Reality Stars -- Then and Now

This week, twelve will enter. Seven will advance. Some will implode in their first live show performance, and some should have never made it this far. But this is their last chance as it’s the last episode before the semi-finals. There were thrills, chills and a lot of singing because that’s what "America's Got Talent" is becoming this season, to its detriment.

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 is 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.

Angelina Green

Angelina Green (singer) sang “Gravity” without her ukelele and some of the charm that made her stand out from the very large pack of young singers on this show faded away. Now, she looks like and sounds like a contestant who may get the judge hands hovering over buttons on "The Voice," but ultimately no one turns around. Later in the song, she started missing too many notes and at that point, I just started feeling bad for her. Hopefully, she just keeps practicing and forging ahead. She’s only thirteen, and just not ready yet.

Oscar Hernandez

Oscar Hernandez (dancer) is a fun act, but I think it’s just about run its course. He’s got a lot of energy, but there is a serious limitation to the types of dance moves he brings to the stage. As a choreographer he’s very much in the cheerleader wheelhouse, but even there I’ve seen more dynamic and exciting cheer moves than he presented in this longer routine. So … can we be done now?

Junior & Emily Alabi

Junior & Emily Alabi (Latin dancers) started out a little rough, and while there were moments of impressive dancing throughout their routine, they were overshadowed in my mind by all those stumbles and slips along the way. I love the story that dance pulled Junior off of a bad bath and that he is able to connect with his sister this way, but in a world where "Dancing With the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" show us what great Latin dancing can be, this pair is just okay. They showed a lot of diversity in their moves, and Emily can spin like a beast, but I just don’t see a winning act here.

Mike Yung

Mike Yung (singer) came out of the subway and blew me away with each of his performances. He channeled Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" for this week's performance, and it was a little jarring hearing him on something so contemporary, but Sheeran has a classic vibe to his songs and it worked pretty well for Yung. I don't think the song showcased his talent as well as others could have, but it was clear that he's an amazing vocalist. I'm upset that this wasn’t his strongest performance, but his catalogue on the show thus far has been rock solid.

DaNell Daymon & Greater Works

DaNell Daymon & Greater Works (gospel choir) once again put on a stellar vocal performance, but for the second time in a row I was underwhelmed by their song choice. This choir has the ability to create an emotional connection with the lyric, but by choosing a song from "Grease," they were unable to do so. They put their gospel twist on the song for the closing moments, but I found this even more off-putting here. I love this choir, but I kind of hate the choices they’ve been making in their songs. In a full show, this would be a fun addition, but I would have preferred it as part of a medley here. They’re supposed to show their best side.

MY SEMI-FINALISTS

Sara & Hero & Loki

Sara & Hero & Loki (dog trainer) once again had an intricate stage set with an explorer theme, but she barely leaned into that this time around. Her storytelling is what mesmerized me the first time we saw her, but this was more straight-up tricks and stunts. It took about halway through for me to really latch on to what she was doing, but the jump rope tricks and high fives were adorable. The act really picked up when Loki joined in, but I’d love to see her get back to storytelling.

Chase Goehring

Chase Goehring (singer/songwriter) reminded me more of Twenty One Pilots in this performance than in any other, and yet he is an artist with a unique voice and story to tell who absolutely deserves the large platform he’s been given on this show. He always brings original material that is well written and well conceived. I think his vocals were a little overwhelmed by the guitar this time, but that’s more of a technical concern than anything Chase did wrong. I really like this kid and think he’s got something special going.

Colin Cloud

Colin Cloud (observationist) always presents a very weird act that almost defies description. This act was long and drawn out but it managed to keep my attention throughout. I think he would put together an amazing interactive live show experience. I know this wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it's absolutely amazing to me.

Final Draft

Final Draft (singers) was cut after the last round, but got a second chance from the judges based on their first performance and the potential the judges saw in the act. So this was their redemption performance to prove to us and themselves that they belong here. The put a slow jam on Ed Sheeran's “Shape of You” and commanded my attention from the first note. Each of the four of them had a chance to showcase their talent and they took a song many people are sick of and injected it with fresh energy. This is an act that could really make a mark in the music industry with the right guidance.

Kechi

Kechi (singer) is bigger than her story, but it's such a huge part of who she is it becomes a part of her story. Despite the visual reminders of the plane crash that killed 60 of her classmates, her voice stands out on its own. Her nerves got to her a little bit on this song, but the lyrics were clearly something that spoke to her, and she nevertheless shone through with a stirring and powerful vocal. She's been better on this show, but she remains one of the strongest voices on a show full of vocalists.

Oskar & Gaspar

Oskar & Gaspar (digital illusionists) blew us away with their digital manipulation of Heidi Klum in their first outing. This time around, they brought out two models of their own, and did digital black-and-white tattoo manipulation. The girl was a little off center later on after she moved, but there is so much potential and artistry in what this act does. Again, these guys could put together an absolutely amazing live stage performance and are deserving of making it to the finals of this show.

Diavolo

Diavolo (acrobats) redeemed their last performance with an amazing acrobatic dance routine. The prop seems to be a huge factor in the success of a Diavolo performance, and the spinning circle prop utilized here was absolutely fascinating and awesome to watch. This is the kind of act that could own a Vegas stage and really blow an audience away. I could see Diavolo having a long run on a Vegas stage.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I'm not real confident that the dog act will make it through with America's vote, because there are more singers to choose from. I'll admit that I'm a bit of a hypocrite this week, because I did choose three singing acts in my top seven, but they were all different and offered something unique and special to the show. So I'm a hypocrite, but at least I'm a hypocrite who justifies myself … like every other hypocrite.

I'm probably going to be all wrong anyway.

"America’s Got Talent" continues twice a week, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

View Photos Getty VMAs 2017: Inside All the Wild After-Parties

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