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PureAGT Season 8 Live Show #1 – Power Rankings

Things I learned from last night’s first live show of the season:

1.) I am sick of hearing “Beneath Your Beautiful” & “I Love It”. 

2.) The judges may be regretting putting some of the acts through to the live shows.

3.) There’s a lot of technical kinks with Radio City Music Hall that still need to be worked out. 

Overall, I was left a bit disappointed – with as strong of a group of acts that comprised last night’s show, I had high hopes…but only a few acts actually delivered, and almost everyone seemed to suffer from  nerves.  Guess I can only hope that tonight was just first night jitters – that next week’s live show will come off quite a bit smoother and with fewer gaffes.

So now I’m going to rank the acts we saw last night, from the act that I think is most likely to get through to the act that I think is least likely to get through.  Since four acts are advancing, it’s safe to assume that the four at the top of my list are the ones I see making it through – the 5th place spot is the act that I think will lose the judge’s choice.

1.) Collins Key – I had a feeling this kid would knock his act out of the park once more, and he sure did.  Loved how he made his act very current and relevant by incorporating Twitter into it – he seemed a bit nervous at times, but overall I liked his delivery and think he appeals to a wide demographic, both young and old.  My only concern is that we’ve basically seen the same act from him 3 times in a row now, just tweaked slightly to change things up.  I’m hoping he’s got something new up his sleeve for the next round – because at this rate, I think he’s got a decent chance of winning this whole thing.

2.) Branden James – I knew when they had him going last that he was likely going to benefit from some degree of “pimping” from the judges.  And when he started belting out “You Raise Me Up”, I knew he had probably just secured himself one of the spots in the next round.  I guess I’m just left a little confused as to why Branden is getting such lavish praise – I thought his performance was ok, but nothing exceptionally special; I didn’t think his first audition was anything terribly special, either.  I think we have much stronger male opera singers this season – and I think any of the 3 guys in Forte could put him to shame, vocally.  Personally, I thought “You Raise Me Up” was a bit of a cop-out song – it’s one of those schmaltzy songs that seems to tug at heartstrings and illicit an emotional response from the audience, even if it’s not sung particularly well.  I thought he could have picked something a little more daring to highlight his vocal skills.  I think he’s got one of the spots in the next round, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope someone edged him out of it – for me, he was just ok last night. 

3.) Kristef Brothers – The unexpected delight of the night for me 🙂 Thought the comedic pas-de-deux theme of their act was genius – I do think they’re really hit paydirt with their “comedic acrobatics” strategy, as these two were one of the acts I really remembered fondly from last night’s show.  These guys are legitimately talented in what they do – and they’ve got the added benefit of having a great sense of humor about it and not taking themselves too seriously.  I think it’s this combination of skills that could help them edge out a stronger acrobatics act – I think Duo Resonance is technically the strongest acro act this season, but they seem to lack stage presence and personality; I think Kristef, though less technically skilled, could actually edge them out on personality alone.

4.) The American Hit Men – Seems like all of the musical acts last night seemed to suffer from picking the wrong song, and I think the Hit Men did struggle to a degree with “With a Little Help from My Friends”.  While I overall liked their performance and think they should go on, I think they probably would have had a stronger showing with a more uptempo song – maybe “American Woman”? I still think they’re popular enough and entertaining enough to advance, but I think they really need to start focusing on the right songs – so far, they have yet to perform anything that had as strong an impact as “Simple Man” from their inital audition.

5.) Anna Christine – Poor Anna – not only did she suffer from picking the wrong song, but she seemed to suffer from nerves more than any other act and seemed to have some technical difficulties as well.  I’m not sure what it is with Anna and The Animals, but the downtempo version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood'” that she did just never really got off the ground – it was so subdued and quiet, perhaps because she herself admitted that she “couldn’t hear the track very well”.  As much as I do think she deserves to advance, I think she may have done herself in with that song – if she does come back, she needs to pick something that’s more uptempo and can really show off her vocals.

6.) Alexanderia the Great – Her act was impressive – but I don’t know that they really built it up enough so that it really left me on the edge of my seat.  Alex actually has a rather unique problem as an escape artist: she almost makes it look too easy, so that you don’t really pick up on the difficulty of what she’s doing.  Part of the appeal of escape artists like Spencer Horseman last season was that they really drew out the escape – he was always completing the escape just barely in the nick of time, and he really let the suspense build.  Alex does it so quicky & easily that you don’t really have time to get hyped up about it.  If Alex does somehow make it through tonight, I think in the next round she’ll really need to work on building the suspense of her act – holding her breath longer, taking more time to escape, maybe adding a clock or another element of danger to really amp things up. 

7.) Special Head – I think the execution of this trick was so poorly carried out that even poor Nick wasn’t quite sure what to do! As I was discussing with my two right-hand men (Will & jimmbboe) last night, Special Head has sort of hit a plateau for me: we’ve basically seen the same trick from him 3 times now, just dressed up with different props so it looks like a new trick.  And tonight, the trick was so clumsily executed that it wasn’t even impressive – we caught a glimpse of Special Head’s…well, head, after he had supposedly disappeared, and then a confused Nick was wandering out onstage, unsure of whether the trick was actually over or not.  Cut to a video feed of Special Head out on the balcony at RCMH (which looked pre-taped to me), and everything just felt sloppy & haphazard.  However, I did see “Special Head” trending for quite sometime on Twitter – no way to really be sure if that will translate to votes or not, but it did seem like people were talking about him.  I don’t think he deserves to move on to the next round, but that doesn’t mean he won’t…

8.) Fresh Faces – I feel bad putting these cuties so low, but I feel like their act just may have gotten lost in the shuffle last night.  I think the major problem with what they did was that it just felt messy and chaotic – rather than the organized, in-synch group we saw in the audition rounds, we basically got some semblence of a bunch of little girls running around giggling at a slumber party, which I think detracted from some of the really skilled tumbling and stretching moves they were doing.  That dumb “I Love It” song didn’t seem to help matters, either.  Very cute, very talented girls – but I think they suffered from the wrong kind of presentation in their act last night.

9.) Hype – The strangest thing about these guys? They actually seem better with less preparation than with more!!! They only had about 12 hours to come up with their routine for their audition, and it was fantastic; they have beaucoup time to come up with their Vegas and Radio City routines, and both fall flat.  I just don’t get it – I really had high hopes for these guys, and while their two most recent routines have been marginally entertaining, they seem to lack the same inspiration that we saw in their initial audition.  I think they may have blown their chances last night, and may not even have a hope and a prayer of getting asked back for the wild card.  Ack. 

10.) Aaralyn & Izzy – What can I say that I haven’t already said since the audition round? I don’t find them talented, entertaining, or particularly special…but at least now the judges are seeing it, too.  “Stepping in dog poop”? That song maybe had 15 words, repeated 2-3 times…usually inaudibly.  The only thing that I found semi-amusing about the whole act was Aaralyn’s semi-split at the end. For the individuals who think this act is artistic and wildly talented…I’d love to know what real metal artists think of Aaralyn & Izzy.  I’d say we get Ozzy’s take on them, but I’m sure Sharon’s got him on a gag order since she left AGT. 

11.) Tellavision – Another act that I’m glad the judges are finally realizing ain’t that great – I thought there was very little dancing in this number, they relied too heavily on the LCD screens, and the whole thing was just really cheesy and, as Howard put it, “artsy-fartsy”. I feel like we’ve got far stronger dance acts than this one this season, and the LCD screens are really more of a distraction than anything else. 

12.) Kevin Downey Jr. – I just think Kevin got lost in the shuffle – his jokes were only slightly funny, and in the end, none of them were particularly memorable.  I don’t think he was bad, per se – I just don’t think he was anything special. 

So what did you guys think of last night’s acts? And who do you hope to see advancing to the next round?

July 24, 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 Audition Round Rundown #5 – Chicago/San Antonio Auditions

I apologize for the tardiness of this rundown – the Midwest has been pummeled by rain and storms the past few weeks, and last night was no exception…consequently, my internet and cable were down for about an hour and 15 minutes of last night’s broadcast.  Woke up this morning to a functioning internet, but my DVR had only managed to capture about the last 45 minutes of the show.  Booooo! I took the afternoon off from work to start prepping food for my family’s annual 4th of July BBQ, and of course catch up on last night’s show on good ol’ Hulu 🙂 Since I managed to actually see all of the San Antonio auditions from my DVR recording, I’m going to start off with those – even though they were in the 2nd half of the show.  I’ll come back and do the Chicago half later 😉

Chicago:

Kelsey & Bailey – age 17 (Kelsey)
The act: Kelsey & her dog Bailey performed a series of tricks and dance moves to “We Go Together” from Grease.
The verdict: Judges all thought the act was adorable and said yes to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: This was a cute act for sure, and Bailey the dog seemed to love performing.  However, I’m left feeling a little bit let down, just given the fact that last year’s winners, the Olate Dogs, had such an amazing act.  I’m afraid Kelsey & Bailey kind of pale in comparison, but I could see them sticking around for awhile – America seems to love animal acts, and they’re really the only animal act we’ve seen in this year’s auditions.  

Spintacular
The act: A family of 17 that performs tricks with basketballs.  
The verdict: Judges said yes to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: My first thought was “They had HOW MANY kids??!!!”, followed shortly thereafter by “And they actually can get everyone focused for long enough to create their own version of the Harlem Globetrotters???!!!” Very cute act, with everyone from dad down to the little twin girls performing tricks. My one complaint is that there seemed to be a lot going on at one time – likely one drawback of having such a large family! – and it was hard to really appreciate everything they were doing when there was so much to pay attention to.  Maybe scale it back a bit and work on some synchronization for Vegas?  

Cami Bradley
The act: Cami sang “Over the Rainbow” a cappella.
The verdict: She’ll be in Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: *sigh* Maybe I’m being cynical, but I doubt the female vocalists are going to be reppin’ particularly hard in Vegas this season.  Cami was pleasant to listen to, but I didn’t find anything truly special about her voice – plus I thought she tried too hard to do a lot of those Christina Aguilera-esque riffs.  I wish some of these female vocalists would stop trying to put on these over-the-top, vocal acrobatics-heavy performances and just focus on really sounding good and doing their songs justice.

Tellavision
The act: A group of teenage boys and girls doing a modern/ballet-type dance to “What a Wonderful World” while holding LED screens that incorporated into their performance.
The verdict: Judges liked it, we’ll see them in Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: This is probably going to catch me some hell, but I thought this was the cheesiest, tackiest performance we’ve seen all season – and remember, we had JC Starbright in episode 2 😛 I just found the whole thing a bit too cutesy – that overused, schmaltzy song; the cutesy movements with LED screens; the cheesy stuff on the screens…I think I would have rather just seen a really good, garden-variety modern dance routine and scrapped the screens altogether.  I think they’re going to look pretty amateurish next to some of the other dance groups in Vegas.

David Ferman – age 18, from Jacksonville, FL
The act: David did some juggling, then balanced a Molotov cocktail on a balloon he held in his mouth.
The verdict: Judges were impressed with the level of danger and said yes to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Anyone remember Charles Peachock, the crazy guy that juggled the tasers back in season 6? I think we just found his successor 🙂 Loved the creativity of the Molotov cocktail, although I thought David may have come across a bit nervous and kind of rushed his delivery.  Hopefully he can shake the nerves and Vegas and give a bit more finesse in his delivery.

Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team – ages 9-23, from Chicago, IL
The act: The do all sorts of flips and tumbling, and incoporate jump ropes into their act.
The verdict: Judges loved it and praised their energy.  We’ll see them in Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Probably my favorite from the Chicago auditions – I think what struck me at first was just how happy and enthusiastic all of these guys are about what they do.  Everyone from the coach down to the youngest kid on the team just seemed to love what they’re doing – and that’s a kind of passion you can’t fake.  I was pretty impressed by some of the stunts they were doing too – tumbling runs, standing back tucks, jumping pushups…and using the little guy as a human jump rope was just genius.  I think these guys will breeze through Vegas and go straight to the live shows. 

2Unique – age 10
The act:
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Innovative Force
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Ciana Pelekani – age 12
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Mitsi Dancing School
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Pat McKillen
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Sully Dunn – age 18
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Branden James – age 34
The act:
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Trevor Stone (“Spontaneous Art”) – age 38
The act:
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Squared Circus Review
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Chris the Wedding DJ
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Enrique Reyes – age 34, from Mexico
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San Antonio:

David Fenley – 34, from Texas
The act: Dave sang and played an acoustic cover of Alex Clare’s “Too Close”.
The verdict: He got 4 yes’s, and Mel got “what she really, really wanted”. 🙂
Court’s thoughts: I found this guy really, really likeable – like a good-natured combination of Dom Deluise and John Popper from Blues Traveler.  Loved the gravelly sound of his voice, and his unique take on that song.  I’m guessing they’ll probably pit him against Paul Thomas Mitchell & Marty Brow in Vegas…all three are great, so it should be interesting to see how things pan out.

“Dancin'” Dylan Wilson – 17, from Huntington, Indiana
The act: Dylan did an animation hip-hop routine to “Cinema” by Skrillex.
The verdict: He made it to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: INDIANA REPRESENT!!! Of course I’m going to root for this kid, as a fellow Hoosier 🙂 I thought he was fun to watch and has obviously worked hard to hone his craft – but maybe I’ve been a bit spoiled by SYTYCD, because I found his animating a bit amateurish next to likes of Cyrus, Blueprint, and some of the other animators from SYTYCD.  Unfortunately for Hunter, I’m guessing they’re going to compare him to Kenichi, who is also an animator…a REALLY, really good animator.  I like Dylan, but I doubt he’ll be able to make it past Vegas 🙁

Hunk-O-Mania’s International Men of Steel
The act: Four beefcakes in gladiator costumes, dancing to “Sexy & I Know It”.
The verdict: Heidi & Mel were all about it – but Howard & Howie said “no”.
Court’s thoughts: Ugh. I just do not get the appeal of male revue acts – I got to see Thunder from Down Under in Vegas last year for a bachelorette weekend, and I just didn’t “get” it: a bunch of unrealistically-muscled, oily guys doing basic boyband choreography with some hip thrusts and butt wiggles peppered in. Am I supposed to swoon? Cause I didn’t.

Lil Mike & Funny Bone, aka “Mike Bone” – 32 & 27, from Oklahoma
The act: Two Native American brothers of short stature, performing an original song called “Do the Rain Dance”.
The verdict: Judges were pleasantly surprised and put them through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Ok, this might have been my favorite act of the night 🙂 Loved the charisma these two had, and how they didn’t let the fact that they stood only 4’4″ stop them from doing what they loved. And “Do the Rain Dance” is incredibly catchy – but so is “B-O-O-T-Y”. Anyone want to place any bets that we see these two up against Tone the Chiefrocca in Vegas for a spot in the live shows? We’ve got two rapping acts with original songs and big personalities. Who do you guys think has the juice to move on?

The American Hit Men – 28-34, from Salt Lake City, Utah
The act: They’re a rock band that performed a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”.
The verdict: Judges loved them – Howard in particular was very excited about having a good rock band this season. They got 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts: While I think this show should really be about the talent (and not so much focus placed on a schmaltzy backstory), I do commend these gentleman for their service to our country – and the fact that it was the music they made that kept their spirits up when they were Marines stationed in Fallujah. The lead singer had one of those gravelly, cool-sounding rock voices that only a few people seem to pull off, and I loved they way it sounded with this song. I’m hoping they can take some more current songs and put their own spin on them.

Stay tuned for my rundown of the Chicago acts – when I get done with Hulu 🙂 What did you guys think of the San Antonio acts?

July 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!