On a lackluster night overall, several acts took unfortunate steps backward in their live show debuts as we saw several deserved X's on the night.
Once again, twelve acts hit the stage on “America’s Got Talent,” with one joking that the show had “scraped the bottom of the barrel.” In many cases that was true, as this was a pretty underwhelming bunch. But the acts that stood out really managed to stand out!
Maybe that’s because so much of the competition really faltered this week, offering up one huge step down from their initial auditions after another. It was amazing how many acts apparently overthought what made them special and then just came out and made nothing of themselves.
Nothing was as spectacularly disastrous as Sethward’s performance last week, but in his defense, he’s been consistently awful for years on this show, so it was par for the course. These were acts that excited us with possibility in their auditions only to not deliver anything new. Maybe they only had that one good performance in them.
Luckily, it wasn’t all stink city with a few acts managing to up their game, including a 16-year-old aerialist who may go down as the most improved from audition to live shows of the season. And then there’s the act that had Simon Cowell recalling Carrie Underwood.
As he reminded everyone, when she first showed up on “American Idol” in Season 4 -- and well before she won it -- he predicted she would go on to sell millions of records. And she has. So he made another prediction that this act will go on to become one of the biggest on the planet.
After having seen two performances now, we’re hard pressed to disagree. Some things defy explanation, and this act definitely qualifies for that.
The night featured two Golden Buzzer performances, including Howie’s sentimental nurse choir pick and the only act in “AGT” history to get a simultaneous Golden Buzzer from all four judges and Terry Crews, Victoria Brinker. How did the diminutive opera singer follow up that moment?
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
And just for fun, I'm gonna rank them from worst to first to see how my favorites do and then we can track them throughout the season to see how they fare.
(performance art) There was a kitschy charm to Johnny’s first audition, paired with intentionally dated visuals, a few surprises and a catchy song with a naughty-yet-hilarious twist. This was just stupid. There was nothing clever about the lyrics this time around, and the whole disco vibe was a mess from top to bottom. It was as if they sucked all the charm out of their first audition and we were left with something loud and garish. What a huge disappointment. Consider our ‘X’ right up there next to Howie's and Simon's, who declared this the worst song he's ever heard on a live show. We can't think of a worse one at the moment, either.
(dancers) The lighting and bright pink costuming took away from some of the intricacies of what they were doing -- the bone-breaking segment was almost entirely lost -- which hurt their overall performance. On top of that, on a show where they shared a stage with Dokteuk Crew, it was even more evident how out of synch they were throughout many of the side-by-side performances, and they even suffered an obvious fall. Shuffling looks incredible when things that are supposed to be together are perfectly so. This wasn’t that. The energy was great, and we could feel their passion, but it just wasn’t strong enough or memorable enough.
Positive Impact Movement
(acrobats) Switching barbells for basketball hoops (on poles) didn’t really change up this routine too terribly much for these guys. They blew us away the first time with their innovative and impressive strength-based acrobatics, but there was too much repetition of stunts this time. It’s clear they’re incredible athletes, but this lacked the creativity we’ve seen from the before, as well as the wow factor. We liked the last stack, but the hoop toss back-and-forth we’ve seen, and all of those repeated moments left us feeling deflated about them. Oh, and the shirt tear-off moments were all too cheesy for our tastes.
(singers) There were some good moments in this unexpected male trio take on Olivia Rodrigo’s “good 4 u,” but it was way too inconsistent for our tastes. The first time they went for a really high note, they missed it. The pitch struggles continued throughout the performance which came across really uneven, much stronger in the verses than the chorus. There were some beautiful harmony moments, but after 1aChord blew the roof off the Dolby last week, this wasn’t even in the same league.
Northwell Health Nurse Choir
(choir) We feel a bit like a broken record saying this after so many performances, but we needed more moments to really help this choir stand out. There was a nice gentle soloist at the top and bottom of this number, but otherwise it got a little repetitive throughout. Considering the emotional resonance of the track, “You Will Be Found,” we were surprised that it left us feeling nothing. A few more solo moments, or just something to break up the monotony of repeating the chorus and a few lines over and over again could have made all the difference. The choir itself sounded great, we just weren’t as enamored with the arrangement they went with for a competition.
(dancers) While we’d have liked a few more visual formations and moments, this was a very slick dance routine performed with precision and real character. We loved the attitudes expressed through the staccato hits between movements, and the overall tone of the performance. The synchronicity was on point, so we believe the 24/ practice comment. They clearly came out to make a statement, and the levitating dancer was a great moment -- we just want more. We’d say this was enough this time, but they really need to wow us next time.
(mentalist) While rummaging through countless items that are unlabeled was reminiscent of his first audition, Peter mixed things up enough to make it interesting. We also enjoyed the final stab of his note revealing the favorite dishes of the judges, though it would have been more effective had Simon opened the can and pulled it out rather than Peter -- sleight of hand opportunity there. Still, he’s very engaging in how he presents his act, and it was fun watching Simon go back and forth on which colored can to make Sofia eat. It was impressive, but we’ve definitely seen a tighter performance from mentalists before.
(singers) For the most part, this was an absolutely beautiful performance, but it was more of a solo piece with nice harmonic backing vocals than a true quartet vocal. That’s not to say that the soloist wasn’t incredible, because he really put an amazing voice on a very challenging Aerosmith classic. The song has been done over and over again in different genres, so while we appreciate them approaching it the way they did, it wasn’t quite as mesmerizing or exciting as we expected. That said, they are absolutely incredible when they do sing together, and what they did delivery vocally was stellar throughout.
(comedian) We love that Josh pulls from his life, and his material is always fresh and interesting because not a lot of comedians are bringing his perspective. But tonight’s performance felt really light on material. Maybe it took him longer to get to the funny bits, or maybe he just paused and dragged things out, but it felt like we only got a few good jokes this time whereas his first audition had a lot more funny moments. We still love what he does and how he delivers it and he had some very sharp, edgy material tonight, but this wasn’t quite as strong as his initial appearance.
(singer) Tory has a very powerful instrument and she definitely knows what kind of singer she wants to be. She delivers each song like she’s already on Broadway, definitely singing for the back of the room. It’s a powerful instrument with a clear and innocent tone that’s well-suited for her Disney Princess persona (per the package) and one that would be perfect in so many Broadway productions. Even grumpy Howie, who hates musicals apparently, should be capable of looking past that prejudice to see that she’s got a great voice and delivered a great showcase of it.
(aerialist) Switching from the ring to straps helped Aidan probably have the biggest glow-up from audition to the live shows that we’ve seen so far. This was so much more exciting and dangerous than his previous performance. It also had an added elegance and beauty, while showcasing both his incredible strength and grace. Perhaps he’ll explore the silks next. One thing is for sure, though, he’s done an amazing job of training himself with his mom’s support at home. That was a very well-conceived and executed routine, worthy of advancing.
(singer) A last-minute song change left Victory with a piece that was simple and straightforward, leaving her voice to rise as the singular star that it is. It’s amazing the texture and richness of her voice already at only nine years old. While we heard a little bit of nerves in there, for the most part hers is a voice you could not quickly put an age to. And with opera singing, that’s incredible. Young opera singers have done very well on this show, and Simon thinks Victory might just make her name come true for herself by becoming one of the biggest stars on the planet.
In many ways, the night was a bit of a disappointment. But that also makes it a little easier to predict what will happen. For example, we did not have Howie’s nurse choir in our Top 7 because this audition was repetitive and boring.
But they are first responders and there is no way (in our mind) that America will ignore that factor, so they’re going to get in and advance to the semifinals. While we could see T.3 creating an upset and getting in as well -- the judges certainly liked them better than we did -- there are a lot of singers on the night, so we’re going to stand by almost all of our Top 7, and say the choir will oust Dokteuk Crew, who did need to make more moments.
“America’s Got Talent” continues Mondays and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.