TOP 20 SEMI-FINALS OVERVIEW

Today we’re going to take a look at the America’s Got Talent semi-finalists along with my opinions on what their act is about, what chances they have in Vegas, how America will vote and if they deserve to be here. There are 20 acts left and here is the rundown, in no particular order.

Drew Stevyns: I’m not really sure how this Maryland native made it into the Top 20. His voice was a bit craggy and his song choice didn’t really show his vocal skills off much. Personally I thought he should have sang a Goo-Goo Dolls song as it might would have better fit his vocals. I can only assume he made it into the semi-finals because of his look, which would appeal to 20-40 something women which is one of the biggest voting demographics. Drew has no chance whatsoever at winning. He does get bonus points from me however for not just being a singer, but a guitar player as well.

Jeffrey Ou: I wrote about the controversy surrounding Ou’s second performance last week and I think I wasn’t alone in thinking that NBC attempted to screw Ou. As a result it would seem that thousands of people voted for Jeffrey Ou despite not getting to see his full performance. I’m glad that happened, even if it skewed the Top 20 somewhat unfairly. Ou is a unique act and although I don’t think he’s ready to either headline Vegas or win the competition, his talent appears to be quite broad. America’s Got Talent attempted to shaft the nerdy youngster and as a result America fought back and got him into the Top 20. Now it’s his turn to prove his worth.

Fab Five: I didn’t care for this act the first time I saw them, but their second audition really blew me away. A group of Milftastic cloggers, they were the first group to step it up in the second round. In fact they sat the bar pretty high and it took a few weeks for anyone to match them. I’m not certain that they can win because there are a lot of diverse dance acts, but they certainly have a shot. I could see this act working in Vegas as well. The name won’t work and I could see this as more of a rotating troupe of older hot moms, but I still think the premise works and these girls have the talent to pull it off.

Drew Thomas Magic: The second Drew and the only magician in the competition, Drew Thomas will have to step it up. His first tricks were decent but I actually preferred the style of some of the other magicians. His second trick was actually a pretty awesome payoff but the setup was very boring and bland. To me magicians have to be engaging and thus far Drew hasn’t done that. Drew needs to find a middle ground where he’s not over the top but he’s closer akin to David Copperfield. If the tricks hold up, I can see him working in Vegas but I doubt he’ll be able to win. America has a hard time voting through magicians so he has to really blow them away.

Acrodunk: The high flying slam dunk group are certainly entertaining but they aren’t the kind of group that can be a hour long Vegas act. As a halftime show act, they’re definitely fun to watch. Part of the reason I don’t love Acrodunk is that they have yet to display any real basketball skills. Anyone given the right amount of practice can slam dunk a basketball using a trampoline. This group would need to showcase some Globetrotter level basketball skills as well as some unassisted dunks to make it past the Top 20. I’d be shocked if they weren’t cut next round unless they step up their game.

Arcadian Broad: I loved watching this kid dance. His first round was overly fruity but highly energetic and you could tell he was passionate about what he was doing. His second round was really neat with a excellent bit of piano playing in the beginning (Which the judges unfairly bagged on) and a high stepping Footloose tribute. In his next round I think he has to channel the Patrick Swayze gods and attempt to do some dancing but make it appear both flashy and sexy. No easy task for a kid who can’t be more than 16. He’ll need to tap into that heartthrob demographic if he wants to stick around.

The Voices of Glory: These three young Gospel singers had a gut wrenching backstory as their mother was in a coma and is clearly impaired as a result. However, I think their story has gotten them to where they are thus far. It’s not that they’re terrible singers, but they aren’t anything special either. It’s standard church choir type stuff and that’s all they’ve sang thus far. If they don’t sing something contemporary in the next round they’re definitely going to get axed. I do think they could have a career on the black church touring circuit though, but they have no chance of ever working in Vegas under their current routine.

Mario & Jenny: This act desperately needs a better name. They’re listed on the NBC website as a “Comedy Variety Duo” but that’s hardly what they do. Their act is a bit of a modern take on the typical carnival acts, with Mario juggling chainsaws while Jenny cracks whips and runs around in tight leather. I was moderately surprised they made it this far with their second round act only being slightly impressive. Don’t get me wrong, juggling flaming guitars is definitely impressive but they’re going to have to really ramp up the sexy and dangerous if they want to make it past the Top 20. I suspect they’ll bow out this next round.

Grandma Lee: I’d love to see this old lady win the whole thing as she’s the most charming and instantly adorable people you’re likely yo ever see. As a naughty old lady comic she has a pretty wide appeal but won’t tap into those 20-40 female demos too well. Surprisingly her jokes have actually been pretty good thus far getting a few hearty chuckles out of me. Grandma Lee isn’t a polished comedian though and it’s always tougher for an amateur comedian to rise in the ranks. Does Grandma Lee have enough material to continue to rise to the top? I think this next round will be the deciding factor. The third round is always the toughest, especially on acts that may have gotten by on some cutesy factor in earlier rounds. I’m pulling for ya Grandma!

The Texas Tenors: These guys pretty much suck. Their first audition was a decent rendition of the Alabama song “Mountain Music” but it didn’t sound nearly as good as Alabama. Their second week was a pretty weak attempt to play to the pro-USA crowd with some America song in acapella. The problem is this group has yet to really prove they have any real talent. This is the type of group you might here at a local picnic or county festival, not at a Las Vegas show. I’m not even sure these guys are fit for Dollywood. They’ll have to complete blow us all away to make it to another round. I feel they’ve been voted this far because one of the guys has a “hunky” look to him.

Footworkingz: As much as I wanted to hate this group, I found their second performance to be pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. They do some fast dance steps but a lot of their act is weird jiggly arm movements. I don’t think they’ll make it much further unless they find a way to add more to the act. They have one truly good dance move, but they’ve used it repeatedly now and I feel that’s likely proof that they’re a one trick pony.

Hairo Torres: Hairo is a 23 year old breakdancer, although labeling him that might be short changing him a bit. Torres can do contortions and moves that will absolutely blow your mind, while mixing it in with dance. He has a bit of a issue in the sense that he’s a one man dance crew, but I’d much rather watch Hairo than Footworkingz which says a lot about what one man can do. I’m not certain he could be a headline act in Vegas but I do think if you added him to a variety show he could work out alright. I don’t have a lot of confidence in America continuing to vote him through however.

Lawrence Beamen: I really thought his first performance was good, but I wasn’t sold on his second run out. Everyone seems to like his singing though so I would assume he’s one of the early favorites. He needs to use his deep vocals though if he wants to impress more of the country. It’s one thing to be labeled the next Barry White, but it’s much harder to live up to that. Song choice will make all the difference on how far he can continue to go. I don’t think he could headline Vegas but I do think he could win the show. That’s a bit of a conundrum as the show sometimes picks the wrong people. Last year’s fat idiot winner could draw fleas to a fleamarket but I do think LB has a better show at becoming some sort of middle of the road R&B singer.

Paradizo Dance: This is the exact type of act I should totally hate. Instead though this duo based dance group is an incredible sight to see. Not just because it’s one fat dude and one tiny little girl, but because they can both dance quite well. At first it was just the shock of seeing the fat dude dance around and girl pick him up, but the second performance was as smooth and fanciful ballet as you’re likely to ever see. I have my doubts about America voting them through, but they are the kind of act you could see working in Vegas. Not as headliners, but as part of a overall bigger show.

EriAm Sisters: There is no real reason that this group is still around, but here they are anyway. It’s not that they’re bad singers, but as a trio they aren’t the best. The youngest sister can sing. Quite good in fact. The other two sisters can do backup but that’s about it. Unfortunately the group continues to work as if they’re three female leads and they just aren’t. Remarkably Piers Morgan hasn’t told them this yet, which is odd since that seems to be his specialty. With all the other good singers still in the competition I suspect these kids will be outclassed and eliminated.

Erik & Rickie: Their first audition was cute but nothing amazing. Since then they’ve stepped it up and last week’s dance was phenomenal. These kids do intense ballroom dancing and they’re 9 years old! It’s not like kids dancing, it’s like GREAT dancing done by kids. They had all the right moves and conveyed the sensual energy of the dance they were performing at such a young age. I worry that America might vote them off because of their youth, but their talent is incredible. Of course even if you could envision them as Vegas headline act, how long could it last? Would people still care once they grew up?

Kevin Skinner: Skinner is the man to beat in the competition. This country bumpkin speaks with a voice that sounds more like a parody of a hillbilly than an actual Kentucky born person speaks with. Whether he’s putting on or not, he seems very genuine and his singing skills are bar none. His performance of Garth Brooks was nearly as good as the man himself and he’s a pretty good guitar player too. I could see Skinner working Vegas as well as climbing up the country music charts in Nashville as he’s authentic country as opposed to the plastic country that’s so popular now. America will continue to vote for this guy and barring any huge mistakes he’s got to be the favorite at this point in the competition.

Recycled Percussion: I suspect this group was nothing more than another STOMP, Blue Man Group style ripoff but this past week they really impressed me. Not only do they have the look, but they combine several different elements to give a new spin on that percussion formula. I don’t think this group will win, but I’m certain they’ll be working Vegas by the time the show is over. I also suspect that with their sex appeal and high level of talent that they’ll be in the final 5 acts.

Barbara Padilla: After last year’s debacle of letting some opera singer win, I was ready to immediately disqualify all opera singers on principle alone… However Barbara really made a believer out of me in the second performance. I didn’t care for her first shot at bat, but her second time was a homerun. I have no idea what she sang, but it sounded harmonic. She looked the part too. She was also quite humble and I suspect she’ll place in the top 3 if she can continue like this.

Tony Hoard & Rory: I’d like to say that I saved the best for last, but I actually saved the worst for last. Tony Hoard and Rory had a pretty impressive audition the first time out but they should have been cut two times already. After their second audition in which Rory dropped many of the Frisbees he was thrown and the entire act was neither entertaining or amusing, it was a complete abomination when Sharon Osbourne passed them through. Osbourne loves dogs, she has like 50 dogs and since the power rested solely in her hands, she put an absolutely lousy dog act through. It’s a shame too because the show actually HAD a decent dog act on the show in Pam Martin’s Top Dogs. Pam Martin’s show could have easily been a Vegas headline act. I wouldn’t pay Tony Hoard and Rory $5 to cut my grass. They’ll be cut this next round.

One Response to America’s Got Talent Top 20

  • stcardinal says:

    I actually can’t stand Grandma Lee. None of her jokes are all that funny and she’s everywhere. She was even on Last Comic Standing. In fact, she’s quasi famous already.

    My favorite right now is Skinner and Hairo Torres. Although I haven’t liked any of Skinner’s recent performances. They just weren’t as good vocally as his first.

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