How much longer can they stretch this out?
I mean, welcome back to America’s Got Talent, the best summertime variety show turned singing/dancing competition by this point in the history of television. Tonight’s the second Semifinals. Here’s where its going to get interesting. We have a couple singers who can do new songs, and we have some dancers that can choose new music, but the acts tonight are overwhelmingly specialized novelty acts. How many different ways can you jump through ladders or jump into shallow water or jump a motorcycle? Brew up some coffee and join in on the live recap of the show.
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Opening the show tonight is (not surprisingly at all) The Kinetic King. He’s the artist who does the kinetic sculptures like dominoes. His Quarterfinals performances was tragic with nothing going off, so he went with a slower but taller display for his Wild Card chance. Can he bring back the speed and guarantee execution tonight?
The Kinetic King goes back to the popsicle stick formations that failed him in the Quarterfinals. The stage is filled with enough material to break the world record for kinetic devices. It went off. Ping-pong balls are flying everywhere and it’s moving fast. Balloons fly up carrying a “Whoo-hoo” banner. The whole thing is done in about fifteen seconds. It’s impressive. No X’s.
Fatally Unique is next. This is the hip-hop dance crew that overcame a startling injury in Vegas to give a truly thrilling and precise “Rhythm Nation”-like performance in the Quarterfinals. Can they continue to stand out now that another group, West Springfield Dance Team, is performing in the same wheelhouse?
The group is dressed in straight jackets and Hannibal Lecter masks. They are breaking out of a prison cell and dragging the guards inside. Somehow, they get black and white film stock. Their problem is that West Springfield Dance Team is doing darn near the same act. They are dancing to Lil’ John’s “Get Outta Your Mind.” I haven’t scene a female bone-breaker before. Impressive. Now they’re picking up the speed for a little bucking. It’s clean and clever again. It’s just unfortunate that an act that actually auditioned to get this far might be usurped by an act that joined the competition three weeks ago. No X’s.
Performing next is Landon Swank. He’s the young magician from Alaska who had to be brought back via the Wild Card show. I still don’t think he’s topped his initial origami-inspired disappearance illusion. Can he do something unique, clear, and entertaining tonight?
Has four boxes hanging above the stage and is addressing the audience as a hologram. The judges have to choose a control unit for the boxes. Howie hit an X by accident. Landon is in one of the boxes. All of the boxes are filled with explosives. Landon has tried to predict which box the judges will not choose. Landon’s box is the box that they left hanging. No Real X’s.
Gymkana is up. They are the YouTube episode act that did the amazing acrobatic routine with the two upright ladders. My big concern is how much can they vary their performances. Is there more to be seen than has already been seen?
Different set up tonight. It’s a bunch of stacked chairs on a platform. The team is dressed in stark black and red costumes. They’re tumbling on trampolines in a criss-cross pattern. It’s not as thrilling as the ladder work. One man is doing a handstand on top of an ever-increasing stack of chairs. Piers X’s them. It’s a very clean performance. There’s just not as much variety. Now a big hoop is being set on fire. Everyone is going to tumble through it. Much better. Hoop collapsed. Someone almost died. Act shut down before it can be completed due to safety reasons. 1 X.
Following Gymkana are Summerwind Skippers. They are the so called “sexy” jump rope group. They have been consistently improving, though I still think their routines are too slow compared to what they could–and should–be able to do at this point. Can they actually match the energy level of 9 year olds who win international competitions?
Summerwind Skippers go post-apocalyptic. There’s a cage covered in dancers. They’re performing to Britney Spears “Till the World Ends.” They’re doing slow solo-rope moves in unison, including a lot of whipping. Here comes the double dutch. I really think they’ve run out of ideas. They’re just so low-energy. Piers buzzes them at the very end. Thank you, Piers. 1 X.
Next is Snap Boogie. He’s that really charismatic breakdancer who did the strange shadow-themed dance routine in the Quarterfinals. Can he step up his visual spectacle to Vegas-worthy levels?
b>Snap Boogie has six dancers on platforms around him. He’s dancing to an orchestral version of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.” Very smooth, but slow so far. It’s an animation routine. The music picks up and he gets to the breakdancing. The platforms are being pushed and locked together for “Boogie Wonderland.” The stage is covered in firework sparks. A little low-key but clean and no near-deaths. No X’s.
Kicking off the second hour is Anna Graceman. She is the child singer/piano player who messed up her lyrics in Vegas but came back with a solid performance in the quarterfinals. Will she finally be allowed to sing an age appropriate song?
Anna is singing Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” She’s onstage in a sweet little pink and black dress with just the piano and herself. She’s great tonight. It’s a shockingly good song for her voice. The stage fits a Vegas aesthetic and she hasn’t sung this well before in the contest. It’s not an icky age-inappropriate song, either. No X’s.
Following Anna Graceman is Steven Retchless. Also known as Piers’ favorite act left in the contest. He’s the male pole dancer who does great choreography and successfully added back-up dancers to his pole routine. Can he think bigger to secure a spot in the finals?
The stage has three poles placed through cubes. Steven is starting on the pole with five dancers around him. He is walking upside down in mid-air. He hast two back0up pole dancers tonight. He’s dancing on the floor tonight. He’s quite good there, too. Now he’s remounting the pole and climbing to the top. Piers X’s him. It’s a very strength-based routine that could use more sparkle and flash. Hes now using the scaffolding above the pole to dance from. Not as great as his last performance. 1 predictable X from the alleged homophobe. Been holding that in for a while.
Next is Smage Bros. Riding Show. They are the motorcycle riding brothers who torture their best friend for entertainment. Last time, they revealed that they’d run out of unique tricks. Can they string them together in a more entertaining way tonight?
The stage has a farm feel too it. Looks like the brothers are going to jump over their friends and family tonight. How come NBC can film Smage Bros. so we can see their tricks but not Yellow Designs Stunt Team who actually did new stuff every week?Very stop and go tonight on this routine. Here comes the family. They’re going to jump over seven people, of course putting their friends on the outside in case anything goes seriously wrong. No X’s even after the brothers both screwed up their final jumps.
Professor Splash is next. This one-trick pony is the shallow water diver. He promised the judges in his audition that he would add fire to the act, only to do the exact same act again in the Quarterfinals. Will he actually fulfill his promise this week?
He’s diving into an upright pool from seventy feet high. At least it’s a slightly different set of skills than jumping into the kiddie pool. There’s water being splashed into the surface of the pool to make it so that he doesn’t die. Gotta love physics. Oh, Professor Splash isn’t allowed to be X’d because he’s jumping into fire? What about Gymkana jumping through fire? No X’s because he’s not allowed to be X’d.
Next up is Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. He is the black crooner that the show is trying to pretend is shocking in some way. I picked him as one of the acts I thought could win the show. Will he prove me right tonight?
Landau’s singing “I’ve Got the World on a String.” He has a full jazz band onstage tonight. He gets six dancers in quasi-1920s costuming. I think Landau should have chosen a slightly higher key. His lower register is just a little quiet to stand out. Very clean vocal and his presence is strong. He still keeps your interest even with the talented dancers and live musicians behind him. No X’s and a standing ovation. I think we found this season’s winner.
Closing out the night (predictably) are Silhouettes. They’re the scrim-shadow dance act that decided to proudly declare that if you didn’t vote for them, you hate America. I wonder if their choreographers are going to stop using them to deal with issues that children shouldn’t be spending every waking moment on, like 9/11 and Iwo Jima. Not that they shouldn’t learn history. They shouldn’t be forced to learn history to push a voting strategy on a reality show. Will tonight’s act be less exploitative of children? Or will the choreographers go calculating and offensive again?
Silhouettes are starting with a volcano effect under a screen on the ground. It’s turned to waves. The effect only works because of the projections. Now there’s a tree growing that they didn’t make. Now clouds and dancers above the clouds. It’s different in a bad way. The big screen is finally coming down. They’re using a large prop–a giant metal orb. They’re pinning earth-colored panels to it. I wonder if they’ll do Atlas.This is, without a doubt, their worst performance. There’s limited silhouette work. They only made two shapes in the routine with their bodies: a pair of trees with cut-out leaves. Yawn. No X’.s
- Landau Eugene Murphy Jr
- The Kinetic King
- Anna Graceman
- Fatally Unique
- Steven Retchless
- Snap Boogie
- Landon Swank
- Professor Splash
- Smage Bros Riding Show
- Summerwind Skippers
- The Kinetic King
- Anna Graceman
- Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.
I think the producers really stacked the deck last week, like during the first Quarterfinals, to make it so that the strongest acts in the contest had less competition in the final 10. Most of these acts are nowhere near as good as Lys Agnes, Team iLuminate, or even POPLYFE. The disadvantage to this is a very uneven seeming talent pool.
What are your thoughts? Favorite performances? Sound off. I want to hear from you.