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Last week, America catapulted the heavy favorites and eventual winners Voices of Glory, Grandma Lee, and Kevin Skinner into the Finals. So now that we have our Empire of acts with questionable talent and unbelievably overblown popularity, tonight we build our Rebel Alliance of truly talented individuals. Barbara and Lawrence are ready to lead the charge, America, let’s help them out!This week we’re passing five acts instead of four, thanks to the Judges’ little bout of indecision last week. And may I say again, really? Too many shows on TV that use ‘judges’ have already become “Famous People Give Their Opinion On Things.” Now we’re adding “Famous People Decline to Give Their Opinion On Things,” apparently.
Nick Cannon isn’t wearing anything TOO godawful tonight, but he’s still equating Semi-Finals with dorky flowers on his jacket, like every show is a high school dance. What do you think he’ll wear for the finals, a yarmulke? Also, you are not David Hasselhoff, so please button up your shirt all the way.
Nick asks Piers to defend his breaking of sacred AGT rules, but Piers reminds him that rules are there to be broken. Yes, that would be exactly what I’d want to hear from the judges if I were an act competing for a million dollar prize with my lifelong dream itself on the line. What did last week show us, Sharon? She yammers on about everyone being right where they should be and progression of talent. Do you think they get Nick’s questions before hand, or is he throwing them curveballs? David promises not to say Hoff anymore, then says he’s Hoffly excited and that the show is Hoff and running. That last one was actually pretty good, if only he hadn’t make us wade through weeks of incoherent rambling to get there.
Introduction of acts, and Nick has definitely gotten better about his weird intros with huge amounts of emphasis on the last syllables. Because getting to the actual talent before the first commercial break would be blasphemy, it’s time for our standard, “look how badly we want it” montage. Highlights: Mario and Jenny get recognized in the grocery store (probably only by their bitter checker, Carol), Hairo is worried about Piers buzzing him out, and everybody wants to win just as much as you would imagine. These ‘revelations’ sound really stupid in hindsight (and they are), but you really need to experience the intense music and dramatic camera shots to get the full effect of the montage.
Recycled Percussion gets to go first tonight. They’re otherwise known as the act that robbed the Indian Dance Team of their spot in the Semis, so tonight I’m really curious to see if they can again disproportionally impress the judges. Apparently, Recycled Percussion has a dark and sinister past. Well, not really, but one of the drummers has serious daddy issues (which has kind of been a trend here in the Semi-Finals) and the drumming helped him through some rough times. Apparently being drug free is the message of Recycled Percussion, which is coming as news to us, America. We had no idea that we were voting for a lame school assembly act last week! Those college Indian kids are SO sitting in the back of the auditorium and making fun of them this week.
Their act is high energy, and definitely more creative than last week. They’re hitting trash and smashing up a van like usual, and then the van itself splits open and they play drums inside while a guy with the guitar is on the roof. It’s what I imagine used car salesman nightmares must be like.
Piers says he couldn’t tell if they’re talented or crazy, but it was entertaining and that’s all you need at this point. Sharon agrees with all of this, but also compliments their bodies and asks them to take off more clothes. Oh, if only I were joking, TVgasm readers. David says they’ve done great, and they could still go all the way. They’re fun to watch, but I don’t particularly think they’re anything special, and I definitely wouldn’t see them in Vegas. Will they sneak through tomorrow night? Doubtful.
Number two tonight is my man Lawrence, and I’m so ready for him to win it isn’t even funny. Lawrence is no fool, and he’s remembered to bring his dramatic backstory with him tonight: “I was raised in a very strict religious group [is it a cult? I'm guessing cult] and this group was very controlling [yep, totally a cult].” Lawrence’s cult told him he’d never amount to anything unless if he broke out on his own, but he still made the choice to become an individual at sixteen. Oh my God, guys, what if Lawrence’s voice was a part of a deal that the cultists made with the Devil? I was thinking it was too good to be true. Anyone with me on this? Anyone?
Lawrence’s song is predictably amazing. Why did he not American Idol it? It could be an age thing; I doubt he would attract the youngsters that AI’s record labels look for, but still. Another amazing song, another amazing performance. If this guy doesn’t make the Finals after the Texas freaking Tenors did, I’m going to be mad, America.
Sharon says he should stop the “vocal acrobatics,” which I’m sure has been the name of several acts that have auditioned on this show. David says the song choice was great, but Piers, sensing that the recapper loves a performer, immediately trashes his performance and says he should go back to the Barry White-esque songs. I used to have a lot of respect for Piers, but I say again: the Texas Tenors.
It’s time for Erik and Rickie, our young dancers. They are extraordinary cute in their montage about being overwhelmed with fame and daydreaming about fancy cars. You may call me a softy, but I’m just thankful for a montage without cultists or severe father issues. Erik maintains his youthful charm by saying he would buy a Ferrari if he won, and Rickie maintains her (perceived by me) soul-crushing of Erik by pointing out that he doesn’t even know how to drive. She’s sort of the Kate to his Jon. Or is he the bad guy now? I’ve lost track.
Their act is cute, but kind of lacking in talent. And Piers buzzes them! C’mon, man. I thought when you Judges’ Choiced them that was sort of an agreement to just let them be adorable and not worry about their actual performance! Which, admittedly, was not as good as their previous dances. And did it bother anyone else that they weren’t actually tangoing, as their boxes claimed?
David compares them to Donny and Marie (and I would LOVE for him to defend that analogy) and asks who says the can’t play Vegas, cause they can. Well, actually, it’s Piers. Piers says that the music and the dancing didn’t go well together, so he buzzed them. Everyone makes fun of Piers for being a dirty Redcoat and eating custard, and Sharon dramatically proclaims her American citizenship to the loud roars of the crowd. It’s this exact moment that we can predict a Kevin Skinner victory, just based on the show’s demographic.
There’s the standard plug for the Vegas show, and then it’s time for Jeffrey. Even after the unfortunate technical mishap last week, he pulled off a WTF upset over Bri and now he’s back for more. Jeffrey’s montage story is about his new girlfriend Celeste, and I love that the producers show us TWO pictures to prove it’s legit. Jeffrey admits that he thinks she’s cute, she recognizes him from the show, and that’s their relationship. Sad, but I guess better that he recognizes it. Man, he better hope he does get voted on, because Celeste ain’t gonna be satisfied with a semi-finalist.
Nick assures us that Jeffrey’s keyboard is going to control all the lights (thanks, Nick, I might have panicked and suspected witchcraft) and then he’s up. The effect with the lights is cool, but it’s just a lost cause to save an otherwise mediocre piano act. Usually it seems like Jeffrey does the best he possibly can with a talent not terribly suited for national television, but tonight it didn’t even seem like the playing was up to snuff. Piers sees it my way and gives Jeffrey an X.
Piers says it was out of control and he didn’t like it, and asks Jeffrey to explain himself. Jeffrey mumbles that it was the Hungarian Rhapsody. Sharon compliments his outfit and persona, but says the playing wasn’t great. I love that that adds up to a compliment in her head. David admits he has no idea what he was listening for and says he isn’t sure if he liked it. This certainly is a crackerjack team of judges that NBC has assembled. Nick Cannon, aware like the rest of us that no way Celeste is ever taking Jeffrey’s calls again, asks if his new look will help him with the ladies. Jeffrey again mumbles something and is then ushered into obscurity by Nick.
Act number five tonight is Hairo Torres, all the way from the mean streets of Oregon. Hairo has stopped trying to pretend he’s got gangster street skills and now he’s moving in to the Arcadian Broad “dancing is all I have” niche. Be careful, Hairo, you’re going to get pushed into a High School Musical-themed number with that attitude. We also learn that during rehearsal Hairo injured his back, so tonight will be especially tough for him. The drama!
Hairo’s number is coincidentally high school-themed (red flag) but Hairo performs with his usual energy and (dare I say it?) uniqueness. I am definitely of the opinion that this is the only dancer I’ve seen who could maintain a Vegas show. He’s certainly the only dancer I look forward to now.
Sharon says that he added new steps and she appreciates the diversity. David agrees and continues to praise Hairo (“you do a better job than anyone on this planet”) and Piers says that Hairo dances the way that he (Piers) does. Let’s leave the jokes to the fake judges, Piers, I will have none of that from you. I think that Hairo does deserve a spot in the Finals, and so he will join Lawrence in the Winners’ Circle of my mind.
Halfway done, and the sixth act tonight is the EriAm Sisters. Long-time AGT recap readers will recall that I prematurely selected these girls as the winners on the first episode, back before I had met Lawrence (OR CIANA) or knew how many goddamn episodes there were. I was disappointed by their performance last week, so I’m really hoping that they represent tonight. The oldest one talks about how the elimination fake-out a few weeks ago threw their dad off for longer than it should have. Cute, but is that really all of the ammo you brought for your video package? Cults and daddy issues, girls. Cults and daddy issues will make you a star.
There’s some minor sibling controversy over their song choice, and then they’re off. They went with “When You Believe,” making me immediately side with whichever sister had the other suggestion. Remember their first audition? The fast-paced Michael Jackson song? I like them much better as high energy pop singers than a soulful trio. But this act is good too. My standards are just so damn high for them.
Piers says the performance was shaky to start, but then got much better, so he’ll chalk it up to nerves. He SO has a softspot for the EriAms, just like your recapper! Sharon agrees that the end was better than the start, and David compliments their stage presence.
One of the judges accidentally hits their buzzer during Nick’s introduction. “Accidentally.” There’s only so many times we can give it up or make that noise, Cannon.
Mario and Jenny are lucky number seven. Mario tells us that he’s from seven generations of circus performers. How badly did Jenny’s mom try to keep them apart, do you think? Mario does circus people proud by saying that their Quarter-Final performance turned them around “three hundred and sixty degrees” and he’s excited to top it.
So their act begins, and it’s basically an orgy of random Vegas-style props. Mario and Jenny are running around yelling and inexplicably jumping rope, and people are gyrating while pyrotechnical devices explode. Piers, not a fan of anything that could be described as an orgy, buzzes them. The act continues to be stunningly bizarre, with Jenny randomly twisting around on a pole while Mario plays some drums. And then he lights one on fire. And then it’s over.
REALLY? That was easily the stupidest act since the Vegas Verdicts. Hell, give me an hour of Pam Martin and I’ll get a million times more substance than this. Piers says that they blew it and no one did anything, Sharon, proving there’s nothing terrible that she can’t compliment, says she liked the diversity and maybe they should sing next time. Once again, if only I was kidding. David also says they were great. Sharon and David have always stretched the truth, but I cannot believe how blatantly incorrect their comments were this evening.
It’s time for the only Wild Card to make the Semis, Drew Stevyns. Drew tries to be something other then Kevin Skinner lite by talking about his singing in Great Britain and the pressure for him to get a “real job.” Like the EriAm sisters, kind of a boring montage. Let’s dig a little deeper next time, Drew. Providing you make it, of course.
And is it just me, or is he a better singer this week? My intense hatred at the Wild Card selections may have been blinding me before, but he just sounds a lot better tonight. He’s no Lawrence, but I think based on pure talent he’s way better than the Voices of Glory. You’ve won over the recapper, Drew, and that’s the best you could hope for.
Sharon says she appreciates that he made the song (“I’m Never Going To Dance Again”) his own, even though she didn’t care for it. David congratulates Drew for going for it and Piers says his massive gamble paid off. And maybe it’s just me, but I think this guy’s got a good chance.
The ninth act is the FootworKINGz, the only dance team left after the dance-genocide that the judges and America have been perpetuating on this show. They milk their big city roots for the last few drops of street-culture backstory that they can get, and then say they appreciate being the Judges’ Choice (those were the days) and tonight they want to dance faster than ever. Nick asks us to “make some Illinois” for the FootworKINGz. That’s only funny because you intensely overuse that phrase, Cannon, don’t get cocky.
They’re dancing with weird green lasers everywhere, Mission Impossible style. They start to dance and do some sort of fake fighting, and it really is pretty boring. No way they’re moving faster than before. Even the Power Rangers theme can’t save you now, FootworKINGz. But I’m sure it will do wonders for your street cred. Yep, there’s the inevitable X from Piers. And what? Did Piers buzz twice? Or could that be an actual X from another judge??
David says that they’re too gimmicky, and he just wants to watch them dance. Piers says that their act was “career suicide” and that they’re now the least cool act he’s seen. Power Rangers, so fifteen years ago. Sharon, in a rare moment of judging, says that they do the same moves every night, but with different outfits. “But it was very well done. How’s that?” she hilariously tacks on to the end.
The final act is Barbara, our amazing opera singer. You might also recall that Barbara has roughly a million possible backstory angles: mother who gave up her career! Cancer survivor! Adopted child! It appears she’s decided to go with the cancer story, so she’s all about letters received from other survivors and says that tonight she’ll be singing a song, but also a prayer. Oh, wait, here’s one more backstory. She used to go to the beach with her mother and they would sing opera together, and that’s how she learned to love it. Jesus Christ, Barbara’s life was tailor-made for a show like this.
Her singing is, as usual, amazing. She’s on this lit stage and the music is beautiful and dramatic and it’s exactly why they had her end the show. As I’ve said, to hell with Vegas. I just really wish she and Lawrence would do Broadway together. Piers says that her performance left him speechless and reminds us that she’s just a normal adopting cancer survivor who learned to sing opera at the beach like everyone else. Sharon bows down to Barbara’s talent, and David says that she and her voice are part of God’s plan. She had damn well better make that Final, cause she could kick Kevin’s ass any day of the week.
So in a perfect world, it would be Barbara, Lawrence, Hairo, Drew, and the EriAm sisters. Agree? Disagree? Can any of them hope to beat inexplicably popular acts already in the Finals?