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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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