'America's Got Talent' recap: A solid night ends with a splash
After a decidedly lackluster week, "America's Got Talent" dusted itself off Tuesday night and came back with a lineup that, if it not glistening, at least had the understated shimmer of, say, a silver suit worn by host Nick Cannon.
Sure, there were a few clunkers among the dozen acts, but at least, unlike some of last week's performers, everyone seemed to be trying.
The tiny Sh'Boss Boys, ages 5, 6 and 7, despite their adorably age-appropriate bravado ("Is this where we're going to be standing when we win?" one of them asked), were given the wrong song to tackle. (Who wouldn't compare unfavorably to a young Michael Jackson belting out "ABC"?) They recovered somewhat on the second portion of their act, in which they rapped, and deserve credit simply for remembering all their words, but I don't see them making it to the next round.
Let's hope it's the end of the road, too, for cheesy novelty "entertainer" Mauricio Herrera and for cheesy-in-a-different-way cheerleaders Purrfect Angelz. The latter were both buzzed and praised by Piers Morgan (who was maybe coyly trying to get a date or seven?); Howie Mandel wisely dubbed them "the best Hooters act" he'd ever seen.
I also wouldn't be sad to see Captain & Maybelle, who dangled heavy kitchen objects from tongue, nose and (I'm making a disgusted face as I type this) eyelids, sail back to the suburb from whence they came. And Monet, a sweet-faced 12-year-old singer who has overcome hurricane and homelessness, would be well suited for a revival of the musical "Annie," perhaps (and with some solid vocal coaching), but probably isn't ready, as the judges might say, to headline a Las Vegas show.
So that's five acts eliminated right there. As for the remaining seven, though none were really standouts, you could probably make a case for any of them being among the four that make it through to the next round. I really don't know how America will vote.
I imagine that Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., Frank Sinatra's dreadlocked vocal doppelganger, who put on a nice suit and sang "Fly Me to the Moon," will almost assuredly make it through.
I could also see America voting through the band of youngsters calling themselves Poplyfe. I like their funky, spunky lead singer, their dedication to one another, and their style. (Even Morgan noted that they had the best hair of the evening.) They did an admirable (if a bit messy in places) job on Adele's hit "Rolling in the Deep," laryngitic vocal break notwithstanding.
Beyond that, really, it's almost anyone's game.
Magician Seth Grabel's act was slick but confusing, and he failed to deliver on his death-defying promise. (What happened to the boiling-hot tar? And did the sparking saw blade serve any real purpose? And what was that nonsense with the cannon?)
Professor Splash, who apparently set a new world record when he belly-flopped into a splash pool containing only 12 inches of water from a height of 36 feet, 7 inches, is sort of a one-trick pony. (Will his promised addition of fire in the next round really make it much more exciting? And am I the only one who finds the most entertaining thing about him to be the way he refers to himself in the third person as "The Splashman"?)
Lys Agnes did a perfectly fine job singing an aria from "Carmen" while standing in a picture frame and looking pretty, but I didn't get goosebumps or anything. Then again, what the heck, maybe, as one of the judges predicted, she will turn a new generation on to opera just because she looks so stunning and stylish -- and she does look stunning and stylish.
The Summer Wind Skippers jump rope team gave a polished performance –- perfectly synchronized. Not sure I'd call them "sexy," as Morgan did, but nor am I ready to send them back to Boise, Idaho.
Personally -- and I might be alone in this -- I wouldn't mind seeing the yo-yo kid, Ian Johnson, go through. I like his kid-like charm (he's only 16). I like his tricks. I like his energy and enthusiasm. On the downside, sure, it's probably difficult to focus on a yo-yo in a large venue. But can't someone figure out some helpful stage effects? Maybe he can use an oversized, light-up yo-yo? Or, wait, maybe he can take a page from Professor Splash and add fire! Yeah, I might pay to see a 16-year-old kid do tricks with a giant flaming yo-yo. Would you?
-- Amy Reiter