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'America's Got Talent' recap: The Semifinals start strong [Video]

August 24, 2011 |  6:54 am

'America's Got Talent' host Nick Cannon with Lys Agnes

Here's an important message for those of you who abandoned "America's Got Talent" in disgust after the audition episodes, which were inarguably dismal and depressing: It got better.

The show delivered on its titular promise Tuesday night, the first Semifinals episode, in which 12 acts vied for five slots in the top 10: Yes, America has talent. It also has a woman who can sing and play piano while suspended upside down many feet over the stage, but that's another thing entirely.

The night's best acts included ...

The young band POPLYFE, who boldly tackled the Beatles tune "Come Together" and emerged triumphant:

Team iLuminate, which again blended light and dance in imaginative and unexpected ways:

The Miami All-Stars, who stylishly flipped and twisted and slid across the stage:

And beautiful opera singer Lys Agnes, whose voice sounded clear and rich despite an illness that required antibiotics:

So that's four acts worthy of the top five right there. Who should be the fifth? I could see either Zuma Zuma, the death-defying acrobatic troupe from Kenya, whose act was a little more subdued than usual Tuesday night, or the West Springfield Dance Team, the squeaky-clean high-schoolers who let their creepy side loose and move with remarkable precision whenever they take the stage.

An argument could also be made for singer Daniel Joseph Baker, comedian Melissa Villasenor, or even 14-year-old dancer Beth Ann Robinson. Taking on Adele's "Turning Tables," perhaps a bit too literally, Baker rocked a white grand piano Liberace might have loved and a look that included sparkly hair, puffy sleeves and long boots. Villasenor turned in admirable impressions of Wanda Sykes, Sarah Silverman and Christina Aguilera as well as a strange Shakira dance. And Robinson danced, beautifully and gracefully, with mirrors, though it's hard to imagine this young soloist headlining a Vegas show.

Likely going home are Sandou Trio Russian Bar, who for some reason abandoned their exciting acrobatic act in favor of the aforementioned strange and schmaltzy upside-down piano routine ("I don't think that you made a good choice," Howie Mandel said, putting it mildly); Kevin Colis, the curly-haired singer from the YouTube round, who performed a treacly tune Tuesday night (Sharon Osbourne said he reminded her the kids' group the Wiggles); and Matt Wilhelm, the YouTube round's glow-in-the-dark bicyclist, who tried to give his tricks a storyline (bullying) and then took a tumble (Piers Morgan rightly said he probably wouldn't want to sit through more than 15 minutes of Wilhelm's act). 

All in all, a pretty good night. But was it, as Morgan asserted, "the single best semifinal we've ever had on this show"? Were you impressed by the acts overall? And which five would you like to see make it through to the next round?


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-- Amy Reiter

Photo: "America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon with Lys Agnes. Credit: Trae Patton / NBC