"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.
America proved that they love singers, too, selecting three of them in their top five choices. One of those choices was ventriloquist singer Darci Lynne, so that makes sense. For some reason the producers put her out there against Angelica Hale, like we really thought they'd have two kids face off and send one packing. Of course they both made it through.Joining them were roller-skating daredevils Billy & Emily England, comedian Preacher Lawson and Air Force a cappella group In the Stairwell because they wore camo fatigues and America was so blinded by patriotism they couldn't hear that these guys are just okay.So three of my picks didn't make the cut, with Just Jerk just missing out on the Dunkin' Save. Puddles Pity Party gave a much weaker performance this week, but I loved him so much in previous rounds I crossed my fingers for him. Alas, he joined oddball Bello Nock in the losers' bracket.## Final Thoughts**Tyra Banks** struggled in a few places tonight, as she had a lot more to do than she has yet at any point in the show prior, You could tell that she was nervous throughout the evening, missing her mark on stage several times, and stuttering over her words in the Dunkin' Lounge. That said, based on how she kept her composure throughout, I think she'll settle in just fine.I'm a little disappointed that five of the seven advancing acts are singing acts. I get that "AGT" is open to everyone for everything and anything, but if viewers really want singers that badly they should switch over to "The Voice." Maybe they're getting confused because Simon Cowell is sitting there. This isn't "American Idol." That's later this year, if they can ever find some more judges to join Katy Perry.Here's hoping for some more diversity in the winning acts next week. _"America's Got Talent" continues twice a week, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC._