The Top 12 of Season 8 on “America’s Got Talent” competed for six slots in the finals, which will take place next week. Did they match up to viewer expectations?
- Leading off the show was the acrobatic team, Chicago Boyz. They opened with some stunts with the double dutch rope and had a small mistake before upping the ante with more complicated jump-roping stunts, which they nailed. Most impressive, they made a pyramid of five people, including the littlest guy on top, and jumped successfully! Mel B. told them, “I just love everything about you,” though she noted the mistakes. Howie Mandel basically reiterated the same message. Howard Stern noted that “this is a night of nerves,” though he called them “phenomenal performers” and said he hopes America forgives them the mistake. Heidi Klum gushed over them, saying she loved their energy.
- Branden James, who didn’t expect to make it this far, performed a classical arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It was moving and dramatic. Howard said that he doesn’t give praise lightly but, “You’re trying to win it, and you gave it your all.” Heidi felt the song showcased his beautiful voice and he was even better than last time.
- Innovative Force, the acrobatic/dance troupe, performed on a plastic lit iceberg, dressed all in pink, added in trampoline to their routine. Howard said his biggest fear for them is that, “As good as you are, there are six better acts than you.” He praised them for stepping it up, however. Heidi, who had given them a standing ovation with Mel B., said they’re an inspiration to many girls out there. Mel B., who also given them a standing ovation, said this was their best performance yet. Howie said the set reminded him of Superman’s father, “if he’d had cheerleaders.”
- The KriStef Brothers did an “infomercial,” where an announcer delivered a spiel about “how to be a KriStef Brothers,” as if it were an exercise program. Meanwhile, the hand balancing duo performed their act, with dancers on stage with them trying to do the moves but failing. Howie loved it, saying it was like “a Richard Simmons tape on steroids.” Howard said that week after week they’ve done the incredible. He liked how they took a routine and “turned it into a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch.” He liked they made the strength act funny and contemporary. He said they were the first act that would definitely go through to the finals.
- Young ballroom dancers D’Angelo and Amanda performed a routine to a Latin beat that involved a lot of quick moves and posing, with them dancing up a platform at the end and dancing in a puff of smoke. Mel B. said, “Welcome back to the competition.” She loved it. Howie said they were ramping it up, making it a difficult night for voters. Howard said they had the unfortunate circumstance of being on the best season of the show, otherwise they would have “already been crowned” the winners. Heidi pointed out some of their moves were once that we’d seen before.
- Catapult, the dance troupe who works with shadows in silhouette, had worked on a more powerful piece, a little kid against a monster. The dance told a story of a kid who was bullied and finally found the loving support to grow stronger. It gave me goosebumps and made me cry! Howard said that it was touching and “we connect with it emotionally. He predicted, “You’re going through.” Howie said, “You are important. I hope people vote for you.” Mel B. called it “magical” and “breathtaking.”
- Forte, the trio of classical male singers, performed a classical arrangement of “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, sung in Italian. They were, once more, vocally impressive. Howard praised them for always picking the right song and for knowing when and how to harmonize. He predicted they’d be the third ones to go through. Heidi borrowed Mel B.’s thumb in order to give them “three thumbs up.” Mel B. gave a shout-out to the guy who created the sets and told Forte they’d be going through, and if they didn’t she’d be “so angry.” Howie once more urged viewers to vote.
- Taylor Williamson, comedian, performed in front of a giant family portrait labeled “The Taylors,” with his face over all the faces. He did a set based on his family, with jokes about his mom and his grandmother, which were funny because they seemed to come from a genuine place. Heidi joked that she’s going to send him her therapy bills, which hearkened back to one of his jokes. She said he was growing on her, and he quipped, “Like a fungus?” Howard said he envisioned Taylor being one of the final six, and he liked that he showed a new dimension of himself. Mel B. sighed, but before she could deliver a comment, Taylor said, “Go back to Howard.” And Howard jumped in and said he liked his positivity and character. Then Howie jumped in, pointing out how much work Taylor had to do in order to create his set, since he also has to write it all. Howie and Howard kept talking so that Mel couldn’t get a word in.
- Collins Key, magician, did a trick using misdirection with Nick’s expensive watch, then put some cheap watches and put them in the other bags. Next, he asked Howie to reset his own watch. He asked the judges to pick bags, after he shuffled them, and then he smashed them. When he revealed that Nick’s watch was safe, and it had been reset to 4:58, the same time that Howie reset his watch to. Howard said he likes that Collins represents the magic community well, but he urged him to speed things up.
- Kenichi Ebina, dancer and martial artist, set a goal for himself to create an emotional piece, because his wife tells him he doesn’t express emotion. He wanted to do something more artistic. He acted out someone who was going through death throes and then was resurrected as an angel. Heidi called it a very intense performance but very beautiful. Howie called him the most talented performer, saying, “You are pure talent.” Howard said, “I am a fan of Kenichi’s for life.” Again, he predicted he was definitely going through.
- Country singer Jimmy Rose performed in front of a red pickup truck, backed by a band. He did the Blake Shelton song, “God Gave Me You,” which touched on romance and faith and showed off his country tenor. Howie said there have been so many “wow” moments that night, but he didn’t think Jimmy provided one. Mel B. thought he had more confidence than ever. She called him talented and humble. Heidi said it wasn’t her favorite act of the night, but she applauded him for giving it his all. Howard liked seeing him with the electric guitar but agreed with Howie, saying he was playing it safe and not making the proper emotional connection.
- Singer Cami Bradley did a pared-down version of “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, accompanying herself on the piano, with violinists joining her onstage. She ended a couple phrases a little early but has a lovely voice, and the arrangement stood out. Heidi said, “You did what you do best: take an iconic song” and do her own version. Mel B. called it beautiful and said she hopes people vote for her. Howie called her “like an angel” and confessed to a “judge-contestant crush on you.” Howard said she reminds him of Linda Rondstadt, who had a talent for interpreting music.
Based on the judges’ comments, audience reaction and show history the most likely acts to make it to the semifinals are: The KriStef Brothers, Catapult, Forte, Kenichi Ebina and Collins Key, with the final slot going to either Taylor Williamson or Cami Bradley.
“America’s Got Talent” airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.