"Dear Evan Hansen" star Ben Platt promises "You Will Be Found," and "AGT" alum Preacher Lawson brings the laughs before the results bring shock and tears.
We were sweating bullets from the moment Terry Crews revealed the “America’s Got Talent” acts that would have to battle it out in the Instant Save. How did America let this happen?
It was a night fraught with tension from the top of the show, which was to be expected when only 5 of 11 acts were going to advance to the show’s finale in two weeks time. There were more than five great acts Tuesday night, so heartbreak was inevitable.
To help salve the pain of losing favorites, “Dear Evan Hansen” star Ben Platt was on hand to remind us that we will be found, and the acts will, too. Former “AGT” finalist Preacher Lawson also brought plenty of laughs with a great rapid-fire set.
And there were also emotions of the good kind as this season’s adorable child magician, The Amazing Shoji got a Shin Lim-riffic birthday surprise, courtesy of the show. It helps to know that not all of our tears are coming from fear and frustration.
Sometimes it feels good to feel. Especially when we spend so much of these hour-long shows with a ball in the pit of our stomach, afraid to breathe for fear our favorite acts would have to walk off the stage in disappointment this close to their dreams.
Ben still doesn’t look like a believable teenager -- not that this has hurt “Pen15” at all -- but he sounded great on the signature track from “Dear Evan Hansen.” He’s probably performed this song thousands of times by this point, but he still brought so much passion to it, along with an incredible backing choir, that we believed the heart of it in this moment.
The Amazing Shoji (w/ Shin Lim)
Whie Shoji didn’t make it to this stage of the competition, this diminutive magician still managed to capture the heart of America, with his audition picking up 60 million views. So what better tenth birthday surprise than a special moment with his inspiration, “AGT” superstar Shin Lim? It was so sweet watching Shoji interviewing Shin about his own path to magical stardom and success, knowing how much Shoji wants to carve out a similar path for himself. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see him on the “AGT” stage again.
Preacher just gave a lesson that we hope every comedian on this show paid very, very close attention. When time is at a premium, you need to pack in the funny. His entire set was about his name and reactions to it and he had relevant jokes flying fast and furious. It was brilliantly hilarious, unique to him, and it had such a narrative flow that we were left stunned when it was over. That’s how you maximize such a limited time. It may not be how you would handle a full set at the club, but this is a unique experience so make your material unique to this stage.
With only five acts advancing this week, this category is now filled with the 4th, 5th and 6th top vote-getters, essentially whittling America’s vote down to just its Top 3. Now we felt super confident that Jamie Herrod, World Taekwondo Demonstration Team and Dustin Tavella were those top three acts.
Our next three in our rankings were Gina Brillon, Michael Winslow and Aidan Bryant, but we suspected it would be Aidan Bryant and Peter Rosalita who would fill those last two slots. So were we close at all?
Well, Howie Mandel immediately threw everything we thought we knew about talent shows -- and proved America doesn’t know as much as we thought they did -- by putting our Top 2 acts into this category.
Jimmie Herrod and World Taekwondo Demonstration Team were joined by Michael Winslow for the most ridiculous grouping we can possibly imagine. To think that three acts scored higher with America than Jimmy or World Taekwondo is shocking.
And with Michael Winslow being such a fan-favorite, and getting America’s vote in this situation last time he was on, could it actually come down to the judges choosing between the best two acts of the night and sending one of them home?
We’re very concerned with what America thinks they’re doing. Should you all be in charge?
In between the night’s filler performances, Terry threw all the acts together again to pit Beyond Belief Dance Company, Gina Brillo and Tory Vagasy together so that one of them could advance. We didn’t have any of them advancing per our prediction, but Gina was in our Top 4 acts on the night.
If there’s any justice, she would get the edge because she is a fresh perspective in comedy for this show, but we also can’t knock either of the other acts. They’re all very good in their specific lanes, with Beyond Belief in such a specific dance lane, we don’t see much quite like them.
So what did America do? They put Gina Brillon through, like they should have. We’re sweating what we’ve seen so far from America, but this is the first of our own Top 5 acts advancing, so maybe America will come through?
Aidan Bryant, Korean Soul and Madilyn Bailey were the next acts to face the music -- make that a dramatic tone -- with this one looking like a no-brainer if our rankings mean anything (they should mean everything!). Aidan was in our 6th position, with us predicting he’d slide into America’s Top 5. The other two were 9th and 11th for us.
The judges were far kinder (save Howie) on Madilyn than we were, and we know America loves to support the underdog. After Howie’s scathing review where he said her performance “wasn’t anything,” did she get that underdog vote enough to carry her through? She did not, as Aidan Bryant picked up the next spot.
While we support him advancing, as he did well in our rankings, we stand by our stance that it wasn’t nearly as dangerous or innovative as it needed to be during Tuesday’s show. He needs to really push himself creatively in the finals if he wants a shot at winning this competition.
Meanwhile, Simon flipped our script and said that not only was Aidan his favorite act of the night on Tuesday, looking already like a Vegas act, but that he’s already the one to beat in this competition. Is that a prediction, Simon? We’ll see, we’ll see.
Finally, it was down to just two acts remaining: Dustin Tavella and Peter Rosalita. This one should also be a no-brainer. While the judges were gushing all over Peter’s performance, we didn’t think it was his strongest moment, ranking him 10th on the night. Meanwhile, Dustin is incredible.
But the scary thing for us is that Peter is a kid singer, and “AGT” voters notoriously love kid singers! He does have a great range and a lot of power, but Dustin’s style of magic and his compelling storytelling approach are second to none in his field. He was in our Top 3. Was he in yours?
Thank goodness that he was as Dustin Tavella rounded out America’s Top 3 vote-getters and brings his story to the “AGT” finals. While it’s different than ours, we can’t be too mad about America’s Top 3. Those acts were our 3rd, 4th and 6th place finishers.
And with our 1st, 2nd and 5th place finishers rounding out America’s Instant Save candidates, that means we agreed one hundred percent on the Top 6 acts of the night, even if we didn’t agree on what order they were in. That’s not too shabby, America. Not too shabby at all.
Now which of our collective favorite acts are we going to have to say goodbye to now? Jimmie Herrod had the early lead in the Instant Save votes, which makes sense to us as he was the best act of the night.
Our gut instinct going into this round was that America would save Jimmie and the judges would advance World Taekwondo Demonstration Team, just as the more dynamic act over Michael Winslow. And from what we’ve seen of Michael, he’d practically be insisting that they do just that (the man is that sweet and humble every time he’s on the stage).
Even as we cut to them backstage, Michael was already gesturing to both other acts as if he was certain that they would advance over him, and absolutely deserved that opportunity.
As expected, when America’s vote was revealed, it was Jimmie Herrod who earned their support, taking the fourth spot in the Finals. What more can we say? Him not advancing would have been one of the biggest travesties in the history of this show. Well, we can say this. He should have never had to fight for America’s Instant Save vote.
With half of our Instant Save prediction coming true, we were left with Michael WInslow and World Taekwondo Demonstration Team facing the judges to see which of them would move into the next round. As delightful as it’s been to have Michael back, the martial artists really won us over this week, and it would be disappointing to lose them this close to the end.
Heidi hemmed and hawed her way to choosing World Taekwondo, with Sofia and Simon quickly making it official as World Taekwondo Demonstration Team rounded out the five acts moving into the Finals.
As we said above, that’s five of our Top 6 acts advancing, with Michael Winslow missing out, as we expected him to. We did think America might put Peter Rosalita through, but you came through for us and got this about as close to right as possible. It was a winding and scary road to get there, but the finals are definitely shaping up already to be a great show.
“America’s Got Talent” semi finals continue next week with the final 11 acts next Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.