5th Judge for 'America's Got Talent': Touching Tribute Caps Final Night of Disappointing Auditions
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34 Stars Getting Stars in 2018

Did you miss me, last week? I missed you! I blew stuff up in your honor. And I made sure to judge all the fireworks displays I could find to keep my skills sharpened and ready to strike for this week’s continuation of "America's Got Talent," and final look at the initial auditions. The night wrapped with a touching tribute to the contestant who passed away after his audition by showing that audition. And it was definitely worth the wait. Next week, we begin the judges’ cuts, as the acts that have already made it through get a second chance to impress… or disappoint.

Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I’ve spent the last fifteen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I’ve got this.

Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe. Since it’s just yes or no at this stage, I’m going to rank each act from worst to first each night.

Vispi & Team India

Vispi & Team India (martial arts) presented blindfolded veggie cutting and it was weird. One of the guys came out with cucumbers taped all over his body, and the other guy was going to cut them blindfolded without skewering his buddy. So… yeah. The problem is that the act was stupid and we totally saw him cutting his friend and making him bleed. So they’re not even particularly good at the dumb act they came up with. Simon gave it a standing ovation, but it was ridiculous. This lead to a series of bad acts that Simon liked, which had some funny moments.

Judges Scores: N, N, N, Y

My Score: N

The Quiddlers

The Quiddlers (comedy) did an act as the Village People with tiny bodies. Basically, they used their hands as their legs and did ridiculous stunts. They were memorable and bizarre, but I don’t see a million dollar act here. Tim Conway made a mini-career out of a similar schtick with Dorf and I didn’t love that either. It’s an old vaudeville act revived. They were a part of a montage of weird acts the judges liked for some reason.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: N

Veronica Gonzalez

Veronica Gonzalez (foot puppetry) was also part of the weird acts that the judges liked montage, but her act was certainly more unique. She turned her foot into a puppet. It was weird but in some ways compelling, even though we barely saw it. Not million dollar worthy, but certainly creative and innovative.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: N

Brobots & Mandroidz

Brobots & Mandroidz (dance troupe) only appeared for a few moments during the weird acts montage, and they proved themselves a likely very competent young dance troupe. They probably get praise from their peers and teachers, but they’re not million-dollar caliber at all. There was a lot of stepping, some fairly standard formations built almost exclusively with arms and a flip that wasn’t well executed or succinctly landed.

Judges Score: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: N

Eileen George

Eileen George (pole dancer) was only shown in slow-motion holding formations on the pole, so the only thing I saw was that she was flexible and capable of dancing on a pole. I feel like the focus was that she was a plus-sized woman who was capable of doing this, but is that really a surprise? She didn’t do anything spectacularly dangerous or exciting, so it looks like a novelty act that might be a little exploitative. I don’t say this to be controversial. I feel that if it was about her actual talent and ability on the pole, we would have seen her actual performance in regular time, or at least sequential segments of it, to see what she was capable of.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: N

German Cornejos Dance Company

German Cornejos Dance Company (Latin dance troupe) came to “AGT” instead of “World of Dance” because they’re just not as sharp. Most of their tango moves and formations were fairly basic. They were technically sound throughout most of the piece, but it was kind of boring. You could see them working through some of the lifts, and they really didn’t bring anything new or exciting to the stage. They needed to really light the stage with more technically complex legwork and precision working together. Obviously, the other judges liked what they saw a lot more than I did. They’re not bad dancers, but they weren’t spectacular either, and certainly not worthy of the million dollars in my eyes.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: N

5 Alive

5 Alive (boy band) couldn’t even hit their notes while trying to sing the name of their band. So that wasn’t a good sign. Their whole intro package was about how they’re not quite as cool as they think they are … or maybe they know exactly how bad they are and it’s all a put-on. As the act continued, I started suspecting maybe they were lip-synching. In other words, there was promise in their vocals so I didn’t believe it was really them. I get it, that’s not fair, but how were they such dorks and then actually channeled the 1990s in their act? The problem was they brought nothing new or innovative. It was like they cribbed other boys bands 100 percent. Maybe I’m just crabby like Simon, but I didn’t see enough.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, N

My Score: N

Danylo & Oskar

Danylo & Oskar (acrobat) offered a very unique acrobatic routine that spotlighted Danylo's strength, and the ridiculous flexibility of his 8-year-old son Oskar. The dancing wasn’t amazing, but the act itself was bizarrely compelling. This is definitely the kind of act “AGT” was created for. It’s like something you’d see in a circus. But is it a million-dollar act? Maybe. It’s certainly worth seeing if they have more in their repertoire, or if it will be a lot of Oskar doing the splits beyond what makes me comfortable and his father flinging him around. If it’s too repetitive, it’ll lose its luster quickly, but I’ll give them a chance to show me what more they have.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: Y

Mirror Image

Mirror Image (singers) is 16-year-old twins Colton and Trent Edwards and man they are excited! I mean, SO excited!! They’re cringey. Going into it, I was convinced they were so over the top they would be horrible. And then they turned me around with actual vocal prowess and true twin harmonies. Their higher voices allowed them to hit high notes in full voice, which makes for a stronger sound and is always impressive in males. It was a bit nasally, but they could be trained out of that bad habit. They spent more of their time dancing than I would have liked, as their voices were significantly better than their dancing, despite missing the last harmony. They weren’t awful dancers, but it was more having fun in the club dancing than make money dancing. With some direction and guidance they could be honed into competitive talents, though.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, N

My Score: Y

Angelina Green

Angelina Green (singer) is only 13-years old, but she managed to shake off her nerves to give a haunting vocal performance. Oftentimes, art comes from pain, and the troubles she and her mother faced when her father abandoned them added weight and volume to Angelina’s voice. She turned to music as solace, and found in it something that gave her both joy and direction. She faltered a bit at the more powerful notes on The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand by You,” and you could hear the youth in her voice. She’s got a powerful instrument with a great deal of potential, but it’s not quite polished yet. She’s either going to crack under the pressure, or really rise and blow us all away.

Judges Scores: [Golden Buzzer] Heidi Klum

My Score: Y

Jonathan Rinny

Jonathan Rinny (balancing act) brought his new wife as his assistant to try and prove to her parents that he was worthy of their daughter, even doing the type of work he brought to the “AGT” stage. In fact, he said his mother-in-law doesn’t even know they’re married. He had two balancing stunts, and the second was truly mesmerizing, with rollers in two different directions beneath his feet. It was terrifying, and the fact that he was wobbly throughout made it even more intense to watch. I don’t know how far it goes from here, but it’s worth the chance to find out.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: Y

[Unknown]

[Unknown] (air acrobat) had to follow three balancing acts with her air acrobatics in an anti-gravity chamber. It was a lot of fun to watch, and certainly compelling, as she was able to spin and clearly knew how to utilize the space and the aerodynamics of her body to control her ascent and descent through the air. It was a fascinating and memorable act, but they could have told us the woman’s name … unless I somehow missed it. She was interesting, and with a bigger budget, she could make some interesting moves across a stage with multiple chambers to control her movements. In other words, I see the potential here.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: Y

Mike Yung

Mike Young (singer) has worked nearly four decades as a subway singer to make a living. He’s a very likable guy who took a risk with his life to pursue his dream and you could see the passion in his performance. He has a beautiful and powerful instrument that he has masterful control of. There is value in experience and passion, and to sing for a living for 37 years in the subway proves that singing is life for him. And he poured that life on the stage for the audience and the judges. I loved the rasp he had in his voice, and the wisdom of his intonations. Truly, a fantastic audition. I’m kind of surprised it took the audience pushing Heidi to get him his third yes.

Judges Scores: Y, N, Y, Y

My Score: Y

Harrison Greenbaum

Harrison Greenbaum (comedian) graduated top of his class at Harvard and then chose to put that aside and pursue comedy. He did a bit about everyone thinking he was gay, and the probably real story of how he had to tell his parents he was going from college to comedy. It was a successful bit, and he was very personable in his delivery. Even better, he was confident and funny. I’d love to see a longer set from him, if this is what he could do in 90 seconds. He’s got potential to really make a career for himself here, even if he doesn’t win the show.

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: Y

Brandon Rogers

Brandon Rogers (singer) passed away after his audition in a car accident. This young doctor’s passing made the news with questions about how the show would handle it. The family requested that his audition be shown, presumably to honor his memory and his pursuit of his dream by coming on the show. His vocal styling was very reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, which may be why he chose to sang “Ribbon in the Sky.” It meant he was perhaps too similar to the original audience, but he was certainly a talented young man. After all, Stevie is one of the greatest vocalists of all time. The good doctor earned a standing ovation from both the audience and the judging panel. He had the potential to really make a mark on the show. It’s tragic that he was taken so young. Even though, we won’t see him again, it was a wonderful tribute that we got to see his moment. And he was actually the strongest act of the night!

Judges Scores: Y, Y, Y, Y

My Score: Y

I think I might have been crabby tonight, as I was not as enamored with these acts nearly as much as the other judges. They put through several acts that I didn't like at all. Or maybe the show just ran out of all the really great acts in the previous episodes. I look forward to seeing some of these acts go home.

“America’s Got Talent” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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