By the end of the first 12 America’s Got Talent performances from acts vying for the semifinals, it was clear who captivated the crowd and the panel, and who had probably had their first big moment, but hopefully not last, on a very big stage. A handful owned their Radio City Music Hall debuts, while others prompted doubts about why they had gotten there. The decision now, though, was up to viewers moved to vote, and every single one counted!
After their rocking and rousing Rockette welcome Tuesday for the live performances, judges Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, and Mel B dressed in elegant attire and assumed more somber stances for the voting results. Nick Cannon bucked that tone, though, donning dazzling red for the night, setting the mood for acts who would declare this a red letter day within minutes! Big talent set the tone, too, as English sensation, Labrinth (a.k.a. Timothy MacKenzie) sang his smash duet with Emeli Sande, “Beneath Your Beautiful,” which was even the backing foundation for the performance by TellAVision on Tuesday. That performance was proof even before the first vote results that artistry has more to do with power and pure simplicity than any gimmick.
The first trio of performers summoned to their verdict were sibling screamers for heavy metal, Aaralyn and Izzy, whose composition detailing the perils of dog poop didn’t do much for the panel, despite their 15 million YouTube hits; Kevin Downey, Jr., who was openly embraced by Howard and Howie, but dismissed by the fairer sex sitting in the judging chairs, and lastly, Alexandria the Great, who was amazingly daring in accomplishing the underwater straitjacket feat that even Houdini could not master. The notice came that none of them would be going forward, and Howard Stern expressed regret only for Alexandria, whom he called “sensational” and the panel had deemed terrifying but entertaining. Her performance was incredible had any age, but this 52-year-old mom did get to live a dream come true, and have it witnessed by her loving family. Kevin Downey, Jr. will have a ringing phone for paying gigs for a long time now, and it’s hard to feel sorry for kids with 15 million views.
Next came the quirky Special Head, who didn’t seem so special with his levitating turned “flying act” to the Radio City marquee. Howie Mandel put it bluntly-“You blew it, buddy.” The man of many chakras was joined by little dancers, Fresh Faces, and the Hawaiian fusion dance trio, Hype. Both dancing acts had superlative likability scores, but their talents simply fell short. Mel B named the five Fresh Faces girls the “2013 Mini Spice Girls,” and Howie said Hype had been swallowed by the big stage in New York, and that they might be better suited to smaller venues. Another vote revelation chose no one from these, so that left six acts and four artists yet to be named.
The tension was tight enough to hang big screens as TellAVision, magician Collins Key, and the zany and amazingly strong Kristef Brothers came forth. The KrisTef boys got relief first, assure that they had their spot in the semifinals, following that glittery display that was campy as all get out, but so gloriously showcased their strength. Producers just had to turn the knife a little more, delaying the decision between the technology troupe and the “new face of Magic,” according to Howie Mandel, until after a lengthly commercial break! Finally, it was the genius of the young man Key, who used his key to unlock dream messages and mesmerize his entire audience who was voted on, to the delight of everyone. It may very well be a battle between the brothers and the “Justin Bieber of Magic,” as Key is already being called in the Twitter world.
The final vote was toughest, with Branden James, 11-year-old Anna Christine, and veteran rockers, American Hitmen in the final group. James had been near perfection on stage with his performance of “You Raise Me Up,” seeming already born for the big stage as much as he was to carry those big notes. Anna Christine was truly remarkable, as Howard Stern told her, and perhaps shared too much in her admission that she “got off track,” while it was clear that her voice never lost its way. The American Hitmen seemed to rock the socks off the audience and Howie Mandel and Mel B, but Heidi and Howard wanted more emotion and heavy metal. Branden James was no surprise in securing his semifinal spot, but that left the final decision between the four rockers from the American forces serving in Iraq and the lovely girl singing with a woman’s voice to the panel. For the first time, with four judges, it came to a true split vote. Heidi Klum and Howard Stern went behind Anna Christine, as Howie Mandel and Mel B left loyalties with American Hitmen. Under those unique circumstances, the call came down to numbers in the vote tally, and Nick Cannon related the favor to Anna Christine, whose visible nerves turned to vibrant joy, and hopefully the rocking troops will be taking their act to many stages to come.
America’s Got Talent continues performances and votes for the semifinals Tuesdays and Thursdays on NBC.