After thousands of America’s Got Talent dreamers took their fateful chances in auditions, there was only room for 60 acts to put their giftedness to the test before the viewing and voting public starting next week. Some were so good they got early news of going straight to Radio City Music Hall, and others had to swallow the hard news that they had to head home already, as more had to show the top of their game to the panel of judges free of the chanting audience. Who was up to the challenge, and would there be any room for error?
Gotta give it to the cuties, as the kids category began the festivities. Heavy-metal siblings Aaralyn and Izzy started off sweet and ended with her characteristic roar. Howard Stern said there was “no way” they could go through in their category after their performance, but they had fans pulling for them on the panel. Chloe Channell gave her best Reba McEntire tribute with “Turn on the Radio,” assuring the panel she knew precisely what she was singing about, and that her daddy told her “men were the devil,” which prompted Howard Stern to call him “a very wise man.” Genesis Nava went for the younger country queen, Carrie Underwood, at least equaling her audition, but Ciana Pelekai sealed her place in the elite last group with a smooth, soulful style that sounded like someone who was already a much older star. Look for her to stay a while.
The magicians marched forth next. RJ Cantu was lovely and mysterious with his rings and levitating, “sleeping” beauty, and 17-year-old Collins Key performed another astounding feat of closely watched close-up magic, ripping a page from Howie Mandel’s best-selling book, and teleporting it into a sealed envelope. Howard Stern mused over whether the act was “big enough” for 7000 people, but it’s far more difficult to fool four sets of focused eyes than an auditorium of gazers distracted by everything around them. Ariann Black felt she deserved credit for displaying a person coming “right through me,” but Heidi Klum couldn’t even see the trick in the performance, especially when the assistant seemed to get stuck in her delivery. To make matters worse, competitors Ronnie Low and Leon Etienne called her out as “a slip up,” in an unclassy tattle before the panel, as that pair pulled off their horizontal pole rise. Special Head couldn’t get quite all the way up without his feet on the ground, but Howie Mandel still gave him kudos.
The variety acts were not all that they once were. Preacher’s daughter, Megan Piphus, thrilled the panel in New Orleans with her puppetry and her own voice, but this time, it seemed she couldn’t balance singing the Jackson 5’s “ABC” between her parts and her puppet friend, and her lips were seen shaky, not synched, too. Kennedy Davenport looked quite a sight in her purple pattern catsuit, but her dance talent was definitely lacking. Lil Mike and Funny Bone brought none of the brotherly love or freshness of “Rain Dance” from their San Antonio audition. Far from love, one brother blamed the other for not wanting to rehearse, and forgetting the routine, which led to immediate dismissal by the panel for the pair.
The male singers closed the performances, and genuine and heartfelt guys with guitars, Marty Brown and Dave Fenley, both gave performances that measured up to the emotion of their auditions. 19-year-old Paul Thomas Mitchell was as breezy and lovely in his song as ever, but Heidi Klum couldn’t pull him through all on her own. Jonathan Allen showed fine operatic form again, but this time, served up a more contemporary offering with “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” leaving Mr. Stern as the stern one, wondering if he was ready for Radio City. The surprising classical talents of Travis Pratt were pure again, too, as he performed “Ave Maria,” his voice comparable to female opera greats.
Decision arrived, and favorites like tenor group, Forte, were in, along with rocker war veterans, American Hitmen. Tree climber turned pole acrobat, Timber Brown got his slot, too, and the amazing Rong Niu, “Red Panda,” was granted her chance, too, despite dropping one of her china bowls because of back pain as she balanced atop her unicycle and still finished in spectacular fashion. Both D’Angelo and Amanda and Ruby and Jonas will be dancing their way to the New York stage, showing that brothers and sisters can be best friends and competitors. Magician Collins Key will be going big time, too, along with dancer, Kid the Whiz, the troupes, Hype and Tellavision. Truly emotional torch singer, Dianna DellaCioppa, will sing for America, too, despite her technical difficulties. The judges are allowed to have a little America’s Got Talent heart, after all.
The live shows start next week, so tune in Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 PM ET on NBC to root on the best of the best!