Things I learned from last night’s first live show of the season:
1.) I am sick of hearing “Beneath Your Beautiful” & “I Love It”.
2.) The judges may be regretting putting some of the acts through to the live shows.
3.) There’s a lot of technical kinks with Radio City Music Hall that still need to be worked out.
Overall, I was left a bit disappointed – with as strong of a group of acts that comprised last night’s show, I had high hopes…but only a few acts actually delivered, and almost everyone seemed to suffer from nerves. Guess I can only hope that tonight was just first night jitters – that next week’s live show will come off quite a bit smoother and with fewer gaffes.
So now I’m going to rank the acts we saw last night, from the act that I think is most likely to get through to the act that I think is least likely to get through. Since four acts are advancing, it’s safe to assume that the four at the top of my list are the ones I see making it through – the 5th place spot is the act that I think will lose the judge’s choice.
1.) Collins Key – I had a feeling this kid would knock his act out of the park once more, and he sure did. Loved how he made his act very current and relevant by incorporating Twitter into it – he seemed a bit nervous at times, but overall I liked his delivery and think he appeals to a wide demographic, both young and old. My only concern is that we’ve basically seen the same act from him 3 times in a row now, just tweaked slightly to change things up. I’m hoping he’s got something new up his sleeve for the next round – because at this rate, I think he’s got a decent chance of winning this whole thing.
2.) Branden James – I knew when they had him going last that he was likely going to benefit from some degree of “pimping” from the judges. And when he started belting out “You Raise Me Up”, I knew he had probably just secured himself one of the spots in the next round. I guess I’m just left a little confused as to why Branden is getting such lavish praise – I thought his performance was ok, but nothing exceptionally special; I didn’t think his first audition was anything terribly special, either. I think we have much stronger male opera singers this season – and I think any of the 3 guys in Forte could put him to shame, vocally. Personally, I thought “You Raise Me Up” was a bit of a cop-out song – it’s one of those schmaltzy songs that seems to tug at heartstrings and illicit an emotional response from the audience, even if it’s not sung particularly well. I thought he could have picked something a little more daring to highlight his vocal skills. I think he’s got one of the spots in the next round, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope someone edged him out of it – for me, he was just ok last night.
3.) Kristef Brothers – The unexpected delight of the night for me Thought the comedic pas-de-deux theme of their act was genius – I do think they’re really hit paydirt with their “comedic acrobatics” strategy, as these two were one of the acts I really remembered fondly from last night’s show. These guys are legitimately talented in what they do – and they’ve got the added benefit of having a great sense of humor about it and not taking themselves too seriously. I think it’s this combination of skills that could help them edge out a stronger acrobatics act – I think Duo Resonance is technically the strongest acro act this season, but they seem to lack stage presence and personality; I think Kristef, though less technically skilled, could actually edge them out on personality alone.
4.) The American Hit Men – Seems like all of the musical acts last night seemed to suffer from picking the wrong song, and I think the Hit Men did struggle to a degree with “With a Little Help from My Friends”. While I overall liked their performance and think they should go on, I think they probably would have had a stronger showing with a more uptempo song – maybe “American Woman”? I still think they’re popular enough and entertaining enough to advance, but I think they really need to start focusing on the right songs – so far, they have yet to perform anything that had as strong an impact as “Simple Man” from their inital audition.
5.) Anna Christine – Poor Anna – not only did she suffer from picking the wrong song, but she seemed to suffer from nerves more than any other act and seemed to have some technical difficulties as well. I’m not sure what it is with Anna and The Animals, but the downtempo version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood'” that she did just never really got off the ground – it was so subdued and quiet, perhaps because she herself admitted that she “couldn’t hear the track very well”. As much as I do think she deserves to advance, I think she may have done herself in with that song – if she does come back, she needs to pick something that’s more uptempo and can really show off her vocals.
6.) Alexanderia the Great – Her act was impressive – but I don’t know that they really built it up enough so that it really left me on the edge of my seat. Alex actually has a rather unique problem as an escape artist: she almost makes it look too easy, so that you don’t really pick up on the difficulty of what she’s doing. Part of the appeal of escape artists like Spencer Horseman last season was that they really drew out the escape – he was always completing the escape just barely in the nick of time, and he really let the suspense build. Alex does it so quicky & easily that you don’t really have time to get hyped up about it. If Alex does somehow make it through tonight, I think in the next round she’ll really need to work on building the suspense of her act – holding her breath longer, taking more time to escape, maybe adding a clock or another element of danger to really amp things up.
7.) Special Head – I think the execution of this trick was so poorly carried out that even poor Nick wasn’t quite sure what to do! As I was discussing with my two right-hand men (Will & jimmbboe) last night, Special Head has sort of hit a plateau for me: we’ve basically seen the same trick from him 3 times now, just dressed up with different props so it looks like a new trick. And tonight, the trick was so clumsily executed that it wasn’t even impressive – we caught a glimpse of Special Head’s…well, head, after he had supposedly disappeared, and then a confused Nick was wandering out onstage, unsure of whether the trick was actually over or not. Cut to a video feed of Special Head out on the balcony at RCMH (which looked pre-taped to me), and everything just felt sloppy & haphazard. However, I did see “Special Head” trending for quite sometime on Twitter – no way to really be sure if that will translate to votes or not, but it did seem like people were talking about him. I don’t think he deserves to move on to the next round, but that doesn’t mean he won’t…
8.) Fresh Faces – I feel bad putting these cuties so low, but I feel like their act just may have gotten lost in the shuffle last night. I think the major problem with what they did was that it just felt messy and chaotic – rather than the organized, in-synch group we saw in the audition rounds, we basically got some semblence of a bunch of little girls running around giggling at a slumber party, which I think detracted from some of the really skilled tumbling and stretching moves they were doing. That dumb “I Love It” song didn’t seem to help matters, either. Very cute, very talented girls – but I think they suffered from the wrong kind of presentation in their act last night.
9.) Hype – The strangest thing about these guys? They actually seem better with less preparation than with more!!! They only had about 12 hours to come up with their routine for their audition, and it was fantastic; they have beaucoup time to come up with their Vegas and Radio City routines, and both fall flat. I just don’t get it – I really had high hopes for these guys, and while their two most recent routines have been marginally entertaining, they seem to lack the same inspiration that we saw in their initial audition. I think they may have blown their chances last night, and may not even have a hope and a prayer of getting asked back for the wild card. Ack.
10.) Aaralyn & Izzy – What can I say that I haven’t already said since the audition round? I don’t find them talented, entertaining, or particularly special…but at least now the judges are seeing it, too. “Stepping in dog poop”? That song maybe had 15 words, repeated 2-3 times…usually inaudibly. The only thing that I found semi-amusing about the whole act was Aaralyn’s semi-split at the end. For the individuals who think this act is artistic and wildly talented…I’d love to know what real metal artists think of Aaralyn & Izzy. I’d say we get Ozzy’s take on them, but I’m sure Sharon’s got him on a gag order since she left AGT.
11.) Tellavision – Another act that I’m glad the judges are finally realizing ain’t that great – I thought there was very little dancing in this number, they relied too heavily on the LCD screens, and the whole thing was just really cheesy and, as Howard put it, “artsy-fartsy”. I feel like we’ve got far stronger dance acts than this one this season, and the LCD screens are really more of a distraction than anything else.
12.) Kevin Downey Jr. – I just think Kevin got lost in the shuffle – his jokes were only slightly funny, and in the end, none of them were particularly memorable. I don’t think he was bad, per se – I just don’t think he was anything special.
So what did you guys think of last night’s acts? And who do you hope to see advancing to the next round?