Every America’s Got Talent act has heard feedback from judges. Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and ever verbose Howard Stern over the past six weeks, but this week, the votes will do the talking for everyone watching in America this Season 8. To stay around, it takes bringing something special to as stage like New York’s Radio City Music Hall, and some promising hopefuls lost luster, while others proved why they deserved a shot at the top, along with that million dollars!
The Rockettes gave a rocking welcome to the four judges, and Nick Cannon looked dressed to kill for the first live show of Season 8, and that was a tough act to follow for the 11-year-old, Anna Christine, singing the Animals’ classic, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” as soulful as ever. She confessed to going off track following her performance, but perhaps shouldn’t have been so honest, since hardly anyone noticed. “Boy, you can sing,” Mel B reminded Anna, as Howie Mandel added that this child’s “old soul” resonated in every note. Howard Stern called her “remarkable” three times for emphasis, and Heidi said she was one “elegant little lady.” This may not be Anna’s moment for the big time, but no one will forget this girl’s voice again. TellaVision brought their big screens loaded with words of “joy” and positive passion, along with a dance couple who were more than passable, but their performance only passed muster with part of the panel. Howie Mandel gave them a standing ovation, and Mel B loved the “love story” they depicted, but Howard Stern labeled them too “artsy fartsy” for either his or America’s tastes, and Heidi Klum admired their idea, but felt no emotion. It was perhaps a noble effort, but a little like Skype-ing poetry with strangers. American Hitmen had the crowd roaring after their rendition of “With a Little Help from My Friends,” but Howard Stern said they lost an emotional edge from their audition, and Heidi Klum said they lost their metal edge, demanding she wanted “better” and “harder” rock from the veterans. Howie Mandel and Mel B were fine, along with the audience, so the votes can make this call. Eccentric Special Head was up to his usual meditating, levitating tricks, vocalizing his chakras dressed in more glitz atop a lit pyramid, and then somehow, wink-wink, was on top of the roof! He couldn’t leave well enough alone with the levitating, and Howard Stern said Special had “run out of steam.” Heidi saw more of Special Head than intended as he rose, and had mixed feelings, along with Mel B, about the performance, as Howie Mandel agreed that the performance was “less special.”
Fresh Faces are as cute as little dancing ladybugs, calling their moms their “personal assistants,” and putting plenty of energy into their routine to “I Love It (I Don’t Care). Mel B called the girls “the 2013 dancing Spice Girls,” and Heidi Klum told them her daughters wanted to be just like them. The guys were less kind, though, Howie Mandel saying it was like a dance recital, and Howard Stern loving their cuteness, but rating their routine as “not enough” to win it all. Magic whiz, Collins Key, took to the big stage, and literally took his key, too. He asked each judge to write separate words on tablets– Howie Mandel an action word, Mel B a city, Heidi Klum a celebrity not present, and Howard Stern a body part. He then revealed his own discernments, which had been locked away long before, and the results, down to Mr. Stern’s “Touchas” even spelled right, were all there, with a key turn for Collins! Besides being so talented and “likable” according to Mel B, Heidi Klum called him “hot,” while Howie Mandel called him “the face of magic” for long time to come. He proved he was ready for the big stage– this was no small magic! Kevin Downey, Jr. reheated and served up some of his jokes from earlier routines, and even though Howard Stern raved that he was the “real deal” and Howie Mandel agreeing, “I think you’re funny,” the ladies weren’t so taken with Kevin, or his “not up to scratch” material, as Mel B stated, even if they got the jokes. Aaralyn and Izzy stormed the stage again and went from sweet singing on a swing to screaming about “dog poop” in their original composition. Howard Stern gave them an X, despite Howie Mandel praising their 15 million YouTube views, and suggesting a duet with Jackie Evancho. The lady judges didn’t go for this number so much, either, apart from the siblings’ shock value.
Alexandria the Great managed another astounding underwater escape from chains and a straitjacket, and the panel unanimously found her talented and terrifying, so the votes will tell if this 50-something mom stays or goes, knowing she did “Houdini proud,” according to Howard. The Kristef Brothers were cute, campy, and strong as ever in their fanciful lifting prowess combined with comedy. They got unanimous standing ovations, as Howard Stern and Howie Mandel called their performance “best of the night” complete with glitter filled G-string! Dance trio, Hype, went old school and new school with their hybrid routine mixing steps and making splashes in the fountain, but their efforts were not a splash with the panel, Heidi Klum admitting she was not blown away by choreography that “didn’t go anywhere.” Howard Stern said they were above average, but that was hardly enough at this stage in the competition. Branden James was the man who closed the night and owned the stage with his gripping “You Raise Me Up,” that raised the entire arena. Howard Stern commended the performance as moving, reminding James that he “crushed it,” and Howie Mandel saying the acceptance that the singer had won was a gift to America beyond the America’s Got Talent rewards.