America’s Got Talent begins this week with a new rule book. With last week’s acceptance of any entertainer that wins the judges over personally and this week’s announcement about the judges picking their Top 40 acts for Round 2 and uncerimoniously dismissing the others, Piers, Sharon, and David now have a free pass to approve anyone they like now and simply sweep them under the rug later. Our show that was once a stage to celebrate the unsung talent of the common American is now nothing but an exercise in commercialism and consumer deceit. My God, I can’t wait til college starts in the fall and I can go back to drinking. So a word of apology as to the lateness of this post before I begin. I spent the weekend in San Francisco, engaging in classic tourist activities such as the crooked street, the Maritime Museum, and driving opposite traffic on one-way steets in Berkeley. So really, you’re lucky you’re getting this recap at all.
Alright, so Week 4 of mindless auditions, and Week 4 of promises from Nick Cannon and an intro composed entirely of prepackaged video segments. Tonight we’re going to try something new and visit New York city, famous for its classic sites, Ponzi Schemes, and ability to host America’s Got Talent every single night. Some New Yorkers talk about how great their city is to such a degree that I feel NBC might simply be rerunning Episode 1, the judges sit down, and we’re ready for another night of this.
We’ve now seen every single one of these people audition.
Up first is some government contractor named Jeffrey, and woah, buddy, we didn’t ask to hear your life story. We might have cared back in the days of Ray the teaching assistant and those black kids that sang “God Bless America” (THREE WEEKS AGO) but now we really just want you to perform and then go away. So he’s got a family and despite his serious job he loves to hum and stuff, and really it feels like he just picked up Generic Script #2 (Singer) on his way in the door. He wanders out on the stage and tells the judges all about how if he can get past the judges he can win the whole thing, which is otherwise known as the way the goddamn show works, and then he’s off to sing. And terribly. It’s some weird reggae rap thing that the audiences hates, and he earns himself three Xs.
The Jim Halpert auditions were YESTERDAY, Nick.
After getting worked over by the judges, he does that classic audition thing where he desperately tries to sing another song but the judges don’t even listen. And seriously, how annoying is that? There must have been like one auditioner on the first season of American Idol who tried that and it worked and now for ten years we have been living with people who think that another song will magically make them better. So thanks a lot, early and unfocused reality shows. I can assure my musings are are far more interesting than Jeffrey, who finally sulks away off the stage.
All I can think about is what could be in the glass and how jealous I am of the guy for having it. And how much of a problem I have.
This means it’s time for the evening’s Failure Montage. Some guy named Alex does something with a bra and balances a wine glass on a recorder (an act suspiciously similar to my own displays of talent after a few of the aforementioned glasses of wine), Belinda Carlyle dressed as Morticia Gomez does some terrible opera singing, and “Moonwalker” does really gross things with his joints. Piers tells Moonwalker he has a revolting act, and where was that during the guy that shoved the hook in his nose? I still live in constant fear of his appearance in Round 2. A fat guy does a terrible version of “A Little Less Conversation” (which you AGT buffs will remember was the same act that aforementioned first contestant Ray destroyed) and he’s Xed out despite pleas that he hasn’t been given a chance. Sorry David, but if anyone can make snap judgements about talent it’s such industry superstars as David Hasselhoff. Sharon and David melodramatically call for security, but even more hilarious is that Nick ends up escorting the fat guy away, leading me to wonder whether or not this show HAS any security. If Nick Cannon is the best they have, that stage is ripe for the taking.
So we take another break and Nick reminds us that we shouldn’t worry because this show will be in New York every night for the rest of our lives, so there’s plenty of time to find talent. Coming back we’re greeted by this nine-year-old boy who self-taught himself guitar. He’s giving us the spiel about how excited he is to play guitar when he gets home from school, which I guess might be slightly more productive than my own nine-year-old regimen of cartoons and Legos. The kid tells us that his mom and dad are his best friends, which is just sweet enough that he’s beginning to endear himself to me, and his haircut suggests that he probably still beats up the real pansies like that kid that danced the second night. He’s got the flags in the background and the cross around his neck, and with his honoring of parents I’m beginning to feel that I stumbled over onto FOX News.
He suits up with his guitar, denounces the Stimulus Package, and takes the stage. He tells Sharon he likes the blues and picks some generic rockers to list as preferences, then hooks up his amp and takes off with some damn good guitar-playing. Some unfortunate facial expressions aside, he’s really very talented and the crowd loves him. The judges heap praise on his performance and Piers showcases his parenting by describing what a loser his own son is on the guitar. Hoff gives us one of his lesser catchphrases by declaring that America needs to see him in voting yes, and they all agree that he’s going to Vegas. A little crying, some father/son bonding, and another break.
So still in New York. NBC must really hate dancers because once again a dance act gets zero screen time as a talented couple are voted through with little explanation. So now we’re ready for old guy Tony, a retired barber. Tony is in some awkward lounge-singer get-up and he plans on dancing for us, and with Mary-Ann (whom he may or may not be romantically involved with) waiting in the wings, he takes the stage.
How awkward was it following him into the bathroom for this shot?
Because Tony is old, everyone is excited for his number. He takes off with a disco number, which I guess is fun to watch but really comes off as very Napolean Dynamite. I may have already used that description, but it’s very apt in this scenario. Piers sets us up for some more likable v. actual talent drama by Xing him, but the crowd cheers loudly. Sharon flirts shamelessly by complimenting Tony’s movement and then it’s time to get serious. Piers pretends like he’s never voted in terms of likability (cough ALICIA) and tells Tony he isn’t a million-dollar act to loud boos, but luckily for the mindless masses we have David and Sharon to keep the talentless/affable characters around. The Osbourne/Hoff pact keeps Tony in the game, and the best part of the whole thing is Piers’ annoyance. Tony calls Piers a “little bitch” and says he’s an unhappy man, but this falls under the list of things old people get free passes on and so Nick just keeps congratulating him and he’s on to Round 2.
Piers is so cute when he’s judging based on merit!
A special announcement from Nick Cannon! We’ve sent over fifty acts on to the next round so far and in two weeks the judges will pick the Top 40 for America. And then it’s totally up to us! So, are there two more weeks of auditions? Are they taking some time off? I guess time/someone that feels like commenting with the correct answer will tell.
Remember that episode of The Mole 5 when they had the elimination in the hanger and not Anderson Cooper offered them a bribe first and Ali took it and we were all like, oh remember when Elavia took the money in Season 2 and then Dorothy wasn’t eliminated? It’s probably like that. But then not Anderson Cooper was like, you’ve been owned Bobby, and he was outy? Why can’t we have more of The Mole, damnit!
Another break, more people jumping and waving, those same damn escalators we see no matter where they claim that they are. Arthur wears too much make-up and does a crazy dance act involving a bunch of spinning and the least enthusiastic yes from Piers that I’ve ever seen, and apparently despite the editing the act was good because it’s moving on. Nathan gives us our millionth magic act by making a woman disappear on one platform and reappear on another (it’s actually quite impressive) and he’s joining our weirdo dancer. The African High Flyers acrobats round out our Success Montage with some really cool jumping over each other and human-pyramid building, and if it weren’t enough to go to Vegas they also win the classic Hoff catchphrase: they’re what this show is all about! It’s an exclusive club.
Where do magicians go to get skanky assistants? Seriously. Is it like a website? Or just their friends and neighbors that volunteer?
So more shots of random people that we’ll never see again, and now it’s Kelly’s turn to sing. Kelly auditioned for the first season of American Idol and lost out to some other flash-in-the-pan Kelly, and now we’re treated to some extremely old school footage of the first AI season. My God, we were all such dorks then! I’m guessing that her crazy contracts from her Idol time FINALLY expired, and you know that NBC kinda wants Kelly to win and become a huge deal so that they can lord her over FOX. Kelly has been working in a casino and hasn’t sung at all, so this is her weird redemption thing. Sharon gets the producers yelling at her in a headset and asks Kelly for something interesting about herself, so they all get to share in the Komeback Kelly story.
Kelly has a great voice, and it is it wrong that I identify with and support a fallen reality TV star than all the single parents and poor people following their dreams on this show? She gets great audience reaction and the judges get to talk about how great it is not to give up. Piers decides that she might not be good enough to win which gives Kelly the opportunity to tear up, as if she wasn’t firmly supported by the Obsbourne/Hoff pact. So our ex-ALer is off to desperately hope she isn’t randomly cut getting to the Top 40.
You never miss Ryan Seacrest until he’s gone.
After a break we’re ready for a pop group called “The Badd Girls,” who give the producers the opportunity to dust off the old Spice Girls tunes for their video package. The dark-haired one and the blond one riff about them being very good and their pop music secrets, while the brunette on the right sits quietly and pretends that she doesn’t know them. Out on stage, they tell the judges all about how they’re aiming to be international stars, and oh boy am I not feeling a good performance coming. They of course compare themselves to the Spice Girls, but once the music starts it’s clear that your favorite recapper and mine has once again called it correctly. The one in the middle starts off well but hits a few bad notes, and from then the audience does not want to listen. The girls aren’t bad, but they are certainly not good. Three Xs, and they’re out.
Preppy Spice, Blond Spice, and Mutey Spice. Yes, Blond Spice WAS the best I could come up with.
Piers tells them they have as much chance of being the Spice Girls as he has being president, and I feel like we should really deport him for that or something. I’m sure Sharon and David are already working on it. The judges ruin their esteem forever by comparing them to cats, and the girls storm off before the judges can vote no. So they’re headed home, and next are three brothers in weird blue suits with equally weird names. They’re the Platt brothers, and the one who looks like a young Steve Guttenberg tells us about how they’re best friends and grew up in the great outdoors, swimming and climbing trees and other things that frightened me as a child. They’ve taken a bunch of dance/gym/theater classes and now they’re really excited to audition, blah, blah, blah, let’s get going.
They’re impressive dancers and there is quite a bit of random miming and gymnastics going on. The crowd and the judges both love them (Piers randomly compliments their sex appeal) and they’re voted through. Good for them I guess. It was cool, but it didn’t seem terribly special. David assures Piers that America will love them, and I love how David talks like we’re not watching right now. He’s always looking out for what America deserves to see and predicting our reactions, and while I’m touched he’s so concerned it just seems a little unnecessary. I much prefer Piers and attempting to predict when he will play up the integrity of the show and when he will vote little girls through for the hell of it.
They’re much more excited that there are three girls with no self-esteem somewhere around here.
Last break! Final act! It’s a bunch of postal workers from Virginia, which means we get to sit through the Richmond Post Office Yearbook as they talk all about singing with each other and other things we’ve heard a million times. They call themselves “Spiritual Harmonizers,” which sounds much better than their first choice “Insufficient Postage.”
Can you believe it? Ten people in line and they only sing at one window.
They start singing and they have a really nice harmony going, and as required by the Last Act Principle everyone loves them. Piers says these acts usually bore him (racist), but the guy in the middle really sold it for him. Sharon agrees that that one guy should dump the rest and move on out, and the judges vote them onward. The traditional end-of-show hugging and crying and congratulating ensues, and we’re done for another night. Nick PROMISES that we’re done in New York, and so tomorrow night we’ll just have to stick to Chicago or Miami or one of those other cities we’ve only visted four times instead of six.
What’s the verdict from the start of Week 4? Who’s promising, who was voted through but ain’t making the Top 40? And is there any way Nick is telling the truth about New York?