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PureAGT Season 8 Live Show #5 – Power Rankings

Kind of a strange night on AGT, if you ask me – only one or two acts seemed to really succeed, and the rest either failed or just got lost in the shuffle.  This definitely seemed like one of the weaker quarterfinals to me, and I’m left wondering who will actually make it through tonight.

Also a little miffed that they apparently did decide to scrap the wild card show this season – biiiiiiiig mistake, if you ask me.  Throwing the wild card into the mix could have helped balance out the disproportionately heavy number of singers we have in the semifinals this season – and could have counteracted flukes like Marty Brown.  *sigh* I guess we can just hope they bring it back next year…

…and just a quick side note: I am actually going to be on vacation in Texas next week, and so I may or may not get a chance to do power rankings for the first round of the semifinals.  But don’t worry – I’ve got a plan in mind 😉 Stay tuned!

1.) Catapult Entertainment – Not my favorite of the night, and I’m beginning to get a bit annoyed for acts who really go in hard for the “schmaltz” factor in order to win votes.  But America appears to fall hook, line, & sinker for it, which is why I think they should have no problem advancing to the semifinals. I actually preferred their audition routine to this one, which wasn’t as difficult and didn’t strike me as particularly original.  It was just ok for me, but with the way the judges were gushing – they’ll make it through.

2.) D’Angelo & Amanda – My favorite act of the night, and the only ones who seemed to really bring their A-game last night.  These two never seem to miss a beat, and they always seem 100% invested in their routine.  There were a few struggles with moving on and off the platform, but I found them to be incredibly trivial in the great scheme of things.  This is one of the few acts that I could actually see having a show in Vegas – I’d pay to see these two just dance for 90 minutes.

3.) Duo Resonance – As I’ve said before, these two are probably the most highly-skilled of the acrobats category – but they just seem to lack a really good stage presence.  I feel like they improved on their stage presence last night, but seemed to let go of doing some of their more impressive tricks.  I think I liked their performance, but it felt a little too much like a schmaltzy contemporary routine I might see on SYTYCD – would have liked a few more stunts and a few less poses.  But since last night was such a weak night, I think these two will probably make it through.

4.) John Wing – Another comedian I only find to be mildly funny, but the audience seemed to respond well to his brand of comedy last night…and so did the judges.  I’m a bit baffled that Heidi finds this guy funny, but not Taylor Williamson – but then again, she seems to be suffering from the delusion that all comedy must be family-appropriate to be funny.  If he makes it through, I think he’s gonna pale in comparison to both Taylor and Angela Hoover – but on a weak night like last night, I think he was a stand-out and has a decent chance of making it through.

5.) Ruby & Jonas – I’m starting to really hate that they pitted sibling against sibling, and seem to be milking it for all its worth on the show.  Poor Ruby & Jonas – I think they’ve got every bit as much heart as D’Angelo & Amanda, but just haven’t been dancing as long and just aren’t quite up to their skill level yet.  I also agree with whichever judge said that they liked D’Angelo & Amanda’s choreography better – I think D’Angelo & Amanda’s was more hardcore dancing, whereas Ruby & Jonas’ routine seemed like a lot of fluff and filler, probably to conceal that they aren’t ready for some of that harder stuff yet.  It’s just not a really fair fight, if you ask me – but I think hearts are gonna break tonight, because I don’t see both acts making it to the semifinals.

6.) Sprice – Oh, Sprice 🙂 I just love this guy, because he reminds me of so many of the painfully shy engineers I went to college with – fantastic at what they do, but so socially awkward that you have a hard time really connecting with them on anything except their craft.  I actually love watching Sprice’s machines do their thing – and I just think Mel is a bit simple-minded if she found it to be boring.  Sure, he may lack a bit of the comedic panache that the Kinetic King had two seasons ago, but I think his awkwardness itself could be an endearing quality to audiences.  That said – I don’t know that America appreciates this guy like I do, and I think he’s probably a longshot for the semifinals.

7.) Dave Fenley – Dammit Dave – you blew it.  He was probably my favorite vocalist in the competition, and I just think he picked the wrong song.  I think his initial audition and Vegas performance worked out well because the songs he chose fit his voice and musical style well – Ray Lamontagne? Not so much.  I think it was just too “sweet” of a song for him – he didn’t sing it wrong, per se, but I just don’t think it was really in his wheelhouse to begin with.  Really disappointed – I think he probably would have made it through performing another song.

8.) Virginia State University Gospel Chorale – Another group that I had high hopes for, but was left only feeling lukewarm about.  I actually think “Like a Prayer” was a good song choice, but they seemed to jump straight from the slow, haunting opening, right into the upbeat, rocking chorus…I feel like they could have really utilized the way the song really builds, instead of just jumping around.  But I do love the way they create the feel of a “wall of sound” – it’s the one problem I really have with the American Military Spouses Choir: they only have a handful of really strong vocalists, and those swaying in the background only sort of hum.  Unfortunately for this group, I think they may have just gotten lost in the shuffle last night.

9.) Sam Johnson – Was this really all that different than his initial audition? Yeah, he added the part where he swings down and rides the pole like a giant pendulum, but really – what else was different? And could he really make an entire show out of it? I think he would have probably been better off doing something more like his Vegas performance, where he didn’t have to go out and do stuff on the pole.  Rather forgettable in the great scheme of last night.

10.) Melody Caballero – No doubt she’s got major skills – but her performances always seem so slow and sleepy.  I appreciate what she does, but it seems like it takes so long to get into each position that she loses my interest during the transitions.  But I applaud her for throwing a routine together on such short notice, and coming out to fill in for Rong Niu 🙂

11.) 2Unique – Haven’t been a fan of this act from the get-go, and thankfully, I think the judges finally opened their eyes last night and said “Wait, this isn’t Vegas show-worthy!”  I feel like the rapping one just kind of yells into the mic and bounces around; the DJ is actually quite talented, but you really can’t appreciate what she’s doing because the other one is just jumping around and yelling.  Very cute girls, no doubt – but they’ve got a lot of maturing to do before they have a bona fide act on their hands.

12.) Selena Mykenzie Gordon – Not really terrible and not really good – just “meh”.  I don’t really know why she picked that Rascal Flatts song…she seemed to really struggle with it vocally.  Granted, it was definitely no Marty Brown-level fail, but it just didn’t really make me care…I was left just going “Eh, whatever.”

So what are your thoughts on the last quarterfinal group?

August 21, 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 Vegas Week Rundown – Night #1

Well…let’s just say I’m left a bit surprised by some of the decisions that were made tonight.  The instant decision round seemed to put more acts than ever before (30) straight through to the live shows, they cut one individual instantly that really shocked me, and some of (in my opinion) the stronger acts were forced to perform again in Vegas, while weaker ones made it straight through to the live shows.  In addition, we saw some acts in Vegas that we didn’t get to see in the initial audition rounds – which kind of annoyed me, as it’s hard to predict who’s gonna make it through when I don’t have a full list to choose from 😛 I guess I’m still left going “hmmmm” after tonight’s episode, and I can only wonder what tomorrow night’s episode will bring!

A lot happened in tonight’s 2-hour show, so please bear with me as I work through it 🙂 I may have to post now and finish sometime tomorrow, as I require sleep at some point. I’m gonna start with the “instant decision” acts – those who were either sent straight through to the live shows or sent home without getting to perform in Vegas.  There were 2 acts that made it straight through that I didn’t recognize from the auditions – those are the acts in quotation marks, since I don’t know their names.

Instant Decisions

Acts that made it straight through to the live shows:

Catapult Entertainment
Fresh Faces
Tone the Chiefrocca
Sprice
Anna Christine
Kenichi Ebina
Alexanderia the Great
Mitsi Dancing School
Innovative Force
“Bald guy I didn’t recognize” Dave Shirley
Jimmy Rose
Tummy Talk
Aerial Ice
Kelsey & Bailey
Chicago Boyz
3Penny Chorus & Orchestra
American Military Spouses Choir
University of Virginia Gospel Chorale
Angela Hoover
Jim Meskimen
David “The Cobra Kid” Weathers
Kevin Downey Jr.
Branden James
Struck Boyz
SensEtion
Tellavision
Aerosphere
Spintacular
“Group of adolescents I didn’t recognize” The RobotIx*

Court’s thoughts: I agree with this list, for the most part – if there was one act I thought deserved to make it straight through, it was Aerial Ice; if there were two, it was Aerial Ice and Kenichi…and thankfully, both were on this list.  Also glad to see Alexanderia, Chicago Boyz, Jimmy Rose, and Sprice on this list…and THRILLED to see Tone.  Yay B-O-O-T-Y!!!! Was a little surprised to see both Angela AND Jim Meskimen on this list – I thought for sure they’d only take one impressionist, and it would be Jim.  The only two acts I’m a little perturbed to see on this list are SensEtion & Tellavision – I thought the latter was just terribly cheesy, and the former wasn’t particularly original.  I have to wonder if some of these acts were put straight through because a) the powers that be didn’t think their Vegas week performances would be a huge ratings draw, or b) the judges knew that some of them (like Tone and maybe The Cobra Kid) have acts that can quickly grow old – and thus by sparing us watching them do the same act again and again.  Still think there’s a few cannon fodder acts peppered in, too – somebody’s gotta go home each week, and you may as well deliberately throw some weaker acts in to protect your stronger ones.

Acts that got sent straight home:

Olivia Rox
Yasha & Daniela
Sully Dunn
Milton Patton

Court’s thoughts: Was not surprised by Sully Dunn and Yasha & Daniela being put in this group – I had already kinda predicted they probably had a slim-to-none chance of making it to the live shows.  I think Sully is just too raw for AGT at this point, and Yasha & Daniela would look like amateurs next to D’Angelo & Amanda and Ruby & Jonas.  Was slightly surprised by Olivia Rox, then I rewatched her audition and found that her vocals were not as strong as I initially thought and her performance seemed rather manufactured.  The one name that did surprise me? Milton Patton.  Completely drawing a blank as to why he wasn’t chosen – I think the judges made a big mistake on that one.  My only explanation is that they may be planning on bringing him back for the wild card show, similar to the Bandbaz Brothers last season (instantly cut in Vegas, brought back for wild card).

Acts that performed in Vegas

(acts with an * next to them were not shown in the audition round – this is the first time we’re seeing them)

Danger acts:

Slackwire Sam
Rong Niu
David Ferman
Brad Byers
Alex Magala

Court’s thoughts: Seemed to be some struggles in the danger group – Rong Niu dropped a bowl, Slackwire Sam’s hair caught on fire, and David Ferman seemed to struggle with showmanship once more.  I wouldn’t say Brad did bad, per se; I just think his act tends to gross people out, as opposed to amazing them.  I think Alex probably fared the best last night – his act seemed to impress the judges, and he didn’t have any problems.  I think Sam, David, and Alex will probably make it through to the live shows, given that their acts are so freakin’ dangerous & amazing; unfortunately, I think Rong and Brad are probably goners. 

Music groups:

Forte
Brandon & Savannah
The American Hit Men

Court’s thoughts: My one explanation as to why Forte ended up in this group instead of automatically going through to the live shows? The lineup change.  Hana (the South Korean guy that performed with them in the L.A. audtions) backed out at the last minute, and the remaining two members had to scramble to find a new member – enter Sean.  I’m guessing the judges wanted to make sure this new combination of members was every bit as good as what they saw in the audition round – and honestly, I agree with the judges that Forte might have a bit of a problem now: Sean is so good that he kind of overshadows the other two guys.  In the initial auditions, I don’t think any one member stood out – their sound as a unit was just so pure that you couldn’t really single anyone out.  Now it’s rather like “Forte – featuring Sean! And two other guys.” I still think they’ve got a spot on the live show, but I do think the judges will bring this new development to their attention.  I found Brandon & Savannah to be a bit bland – not sure that they really attacked their cover of “Little Talks” full force.  Liked the American Hit Men, but I don’t know that “House of the Rising Sun” fit them as well as “Simple Man” did.  I think Forte & American Hit Men will move through – not sure about Brandon & Savannah.

Kid acts:

2Unique
Lil Demon
Melody Caballero*
D’Angelo & Amanda
Ruby & Jonas

Court’s thoughts: Thank god I’m not the only one that has been pondering why 2Unique is still in the competition – Howard expressed concern that they weren’t terribly…well, unique.  I just don’t find myself entertained by what they do – it’s rather like watching two girls singing along to a boom box in their living room, to me.  Lil Demon can breakdance every bit as well as some adults we’ve seen.  Wasn’t terribly impressed with Melody’s contortion act – she seemed to struggle with balance and seemed very, very nervous.  Now we come down to the dueling siblings: D’Angelo & Ruby.  Honestly, I think they probably would have put D’Angelo & Amanda in the group that automatically made the live shows – but they couldn’t resist the temptation of a little storyboarding, and probably wanted to show off the drama of sibling vs. sibling in Vegas.  I think D’Angelo & Amanda knocked it out of the park once more with their cha cha – my only complaint is that we just see so much Latin on the show…which is why I think Ruby & Jonas actually had the more daring, creative routine.  We rarely see any of the standard dances (waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, & Viennese waltz) on AGT. They did a tango, but Jonas lost his balance at one point and both he & Ruby toppled to the floor.  They recovered well & kept going, but some tears were shed after the fact that made me feel terrible for the young couple 🙁 If it’s any consolation, I don’t know that going out there and dancing that tango perfectly would have really mattered – I think the judges probably already had picked D’Angelo & Amanda as the ones to advance.  I’m guessing Lil Demon advances too…and maybe Melody. 

Comedians:

Jimmy Failla*
Eric Schwartz*
Taylor Williamson
John Wing*

Court’s thoughts: Was interesting that 3 of the four acts in this category were acts that didn’t appear in the audition rounds – I had heard a bit of controversy surrounding Jimmy Failla’s act (apparently he wasn’t shown during the audition rounds because Mel B “thought his act was racist”), and had heard that he was actually trying to get his Vegas performance eliminated from last night’s episode because he said the show “duped him”.  So I’m guessing he’s not going to be gracing us with his presence in the live shows – which is fine with me, because I didn’t find him funny.  Liked Eric Schwartz – thought his comparison of Jewishness to hip-hop was clever, but he did seem at times like he was trying too hard.  I had a hard time following Taylor Williamson’s act – I think a lot got cut out, because there is no way the judges should have been laughing as hard as they were at just him standing onstage being awkward.  I liked what I did manage to follow, though.  I found myself just slightly chuckling at John Wing’s act…not laughing, just kind of “hehe”-ing.  I think Taylor’s gonna move on – and I’m on the fence about Eric. 

Dancers:

Archbishop Molloy Step Team*
Art Spark*
Hype
Dylan Wilson
Kid the Wiz

Court’ s thoughts: Was glad to see a step team – too bad I think they looked a little sloppy, and the judges commented that they had performed the same routine at their initial audition.  Was also glad to see a hip-hop group from Indianapolis 😀 Before they even said that, I thought to myself “Wait, they look a little familiar.”  I’m guessing that some of the members were part of Destined2B, another hip-hop group from Indy that was on season 4.  I thought their routine was creative, but lacked a lot of content.  Hype seemed to struggle a little – I think they just came across as a bit chaotic & disorganized, which was an unpleasant contrast to how clean & organized they looked in their initial audition.  I don’t remember a whole lot of Dylan’s routine…which makes me uneasy, because it probably means it wasn’t terribly impressive.  Kid the Wiz actually dropped his hat at one point, and I just didn’t find his act as amusing the second time around as it was the first.  I think the only group that’s a lock for the live shows is Hype – even if they were disorganized, I still think they handled this round better than any of the other groups in their category. 

Acrobats:

Tavi & Antonio
“Accro” Brandon Rosario*
Duo Resonance
Timber Brown
Kristef Brothers

Court’s thoughts: I think Tavi & Antonio kind of dropped the ball this round – their routine seemed a bit too artsy and didn’t have enough tricks…and the song was just saccharine-sweet.  I think Brandon Rosario came across a bit cocky, which I can’t understand because I don’t think his pole routine was terribly impressive.  Duo Resonance is, for me, the strongest technically in this category – but they really seem to lack a stage presence, and can come across as boring.  I actually agree a bit with the Kristef Brothers, who remarked backstage that they come across cold “because they’re Russian”.  😛 I think Timber probably fared the best out of this category, as his cowboy-themed routine was a good combination of creativity and skill; I actually found myself enjoying the Kristef Brothers as well, and came to appreciate their humorous approach to acrobatics.  I know Howie didn’t really “get” the humor of the act, but I do think it sets them apart from all of the other acrobats this season.  I think Timber is definitely going to move on, and probably Kristef Brothers as well; Duo Resonance could go either way; and I think the other two acts are toast. 

Female singers:

Deanna Dellacioppa
Skilyr Hicks
Selena Mykenzie Gordon*
Cami Bradley

Court’s thoughts: Had some pleasant surprises and not-so-pleasant surprises in this group.  I’m finding myself starting to dislike Deanna Dellacioppa – the way she freaked out about her background track being too low, and the subsequent way she had a breakdown about it backstage just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.  I get that this “is her dream”, but man – I feel like this chick is always crying and getting caught up in her emotions…even when she’s performing.  I still feel like she’s putting too much effort into her singing, and like Mel said, “it sounds like she just ran a marathon”.  She’s striking me as a bit too high-maintenance for this show.  Poor Skilyr just looked like a deer in the headlights during her entire performance – she did another original song, but to me it sounded a lot like the first original song she did at her initial audition.  Seems like she may not be ready for big audiences.  Selena did ok-to-good, but seemed to have a few notes that fell a bit flat; the big surprise of the category for me was Cami Bradley, who, despite my initial predictions that she would struggle in Vegas, was the only one in her category that knocked her performance out of the park last night: she performed a haunting, sultry version of “Summertime” and played the piano, and was the only one that didn’t seem to let nerves get the best of her.  I think at this point, she’s the only I feel confident saying “She will make the live shows.” The other three are up in the air for me. 

So what did you guys think of the instant decisions? Who are you glad to see headed to the live shows…and who are you sad to see leaving? And what do you think will be the outcome of some of the performances we saw? Keep your eyes peeled for my rundown of night Vegas night #2 later this evening! 🙂

July 16, 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!