This week was a black-tie affair for America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon, as he opened the proceedings for the Top 12 performances, and all those pleas for votes to next week’s final. In a twist, it was also announced that the judges’ panel would have no last pick this week, so every one of the six finalists would be selected by America’s choice. Hearts were in throats and upon sleeves! It was no coincidence that emotions ran high, and heavenly themes had their place this week. Which acts proved worthy of the heady company of those competing for $1 million?
Who better than the Chicago Boyz to start the night off with super-high energy, and these inspiring young men are always crowd-pleasers. This time, their routine featured belly flops and human pyramids of their members all jumping rope. The panel was quick to point out that there were a few missed cues this time, which Howard Stern attributed to “nerves,” but that didn’t keep Mel B from saying she loved “everything about you” to the troupe. Heidi Klum said they were a “great start” to the night, and Howie Mandel praised that they were still “best of the best” despite a few flaws this time. Branden James was the first to assume a celestial stance as he sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” from a perch bathed in white light. The intent was purposeful, and the performance had grace, but little expressed emotion. The panel was completely stirred, though, with Heidi Klum and Mel B rising in ovation. Howie Mandel offered his own “Hallelujah” for James’ performance. Heidi Klum complimented that he “sang to your strength,” and Howard Stern stressed that his song choice ensured that he “connected” this week. His assurance to young fans who have been writing him for inspiration that “it does get better, I promise” was as moving as his song. Entertainment does have power to change lives. The young ladies of Innovative Force added trampoline to their graceful moves in purple and pink. Even their youngest members described “the fire underneath our stomachs” in sweet simplicity, and their dedication to precision showed. Howard Stern said his worry was that as good as they were, another act would be better, while Heidi Klum gave higher endorsement, saying her girls wanted to be “just like you” to the graceful athletes. Mel B said this week the performance was perfectly “on point,” and Howie Mandel said the girls showed what it would be like “if Superman had cheerleaders.” No doubt there are girls wanting to become an innovative force of their own sparked by these girls and their determined talents. What makes the Kristef Brothers so special, beyond their superhuman hand-balancing strength, is that they are never afraid to poke fun at themselves. That is just what they did this week, performing in their own hilarious infomercial, packed with plenty of strength defying silliness! Offering their DVD for only “five easy payments of $1 million, plus a kidney” the act was a riot, and really pleased the panel, too! “Bloody entertaining” were Mel B’s words for the pair, and they were the first who would be “definitely going through” according to Howard Stern. Howie Mandel said they were better than “Richard Simmons on steroids,” and Heidi Klum said she would stand up all night for their act. It may be easy to overlook the incredible feats these two pull off amidst the laughs, but they deserve big careers.
D’Angelo and Amanda proved youth was no hindrance to perfection, this time adding a little spice and salsa to their routine, reflecting on how they made it to the finals with just a half of 1% over Anna Christine. The two literally danced around the judges this time, and the ladies were up on their feet again. “Yes, yes, yes” Mel B praised, and Howard Stern said the performance only proved that this was the best season of talent ever on the competition. Heidi Klum said the dancers “always pack a punch” to be “super impressive,” and Howie Mandel said . D’Angelo was a “Hispanic Peter Pan.” What they are is an incredibly dynamic duo who have decades still left to reach potential. Catapult Entertainment took the panel’s past advice to stay simple to heart, and this time the story was clear, that even a dragon of a bully could be overcome by the power of a family’s love and understanding. Unanimously the panel praised that the performance brought them “back to the competition,” with Mel B inviting herself to learn “how you do it.” As if emotions were not high enough, the opera trio, Forte, came next, soaring with harmony beyond the notes in their message of brotherhood, singing the Titanic theme, “My Heart Will Go On” in flawless mix of Spanish-Italian, set against staging that could not have been more perfect. Howard Stern and Howie Mandel posed as Leonardo and Kate on the bow, rekindling their bromance yet again, with Howard affirming, “I’m the man,” in the relationship! Heidi Klum lauded them as “true professionals” giving them three thumbs up, borrowing Mel B’s. Mel B and Howard Stern said there was no doubt the trio would be going through, and Howie Mandel said their song about the sinking ship brought the show to “new heights.” The lives of these guys will never be the same! Comedian Taylor Williamson was as effortlessly edgy yet pleasing as ever with his take on family dynamics, describing his grandmother’s lack of ethnic sensitivity, and the passing on of family “expenses,” be they car repairs or years of therapy! He left. Mel B speechless, insisting, “go back to Howard,” as she hid her face, and Heidi said her bills would go to Taylor! Howie Mandel reiterated that the comedian is the only artist who must create a performance that is “all himself,” showcasing Taylor’s talent, as Howard Stern said Williamson would make another of his picks to make the finals.
Magician heartthrob, Collins Key, borrowed Nick Cannon’s very expensive watch, and the participation of the whole panel for a smashing trick with paper bags, perfectly synchronized time, and uncanny ability to defy logic. The presentation went long, and that was Howard Stern’s main critique, as no other judges could comment. Collins will need his fans, the Keepers, to keep him in! Kenichi Ebina went stripped-down and artistic this week, performing a life after death dance, even ascending to heaven on wings. Ebina can do no wrong by the panel, and probably only death could keep them from the finals, as this time the high-tech wizard and mime went for the heart. Jimmy Rose was brought to tears as he described his mother’s place in his life, and her recent problems with congestive heart failure. His song was “God Gave Me You,” perhaps directed at her, but production, even with shiny vintage trucks, seems to detract from the purity of Rose’s emotion and authenticity as in his first audition, with his own song, “Coal Keeps the Lights On.” There was no “wow” moment for Jimmy this week with the judges, except for Mel B, who praised that his confidence was growing more and more. He has been a constant favorite in the votes, and that pull will be what might still put him in the finals. The closing performance of the night was from demure singer, Cami Bradley, with her mellow take on “Living on a Prayer.” Looking nothing short of angelic, she got divine remarks from the panel. Howard Stern compared her to Linda Ronstadt, calling her “an excellent discovery” of the season. Howie Mandel confessed to a “contested crush” on Cami, as Heidi Klum complimented her beautiful voice and beautiful look. Mel B said she had been “turned into a Cami fan.” Transforming everything to a ballad isn’t always workable, but it seems to be the trick for this church singer.
See if America’s Got Talent fans follow the judges’ picks, as votes are revealed for the final six Wednesday on NBC.