Woohoo! A highly entertaining kickoff to season 8, if I do say so myself A nice mix of good acts that actually made it through to Vegas, with a few trainwrecky auditions peppered in to make things interesting. Heidi & Mel seem to be gelling well with Howie & Howard, and Heidi seems to have taken on the role of the “sweet” judge that makes all the contestants feel welcome…but that doesn’t mean she’s afraid to hit her buzzer, either. So far, Mel has been quieter than I thought she’d be, but we’re only one episode in. Howie continues to be a bit of an oddball judge, who is often the lone dissenter when the other judges vote a certain way. Thought it was a bit odd that they only showed us 2 auditions from San Antonio before skipping ahead to New York & L.A., but judging from the previews from next week, it looks like they’re back in San Antonio for more auditions.
For the audition rounds, I’m just going to go through each act in the order it aired, and give a quick summary (to jog everyone’s memory and my own – it’s easy to lose track of some of the acts during a 2-hour show!), and give some of my own input on what I think of them. Since tonight’s episode spanned auditions in 3 different cities, I’ve broken the acts up by audition city as well. For acts whose name wasn’t provided, I simply gave them an identifying nickname – i.e. “Asian male aerialist” or “girls’ clogging group”. I’ll try to figure out any missing details and update you guys as I find them
And I do apologize for not getting this up immediately after the show aired last night – while I’ve become accustomed to cranking out recaps of the 2-hour DWTS performance show within an hour of the broadcast ending, I had forgotten how much information gets crammed into a 2-hour AGT audition show…and while I had this post 75% done last night, I was tired, and I didn’t want to half-ass my way through the rest just because I was sleepy. So here it is – thanks for bearing with me as I get accustomed to PureAGT
David “The Cobra Kid” Weathers – 35 years old, from Hollywood, FL
The act: He does dangerous stuff with dangerous snakes – for his audition, he brought along the “meanest rattlesnake he’s got” and taunted it into striking (and subsequently popping) a balloon he held in his mouth.
The verdict: All 4 judges loved it and said yes – he’s through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Danger acts are great and I think they definitely have a place on AGT – but the one problem I have with them is that many of them end up kind of one-dimensional, without much to expand on from round to round. Don’t get me wrong, some manage to parlay a rather limited “danger skill” into several different performances, each with an interesting twist to it (Ben Blaque, the crossbow act from last season, comes to mind) – but the majority seem to run out of truly different things to do after the Vegas round. I’m afraid David might fall into latter camp – how much more is he going to be able to do with these snakes? I’m interested to see, but I can’t say I’m terribly optimistic that he’s going to continue to wow beyond Vegas.
Marty Brown – 47, from Franklin, KY
The act: He’s a country singer who performed “Make You Feel My Love” while playing the guitar.
The verdict: The judges all commented on how they were “pleasantly surprised” by how great of a performer he was, and loved that his wife had to trick him into coming to audition. 4 yes’s – see you in Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Easygoing, down-to-earth country boy with guitar skills and a voice reminiscent of Garth Brooks? He’s a pretty safe bet, methinks – but if he really wants to separate himself from what I imagine will be yet another large group of male singers this season, he’s gonna need to step out of the country box a bit…maybe sing something more “mainstream” with a bit of a country twist to it?
Miu – 31, from Japan
The act: Well…I think she was trying to be the Japanese iteration of Lady Gaga, so she was flailing around to “Born this Way” in typical Gaga attire: spiked bra, sparkly hot pants, some platform boots, and what looked like metallic cinnamon rolls on her shoulders.
The verdict: If you couldn’t guess from the description of the act alone, she didn’t make it through – she got early buzzes & no’s from Howard, Mel, & Heidi, in that order; Howie was the lone hold-out, and gave her a yes.
Court’s thoughts: It’s times like these where I really worry about Howie’s sense of judgement – I get the feeling tonight is not the only time this season where we’re going to see the 3 other judges giving a resounding “NO!” to a bad act, with Howie sitting there saying “I actually loved it…so it’s a yes for me!”
The act: Errrr…it was a guy…and I guess he was trying to act like some sort of growling animal?
The verdict: Mel buzzed him before he even performed, and it was “NO!” across the board.
Court’s thoughts: Well, at least he had nice abs…if I were him, I would have quickly segued into a male revue-type act midway through the boo’s, and at least tried to salvage the performance
“The Alien Wearing Lederhosen” Nezbit Blue
The act: A guy in a blue alien costume…wearing lederhosen…and yodeling.
The verdict: No X 4…and Heidi schooled him on yodeling.
Court’s thoughts: Are all people born in mountainous regions just innately able to yodel??? I actually thought Heidi wasn’t half-bad!
Avant-Garde Noise Music
The act: A guy & a girl in peculiar, vaguely country-ish costumes fashioned from pantyhose & gas masks…and they were playing banjos and some other instruments. The result was bizarre & cacophonous.
The verdict: The judges weren’t feeling it – AT ALL. Nick, however (in typical Nick fashion), cobbled together his own matching costume out of pantyhose and played along backstage.
Court’s thoughts: Dunno what this act was thinking, but it’s times like these when I realize just how PERFECT a host Nick is for a show like this – the guy rolls with the punches incredibly well and manages to inject comedy when it’s needed most.
Catapult Entertainment – from New York, New York
The act: A silhouetted, acrobatic dance act that portrayed a jewel thief vs. detective storyline.
The verdict: All 4 judges loved it and said “yes” to Vegas. Howard even went so far as to do the “I’m not worthy!!!” bow.
Court’s thoughts: Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of silhouette acts – especially the one from either last season or the one before that always did these kind of schmaltzy storylines and were basically just a group of people running back & forth to form new shapes. But I felt like this one actually brought something new to the table – instead of just running from place to place, this was fluid, and had several things going on at once…and the shapes they were making actually moved instead of staying static. They also played with perspective & size quite a bit more, and seemed to tell an actual story, as opposed to just creating pictures that fit a certain theme. I could see this act making it to the finale, for sure.
Unnamed female clogging group The Academy
The act: A group of adolescent-age female
cloggers Irish step dancers.
The verdict: They made it through to Vegas. Howard even went so far as to say ”the Rockettes have nothing on you guys!”
Court’s thoughts: Whenever they show an act that made it through to Vegas, but don’t necessarily give us the name or any other info other than a brief clip of them performing, I’m inclined to think that they probably won’t be around for long and thus the powers that be don’t see the point in investing a lot of airtime in them. I could be wrong, though. Anyway, from what I saw, they seemed to be very clean & in sync…but how well-received is an Irish step dancing act really going to be?
Hype – 20-25, from Hawaii
The act: Three young guys (“Headache”, “Hazmat”, and Mikey…who doesn’t have a nickname ) that danced a hip-hop dance routine to a techno-y sounding remix of “Singin’ in the Rain”.
The verdict: The judges (Howie in particular) were astounded that the 3 guys had only come up with that routine the night before, and were excited to see just what they could come up with when they had even more time to rehearse. 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts: I actually thought one of the guys in the group (I think maybe “Hazmat”) looked familiar right off the bat, and then when I heard the name “Hype” and that they were from Hawaii, I recognized him as being part of Hype 5-0, a crew that was on America’s Best Dance Crew about 3 years ago. If the pattern of former ABDC-ers on AGT continues, we’ll at least see these guys in the first round of live shows - and if their choreographic talent is as promising as it looked tonight, they could make it even further. I saw a lot of different styles in this routine – some breaking, some popping, some tutting – and if you can skillfully mesh multiple different hip-hop styles, you can really make a splash.
Unnamed male aerialist Tristan Jih
The act: 20-something guy that was a yoga instructor by day, and an aerialist by night - and this was his first real performance.
The verdict: We’ll see him in Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: He seemed a little nervous, but he handled those silks well – and he’s got a rather nice torso.
The act: He’s a comedian that did some work behind a video screen – dragged a blow-up doll behind the screen, and made it appear as though he was appearing on-screen dressed like Howard (with the doll dressed like Heidi). Managed to say in sync with the vid screen when walking out from behind it.
The verdict: Judges liked it – he’s through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: A cool little twist on typical comedy – I was definitely skeptical when he introduced himself as “a comedian, but I don’t tell jokes”. Now I get it - but will this particular schtick wear thin after a few performances?
Kid the Wiz
The act: Did a sort of hip-hop dance that focused mainly on tricks he did with his hat.
The verdict: He’s through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Yeah, it was cool to watch – but can you REALLY create an entire Vegas show out of a kid doing hat tricks??? And how many tricks does he really have? I’m guessing the judges get bored with it in Vegas, and he gets cut before the live shows.
Chuck from the Bronx – 38, from (duh) The Bronx, NY
The act: I guess you could call it “extreme eating” – he ate 3 raw eggs (shell & all), chased a tequila shot by snorting the salt through his nose and squeezing the lime in his eyes, and finished by devouring the world’s hottest pepper…while sitting in a bathtub full of ice.
The verdict: In the second decision of the night that was not unanimous, Howard, Heidi, & Mel all hated it & said no - but Howie “got it” and said yes to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: I can deal with sideshow & danger acts. But for whatever reason, I get super-duper squeamish when I see professional/extreme eaters that either eat ridiculous amounts of food or eat weird things. I literally start to get queasy and usually have to stop watching. And poor Chuck looked like he was in such pain – I’d much rather see someone that was having the time of their life performing and was truly enjoying what they were doing, than someone that just suffers for the sake of applause.
Alex B. – 13
The act: He sang “Payphone” by Maroon 5.
The verdict: The judges (Mel in particular) all said “no” as gently as they could.
Court’s thoughts: I always feel bad for young kids that work up the courage to hit the stage, but maybe just aren’t quite ready for AGT yet and end up getting a “no” from the judges. Poor Alex was only 13 – and his voice is probably changing, which could explain some of the shrillness that made his singing a bit hard on the ears. The judges unfortunately probably see far more kids like Alex – and very few like Jackie Evancho or Anna Graceman. I just hope kids like Alex do end up working on their skills a bit more and return in a future season when they’re better prepared.
Anna Christine – 10, from Henderson, NV (or as I like to call it – “John country” )
The act: Sang “House of the Rising Sun” while playing the piano.
The verdict: Judges adored her – 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts: She’s basically this season’s Anna Graceman – but I think she’s actually better. She’s got a VERY mature voice for her age – reminded me a bit of Kelly Clarkson when she was on Idol - and seems to have a bit more of a stage presence. Another act that I could see making the finale.
3Penny Chorus & Orchestra – from Connecticut
The act: A full orchestra & chorus comprised of non-professionals that performed an orchestral version of “Call Me Maybe”.
The verdict: Judges (even Howard, who claims to “hate orchestral music) loved it. They made it to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: It was definitely cool – especially when you consider that none of them are professional musicians. But there were a few moments that I found it a bit grating on the nerves…maybe it was the song choice? Who knows. I’d be interested to see them tackle something totally out of their element – like Jay Z or Kanye.
Pacific Boys’ Choir – ages 9-14
The act: They sang a choral version of “California Dreamin’”.
The verdict: They made it through to Vegas – Howard especially loved it, citing it as “one of his favorite songs”.
Court’s thoughts: It was a beautiful, haunting performance…definitely a pleasure to listen to. But I wonder if they might connect better with the audience if they performed something a little more young & current.
The act: He’s an eccentric, Buddhist monk-ish street performer who makes this weird humming noise to “get his chakras in line” before levitating.
The verdict: Judges were skeptical at first – Howard even buzzed him early in the act. But after the levitating, Howard actually “took back” the X, and all 4 judges said “yes” to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Special Head is no spiritual – he’s just a magician that has found a really kooky (and clever) angle with which to frame his illusions. It’s all an act – even the name betrays the fact that he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. However – I think it’s brilliant. I think I’ve figured out the trick (if you’ve ever caught Magic’s Greatest Secrets Revealed on the Bio channel, it’s just a simple levitation – hint: the staff he was holding isn’t just there for show), but I think the true genius behind his performance was more in the presentation than anything else. We’ve had goth magicians of the Criss Angel persuasion, very mysterious illusion-based magicians of the David Copperfield persuasion, escape artists of the Houdini persuasion, and even very campy magicians of the Penn & Teller persuasion. But we’ve never had a magician of the “spiritual magic” persuasion – and when you can inject that element of mysticism into a performance, the effect on the audience can be pretty powerful. I’m very curious to see what he’s going to do for Vegas - maybe conjure up some spirits? Summon the 7 plagues?
Angela Hoover – 42, from Redondo Beach, CA
The act: Comedienne/impressionist that impersonated Celine Dion, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Chenoweth, & Penelope Cruz.
The verdict: 4 yes’s, through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Glad to see another female impressionist since Melissa Villa Senor a few years back – it’s unfortunately a genre of comedy that seems to be dominated by men, since it’s far easier for a guy to humorously imitate a female voice than it is for a female to imitate a male voice. Her Celine, Kristen, & Penelope impressions were spot-on – I thought the Drew could use a bit of work, though, and found myself comparing it unfavorably to Melissa’s Drew impression. I do want to see her do well – but I think in order for that to happen, she’s going to have to tackle some male impressions, too. Melissa was unique in that she was able to do some male impressions, too – her Owen Wilson sticks out in my mind. Hopefully Angela can pull out a decent Nick Cage or Robert De Niro
Barbie & Mina
The act: Two bimbos in hot pink outfits (kind of) singing some silly song.
The verdict: No way, Jose – and Howard said they “reminded him of the Spice Girls”, which of course got a rise out of Mel.
Court’s thoughts: Just…why????
“Guy with pony-like headdress & female backup dancers”
The act: Well…it was a guy in some vaguely S&M outfit with a pony-like headdress singing some weird song while some female backup dancers clad in metallic spandex danced around him.
The verdict: Ummm…no.
Court’s thoughts: I’m sure this would have been a hit in a gay club…but AGT maybe wasn’t the right audience.
Anthony Granger, aka “Tone the Chiefrocca” – 27, from Englewood, CA
The act: Tone and his “hype guy”, Cody (who I think he said was his little brother) performed an original song called “B-Double O-T-Y” – which Tone hopes will make him a one-hit wonder.
The verdict: All 4 judges were on their feet & shaking their b-double o-t-y’s – and said yes to Vegas. Nick also joined in for an impromptu 2nd performance and help Tone & his hype guy come up with an “official b-double o-t-y dance”.
Court’s thoughts: I gotta give props to a guy who openly admits that his only goal is to “become a one-hit wonder” On paper, I really should hate this act – but I loved every single second. The song is catchy as hell, these two guys are ridiculously entertaining, and they’ve got no illusions about what they are: they’ve only got one song, and they intend to perform it over and over again for each round. Normally I would think this would get really, really old, really, really quick – but I’m thinking their angle might be to perform the song with a different theme each time. At least that’s what I’d do – yes, the audience already knows that I’m going to be singing “B-Double O-T-Y” again, but am I going to be singing it dressed as King Tut? Or the Village People? One thing’s for sure – “B-Double-O-T-Y” is this season’s “Whatcha Gonna Do?”
So which acts stood out to you? Let’s hear it