Don't bother trying to predict which acts will advance this week as the judges throw caution to the wind and totally embrace the "AGT" madness.
This was one of the wildest and most eclectic nights of auditions ever assembled on "America's Got Talent," and its very weirdness clearly had an impact on the judges, too.
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" star Ellie Kemper joined the panel, and we can't help but wonder if her influence had something to do with the group throwing out the traditional types of acts they'd support in favor of some of the more experimental, goofy and downright bizarre acts on the night.
And there were plenty to choose from. There were three different acrobatic acts, including one that features an 84-year old man! We got a piano playing breakdancer, a violin-playing knife thrower married to an opera singing razor-blade swallower. There were drag queen singers, a trained rat act and a man who plays the tambourine with his face, among other body parts.
And that was just a sampling of the acts, which did include more traditional fare like dancers, illusionists, dog acts and musicians. They even had a kid singer, and we know how much "AGT" loves kid singers. Or do they? Have things changed so much with this new panel that "AGT" is becoming unpredictable again? If so, we're not mad about it as we always wished the show would embrace more of its variety roots.
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 seventeen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
(dog act) We barely saw any of this, but it looked like there was definitely no magic going on. The dog barely did much of anything, and the whole routine was sleepy (though admittedly it came during the sleepytime edit sequence)
(singer) This Rat Pack-inspider singer sounded like karaoke, so for once, we're not mad he only got a few seconds in the edit. It was just too safe, too boring to carry through.
(illusionist) So obviously the edit did him no favors, but his delivery did actualy appear to be quite dull as he used sand art to create the Statue of Liberty as Terry Crews thought about it with his hand on his shoulder. Cool trick, but man was that a lot of doing nothing to get to something.
(pianist-dancer) More of the same, except the dancing seemed more frenetic and less controlled as if his nerves were getting the best of him. It's a surprise the first time around, but apparently there is no next level.
(musician-comedian) Tambourine and thong enthusiast GONZO was absolutely bizarre the first time, and even more bonkers this time as he added karate moves to his performance. But we use the term "karate' very loosely. This was once again totally bonkers, but it's also kind of entertaining. It's a shame it was mostly the same tambourine stunts as the first time, but at least he's interesting.
(dancers) With disjointed editing, we didn't get a full sense of their routine as they intended, but it did look a lot like more of what we saw the first time around. They are very compelling, but they still struggle with synchronicity at times and creating really compelling pictures. It looks busy when we should never get that sense as every move from every dancer should be deliberate.
(rat act) Despite a few mishaps and miscommunications along the way, Melissa and Varicella did a mostly good job of navigating what was essentially a maze-like obstacle course through New York City to raise the American flag. It was all very cute, but it certainly wasn't as smooth as you'd want at this stage of a competition.
(singers) Most drag queens lip sync, but these gals were singing their own songs and did an empowering medley that proved to be a lot of fun. And yet, for the second audition in a row, Simon buzzed them. The vocals weren't bad at all and the overall performance is just a lot of fun. We're not sure why Simon is hating on the queens so much. Were they the best act of the night? No, but they didn't deserve an 'X.'
(acrobats) We didn't see their first audition and only got a snippet of this one, but it was incredibly cool to watch what little we did get. They appear to be incredibly precise, strong and choreographed a very dangerous bars routine that could have gone horribly wrong, but didn't. The edit tells us it wasn't enough to carry on, but it certainly looked impressive to us.
(singer) She lost the timing a bit during the second verse, but Carmen really put her own spin on this Beatles staple and gave a killer show-stopping, crowd-pleasing type of performance. This gave us a real sense of who she can be as an artist and the fun and energy she brings to a stage performance. SImon really must have given her an ego boost because this was a confident woman in command of every beat of that performance and it was great.
Nick & Lindsay
(singer-danger act) This is one of the most bizarre acts this show has ever seen, mixing operatic singing and danger and violin this time around. Nick's choice of "Music of the Night" was appropriate for the sinister presentation, but the whole thing still feels a little amateurish. Once again, Lindsay missed embedding her first blade into the board. We get that time is limited, but this act just feels like it needs some polish. Then, it really could be something special and unique; it's just not quite there yet.
(acrobats) They embraced the "Up" comparisons and brought out largely more of the same, but it is remarkable that an 84-year-old man can do half of these stunts of balance and strength. This is one of the most surreal partnerships on the show, but they are absolutely adorable and eminently watchable. We just wish there was a little more diversity in the stunts themselves to really up the game.
(impressionist) It would be nice to see Greg create a bit of a comedic narrative or some sort of narrative with his impressions. Some of them are very impressive, but this was just a bunch of disjointed movie moments. Being able to highlight big lines from movies is fun and all, but it kind of gets a little dull after a while. He's got all the potential in the world to go somewhere with this, and his "Bobby's World" was spot-on in exchange with Howie.
(acrobats) This couple performed incredible feats of balance and strength their first time out and it looks like (from the glimpses we got) they upped their game this time and brought even more. We wish we could have seen the whole act, as their chemistry is palpable and it's incredible to see how in tune they are with one another.
(singer) Once again, Simon traumatized Ansley by stopping her mid-song, but he was right. She was performing a little distant and underneath the track again, so Simon urged her to go a cappella once more. And once again, other than being a little odd at one point without any track, it was a far superior vocal. She's still finding herself vocally, but there's definitely some impressive raw talent in there.
(guitarist) Once again, Marcin really takes his guitar through the paces with incredible rhythm, musicality and his fingerwork is just through the roof. He has explored every way to make a sound on that instrument and orchestrates truly unique and exciting musical arrangements. This is a kid who could be the next big thing with guitar, and we love that his influences come from everywhere, as proven by his flamenco flare this week.
(singer) He missed a couple of notes but that was a powerhouse performane to close down the show. And it put every other singer on notice that Mackenzie was here and he wasn't going to take no for an answer. He also proved that you can still make your mark with a cover song, though we'd love to hear what a Mackenzie original sounds like!
Light Balance Kids
(dancers) That was an incredible step up from their first performance, with a lot of cheeky playfulness in the light stunts and some genuinely stunning visuals created throughout. From the giant to the basketball game, it was delightfully unpredictable and just the kind of act that could and should win a show like this and take over the Vegas strip. They're all about lights, after all.
Well, obviously our Top 7 wasn't going to match up with the judges as we had Duo Maintenant in there and they didn't even get an online video. If we strike them and bump up our number eight -- the wacky Nick & Lindsay -- that's still a fun Top 7. But was that the Top 7?
Complicating matters even further, the judges were all over the place and the acts were a wider array than we're used to seeing by this point in the competition, so someone good was probably going to get left on the cutting room floor. Mayb the Wild Card will return and save someone.
They kicked things off with good news, sending both Greg Morton and Marcin Patrzalek through side by side to join Ellie's Golden Buzzer act Light Balance Kids. You could just see Greg thinking it was the end for him standing next to the guitar virtuoso, so his joy was palpable when he found out that wasn't the case.
But then they pulled the rug out from under all the acrobats, booting them from the show altogether while all together and we lost two of our Top 7 in one fell swoop. Does that mean they just wanted more singers?
Apparently, that's what it's about because Mackenzie and Carmen Carter were the next two through. But we were absolutely thrilled they were followed by Nick & Lindsay because we all need a little crazy in our lives.
And that left only one more act, but would it go to Ansley and give us 7 of our Top 9 (minus the acrobats)? Alas, no. That spot went to the night's wackiest act, GONZO. Yeah, we don't know what's going on either, but he's definitely entertaining!
"America's Got Talent" continues Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.