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PureAGT Season 9, Episode #1 – Audition Round Run-Down

I apologize that this has taken so long – apparently a 9-month absence made me forget just how LONG a 2-hour show is, and how many acts we really see!

Just FYI, for anyone looking for the music from last nights show – my full list is here.

Adrian Romoff – age 9, from Atlanta, GA
The act:¬†Played “Flight of the Bumblebee” and “Symphony No. 1 in E Flat Major” on the piano.
The verdict: Howard was dubious about whether or not the boy was actually playing the piano after the first song, so he offered to play a second one. Howard was sold, and he got 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts: I may be in the minority here, as I saw quite a few people on Twitter mentioning that they found Adrian “annoying”, but I love precocious kids that are articulate and wise beyond their years…probably because I was the same way at that age ūüėõ I got a kick at how he was calmly and confidently (and wittily!) conversing with the judges. The piano-playing was good, of course, although I found the arrangements of both pieces he played to be a bit too “busy” – would have liked something a bit simpler and less electronic-sounding, so I could really appreciate his skill.

The Famtastix
The act:: A group of grown siblings (2 brothers, 4 sisters)that clogged to “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.
The verdict: They’re through to the next round.
Court’s thoughts: Kind of over clogging acts (they all start to look rather similar after awhile), but this one wasn’t bad.

Richard & Ashlee
The act: A male-female duo of classical dancers turned circus performers that did a series of lifts to “Too Close” by Alex Clare.
The verdict: Through to the next round.
Court’s thoughts: Gonna be hard to trump the Kristef Brothers in my book. The little we saw was ok – but I hope their next performance is more entertaining.

Tic & Tac Entertainment
The act: An “acrobatic breakdance comedy group” that did a series of flips, tricks, and breakdance moves to “Happy” by Pharell.
The verdict: Through to the next round.
Court’s thoughts: Visually, they reminded me of The Chicago Boyz from last season, wearing leftover Team USA sweaters from the Olympics in Sochi ūüėõ But I think they could potentially be a more well-rounded version of the Chicago Boyz – they seem like they’re able to do a lot more.

3 unnamed comedians
The act: Three very unfunny comedians that preceded Dan Naturman.
The verdict: Fairly certain none of them made it through, judging by all the buzzing that was going on.
Court’s thoughts: Who told any of these 3 guys that it was a good idea to try out for AGT??? None of them even sounded prepared.

Dan Naturman – age 44, from New York City
The act: A stand-up comedian that hit on such topics as marriage, Game of Thrones, and people lying on the Internet.
The verdict:: He got yes’s from all 4 judges (even Heidi), and he’s through to the next round.
Court’s thoughts: At first, I found his delivery a bit jarring – could have been nerves, but he started off in a somewhat rushed, rapid-fire rhythm in an accent that can best be described as James Cagney meets Gilbert Godfried ūüėõ But about 20 seconds in, he settled into a good rhythm, and it flowed well. Loved the material – tackled timeless topics, while giving it more of a current spin. Could be this season’s Taylor Williamson, methinks.

Rokardy – age 49, from Cuba
The act: He’s a hand-balancer that managed to balance on a narrow stand high enough above the stage that he actually was hidden behind the judges’ X’s, then climbed down and landed in a split. Brought along his son Carlos, who assisted by throwing him pieces of the stand, which he assembled as he climbed it.
The verdict: 4 yes’s. And Howard wants to make a movie about Carlos. ūüėõ
Court’s thoughts: Anyone else find it just a bit odd that Rokardy didn’t introduce Carlos as his son right off the bat? Just was a bit funny to me that he started off by saying “This is my assistant” and it wasn’t until much later that he was like “Oh yeah, he’s my son.” Weird little nitpick, and I’m probably the only one that honed in on it ūüėõ But anyway!!! A hand-balancer that is possibly more skilled than the Kristef Brothers…but I don’t know that he’s got the variety or the showmanship that made them so appealing. Hope he’s got some other tricks up his sleeve. Looks fan-freaking-tastic for pushing 50!!!

Donnie Valentine – from Champaign, IL
The act: He sang a cover of “You Make Me Feel Brand New” in a painful falsetto.
The verdict: 4 very quick X’s…quite possibly the quickest anyone’s ever gotten them, according to Howard.
Court’s thoughts: This dude is like an unholy trinity of creepy: bizarre at-home perm, eyes that don’t blink nearly enough, and pants that make him look like he’s about to swashbuckle. Yikes.

Juli Moody
The act: I guess it was some sort of strong woman act – she did some squats with Nick on her back.
The verdict: I’m assuming no – even though it took awhile (because the judges were enjoying watching Nick look uncomfortable on her back), most of the judges buzzed her.
Court’s thoughts: Had she gotten a bit more creative with this and not just relied on squatting Nick, I think she might have actually had something…we don’t see too many StrongWoman acts. But alas, no.

Bald Man Bongos
The act: 4 bald dudes smacking each other in the head in rhythm. Basically, last season’s Tummy Talk, just tweaked slightly.
The verdict: Howie was the only one that didn’t buzz – and he briefly joined the group onstage. But we won’t see them in Boot Camp.
Court’s thoughts: Tummy Talk wasn’t that great of an act, so why did someone feel the need to rehash it? Just DUMB.

Unnamed hula hooping act
The act: A middle-aged woman in a red flapper costume hula-hoooping…awkwardly.
The verdict: It’s a no – although the act improved dramatically when Nick joined her onstage to share his hula hoop skills ūüėõ
Court’s thoughts: The way this woman moved is how I would imagine an ostrich trying to hula hoop would look.

Unnamed kick-line dance group
The act: From the very brief clip we saw, they appear to be an all-female jazz dance group – that does kick lines.
The verdict: Not shown – although they seem pretty good, and Mel looked impressed.
Court’s thoughts: Was part of the rapid-fire montage of acts right before Mighty Atom, so we only saw a few seconds. Looked decent, though.

Unnamed knife-throwing act
The act: A male-female knife-throwing duo.
The verdict: Not shown.
Court’s thoughts: Looked like a pretty garden-variety knife-throwing act…nothing too special.

Unnamed ping pong act
The act: A girl hitting a ping pong ball into a guys mouth…and him spitting it back out. Repeat.
The verdict: Unknown – but I have a hard time believing this one made it through, given how bored the judges looked.
Court’s thoughts: Just…why???

Unnamed bell-ringing musician
The act: A snazzy-dress middle-aged woman playing “Like A Virgin” with hand bells.
The verdict: Yet another unknown…but the judges looked very unimpressed.
Court’s thoughts: She looked like a top-selling Avon lady circa 1987. And probably watches a lot of Wheel of Fortune in her spare time.

Mike Greenstein, aka “Mighty Atom Jr.” – age 93
The act: He’s a strongman that pulled a station wagon carrying 3 people WITH HIS TEETH.
The verdict: 3 yes’s, and 1 no from Howard, who thought he act “needed more showmanship”.
Court’s thoughts: First off, I just thought he was the most adorable thing we’ve seen on the show so far – loved how he chomped his teeth like Iceman from Top Gun, and referred to his “84-year-old kid brother”. Clearly this man did not get the memo that he is 93 years old ūüėõ Thought the act was impressive, but not sure there’s a whole lot else he can do with it…but I’m glad he’s had this opportunity to show America that you don’t have to sit around and do nothing after you retire!

Acte II – ages 32 & 29, from New Orleans
The act: A female opera duo that sang “The Flower Duet”.
The verdict: 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts:: I don’t particularly like opera, but I enjoyed this – I can’t recall another time on AGT that we’ve had a female opera duo or group. So I find this act intriguing ūüôā I know a lot of folks on Twitter were of the opinion “Whatever, they’re no Forte!!!” but I really think the two are apples & oranges – they’re just different from Forte. Not sure how many more opera duets are written for two females – “The Flower Duet” was the only one I was familiar with – but I’m hoping these two can sing things other than just opera. It sounds like they can – they seemed to indicate that they like singing more contemporary music, too.

Unnamed J-setting dance group
The act: A group of drag queens in gold costumes performing “J-setting”, a style of dance inspired by the 8-counts typically done in cheerleading.
The verdict: Unknown – Mel & Heidi seemed to be enjoying it, Howie buzzed them but didn’t say anything, and Howard was a big fat “NO!”
Court’s thoughts: I’m actually a big fan of J-setting, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea…so I doubt it would make a very good Vegas show :-/

Unnamed male hip-hop dancer
The act: A young Asian man doing a pretty impressive sequence of spins and turns incorporated into turfing, jooking, and some other hip-hop styles.
The verdict: 3 yes’s, and one no from Howard.
Court’s thoughts: I was impressed by what I saw, and I don’t think we’ve had a really impressive street dancer since Turf back in season 6. I’m ready for another good solo hip-hop dancer!

Unnamed female singing group
The act: A group of 4 young ladies singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.
The verdict: Howard liked it, but the other 3 didn’t…so probably didn’t make it, but not shown for sure.
Court’s thoughts: Sounded kinda off-key, from the short blurb I saw.

Unnamed band
The act: 4 young, decently good-looking guys with guitars – we didn’t actually get to see them perform.
The verdict: Howie & Heidi liked it, but Howard didn’t…but again, no verdict actually shown.
Court’s thoughts: All these unknown decisions are gonna drive me nuts when it comes time to compile my Boot Camp week list later this season. Grrrr…

Dustin’s Dojo – ages 30 & 35, from Indianapolis
The act: Two guys performing a comedic parody of what it’s like to attend karate school, complete with punches, board breaking, and high kicks.
The verdict: Mel & Heidi (particularly Heidi) didn’t think it was funny at all, but Howard and Howie loved it and gave it two yes’s…when the girls said “no”, Howard invoked his one-time Golden Buzzer privileges and sent them through to the next round.
Court’s thoughts: I already talked about this act a bit in my poll post from earlier today (if you haven’t already, tell us what you thought about Dustin’s Dojo!), but I’m in the camp that loved it – thought it was pretty clever and an a pretty apt parody of what happens in martial arts school. I’ve noticed that the act seems to be more popular with men than with women, maybe owing to the slapstick nature of the act. Probably won’t make it past the next round, but I’m ok with it right now – just a fun, space-filling act.

Unnamed female dance group
The act: Another all-female dance group doing vaguely jazzy, hip-hopping stuff.
The verdict: By the positive response from the judges and their happy squeals as they left the stage, I’m gonna venture a guess that they made it through.
Court’s thoughts: Gettin’ real tired of this no-names, short clips sh*t…

Unnamed male stepping group
The act: A group of steppers, who also through in some acrobatic moves in between stepping moves.
The verdict: They made it through.
Court’s thoughts:Glad to see another stepping group – the one we saw last season got very little attention, and was kinda lame. Hope this one makes it further!

Unnammed male hip-hop/acrobatic dance group
The act: 7 young men doing a combination of hip-hop and acrobatic tricks.
The verdict: Through to the next round.
Court’s thoughts: Loved the cute little guy with the locks they had up front – reminds me of the cute lil guy from Chicago Boyz last year ūüėõ

Blue Journey – ages 18 & 33
The act: A contemporary dance duo that incorporated a projection screen into their routine, along with elements of silhouettes & video technology.
The verdict: Despite an awkward initial interview, the performance pleased the judges and they got 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts: On paper, I probably should have hated this routine – it had several elements I’m tired of seeing on AGT: silhouettes, LCD screens, animations, and blacklight effect incorporated into dance routines. But it was so well-put-together that I couldn’t help but enjoy it – both the dancers were technically strong, as was the choreography itself and the overall staging. Looking forward to seeing what else they have to bring to the table.

Larry the Mime (Nick in disguise)
The act: A fairly terrible French mime act, complete with poorly-executed invisible box, invisible rope, and more.
The verdict: 4 resounding no’s from the judges, and one very sad-looking mime who launched into a diatribe shortly thereafter.
Court’s thoughts: I honestly feel a bit stupid that I didn’t realize sooner that it was Nick underneath that makeup – but with as kooky as some of the acts have gotten in recent years, I didn’t think it was completely off-the-wall to have a disgruntled mime on the show. So touch√©, Nick…touch√© ūüėČ

Jaycob Curlee – from Daphne, AL
The act: He sang and played an acoustic version of “Waiting on the World to Change”.
The verdict: 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts: It was pretty good – nothing terribly special, though. Kind of your garden-variety guy with a guitar and a soft voice trying to be John Mayer. I have a feeling America will feel for his sad backstory, though, and he’ll likely last much longer than he should, a la Jimmy Rose. Yes, I’m cynical. ūüėõ

So those were my thoughts on the acts we saw last night…what are yours? Do you have an early favorites?

May 28, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound specialist by day, entertainment blogger by night - with some amateur dancer, hair & makeup enthusiast, crazy cat lady, recreational chef, and Donnie Wahlberg/Norman Reedus fangirl peppered in to make things interesting ;-) Check out some of my other work over at puredwts.com!

PureAGT Season 8 Audition Round Rundown #2 – San Antonio/New Orleans Auditions

Howard really wasn’t kidding when he said the level of talent in San Antonio was high! Loved tonight’s episode even more than last week’s – and I thought last week was a VERY strong episode.¬† This could really be the best season of AGT yet.¬† Loved the fact that this episode was predominantly great acts that got 4 yes’s, and only a few bad acts.¬† Don’t get me wrong, I love a good trainwreck – but outstanding talent vs. hot messes? I’m gonna always pick the former.¬† And I can usually be pretty easily swayed by some strong ballroom dancers, too ūüėČ

This week saw the judges dissenting a bit more than last week, but for the most part, when one of them thinks an act is great – they ALL think the act is great.¬† I think it’s a testament to how well they get along – or how great the talent is!

UPDATE: Rundown of New Orleans auditions is up!

San Antonio:

Travis Pratt¬†‚Äď 32 years old, from Tipton,¬†GA
The act: He sang an operatic aria in what sounded like an astoundingly high key for a man.
The verdict:¬†Howie couldn’t believe he didn’t lip sync, and asked if he “had swallowed Jackie Evancho”.¬† Howard called him a “freak – but I mean that in the best way possible!” All 4 judges said yes to Vegas – and Travis proposed to his girlfriend¬†(who had urged him to audition) live onstage.¬† ūüôā
Court‚Äôs thoughts: When I saw this guy make his way onto the stage, I of course thought he would be singing some smooth R&B song – he had that suave, slick look to him.¬† So you can imagine my surprise when he starts belting out an aria like a soprano! And I think what impressed me the most is that he managed to stay in-key the whole time – I thought for sure his voice was going to crack hitting notes that high, but he hit ’em like a pro.¬† I could see him making it through to the live shows without many problems, for the simple reason that he’s set himself apart from any other male classical singers they might find this season: he’s a guy that can sing in a female register.

Duo Resonance (Yury Kuznetsov & Nina Chubrikova)
The act:¬†They did acrobalance – doing some gravity-defying tricks while using each other’s body weight to counterbalance.
The verdict: All 4 judges said yes to Vegas.
Court‚Äôs thoughts: There seems to be 1 good acrobatic couple just about every season – but man, these two may be the prettiest I’ve seen.¬† Loved some of the poses they were doing, and I felt like they were more artistic than the couple we saw last season (their name escapes me – but it was a dark-haired guy from Europe and a blonde from Australia, and they were in insanely good shape).¬† I think their best bet is going for themed performances each time – maybe try to tell a story or tailor their tricks to a certain song.¬† Otherwise, I think this could get a bit repetitive.

Ron Garber & Liza Satorov
The act:¬†They’re ballroom dancers that did a Latin dance with some¬†fast spins and cool dips.
The verdict: They made it to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: As I mentioned last week, I always get a little flustered when they only show us a brief clip of an act that made it through to Vegas, because it doesn’t leave me with a whole lot to go off of in my commentary – and usually forces me to go hunt down their names elsewhere.¬† However, I liked the dance these two did, and they seem to have a good chemistry on the floor.¬† But in light of what else we saw in San Antonio – I’m wondering if the adult ballroom acts are going to be taking a sort of¬†backseat to the youngin’s this season.

Jonas Terleckas & Ruby Castro –¬†ages 10 & 9
The act:¬†A Latin ballroom act – they did a cha-cha to “Oye Como Va”.
The verdict: Howie remembers Ruby from The Untouchables last season, and all 4 judges give them a yes.
Court’s thoughts: Gotta hand it to Manny & Lori Castro – they’ve practically made a career out of getting acts on AGT, as this is will be the 3rd year in a row that they’ve made it to Vegas…and they’ll likely make it even further, again.¬† For those who have no idea what I’m talking about – Manny is the cute little Columbian guy from Miami with the thick accent that was the leader of the Miami All-Stars in season 6, and the director of The Untouchables in season 7, and now he’s brought his kids to audition for season 8.¬† Ruby is he & Lori’s daughter, and she’s so stinking cute I could die…I love precocious kids, and this little gal has got sass to spare.¬† And she’s a great dancer! Jonas is good too, but I can see certain areas where he still has some growing to do in his dancing.¬† I’m on the fence about these two making it to the live shows – part of me thinks they’re gonna pit these two against Ruby’s brother & his partner in Vegas, and only take one act (and I think it’s probably going to be her brother).¬† But another part of me thinks that the powers that be probably dig the “first ever sibling vs. sibling competition on AGT!” and might take them both.¬† Guess we’ll have to wait and see!

D’Angelo Castro & Amanda Carbajales –¬†ages 12 & 13
The act:¬†They’re Latin ballroom dancers, too¬†– and¬†did a humorous jive to “Straight Up” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
The verdict:¬†Howard can’t resist playing matchmaker, and ask them if they’re “romantically involved” – they adorably relate¬†the story of them being “boyfriend & girlfriend” when they were 9, but they broke up “like 4¬†times” and it confused D’Angelo.¬† All 4 judges think they’re great and put them through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: D’Angelo is another precocious kid that I just get a real kick out of¬† – and he’s got some serious skills, as does Amanda: they actually won the first (and only) season of Paula Abdul’s ill-fated Live to Dance back in 2011.¬† Plus, D’Angelo is Manny & Lori’s son – and he was part of The Untouchables last season.¬† Honestly, if there’s any dance act this season that I could see making it all the way to the finale – it might be these two.¬† They’re already seasonsed pros at 12 & 13, and are charismatic beyond their years! I think they have all the skill of Anna¬†& Patryck from season 5 – but they’ve got double the amount of stage presence.¬† Love watching them!

Mariachi Nuevo Estilo AVM – ages 18-29
The act:¬†They’re a¬†mariachi band that¬†performed a¬†mash-up of “Low” by Flo Rida & “Sexy &¬†I Know It”¬†by LMFAO…with a mariachi twist.
The verdict:¬†Howard, who¬†admitted at the beginning of the episode that he “hates mariachi bands”, even¬†loved this act – all 4 judges said yes to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: It’s kind of a neat concept – we’ve had bluegrass bands covering top 40 stuff, and now we’ve got mariachi bands covering current stuff.¬† Admittedly, I’m kind of with Howard – mariachi music is something that I can only really tolerate in small doses at low volumes (blame my next door neighbors, who love to blast mariachi while working on their cars outside), and the opening of their performance (when they did “Low”) sounded all sorts of cacophonous to me.¬† But once they segued into “Sexy & I Know It”, it became more pleasant to listen to, and I started to enjoy it more.¬† I think they’re probably going to have to expand their horizons a bit in order to stick around – tackle some slow stuff, too, and maybe some more rock-tinged songs.

Pistol Packin’ Paula – age 48
The act: She’s a wild west act that shoots & twirls pistols and¬†used a bullwhip to¬†chop a rolled-up piece of paper out of Nick’s mouth.
The verdict:¬†Heidi & Mel buzzed her pretty quickly, and they gave her¬†no’s along with Howie.¬† Howard¬†actually enjoyed it, though, and seemed to indicate that he would’ve given her a yes.
Court’s thoughts: This had the potential to be a good act – similar to the western act from season 6 – but it was just disorganized and all over the place.¬† The fact that she came out shooting pistols (and had half the auditorium jumping out of their seats and hitting the floor) probably set everyone on edge a bit, and then it was just a random smattering of her hollering, shooting, and doing some impressive gun twirling.¬† The bullwhip trick was cool, but I just got the feeling that she probably didn’t have a whole lot of other tricks to add beyond that.¬† Maybe if she polishes up the act a bit more, she can come back in a later season.

Brad Byers – age 53, from Idaho
The act: He swallowed 9 swords simultaneously, with a fluoroscope on-hand to show an internal view of his esophagus.  He then twisted the swords 360 degrees, while they were still down his throat.
The verdict:¬†Mel¬†was the sole “no”, stating that¬†watching him “made her want to throw up”.¬† Howie,¬†Howard, and Heidi all said yes, though.
Court’s thoughts: LOVED the fact that he had the fluoroscope there to prove that he was actually swallowing the swords – none of the previous sword-swallowing/sideshow acts we’ve seen have done that.¬† Also thought the sword twisting was a nice…err, twist. ūüėõ But once again, as I usually say with every danger act we see: how much more is he going to be able to do with this?

Collins Key – age 16
The act:¬†He’s an up-close magician that managed to teleport a dollar¬†that¬†Howie gave him into a sealed bag of popcorn that Mel was holding.
The verdict:¬†All 4 judges loved it, and praised him for enduring ridicule and¬†continuing to practice his magic.¬† We’ll see him in Vegas!
Court’s thoughts: I’m guessing the PureAGT search engine is probably going to be filled with “how did Collins Key teleport the dollar?” queries within the next 24 hours, just like they did with Special Ed’s levitation last week ūüėõ I’m half-tempted to do a “how did the magicians do that???” post in the next few weeks, since¬†I know a thing or two about magic.¬† But anyway – great trick, with a great set-up.¬† I find myself more & more impressed by the magicians who really put thought into how to set up their tricks – the premise of it, the props, even their dialogue & hand gestures.¬† And I thought Collins really took a big risk by doing up-close magic – even though it’s on a smaller scale, you leave yourself far more vulnerable to mistakes being caught, so everything has to be perfect.¬† I’m thinking Collins could beat out some of the other magicians this season who operate on a larger scale – we haven’t had a good “up close” magician in awhile.

New Orleans:

Megan Piphus – 20 years old, from Nashville, TN
The act: She’s a ventriloquist that performed with a puppet of a little girl named Monica and a cat named Princess.¬† Monica sang a little bit of Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love”, while Princess sang an operatic aria.
The verdict: All 4 judges commended not only her singing voice, but her ability to throw her singing voice as a ventrioquist.¬† She’s going to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: This girl smashed every stereotype I had in my head for ventriloquists – she’s young, she’s gorgeous, and she’s got an exceptional singing voice – that she can throw with ease, and you don’t see her lips moving AT ALL.¬† I was also really impressed with her ability to throw her voice while still reacting believably to her puppets – part of the challenge of ventrioloquism is not only the voice-throwing, but also all the multitasking you have to do when it comes to moving your puppets and acting as if they’re the ones actually doing the talking.¬† My only worry for her in this competition is that her material is a little bland – if she can come up with more of a narrative (like Todd Oliver did last season) as opposed to just having her puppets talk, I think she can go far.

Jonathan Allen – 20 years old, from Lawrenceburg, TN
The act: He’s a sort of baritone opera singer that sang “Time to Say Goodbye”.
The verdict: All the judges loved him and said yes to Vegas – and praised him for overcoming the adversity of being rejected by his parents for being gay.
Court’s thoughts: If Travis Pratt’s appeal is that he’s a guy that can sing opera like a girl, Jonathan’s appeal is that he’s got an exceptionally rich male voice for opera singing, and he’s got the emotion to put behind it.¬† Thought he maybe got a little thin in his lower register, which could use some work, but the high note at the end was fantastic.

Alexanderia the Great – 51 years old, from Medway, MA
The act: She’s an escape artist that had to free herself from handcuffs, leg shackles, and a long chain with padlocks wrapped around her body – from underwater, after EXHALING before jumping in.
The verdict: Judges started fearing for her life around the 1 minute mark, but cheered with joy and said “yes!!!” to Vegas when she emerged at 1:36.
Court’s thoughts: Love the fact that she’s a middle-aged mom that’s doing something that’s typically only done by younger men – and I can’t believe she was able to hold her breath that long while struggling to remove the handcuffs & shackles & chains.¬† But as I say with every danger act: “How much more is she going to be able to do?” Spencer Horseman did a great job last season of changing up the parameters of his escapes – I think Alexandria is going to have to do the same to avoid getting repetitive & boring.

JC Starbright – 59 years old
The act: He’s a flamboyantly-dressed songwriter that performed an original song about AGT – and forgot some of the words…to the song HE wrote.
The verdict: All 4 judges buzzed – and all 4 judges said “no” to Vegas. Upon hearing that JC wants to be “the next Lady Gaga”, Howie dubbed him “Lady Guy-Guy”…a title I feel the need to point out that he first gave to Daniel Joseph Baker in season 6 ūüôā
Court’s thoughts: He was a special guy…perhaps too special for AGT.¬† But as always, I LOVE it when Nick decides to play along, and lol’d when he joined JC for the encore ūüėõ

Andrew Ward – 34 years old
The act: He came out dressed in a voodoo-y type suit, and attempted to give a dramatic reading of a ghost story.
The verdict: Everyone except Heidi said no.
Court’s thoughts: Maybe a more cerebral audience would have appreciated Andrew’s storytelling more¬†– but on a big stage like AGT, where everyone wants instant gratification, it just took took too long.

Sam Johnson (aka Slackwire Sam) Р34 years old
The act: He’s a “swaypole” artist – which means he climbs 80 feet in the air, climbs to the top of a flimsy vertical pole that’s bending and twisting in the wind, and does a handstand.
The verdict: All four judges were amazed and put him through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: I kind of loved that this guy came out on stage acting rather eccentric – wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and a stovepipe hat, and telling everyone that he was “going to do a handstand…but not where you think.” Just made it that much more amazing when he actually pulled off that feat.¬† But once again, I’m left wondering: how much more can he do? Does he only do swaypole? If so, how is he going to make it fresh each time he performs? Does he do anything else besides swaypole? With the danger category shaping up to be possibly the most competitive this season,¬† I don’t think any of them can afford to be a one-trick pony.

Paul Thomas Mitchell – 19 years old, from Memphis, TN
The act: Paul’s a singer-songwriter that performed an original song called “My Life” while playing the guitar.
The verdict: All 4 judges loved both his voice and his song – and the emotion he put behind it.¬† Heidi even went so far as to say “John Mayer better watch out!!!”
Court’s thoughts: If I were Marty Brown, I’d be worried – because this kid just made the singers category much more competitive.¬† He impressed me more than any other act tonight.¬† He’s got this breathy, unique voice that reminds me a bit of James Morrison, and the song he wrote?! You can’t teach songwriting talent, and this kid has IT.¬† Echoing Heidi backstage, “If he put out a CD tomorrow, I’d buy it.” Really rooting for this kid now – I’m hoping he either has a bunch of great original material up his sleeve, or can do really great, cool covers of other artist’s songs.

So who were your favorites and least favorites from last night’s show? ūüôā

June 11, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound specialist by day, entertainment blogger by night - with some amateur dancer, hair & makeup enthusiast, crazy cat lady, recreational chef, and Donnie Wahlberg/Norman Reedus fangirl peppered in to make things interesting ;-) Check out some of my other work over at puredwts.com!

PureAGT Audition Round Rundown #1 – San Antonio/New York/L.A. Auditions

Woohoo! A highly entertaining¬†kickoff to season 8, if I do say so myself ūüôā ¬†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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā

San Antonio:

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?

 

New York:

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 Animal”
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 ūüėõ

“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! ūüėõ

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.¬† ūüėÄ

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 :-P) 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.¬† ūüėČ

Dave Shirley
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.

 

Los Angeles:

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.

Special Head
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 ūüėõ

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” ūüėõ 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?” ūüôā

So which acts stood out to you? Let’s hear it ūüôā

June 5, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound specialist by day, entertainment blogger by night - with some amateur dancer, hair & makeup enthusiast, crazy cat lady, recreational chef, and Donnie Wahlberg/Norman Reedus fangirl peppered in to make things interesting ;-) Check out some of my other work over at puredwts.com!

PureAGT Season 8 Premiere Preview – “Level of Talent is High in San Antonio”

Hello AGT fans! Allow me to introduce myself – I’m Courtney, and some of you may know me from my work over at PureDWTS.¬† For those of you that don’t – hopefully I can entertain you this season here at PureAGT, and we can have some great discussion over what seems to be a promising season ūüôā

Speaking of which, mysanantonio.com has some very interesting previews of what we can expect from the San Antonio auditions in the premiere tomorrow night, and some very high praise for the city from the judges.  Howie & Howard were both impressed by what San Antonio had to offer:

‚ÄúThe variety was fantastic! The level of talent is way high in San Antonio,‚Ä̬† Howard¬† Stern said during an interview with the judges between auditions at Lila¬† Cockrell Theatre.

‚ÄúI’m the elder statesman of this group,‚ÄĚ Howie¬† Mandel added, ‚Äúand I can say I’ve never seen more talent in one session in¬† one city in my four years on the show.‚ÄĚ

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/entertainment_columnists/jeanne_jakle/article/S-A-gets-spot-on-NBC-Talent-premiere-4563146.php#ixzz2VCGVHYHe

The fact that these particular auditions have the judges so excited makes me hopeful that tomorrow’s premiere will make a strong showing.¬† Some of the previews they offered for some of the acts that we’ll see also sound very intriguing. Warning! Spoilers after the jump… Read more..

June 3, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound specialist by day, entertainment blogger by night - with some amateur dancer, hair & makeup enthusiast, crazy cat lady, recreational chef, and Donnie Wahlberg/Norman Reedus fangirl peppered in to make things interesting ;-) Check out some of my other work over at puredwts.com!