America’s Got Talent 5: Sixteen Act Breakdown

As we wait for the YouTube Auditions to commence on August 10th… let us take a look at the breakdown of the acts that have made it through to the next round… first the categorical breakdown:


Alice Tan Ridley: Singer
Cristina & Ali: Singing Sisters
Prince Poppycock: Opera Singer
Debra Romer: Singer/Musician
Michael Grimm: Singer/Musician
Nathaniel Kenyon: Singer/Musician
Taylor Matthews: Singer/Musician

Now anyone that did any kind of singing get’s clumped into the singing group without question, which would make it a rather large group. However, when you break it down even further you’d notice that about half are solo singer/musicians meaning that they accompany themselves on a musical instrument while singing. Thus of the last three there is one pure singer, a singing duo and a performance/opera singer. When one breaks it down like that it doesn’t seem so bad…

It’s easy to argue that the number of singers still in the competition makes up about half of the total number of acts and as thus more of a singing competition than a talent competition. However, as easy as it is to say why don’t the singers move to American Idol, here’s my argument. The Idol series (Pop Idol, American Idol, etc) focuses on several things when choosing their contestants: physical look, vocal ability, entertainment value and the age-range. The Idol series focuses primarily on the “pop” genre or something pop-XXXX genre. Yes they have gotten better in including soul, rock and country… but the majority of the singers in the competition are primarily pop. Add to that the look and entertainment value and true talent tends to go out the window (which is why the group doesn’t cover American Idol… we like talent shows 😀 ).

All kidding aside every one of these acts have the talent to do decently in the music business no matter where they end up. The real question is that after acts like Bianca Ryan, Terry Fator (though technically he is a singing ventriloquist), Eli Mattson, Neal E Boyd, and Kevin Skinner… do we really need another singer to take it all? Or is it time for another different kind of act to step forward?

Future Funk: Hip-Hop Dance Duo
Haspop: Popping Dancer
Studio One Young Beast Society: Dance Troupe

One common thread I noticed with the above acts… hip hop… It seems like Hip Hop dancing is the “in” thing now, it is what is hip or going on. The other thing I noticed is that the majority of the dancers are outside of the 18 – 30 age range of So You Think You Can Dance contestants for the most part.

Dance has been gaining traction thanks to the likes of Dancing with the Stars (ballroom dancing), So You Think You Can Dance (all styles), America’s Best Dance Crew (mostly hip hop and breaking)… but the fact that only generally hip hop dancers have made it this far and that most of the popular media deals with hip hop tells a bit of something about the genre in general.

Are any of the above strong enough to have a Las Vegas major production catered around them for well over an hour? I’m not entirely certain I could handle watching one type of dancing for that long… but that’s just me.

Antonio Restivo: Fire Artist/Illusionist
Murray: Magician/Illusionist

For many decades, magicians and illusionists have been a mainstay in Las Vegas. From the likes of Siegfried & Roy to Penn & Teller to Criss Angel when a magician has a show in Vegas they’ve hit the big time. Do either of the above have what it takes to not only provide magic and illusions that stretch beyond the parameters of those that came before them but to entertain the crowd as well?

ArcAttack: Technological Performance Group
AscenDance: Rock Climbing Acrobats/Dancers
Fighting Gravity: Blacklight Performers
Jeremy VanSchoonhoven: Extreme Cyclist

These particular acts are so unique, so different, and very dangerous in their own ways that I ended up clumping them into their own group.

Ever since the advent of Cirque du Soliel, the world of entertainment has been spun, stretch and re-imaged for a bigger and brighter world. Could any of the above acts sustain a show and stretch the boundaries of entertainment any further?

Keep in mind although these acts could be in existence in other countries outside of the United States (or on smaller scales IN the United States) it is through the show that what they do is coming to the forefront. Thus allowing similar acts to show and shine and recreate entertainment as we know it. All it takes is a single group to break down the wall for every else to rebuild it.

Categorical Conclusion
Singers make up a vast piece of the pie, but then again in American culture it is the singers that bring in the most revenue in the entertainment industry from record deals, to music downloads, to concert tours and television shows. So are we really all that surprised to see so many singers in the competition?

On the other hand, the other half of the pie is comprised of a variety of other acts that are jockeying for their piece of the entertainment industry pie. Is this the season for a non-singer to win the competition? Is America really ready for something other than singers?


Now, did anyone else find it interesting that there was a group of acts that were given a free ride into Hollywood? How did those acts do?

Straight to Hollywood
ArcAttack: Technological Performance Group
Fighting Gravity: Blacklight Performers
Future Funk: Hip-Hop Dance Duo
Haspop: Popping Dancer

Of the ten acts that made it straight to Hollywood, only four were chosen to go on to the next round. But what was the breakdown of the acts before and after America voted?

Seven of the ten acts were dance acts in some capacity from the one man show of Haspop to the cheerleading squad of SF Cheer. We also had a gymnast/acrobat, and two performance acts that simply did not fit anywhere else.

One thing of note is that no singers had a free pass to Hollywood. Another thing of note is that a fair number of dances acts made it through to Hollywood while others still had to audition in Vegas.

There were three non-dance acts of which two of the more unique ones made it through to the next round.

Christina & Ali: Singing Sisters (?)
Nathaniel Kenyon: Singer/Musician
Jeremy VanSchoonhoven: Extreme Cyclist

Everyone saw the Standby acts performed. I think it is safe to say that for an act who was original standby to be continuing in the competition is saying a lot in their determination and focus on the goal at hand (whatever that may be). No matter how far in the competition a Standby act will go it is a safe bet to say that I tip my hat off to these acts for proving to the judges and America why they belonged…