist earlier this week! The two-night Finale airs on ABC Monday November 20 at 8/7c and Tuesday November 21 at I believe 9/8c. (And I believe Lindsey also has a new music video coming out on her YouTube channel very soon!) You can check out one of her dances from this past episode below, and I’ll see you again soon with more AGT updates.

November 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!

The 10 Best Performances of America’s Got Talent Season 12

Before I start this, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund GoFundMe campaign. Any massacre is horrific of course but especially with the connection AGT has with the city I thought it’d be good to share.

I’ve thought a lot about what to do with this blog during the off-season. I know I don’t want it to go completely dormant like last year, so I’m going to try to post at least twice per month. One post will be a roundup of any notable alumni updates and the other will vary a bit. For this month I recently grabbed a copy of Mandy Harvey’s book “Sensing the Rhythm” which was released last week, so I’ll get a review of that up once I’ve finished reading it!

For now, let’s get to the top 10 list! Note that I didn’t allow myself to include multiple performances from the same act so I wouldn’t run out of things to say. 😛

10. Preacher Lawson Proves Himself to be a “Driving” Force in the Competition (Auditions)

While I’ve made it clear I didn’t agree with some of the representation of certain act genres we had in the Season 12 live shows, I think Preacher Lawson was definitely the best comedian of all those we saw by miles, so if we could only have one make it through, I’m glad it was him. Most of his performances were on a similar level for me – all around solid, with a couple laugh-out-loud jokes and good personality to make the lesser material palatable. After re-watching each of them, I still think his best performance was his very first audition.

He started by easing into the jokes by answering each question from the judges with a hint of humor, which made a nice segue into the set itself. As the season went on, Preacher slowly began incorporating more and more of his “over-the-top” bits into his performances, culminating in one long joke in the Finals that lasted about 30 seconds (you know the one :P). But here, we don’t get it until late in the act, giving us time to warm up to his style of humor before taking it to the next level with the grandma impression.

This performance was so good that even though it was one of the very first acts shown in the season premiere, it stuck out in my mind through the following weeks of auditions, and by the time we got to Preacher’s next set in the third episode of the Judge Cuts round, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation to see what he would bring us next.

9. Billy & Emily England Go for a Spin, Game of Thrones-style (Semi-Finals)

Like most danger performers who’ve gone on AGT, Billy & Emily England were certainly one of the more controversial acts of Season 12. Some people loved them, others feared them, and a few thought their act was more suited to a “redneck family reunion” than a primetime TV talent show (Facebook’s words, not mine).

I was concerned early on that the “wow” factor of the extreme roller-skating would wear off a little too quickly, but in a surprise result (at least to me) they avoided Quarter-Finals Dunkin’ Save territory and spun on straight to the Semis. By the time their second live show rolled around, not only had there been many a comment stating they needed to “step it up” but also many questioning their relationship as siblings. I don’t know if the concept for their Semi-Finals performance was an intentional nod to the speculation of incest, but either way, the Game of Thrones-esque set-up added an extra sense of intensity to the act.

Of course, the theme wasn’t the only thing that made this performance epic; Billy and Emily started out somewhat slow, but that helped them build tension and suspense as they kept adding to the danger with each passing trick. They even maintained strong showmanship whenever they had to pause the actual spinning to maintain their balance. It all culminated in one final daring move we hadn’t seen from them in any of their previous AGT showings; Billy tossing Emily off the platform, ending as the victor of the storyline.

8. Sara & Hero are “Walking on Sunshine” at the Beach (Semi-Finals)

Sara & Hero had kind of a rough start to the season, narrowly making it to the Judge Cuts round. But from there, they charmed the judges and viewers enough to make it all the way the 5th place without ever being on the Dunkin’ Save bubble! I really love Sara’s commitment to training dogs using positive reinforcement, and she managed to raise the bar with pretty much every AGT performance.

The Semi-Finals act is the one that I think worked the best. The beach theme was very well-suited to the “girl and her dogs” storyline and it had the biggest variety of tricks we hadn’t seen from them yet. The beginning with the CPR was arguably the best part since it was the only real “story” section of the performance, but the level of the tricks that followed made up for it. (The volleyball stuff was particularly impressive.) None of them went on for too long, and most of the transitions were smooth enough for Hero and Loki to keep up nicely. There were a couple of mistakes but none of the prevented the routine from progressing as it should (I really liked how Sara just kind of rolled with everything). I would have to say this was probably the most uplifting performance of the season, and it was no surprise for them to make the Finals as a result!

7. Colin Cloud Goes Undercover (Semi-Finals)

I feel like illusion-based acts are always at least a little controversial (“it’s not REAL magic”) but mentalism tends to stir up particularly heated debates. A lot of people are convinced there are plants in the audience or the judges are in on the trick (I highly doubt the latter is true, but I know of an instance or two when the host knew what was up). I know how quite a few of the tricks we’ve seen from this genre over the years are done, and there are a variety of different methods the performers have used. I know a lot of people like to make fun of Colin’s label as the “Real-Life Sherlock Holmes” but since the season ended a couple weeks ago I’ve looked up some videos of him online and the claims of forensic studies seem pretty legit and tied to a lot of his tricks. Granted, most of what he did beyond the Judge Cuts round incorporated less of that stuff, but it still helped me understand/appreciate some of his performances (ie. the Quarter-Finals one) more.

I actually almost selected Colin’s Judge Cuts act for his entry on the list, but I decided that while I did like the tricks in that one better, I think his Semi-Finals showing was stronger as an overall performance. Sometimes it’s not only what we’re seeing, but how it’s presented to us. While watching this on the night it aired I was disappointed at first; we’d seen a very similar illusion performed by Tom London earlier in the season, and that hadn’t boded well for his status in the competition. I was so confused. Why would a mentalist who’d shown he could perform all kinds of cool tricks chose to go down the route of doing one that didn’t even involve those skills? (Well, aside from the first bit with Howie’s phone unlock code.)

Just as I was about ready to give up on Colin, the flashback video started. While it didn’t change the essence of the trick, it added a whole new layer to the performance. The amount of effort put behind all those “clues” (especially in the burger place) was very impressive, and the thing with the board at the end was pretty funny (I’d been confused by the seemingly arbitrary “number of possibilities” since the video calling for tweet submissions was posted online a week prior). Suddenly, a disappointingly lackluster performance became one of my favorites of the entire season. Just goes to show that the delivery and presentation of an act can be equally as impactful as the material itself.

6. Merrick Hanna Dances to “I Built a Friend” (Auditions)

Real talk: the Season 12 premiere was probably one of the best AGT audition round episodes I’ve ever seen. Most of the really memorable auditions were shown in those two hours, and they made for a very strong start to the season. One of the acts in this episode that captivated me the most was Merrick Hanna.

I’d seen lots of animation dancing in the past, but rarely any that actually told a story. Merrick chose a great song to use; it wasn’t mainstream (so everyone would associate it with him) and was about a kind an his robot so the dancing really connected to the music well. His acting was also amazing and really sold the performance. In later rounds, we didn’t get this kind of rawness from Merrick (though he was still very good) but I’m glad we at least got to see it once on AGT.

5. Light Balance Stars a Party in the Dolby (Finals)

As the only Golden Buzzer act that didn’t involve singing, I think a lot of the dance and variety fans were really pulling for Light Balance to go far in the competition…and they did! They actually managed to beat all but two of the singing Golden Buzzers, not to mention every other act of the season!

We’ve seen several light-up dance crews over the years, but what I think made Light Balance special was their polished-ness and memorable characters, most noticeably the Abe Lincoln-esque fellow and the Wolfman. They frequently appeared in their performances and the Wolfman in particular gave way to some neat tricks (like the jail cell escape in this act).

The light-up dance acts can get old after awhile, but the trick is to incorporate different levels of movement, character, and tricks to them to keep things from getting stale. That’s exactly what Light Balance gave us this season, and it all culminated in this full-out dance party of a performance.

4. Diavolo Takes Us on a Journey Through Time and Space (Semi-Finals)

Diavolo is a great example of an act utilizing set pieces well without letting them take over the whole show. Their scenery is carefully selected to showcase what the dancers can do, and what I loved about this performance in particular was the variety of things they incorporated into it. They used several set pieces – each in a different way – and the transitions between each segment were seamless which made the whole act flow very naturally. I’m not entirely sure what the “story” of this performance was supposed to be, but I have a feeling it may have been purposefully vague in order to try to get the audience’s minds working to try to come up with their own unique interpretations.

I really don’t know what else to say about this. How does one even describe Diavolo? “Dance troupe” certainly doesn’t cover it, and neither does “acrobatics group”. I guess the best way to explain Diavolo in a nutshell would simply be “art”.

3. Bello Nock Conquerors the “Wheel of Death” (Quarter-Finals)

Bello Nock may be a seasoned professional at daredevil performances (let’s be real, a lot of the variety acts on AGT are) but that didn’t change the fear we all faced when he took a spin on the “Wheel of Death” for us in the Quarter-Finals.

When Sophie – who was at the live shows that week – first told me what Bello’s act was, I was kind of disappointed. It just didn’t seem very exciting. How could spinning on a giant wheel keep people entertained for three minutes? It just seemed like the awe factor would disappear very quickly. Luckily, Bello managed to create enough intrigue and suspense to keep us on our toes for the entire performance. He started by doing some fun tricks inside the wheel, then suddenly made things much more dramatic by climbing onto the outside of it and slowed things down, making it seem like he might fall off.

The tone change came at just the right time; as soon as the first segment was starting to wear out its welcome, a sudden shift in stakes brought the excitement back. Bello wasn’t just entertaining the audience anymore, but making them root for him. He built the tension at just the right pace and ended with a nail-biting but ultimately satisfying conclusion.

I really thought this performance played into the “fan-favorite Wildcard” storyline quite nicely, and was baffled it sent him packing. (I know some viewers have a disdain for danger acts, but remember, this was the same week that resulted in Billy & Emily making the top 5, so I’m still confused about Bello’s elimination.)

2. Mandy Harvey Semi-Finals: “Release Me” (Semi-Finals)

At first, Mandy’s AGT journey seemed oddly familiar…she came out with a ukulele at the end of the second episode, performed an original song, and received a Golden Buzzer. It felt like she was the second coming of Grace VanderWaal, only with a tragic backstory tacked on for good measure, which – fair or not – made me feel more weary than excited.

Her next showing in the Quarter-Finals was quite nice, but it was her Semi-Finals performance that really got me on board the Mandy train. Her first two songs were light, pretty, and overall pleasant, but in this performance, Mandy shed the sweetness (and the ukulele) and got raw. “Release Me” showed a much darker side of Mandy that we hadn’t yet seen, and there seemed to be so much weight behind every note she sang. Without the ukulele, her body language was much more expressive; the decision to sign the lyrics reminded us of her roadblock in life, but also was a way to use her body to express the sentiment behind the music, and her face was also much more expressive than we’d seen in her previous AGT showings.

Everything came together and made for a powerful performance that dramatically stood out from all the other solo singing acts in Season 12, and I really wish she’d saved this for the last week since her actual performance in the Finals felt like the wall that had been torn down in this one had been rebuilt to a degree.

1. Darci Lynne Farmer Helps Edna Doorknocker Serenade Simon (Semi-Finals)

Darci Lynne Farmer was one of the rare AGT acts that combined three very distinct talents, and I think her showing in the Semi-Finals was her best combination of her ventriloquism, comedy, and singing skills.

Right from when she opened the box, it was clear how dedicated Darci was to making Edna seem like a separate being from herself. The speaking voice was clearly distinct from her own, and when it came time for the song she not only had to nail the complexities of the vocal performance (which involved belting) but had to do it in the character’s voice, which she nailed.

Darci’s comedic chops were as strong as ever, not only in the delivery of the material (especially the hilarious meta AGT references) but also in her facial expressions, even when she was doing the ventriloquism. The best example of this was when she was walking over to Simon while singing. Her voice as Edna was passionate, but her own facial expression was clearly reluctant. It takes a lot of skill for someone to perform one way with their voice and the opposite way with their face, and she had it down pat.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism for Darci’s victory, most of it not actually having anything to do with her or the act itself, but for being “too obvious”. While I found it annoying that the champions of both Seasons 11 and 12 felt determined pretty early on and get wanting to be surprised, that’s more on the producers than the actual talent. I think Darci fully deserved her win, being one of those rare acts that can appeal to music fans and variety-lovers alike.

October 5, 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!

AGT Season 12 Contestant Updates (including Darci Lynne’s Ellen appearance!)

Looks like Darci has been doing the press rounds this week. She has appeared on a few shows since her win on Wednesday, including yesterday’s episode of Ellen! Check it out below.

As longtime readers will know, I love that America’s Got Talent welcomes all kinds of performers and gives many of them a career boost. I’m a big fan of the TV dance world and the people who cover those shows are always encouraging fans to support the dancers in their other projects and live performances. Likewise, I’d like to start doing this for some of our AGT alumni on here. They’ve shared their talents with us, so I’m only too glad to support/promote them when I am able! Yesterday I shared some info about the upcoming AGT Planet Hollywood show in Las Vegas featuring Season 12 finalists Darci Lynne Farmer, Angelica Hale, Light Balance, and Preacher Lawson, but I’ve been looking to see where else some of the contestants will be performing next as well. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

I know we have a lot of Pure AGT readers who became fans of acrobatic dance group Diavolo over the summer, and I have some good new for you guys: they’re going on tour! They’ll be heading to nearly 20 US cities between now and March 2018. This is the 25th anniversary celebration for the dance company, so this show is sure to be an extra special one!

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Preacher Lawson may be part of the AGT Vegas show in November, but that’s far from the only place he’ll be performing this fall. He has a list of show dates on his website, which currently lists shows for Oklahoma, Alberta, Alabama, Washington, Arkansas, and New York before the end of the year.

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I know a lot of AGT fans were disappointed in the lack of magic acts this season, so I wanted to tell you guys a bit about a show called The Illusionists. Some of you may have heard of the show or even seen a performance before, but for those who are unaware it is the world’s biggest touring magic show, and has several versions going on at once around the globe. Each production has a handful of various performers – mostly magicians – each with a different skillset in the art of illusion and title to match it – ex. “The Grand Illusionist” or “The Daredevil” – making for a show featuring a wide variety of magic.

Several alums from various Got Talent programs have appeared in this show, like how last year saw Season 11 runners-up The Clairvoyants pop in for a stint in the Broadway production. Another AGT contestant who is no stranger to this show is Season 12 Semi-Finalist Colin Cloud (aka “The Deductionist”) who has toured with the show to several continents over the past couple of years and is set to appear in quite a few of the 2017-18 North American stops (and I believe South Africa as well). I was very disappointed to miss this show when it came to Toronto last year (which might have turned out to be a good thing for Pure AGT, since I’m pretty sure if I had seen Mr. Deductionist before he was on AGT this would have become a Colin Cloud stan blog for the season. :P) but I am delighted that it’s coming back this holiday season and if I am able to go I might just review it for you guys! 😉

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Finally, Season 12 fourth-place finisher Mandy Harvey has quite a bit of music available for purchase, as well as some upcoming tour dates across the US. Most of them are set for Winter-Spring 2018, but she does have a couple shows in California and Indiana this October.

Mandy has also written a book that can be pre-ordered here. It’s her autobiography which focuses on coming to terms with her loss of hearing while figuring out how to realize her musician dreams. I’m really excited to read about her journey when the book is released in just a few days on September 26.

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That’s all for now, but if I see any more noteworthy updates from AGT alumni I’ll be sure to inform you guys! And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the top Season 12 performances countdown, I just really felt like it deserved its own post, so that’ll be coming up very soon! 🙂

September 23, 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 AGT Season 12 Live Show #5: Power Rankings

LAST SEMI-FINAL OF THE SEASON! I have to admit, even with how messy Season 12 has been, I’m actually pretty sad it’s almost over…but in the meantime, I’m going to try to get up a post on here every day from now until the Finale! I’m also considering covering Britain’s Got Talent on here next spring (I think?) as well as actually doing a write-up about the Christmas special if they do one this year. In addition to this, I want to include more stuff on here about AGT alumni and what they’re up to-there’s been a few I’ve heard a lot from since their time on the show-but I’m not sure how much interest there’d be for all that. None of this would be as frequent as what I’m doing now (until BGT starts).

But for now, I know you’re all here for the Power Rankings. This week is particularly hard to predict because there wasn’t one act that seemed to blow everyone out of the water, and very few really dropped the ball. Also, the show started an hour later than usual, and the late end time-especially we’re now into the school year and a lot of kids and parents are on stricter weeknight schedules-could have affected voting patterns. Also, based on last night alone there really doesn’t seem to be a frontrunner in this group, though I definitely think some will benefit from being one of the “stars” of their Quarter-Final.

1. Mandy Harvey: I think this is the first time all season I’ve put someone who performed in the middle of the show at the top of the Power Rankings, but she headlined her Quarter-Final and her spot in the running order this week was probably the best one she could have gotten; performing at the change of the hour meant she was likely the last act seen by people who tuned out at the usual time, but late enough in the show to still be well-remembered by the end for those sticking around the whole night. Her package might actually have been more of a selling point than the song itself, but it was still a very solid performance (loved the inclusion of sign language!) and just enough of a departure from her previous songs with the ukulele to be different without losing the essence that made people drawn to her in the first place.

2. Angelica Hale: Color me shocked that the judges actually criticized her a bit last night-I thought she was pretty much untouchable in that regard by this point-but this was still a nice way to end off the night. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with Angelica since Celine also performed last night, and as I’ve mentioned are often compared very closely by fans of the show. I think Angelica still has a bit of an edge with her story and POSSIBLY the pimp spot (but again, we don’t know if that provided as much of a boost as it usually does). Either way, I don’t see her going home tonight because she’s definitely in the top 6 and there’s no way she’d lose a Dunkin’ Save unless Mandy was one of her opponents.

3. Light Balance: I suppose these guys are my best guess for the third automatic spot tonight, since pretty much everyone seems to like them (even if it’s debatable whether or not performing second last will actually help this week). Their main competition is Diavolo, and I doubt we’re getting both in the finals since it seems like voters-especially this late in the game-tend to be more emotionally attached to (and inclined to vote for) individual performers or pairs than larger groups. However, I still think one of the dance groups will make the Finale and I think LB has the clear edge because their appeal is more “universal” (more on that below).

4. In the Stairwell: This might be surprising since I just said groups tend to be disadvantaged on this show at this point (and I’ll probably do a write-up about that sometime between now and next week) but I think the main reason for this is because it’s much more difficult for the audience to connect to them in comparison to a solo performer. However, the constant reminders of ITS’s military service probably remedies this issue. While I could have done without the name-dropping of a national tragedy (I want them out tonight for that alone) the Armed Forces mean a lot to many people, especially in America. Even though I thought the performance itself was probably one of the weaker ones of the night, ITS filled a niche of the episode as the only singing group, and that + military background will probably be enough to get them into Dunkin’ Save territory. Keep in mind the order of this list is based on who I think got the most Tuesday night votes, so while I’m expecting to see them on the bubble, they’ll probably be the act to lose out since I get the feeling the majority of their voting base is not part of the online crowd.

5. Celine Tam: I was originally going to have Celine as an immediate elimination, but she seemed to take less heat from being on the same show as Angelica than I thought, and now I’m thinking there might even be room for both girls in next week’s Finale. Like Angelica, she got a pretty positive response from the judges, with only a few minor critiques. I have a feeling as long as Celine manages to stay above the abyss (AKA the bottom 5) she’ll probably get through to the Finals.

6. Colin Cloud: I’m gonna try not to get my hopes up, because he was in the Dunkin’ Save last round and had the historically worst running order spot a reality contestant can have last night, but…….HOLY S*** WAS THAT NOT THE BIGGEST STEP UP WE’VE SEEN THIS SEASON? Yes, as usual the trick was “exposed” 10 seconds after it aired, but the whole presentation of this was NEXT LEVEL. It started off slow, and once the “magic” part happened I thought it was just a re-hash of what Tom London did back in Judge Cuts, but the flashback footage put this performance over the top. I LOVED seeing the reactions to it, both from the judges and online. Colin stood out with this performance, especially as the sole non-singing/dancing act of the night, and I think it just might have been enough to get him into Dunkin’ Save territory again. Maybe. I mean, if Eric could go second last week and still end up there, so can Colin, right? Right? (Please!!!!!)

7. Kechi: After her whole segment I penciled her in for top 3, but then a funny thing happened. When I poked around the interwebs to get a feel of who people were liking (and not liking)…I barely saw Kechi’s name at all. And this is about someone who I believe has gotten the pimp spot for all three of her previous performances, and a decent one near the end last night. She might still wind up in the Dunkin’ Save or even top 3, but it seems she could possibly be a victim of the “Singer Massacre of the Semi-Finals” when a bunch of the singers who were madly hyped in the Quarters suddenly disappear the next round.

8. Diavolo: This was THE performance of the night for me, and cemented my belief that despite what Laverne Cox said back in Judge Cuts, this is the most “Vegas” act of the whole season. However, three things make me think they’re probably goners tonight. 1) Competition against Light Balance (which I already explained). 2) The West Coast airing of the episode suddenly cutting back to Pompeyo halfway through their performance (seriously, WTF? Not cool, technicians!). and 3) Their act just being kinda divisive overall. It was very abstract and circus-esque, which seemed to be strongly appealing for some viewers (myself included) and a total turn-off to others. I hate to say it, but I have a feeling they’re done tonight. 🙁

9. Merrick Hanna: I love Merrick, but last night’s performance seemed to emphasize gimmicks (the giant robot) and tricks (the “flying”) more than what we love him for best-awesome animation dancing. I have a feeling a lot of these additions were producer-driven, but that probably wouldn’t have swayed voters either way. Again, really sad to say it but I think we’re losing Merrick tonight as well. 🙁

10. Christian Guardino: I actually really love listening to Christian sing, and hope he has a long and successful career after this, but while he did have a package custom-designed to tug at the heartstrings, his song was pretty forgettable (remember what I said last week about having to have those “money notes” in order for the audience to remember you?). His running order also wasn’t that great, and I’ve hardly seen any buzz about him since the show, so I’d be very surprised to even see him in the Dunkin’ Save tonight.

11. Pompeyo Family Dogs: Semi-Final Wildcard acts are pretty much fodder no matter how you slice it, but even if they had been voted through last time I’d probably still rank them at the bottom this week…I love their creativity, but the dogs were pretty much unrecognizable and were off their game for at least half of the performance. Besides that, the tricks themselves were pretty much the same ones we’ve seen in their other acts. And to top it all off, they were coming off the heels of fan-favorite Sara & Hero’s amazing beach performance last week. I really hope the daughter doesn’t cry again when they get eliminated tonight. 🙁

September 13, 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 AGT Season 12: Who Will Be the Top 10?

We FINALLY know the scheduled acts for the next two weeks, but there’s barely any time before the first Semi-Final show starts so I’m not going to get to do as deep of an analysis as I was hoping. 🙁 But I’ll still quickly predict a top 10 (aka the Finalists!):

Week #1 – September 5-6 2017
Top 3: Darci Lynne Farmer, Chase Goehring, Johnny Manuel
Bottom 5: Yoli Mayor, Eric Jones, Billy & Emily England, Mike Yung, Danell Daymon & Greater Works
Dunkin’ Save: Preacher Lawson
Judges’ Choice: Sara & Hero if it’s a majority/Evie Clair if it’s split and they go to the viewers

Week #2 – September 12-13 2017
Top 3: Angelica Hale, Mandy Harvey, Diavolo
Bottom 5: In the Stairwell, Colin Cloud, Celine Tam, Light Balance, WILDCARD
Dunkin’ Save: Kechi
Judges’ Choice: Between Christian Guardino/Merrick Hanna and they tie so Christian goes through with more audience votes

September 5, 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 Live Show #3: Power Rankings

Last Quarter-Final of Season 12! I have a lot going on with work this week and yesterday’s episode wasn’t all that interesting, so I’m gonna keep this short and to the point. Here’s who I think got the most to least votes last night, starting with…

1. Kechi: I’ve taken to omitting her last name since that’s how she seems to be branding herself (awesome that what is presumably her legal first name also works as a badass stage name). She got the “pimp spot” (aka the final performance of the show) has an especially emotional/inspiring backstory, and gave one of the few performances of the evening that was solid all the way through, so yeah; she’s not going anywhere this week, and I reckon she’ll be in the Finale in September.

2. Chase Goehring: Chase was a Golden Buzzer, delivered a solid (if not especially awe-inspiring) performance last night in a good running order position, and seems to have gained quite the fanbase over the course of the season. He’s another person who shouldn’t have any problem getting through tonight, and I think he has a decent chance at making it to the Finals (how big of one will depend on who else is in his episode next round, particularly if he’s up against Season 12’s other singing-songwriting superstar, Mandy Harvey).

3. Diavolo: The winners of the night for me; this was one of maybe two acts this episode that didn’t feel boring, stale, or pointless. I was captivated all the way through! They also had a good performance spot which will probably help them out. I really hope if they are in the Semis they get put in the episode Light Balance is not in; I fear that voters may not put two dance groups from one episode through and I think both easily deserve to be in the Finale.

4. Danell Daymon & Greater Works: This was the other act that fully held my attention and made me feel excited. I’m sort of on the fence as to whether they’ll be safe on in Dunkin’ Save territory (they did perform first, after all) but much like America loves veterans (a lot, as we found out two weeks ago), I have a feeling they also love choirs. And I really can’t see them in the Bottom 4 when I look at some of the other performances this week.

5. Angelina Green: Or “Angelica” if you ask Simon (even the judges are getting confused between all the singing acts now!) I toyed between Angelina and the act I ended up putting at #6 as to who would be the last one I’d call safe, because while both seem to have quite a few fans, neither were at their best yesterday. But I’m putting Angelina here because she was a Golden Buzzer and the singers have tended to fare better with votes than the variety this season.

6. Colin Cloud: For the whole week leading up to last night, NBC had a promo for the new episode with the tagline “90 seconds to change your life”. Now, clearly some acts were going to go over that timeframe (and I’m pretty sure the “90 seconds” thing was a rule for Judge Cuts, not the live shows) but the fact that they promoted that aspect so heavily for this particular episode is especially hilarious in hindsight after an EIGHT MINUTE ACT from Colin. Like, wow. Even some of the other contestants-who are usually very supportive of their competition-were commenting on the unfairness of that. And I think that might be what lands Colin in the Dunkin’ Save tonight, because it seems a lot of people on Facebook and Twitter were checking their watches during his segment. The idea was interesting, but perhaps a bit too complicated in execution for the AGT stage. I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing him in the Semi-Finals, though, so hopefully he has a better trick up his sleeve for next time.

7. Mike Yung: I think Mike gave a solid-if somewhat shouty-performance last night. However, he is an older singer, and they haven’t usually done very well on AGT. I think he was lucky to perform in the episode he did, because considering how many weak/unmemorable performances there were last night, I think he might have a chance to continue on from here.

8. Sara & Hero: I thought their performance was cute, and I liked the surprise addition of a second dog at the end! I feel like with her story and lesser competition, Sara and her canine companions will probably get more support than the Pompeyo crew did, just not sure how much or if it will be enough to keep them around for another go at it.

9. Oskar & Gaspar: I thought the technology was cool, but I didn’t see much of a response from people. Acts with videomapping have mostly gotten lukewarm responses on this show, and most of those involved movements from the “human canvases”, so I can’t imagine one with people standing still would do better.

10. Final Draft: When I have to Google an episode that aired less than 24 hours ago to remember they even performed, that might be a bad sign. I think the underwhelmingness of it all might have boiled down to song choice.

11. Junior & Emily: They performed in the second place “death slot”, but they did up their game a little to include a bit more than just spinning in their routine. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was enough to make them stand out in enough people’s minds and garner the support they needed to stay in the game.

12. Oscar Hernandez: I actually love him, but his running order slot coupled with the fact that Mel B just HAD to point out the forgotten choreography-even in a compliment-is probably not going to bode well for him.

August 30, 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 Live Shows Masterpost

For the rest of the season, this will be the page updated about upcoming show lineups and advancing/eliminated acts. Once the performance episode has aired, I’ll link each act’s performance here as well. I’ll still post things like Power Rankings and general commentary on the show separately, but when it comes to information about the competition schedule and results, this will now be your one-stop shop!

Quarter-Finals Week #1: August 15-16 2017
Angelica Hale
Aryton & Paige
Bello Nock (Wildcard)
Billy & Emily England
Christian Guardino (Dunkin’ Save)
Darci Lynne Farmer
In the Stairwell
Just Jerk (Lost Judges’ Choice Tiebreaker)
Preacher Lawson
Puddles Pity Party
The Singing Trump
Yoli Mayor (Won Judges’ Choice Tiebreaker via Viewer Votes)

Quarter-Finals Week #2: August 22-23 2017
Brobots & Mandroidz
Celine Tam
Demian Aditya
Eric Jones (Won Judges’ Choice Tiebreaker via Viewer Votes)
Evie Clair (Dunkin’ Save)
Johnny Manuel
Light Balance
Mandy Harvey
The Masqueraders (Lost Judges’ Choice Tiebreaker)
Merrick Hanna
Mirror Image
Pompeyo Family Dogs

Quarter-Finals Week #3: August 29-30 2017
Angelina Green (Lost Judges’ Choice)
Chase Goehring
Colin Cloud (Dunkin’ Save)
DaNell Daymon & Greater Works (Won Judges’ Choice)
Diavolo
Final Draft (Wildcard)
Junior & Emily
Kechi Okwuchi
Mike Yung
Oscar Hernandez
Oskar & Gaspar (Wildcard)
Sara & Hero

Semi-Finals Week #1: September 5-6 2017
Billy & Emily England
Chase Gohering (Won Judges’ Choice)
Danell Daymon & Greater Works
Darci Lynne Farmer
Eric Jones (Lost Judges’ Choice)
Evie Clair (Dunkin’ Save-first act in the show’s history to win the DS twice)
Johnny Manuel
Mike Yung
Preacher Lawson
Sara & Hero
Yoli Mayor

Semi-Finals Week #2: September 12-13 2017
Angelica Hale
Celine Tam
Christian Guardino
Colin Cloud (Lost Judges’ Choice)
Diavolo (Won Judges’ Choice)
In the Stairwell
Kechi Okwuchi (Dunkin’ Save)
Light Balance
Mandy Harvey
Merrick Hanna
Pompeyo Family Dogs (Semi-Finals Wildcard)

Finals: September 19-20 2017
Angelica Hale (Runner-Up)
Chase Goehring (Top 10)
Darci Lynne Farmer (WINNER)
Diavolo (Top 10)
Evie Clair (Top 10)
Kechi Okwuchi (Top 10)
Light Balance (Third Place)
Mandy Harvey (Fourth Place)
Preacher Lawson (Top 10)
Sara & Hero (Fifth Place)

August 12, 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 Judge Cuts Rounds 1 and 2: Power Rankings

We’re onto the Judge Cuts episodes of Season 12, which means a bit of a format change on this blog! For this round (and probably the rest of the season) I’ll be listing which acts I think are most to least likely to continue on past the next round in the weekly “Power Rankings”. Since this is Judge Cuts and there aren’t any Results Shows yet, I’m only going to include the acts that were sent through to the live shows, though in the near future I’ll be doing a post noting any acts I think could potentially end up being one of the Wildcards.

Another change I’m going to try to implement on this blog is to make a strong effort to focus on the talent and performances of the contestants instead of their backstories, since a lot of other articles I’ve seen lately have been doing the opposite. So right now, my plan is to only discuss backstories if they are relevant to the actual acts the competitors are performing.

And, of course, like last year, please keep in mind that the order the acts appear on this list reflects what I think the majority of the audience will think, not necessarily my own personal opinions.

With all that said…

1. Angelica Hale: Charming child? Check. Tragic backstory? Check. Powerful voice? Check. If you have any of these things going for you, you are likely going to get a lot of the focus this season, and since Angelica has all three down pat, I think it’s safe to say she’ll be sticking around for awhile. The fact that she got a Golden Buzzer also helps her case, as I’m sure we’ll be reminded of that moment whenever she performs in the live shows. Right now I’m predicting her to make it to the Finale, and she’s probably one of the top 5 most likely to take it home at this point.

2. Puddles Pity Party: Okay, so he’s not a cute kid, and his “tragic backstory” was more for comedic effect than to rise any real sympathy from people, but he has a great voice, and also already has a supportive following on YouTube. But I think the main thing Puddles has going for himself right now is that he seems to be the only real “oddball” we’ve seen so far this season. I’ve noticed a lot of the people that tend to go for the off-the-wall acts rallying their support behind him (and this crowd mostly consists of people who are generally opposed to singers competing on AGT) and he even seems to appeal to people who enjoy the more “standard” acts as well. I don’t think he’ll win, but I think he has a good shot at making it to the Finale. Puddles may be another drop in the sea of singers, but in a season that looks to be dominated by underage contestants with tragic backstories, I’ll take any variety I can get.

3. Colin Cloud: In my personal opinion (and I’ve seen many others echo this sentiment) the first two Judge Cuts episodes were relatively boring for AGT. However, this guy (along with Puddles and the very brief montage with clips of the other magicians) was the saving grace of the second night. I’ve seen people comment they know how some of the mentalist tricks are done, but as we saw last week, with magic, presentation is half the battle, and I think Colin has mastered that aspect more than any of the other magicians this season. For that reason, I see him going pretty far. I’m guessing he at least makes it past the first round of live shows, and he might even have a shot at the Finale if he can keep changing things up enough to keep the audience interested.

4. Yoli Mayor: Here’s where I start to get a little fuzzy in my predictions, because starting with Yoli most of the acts for the rest of this list kind of fall into the “meh” category for me, but I’m not entirely sure how others are going to feel about them. Yoli has an amazing voice going for her-though I think she was over-singing quite a bit in her latest performance-as well as a backstory a lot of people can relate to. I’m just not sure if either of those things will be enough to sustain her longevity in the competition all the way to the Finals, because her beautiful voice is one in a sea of many this season, and her story, while relateable, might get lost among some of the more gut-wrenching ones (ie. the ones involving some kind of illness). I think she’ll probably make it past the Quarterfinals but I’m feeling like she might be a Semifinals elimination unless she manages to really stand out from the crowd.

5. Evie Clair: Evie is similar to several other acts this season, Yoli included, but as a singer alone, she’s one of the less memorable ones in my opinion. On voice alone I don’t think she holds a candle to the likes of people like Angelica, Yoli, and Christian. Also, unlike two out of three of that group, she didn’t get a Golden Buzzer, which gives all the singers who did a leg up on her. What will probably make her stand out in others’ minds is her father’s illness, which is currently looking to be terminal. I hate to say it, but I think her standing in the competition might hinge on how her dad fares, and just how much focus in Evie’s segments is on her family’s journey in facing it.

6. Demian Aditya: So far, this has been the only “danger act” to advance to the live shows, and I think Demian might benefit in votes from the lack of competition. However, if he wants to make it to the end, he needs to start changing up his act, because I’ve seen a lot of comments on how similar his “role switcheroo” act in the Judge Cuts was to the trick he did back in his audition. Basically, I think his chances of sticking around will hinge on how many other danger acts end up in the live shows (which, judging by the mass exodus of most of the ones we’ve seen so far, isn’t looking to be a lot right now).

7. Just Jerk Dance Crew: This was my favorite act of the first Judge Cuts show and, like Demian, I think being one of the few acts of their kind this season is probably going to be a bit of an asset. The thing is, a lot of the dance crews tend to get cut early during the live shows, and we already have another one that got much more buzz and fanfare being Tyra’s Golden Buzzer, plus I’m pretty sure Diavolo is going to make it through next week and they’re a very innovative act. I don’t see JJ beating either of those two groups unless they pull out something AMAZING in the near future (or they play up their story a lot more, since right now they seem to be much more matter-of-fact when discussing their situation than most of the other contestants). Right now, they’re a solid act, but you need to be more than “solid” to win the AGT million.

8. Eric Jones: I found Eric’s performance last week good, but kind of forgettable. However, he’s one of only a few magicians in the live shows so far, and has a sad backstory that does somewhat tie into his craft so I think he could last another round. Not much else to say right now.

9. Chase Goehring: Okay, I’ll be honest, I found Chase completely forgettable both times we saw him (did they even air his full audition?) and the only reason he’s not lower on this list is because he got a Golden Buzzer. He wasn’t really bad or anything, but what worries me is that despite getting the GB, I barely heard any talk of him from fans once the show was over. All that fanfare leading to such a relatively small response is not a good sign, and at this point I’m questioning if he’ll even get through the first round of live shows.

10. Sara and Hero: I was thinking these two were going to get eliminated in JC after their first audition, since the judges clearly had mixed opinions on it, but I’m glad they turned it around and managed to make the cut because I don’t have much hope in most of the other animal acts this season except the family with the poodles. Speaking of the poodles, I think they could be Sara and Hero’s downfall going forward because while Sara changed up the act enough to keep it fresh for this round, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go from here, and I fear we may have already seen the best tricks Hero can do. With the poodles I just feel like there’s so much more they’re going to be able to do to impress voters, especially with their flashier set-up and all. Even if the poodles don’t make the live shows, I doubt Sara and Hero are getting anywhere near the Finale, but I think they maaaaaaay have a shot at the Semi-Finals depending on who else is in their first live show.

11. The Masqueraders: I was happy to see these guys get through, and was pleasantly surprised to see that quite a few others were rooting pretty hard for them! They definitely fill the country niche this season, but I worry they might get lost among acts with more fanfare surrounding them, especially since their style of singing is more “chilled out” while others have really been focusing on belting as many notes as possible. I think their story of getting another chance to live their dream could help them a bit, but again, there are quite a few more memorable backstories this season so the impact of their’s might not take them as far.

12. Singing Trump: I actually thought he stepped up his game quite a bit in the Judge Cuts, and I think I would have also sent him through. However, there is a big problem with getting political on this show. As we saw last season with teenage comedian Lori Mae, taking a clear political stance alienates half your audience right off the bat, but I think Singing Trump’s approach of not taking a stance may be even more harmful in the voting department; Trump supporters will see his act as a disrespectful way of making fun of him, while Trump opposers are just sick of seeing him everywhere, an probably watch AGT as an escape from his media dominance. I’m just not sure where his voters are going to come from, and for that reason I think he might be out pretty quickly. Right now, I think he at best has a chance of being one of the acts vying for a “save” in his Quarter-Finals results show and we’ll see how it goes from there.

13: Mirror Image: And now we’re getting into the acts I’m actually shocked made the cut…unlike most people, I actually enjoy the antics of these two (though I wish both them AND the Quiddlers had advanced) but even I’m well aware that if they were put into a stronger group for Judge Cuts they wouldn’t have made it through (but the general unevenness of the Judge Cuts round is a post for another day). I’m pretty sure they’re going to get buzzed by Simon again in the live shows, and I don’t think that will bode well for their votes. I did see a small amount of passionate support for them, so I guess depending on who else ends up in their Quarter-Finals show they might have a shot at being one of the acts up for Dunkin’ Save, but even if they are I honestly don’t see them advancing past the first round of live shows.

14: Junior and Emily: This is the one act so far I don’t think even has a decent shot at making it to the Dunkin’ Save zone. They’re great at what they do…they just don’t do much. I can appreciate the difficulty of their craft, but after the initial amazement there’s not much else to their performances. They have an inspirational backstory, but again, it’s one of the more forgettable ones, so I don’t think it’s going to do much for them. Unless these two really step up their game and add some variety to their performance, I don’t see them moving forward.

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back soon with some more thoughts on how the show is being produced this season and how I think it could be improved. Plus I’ll be doing some more Power Rankings next week (which looks infinitely better than either of the first two Judge Cuts episodes) and when Judge Cuts are over I might do a special edition for all of the Golden Buzzers!

July 27, 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!