This is it, the performance finale of "America's Got Talent" and only half of the acts heading into the night are singers. How about that variety, America?! No longer will there be a set number of acts advancing. It's all or nothing tonight, leave it all on the stage. Only one act walks away with a million dollars and that Vegas show. And even though the judges and I are here with our opinions and snark, we really don't matter. It's all about you. But we're going to judge anyhow. Just try and stop us!
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. I'll just keep ranking them from worst to first as I do and we'll see who emerges at the top. And we'll see if you have the same impeccable taste as me Wednesday night.
Angelica Hale (singer) really needs to work on her stage presence as she always just stands there. But once again, the quality and range of her vocal is so shocking for a 10-year-old little girl. I found myself a little underwhelmed this time around. I think part of the problem was the repetitive nature of her song, and then she even missed a few of her big notes. This girl has a huge future ahead of her in music, but I don't think this is her year to win big.
Sara & Hero
Sara & Hero (dog act) struggled perhaps more in this performance than at any time before, and for the first time on the season it started to feel a bit more repetitive. That said, there were again some really fun tricks throughout the routine. Hero's final high-flying stunt was truly mesmerizing, but I think we're starting to see the limits of what this act can be and it's just not Vegas-worthy to me.
Kechi (singer) took a little to get into her song this time around, but she emerged triumphant and fully in command of her voice and the message of the song. That said, I'm not sure she did enough to really excite viewers at home with her song choice. Her story is absolutely gut-wrenching and compelling, but truthfully we have a lot of those in the finals this season. Kechi has had some mind-blowing performances in the past. Tonight, she had a great performance. But that may not be enough tonight.
Evie Clair (singer) lost her father to his battle with cancer after her last performance, but in her opening package she said that he'd always taught her to finish what she started, and so here she is singing "What a Wonderful World." She's always had a unique and ethereal quality to her voice, but it was more haunting in this stripped down version of the song. She couldn't quite hold the size of the song as she neared the end of her performance, but it was nevertheless quite a lovely take, and an incredibly powerful and brave thing to do, coming on to finish her run at all.
Mandy Harvey (singer) brought out a ukelele and gave her some musical accompaniment with another solid performance. Like a lot of the other singers on the night, Mandy missed a chance to really stand out vocally from the crowd. So many of the singers have compelling stories so in a way those may cancel each other out in votes. I'm sounding like a broken record myself, but Mandy does have something special as well in what she does and what she stands for as a deaf singer. But I don't think that's going to win her the show.
Preacher Lawson (comedian) wasn't quite as sharp as usual in his final appearance on the show. He spent a little more time bringing to life his bizarre naked street man than he did telling jokes or stories. It was funny in its way, but I'm not sure it was the right thing to do to convince people to vote for him. I'm still a huge fan and no one does physical comedy better right now, and Preacher is an act who will benefit tremendously from this platform, but I'm not sure that particular bit secured him the million-dollar prize.
Diavolo (daredevil-dance troupe) once again proved why they are Vegas ready with a stunningly complex routine driven by amazing stunts, dives, throws and massive props. They were very smart to go back to the half-cylinder rocking back and forth, as it was their most dangerous-looking prop from early on. They managed to top themselves in complexity yet again. One again, this is an act that looks like it's ready to go professional and if they don't win, I think they'll still be finding success before much longer.
Chase Goehring (singer-songwriter) let his nerves get into his vocals a bit at the beginning, but once again he came through with a beautifully written song, again with a message about positivity. He's a stellar voice for his generation and truly something special, and he came into his own confidence when the song broke it down with a very fast rap section in the middle. This kid is going places and if he doesn't win this, he's going to get a deal anyway.
Darci Lynne (ventriloquist) doubled her chances at victory by bringing two puppets out for a solo vocal duet. It was a tour de force of ventriloquism and performing, and Darci handled the banter between the two brilliantly. There's star quality in this girl and she really impressed with a powerful take on a massive song like "With a Little Help From My Friends." Oh yeah, and she hits massive notes with two different voices and never opens her mouth. She needs her own television show!
Light Balance (dance troupe) got even more creative with their final performance, even including a sequence where a werewolf rips one of the dancers in half … and then that dancer reassembles. This was absolutely their strongest performance yet and the creativity this troupe displays each time they hit the stage is absolutely mind-blowing. I imagine what they could do with a stage of their own design, a budget and more time to create new and imaginative characters and costumes and this is an act well worth the million dollars.
I was perhaps too harsh on the singers (what's new), but I really didn't think most of them stepped up in the way they needed to for this finale. My favorite throughout most of the season has been Darci Lynne to win, but Light Balance really impressed me and got my imagination swimming with possibilities. So I put them as my choice to win.
But I kind of think I'm going to be wrong and Darci is going to take it. Kid singer … add unique twist with ventriloquism. That's the more likely winner. We'll see!
"America's Got Talent" concludes with a two-hour results finale Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.