It was a battle between coasts on America’s Got Talent this week, as prospective contenders from New York and Los Angeles vied for the coveted passage to Las Vegas. There was no shortage of unique acts, and there were certainly surprises, for the panel and the hopefuls. Laughter rang, the spirit moved, and the night ended in soaring voices!
The Struck Boys came on like gangbusters, ala Justin Bieber with New York attitude, after all, “We’re Italian,” their leader proudly announced. There moves were marvelous, and matched that attitude. Their camouflage trousers and commitment captured the panel, leaving Heidi Klum with only the word, “Wowza” as her critique. Mel B applauded their commitment, as did Howie Mandel, and Howard Stern deemed them “little stars” as they won straight approval to Las Vegas. Acrobatic dancers, the Kristel Brothers, elaborated on their rich family heritage as hand balancers, bemusing the panel, but it didn’t take long for them, and anyone watching, to be more than impressed with the strength and special athleticism of the pair. Heidi Klum found herself lacking words, uttering, “Mmmm-mmm,” at the fine physiques, with Mel B concurring, saying it had been a long time since she’d seen white men in underwear! Howie Mandel and Howard Stern saw something different in their powerful lifts and stands, as the audience cheered, so the Vegas strip awaits. Aneya Marie described herself as a singing mime, not seeing anything unusual in the term, and seeing herself as “above” the audience’s estimation, but hoping for a good impression from the panel. Her steps and her song fell far short, sadly, and she departed, superior attitude still intact.
A stream of disappointing acts followed, from hapless hurters on equipment, cats driving remote-controlled vehicles, and even chicken dancers, before dancers, Hammerstep took the stage. Mixing Irish dance and hip-hop, the multiethnic mix of male and female steppers donned in gas masks had a scary look, but knew their stuff. Howard Stern called them “impossible to ignore,” and they got enough attention to go to the Vegas auditions. Expect to see more of the Rock Dance Project, a terrific illusionist, who had Nick Cannon blast a water gun to reveal his chosen card under this shirt of his assistant, and a superb little sprite of a dancer, Sophia Lucia, in weeks to come. Brother and sister duo, Zombie Skin, are pint-sized heavy metal hopefuls, with brother on drums, and no one expecting the sound that erupted from sweet, six-year-old sister’s mouth as their song started, scaring up something that would’ve gotten Linda Blair’s head spinning. Mel B declared, “Scary Spice is officially scared,” and so was Heidi Klum, but she, Howard, and Howie were also intrigued by the pair, who wrote their own songs, like “Zombie Crash,” and wanted to hear more, so the siblings head to Vegas. In a completely opposite vein, The Virginia State Gospel Chorale filled the auditorium with the Spirit, as their soul, color, and captivating voice of their lead singer, Bernard Walker, moved everyone to a religious experience. Mel B said she wanted to become part of this heavenly choir, and they certainly will have the chance to make their heavenly sounds again in Las Vegas, as four yeses moved across the panel, too.
The talent shifted to Los Angeles in the second hour, and Chris Antes thought his chewing gum sculptures were worthy of the big stage. It was very hard to see his tiny creations, however, much less his credibility as a million-dollar act. Howard Stern could not resist mocking his efforts, and his skills in molding a dolphin and a snail failed to stick in impressing the panel. Brandon and Savannah were the second musical group to go with their own composition, the first failed to go through, but these two siblings shined in their polish, poise, and performance, bringing down the house. Howard Stern commended the two and the band for “all that went right” in their audition, and Howie Mandel gave praise despite the risk of the song, and both ladies were smitten with the youthful talent and energy, too, so the Strip will be hearing more of them. Taylor Williamson seemed to be trying so hard to be liked before he came onstage, but the hopeful comic had no trouble at all being loved by the panel, and getting plenty of laughs with his Generation X deadpan style. He was just as sharp in bantering with the judges as he was during his routine, so it took no time to vote him to Vegas. The ladies loved his geeky awkwardness, and Howie Mandel declared what a pleasure it was that his show gave entre to this young man after 10 years of effort. Jacob Calle named himself as the “Party Stunt Man,” but no one could even stomach his scorpion swallowing and detestable demonstrations, so the party was quickly over. Nathaan Phan could have had the same fate, since no one was that impressed with his straitjacket escape while singing, despite his pleasant voice. The vote was split, and Heidi told him to “do something now” to change the panel’s vote. With no preparation or notice, he switched to a swallowing card act that supremely swayed the judges, so he won his way to Las Vegas.
Who could have foreseen that three singers from across the globe, one from New York, another from South Korea, and the third from Puerto Rico, could meet virtually online, and vocally, perform with such stunning beauty for their America’s Got Talent audition? That is exactly the story of the night’s finale trio, Forte, who performed “Requiem” with hardly any rehearsal in person, but with talent that poured forth. This trio are stars already, who will only shine brighter from now on.