Well, to those of you who didn’t join myself, Matt B. and Matt W. in the live discussion post/”Matt Chat” during the show last night – you missed out on some great discussion And I’m planning on resurrecting the “Matt Chat” for next week’s finale…so plan on joining us, k? 😉
Overall, last night was a night that the judges seemed to do a LOT of gushing and giving of standing ovations – and I’m not sure they were all deserved. Seems like the judges have decided who they do and don’t want in the finale, and are critiquing accordingly. Will be interesting to see who’s still standing when the dust settles tonight…
1.) Forte – As I mentioned in the live discussion post last night, I actually thought last night was one of their weaker performances – that song has just been done to death, and I actually don’t think the arrangement had enough “light and shade” to really showcase the guys’ voices well. The whole thing just felt a bit “meh…it’s ok” to me. That said, I think they long ago solidified their place in the finals, and are one of the few remaining acts who can afford to have a bit of a stumble and still make it through safely.
2.) Kenichi Ebina – Another usually top-notch performer that left me feeling a bit “meh” last night. I get what he was going for – a more emotional, artsy performance – but up until the part with him leaping through the dark with the strobe light, I just felt a bit lost, as he seemed to be a little all-over-the-place with his movements. Again, another act that long ago secured his place in the finale – but I think if he wants a shot of displacing Forte for the win, he should stick with what has really worked well for him in the past: very cool, fun, upbeat performances that show off his full repertoire of skills.
3.) Kristef Brothers – Highlight of the evening for me, and I think they reached a Kenichi-level of creativity with their performance last night. An infomercial on how to be a Kristef Brother? HILARIOUS. And they still did all of their tricks well – color me entertained. And can I just say how RAD Kris’ dad is? I think I may have to rewatch just the little blurb with him later, cause he had me laughing pretty hard. I think these guys and Cami have been the biggest surprises of the season for me – I never would have guessed they would make it this far.
4.) Collins Key – *sigh* I was really, really hoping that Collins would both clean up his delivery AND come up with something totally different for the top 12 – and I guess he succeeded, but only minimally. Yeah, he trimmed down a lot of the confusing fluff from his last trick, and the “pick a bag for me to smash” premise was probably the most innovation we could expect from the type of magic he does; but last night, I saw the “man behind the curtain” a bit, and it detracted from my enjoyment of the trick. There was just wayyyy too much funny business with the bags – Howard chose bag #2 for him to put Nick’s watch in, but all Collins did was take the 2nd bag and switch it with the first one…the watch was still going in bag #1. Then when he was “mixing up” the bags, he was really keeping the same bag with Nick’s watch in the same hand the whole time. Then watch his face when he’s asking Heidi to pick bag 1, bag 2, or bag 3 – he smiles broadly when he says “bag #3″, which to me could have easily been a signal to Mel & Heidi that Nick’s watch was in that bag and they needed to pick the other two. And really, the bags were never sealed, and Nick’s quite obviously was much larger & heavier than the two cheap ones…so Collins knew the whole time where Nick’s watch was, which enabled him to “coach” the ladies. Then there was the whole debacle with the time on Howie’s watch – I don’t think Collins considered that Howie’s watch doesn’t have well-defined second marks, and that Mel is sometimes a bit of a dipsh*t, so once again the trick lost its magic a bit when Collins asked if the time “was rounded or not”. I like the kid, I really do – but each time I see him perform, he loses a little bit more of the magic that made me enjoy him so much the first few times we saw him. That said, I think he has the teenybopper vote, and should make it through without any problems. I’m just not confident he can win the whole thing, though.
5.) Jimmy Rose – I think last night was actually my favorite performance we’ve seen from Jimmy – was nice to see him sing something a tad more uptempo. But the judges just weren’t feeling it – has the luster worn off the rose with their favorite country boy? Or have they just decided he’s not finale material? I just found the whole critique to be rather strange – granted, Jimmy did have a few wobbly notes, but I don’t think it was any worse than any of his other performances…which the judges GUSHED about. I’m guessing that he still has enough fan support to secure himself a place in the finale…even though I think I’d rather see Cami there.
6.) Taylor Williamson – Taylor just gets funnier and funnier to me, the edgier and more inappropriate his humor gets 😛 And I love that Howard & Howie get it and are on board with it – because I feel like both Heidi & Mel have missed the bus at different points, and last night it was Mel’s turn. I could tell Mel soured on the act the minute the word “racist” passed Taylor’s lips – I remember reading that she demanded that one of the comedians we saw in Vegas not have his audition performance aired because she thought it was racist & offensive, so she’s quite touchy about that particular subject. I actually didn’t find Taylor’s joke to be particularly offensive – it was pretty darn innocent, as far as “racist” jokes go, and ended up being more ageist than racist, really. But I could tell Mel had written the act off based on that joke alone – so I’m actually a little glad Howard & Howie managed to keep her from critiquing the act, because I have a feeling she would have torn him a new one.
7.) Catapult Entertainment – I’ll just put it out there: I’m sick to death of Catapult, and I’m totally over the main guy’s preachy attitude and tendency to go for the “schmaltz factor” in order to get his group to advance. Aside from their initial audition (which I still think was their best performance), the one time they DIDN’T go for some sappy storyline, they kind of lost both the judges’ and America’s interest. Do they really think they’re going to be able to craft an entire Vegas show out of sappy vignettes like the one they did last night? I about wanted to slap the leader in the face when he pulled out the whole “we need to protect our kids from bullies” line and acted like he was doing such a noble thing by announcing that to the world and sharing his group’s performance…as if he was single-handedly going to stop bullying by doing a few shadow puppets. And mediocre shadow puppets, at that – some of the shapes they were making kinda made me go “Wait, what is that? Is that supposed to be a dog? It’s a crappy-looking dog…oh, I guess it’s a dog. Whatever.” I’m over the “look at us, we’re so touching and socially-conscious that you simply MUST put us through to the next round!” act.
8.) Cami Bradley – Cami was my 2nd favorite act of the evening – loved her rendition of “Living on a Prayer” and thought she was the only singer last night that really did something fresh and unexpected. And as I said earlier – she has pleasantly surprised me each round she performs. That said – I worry she’s going to get lost in the shuffle between all the country fans trying like hell to save Jimmy Rose and all the opera fans duking it out between Forte & Branden James. I think she DESERVES a spot in the finale, but I’m not sure if she’ll actually GET a spot in the finale…too many sheeple voters that are blinded by Collins, country, & opera.
9.) Branden James – *shrug* I just don’t know what to make of this guy anymore. He reverted back to his usual “I’m going to sing a touching song that’s been done wayyyy too many times because I know America just eats this sh*t up!” strategy, and gave a schmaltzy, average performance to “Hallelujah”. And of course – the judges gush. I give up…but I guess I just hope Forte has enough clout to edge him out of the finals.
10.) Innovative Force – Anyone else find it a bit funny that they had all 3 acrobatic acts basically go back-to-back-to-back at the beginning of the show, as if to force America to see them side-by-side and pick just 1 to go through? I think this likely benefitted Kristef Brothers, but hurt Innovative Force & Chicago Boyz – because both paled in comparison. Innovative Force are great at what they do – I think their tricks are a lot more cleanly-executed than Chicago Boyz, and their the most “artistic” of the 3 acrobatic acts in the top 12…but I feel like they’re getting a bit repetitive. Each performance, it’s the same intense, classical music; the same tricks (we saw the “throw the girls around in star formation” trick in their audition); and the same type of costuming. I just think they’ve run their course on this show, unfortunately.
11.) D’Angelo & Amanda – I’m not sure there was really anything that D’Angelo & Amanda could have done to earn themselves a place in the finale – I feel like America is so country, opera, and Collins-crazy that they just don’t have time to really care about these two very talented dancers. I was thrilled that they did samba – it’s the “party dance”, and was probably their best bet at making a splash (no pun intended, considering their performance last week) in the top 12. I thought they did great – they moved big, they added in an interesting new element (dancing around the judges’ table), and had a great energy about them. I don’t think it will get them into the finale, but I think it was a great way to go out with a bang.
12.) Chicago Boyz – Poor Chicago Boyz. I don’t think they did terrible, by any means; I just think they had the unfortunate distinction of being really the only act that made very noticeable mistakes last night. I do applaud them for stepping up the danger level each week (jump-roping a 3-tired pyramid formation??!!), but I think the fact that they lost one of their key stuntmen to a leg injury really crippled them this week – I’m fairly certain I saw his replacement involved in both bungled jump rope tricks I saw. I have enjoyed their journey on the show, but I’m fairly certain we’ve seen the last of the Chicago Boyz
So what are your thoughts on last night’s performances? Who do you think will advance to the finale next week?