The America’s Got Talent viewing public has its toughest work this week-choosing who will take the title, along with life-changing money. To be sure, all six of the finalist performers have careers now for the taking, but this was the night to separate the true standout stars from the rest. Host Nick Cannon began the proceedings, detailing that every artist would perform a past routine or rendition again, and also a new performance of their choosing. This becomes much more of a challenge for those like comedian, Taylor Williamson, magician Collins Key, or performance artist, Kenichi Ebina, than for the singers. Still, talent is talent, and the night of performances proved why this talent competition culls the most unique performers of any on television.
Kentucky singer and Marine combat hero, Jimmy Rose, opened the night with a return to his audition performance of “Coal Keeps the Lights On,” his original song, as pure and heartfelt as ever. The unpretentious honesty and humble nature of this young man resonates with America beyond mere performance, with earnest eloquence. His remarks that the departure of the traditional coal industry causing his town to “dwindle away” came from an honest place, and Howie Mandel had to acknowledge the singer’s support, saying “Talk about a fan base,” referring to Rose’s voters. Howard Stern commended that Jimmy “came across” even better with this performance than his original. Rose may have played it too safe with his second selection, Garth Brooks’ “The Dance,” done very commendably, but not really impressing the panel. The decision doesn’t belong to the four judges now, though, and Jimmy’s following could pull through big time! He closed his remarks with “I’m not Garth Brooks, but I want to be someday.” Rose should feel fine just being himself.
Kenichi Ebina reworked his Matrix performance in sleek silver, and sailed straight to standing ovations from the panel, with raves that he was “even better” and “a superstar” from Howard Stern; “brilliant” from Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum’s favorite act, and called “genius” by Mel B. His second performance was a street dance of sorts, along life’s highway, with an assortment of characters and genders, all played by Kenichi. Howard Stern confessed his attraction to the artist as a blonde “in a dress,” Howie Mandel lauded the “limitless creativity” in developing the portrayals, while Heidi Klum implored America to vote for Kenichi. Mel B was not prompted to stand this time, though, saying she found the second performance “off.” Ebina is an innovative and talented artist, but whether his gifts appeal to an audience beyond the videogame generation is still murky, and seniors spend a lot of dollars in Vegas.
Cami Bradley performed her “Believe” reprise, this time going for elegant more than angelic, wearing black rather than white, but sounding plenty good enough to win praise from the panel and the audience again. Howard Stern teased that the Spokane suburbanite was “a hillbilly” without shoes when she auditioned was a stretch, but the show has most definitely made her a star. Heidi Klum called her “a knockout” again, as Mel B dubbed her “a class act.” Howie Mandel went further, saying she was “the best singer” of the season in her uniqueness. For her second selection, she took the Beatles classic, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” down many notches, and a few octaves, singing it mellow ballad style. Daring for sure, and definitely not for everyone who loves old-time rock ‘n roll, but it was good enough to make Howie say he wanted to hold her hand and “I don’t do that,” he reiterated. Mel B felt moved to take her fan out and call it “flawless.” America will have their say tomorrow.
Young magician, Collins Key, did more of his close-up magic for his first offering, inviting Mel and Heidi to choose cards, sign them, and then share an intimate moment of their own, biting down on the card face to face. Mel B caressed Heidi’s head, in a move almost as intimate as Howard and Howie’s kiss weeks ago, and their chemistry was certainly hot, because their cards fused as one, leaving every witness astounded! Part David Blaine, part David Copperfield, Key took things big for his final performance, having producers pick from some Photo Booth volunteers holding hash tag cards, inviting them onstage, and matching them to predictions forecasted on YouTube for the panel weeks before. What this kid does defies magic, and it’s no wonder he has growing numbers of Keepers in his social media universe! Howard Stern said Collins had rightly speeded up and stepped up his act this week. Howie Mandel said he was the “master of confusion” for coming up with tricks that no one deciphers. Heidi Klum loved that Collins never performs “grandparents magic,” and Mel B simply asked, “How do you bloody do it?” Collins is never telling, but he will be going to the top soon, on stages everywhere!
Forte may fall into that singers category, but nothing about this trio is ordinary, and their performances of “The Prayer” which was the song that birthed their beginning after member, Josh, was invited onstage by Josh Groban, was nothing short of spectacular, amidst a dark blue sea of star glow lights, but it is the harmonies of the three singers in profile that truly is spectacle beyond anything visual. The panel was prompted to their feet, Heidi Klum assuring the group that she would buy their CD and their tickets in Vegas. Howard Stern said they had given it all they had, but Howie Mandel wasn’t sure they made it “an apples and oranges” choice for America, with stunning sets. “Wow, wow, wow,” was the praise from Mel B, now converted to an Opera fan, thanks to the three singers. Another standing ovation came when they closed the night, even making the floor vibrate, my Heidi Klum’s account. They were in tears of emotion, as was their audience, and it didn’t matter if anyone translated Italian! Howie Mandel said they were “better than Garth Brooks” and Howard Stern called them “the Crosby, stills and Nash” of opera. No matter the vote, their future shines.
Taylor Williamson had perhaps the toughest job of any performer. What comedian wants to repeat any joke too much? To his credit, he played it up perfectly, requesting an animal, and getting some odd creature in a suit to contend with, and a choir to deliver his punch lines. Just seeing his character and ubiquitously irresistible expressions brings roars from fans, and even he and Heidi Klum made up and played more than nice this time, as he teased her about their romantic moments, and her leaving her lederhosen at his place! He made some edgy comparisons between Stonehenge and his driveway, definitely leaving the panel impressed. “Funny” in big letters, was the word for his comedic journey this week, and he even had his mother in the audience to cheer him on! She probably won’t have to pay any more of her son’s cell phone bills now!
Tomorrow’s revelation of the final America’s Got Talent vote promises lots of duets and big production, but the biggest draw of the night is decided by the voters. Tune in to see who takes the Season 8 title!