"America's Got Talent" kicked off the first night of live performances this past Tuesday with twelve acts giving it all they had for only seven spots. I gave my picks in TooFab's Fifth Judge rundown of the evening, but I also knew that America would disagree with me on at least one point. Viewers are suckers for men in uniform, so even though I felt In the Stairwell was subpar as an a cappella group, I had an inkling their Air Force pedigree would get them through. Was I right?
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.
Before we got to any of the results, "America's Got Talent" had to trot out last season's winner to prove how much this show changes lives. Last year's winner came back to the stage that made her with a triumphant performance hinting at her inauspicious beginnings the year prior when she was but 12-years old. This was a mature and polished performance showing how much she’s grown since her victory run. Even better, she sounded like a current, trending artist more than she ever managed last year.
This marks amazing progress for this young girl in a short span of time. Obviously, she already has an established career underway with her debut album due later this year, but reality show winners have to work harder to survive that first year, and Grace proved she has the tools musically and vocally to do just that. I could hear that song on the radio today.
Grace's appearance also proved something that has become a bit of a problem on the show, if you don't want predictability in your show. Child singers are running rampant on "AGT" this year. It's always been a thing that the judges and viewers love these little ingenues, but we certainly don't want to just assume that all the child acts are going to go through every time we see them.
And yet, that's exactly the feeling I had going into this round. Right at the top, Christian Guardino was sent to the Dunkin' Lounge with Yoli Mayor and dance troupe Just Jerk. These acts came in sixth through eighth in the public vote, and now faced a second vote for the Dunkin' Save. The remaining two acts would face the judges for the final spot.
Only, Howie didn't want to make the decision, so he threw it right back to America. The Dunkin' Save went to child singer Christian Guardino -- of course -- leaving Yoli and Just Jerk to face the judges. But Howie forced a tie, pushing it back to America’s original vote. Yoli emerged victorious here.