We've laughed, we've cheered and we've cried (a lot). But, alas, yet another round of America's Got Talent
auditions is about to come to a close. Before we move on to the season 12 Judge Cuts, though, we've got one last batch of optimistic dreamers ready to lay it all on the line for a shot at fame and fortune.
And let's not forget that Heidi Klum's golden buzzer is still on the table, both physically and metaphorically. New host Tyra Banks broke ranks to send a dance crew straight through to the live shows, but three judges went the traditional route in advancing some variety of vocalist.
Simon Cowell pressed his for singer/songwriter Mandy Harvey, who lost her hearing while training in a music academy. Mel B. sent through 12-year-old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer and her puppet, Petunia. And Howie Mandel sent golden confetti raining down on the stage for 16-year-old Christian Guardino, who regained his sight thanks to an experimental procedure.
Yes, that's right. The trio of celebrities saw hundreds of performers and literally singled out the deaf, the dum(my) and the blind. And if that's not a proper way to kick off the final installment of the good, the bad and the utterly absurd, then I should quit writing.
5 Alive is an overconfident parody of a boy band hoping to fill the void left by NSYNC and Backstreet Boys' ascension into middle age. It's likely they're going to be terrible when they can't harmonize in the warm-up, but the stereotyped personas sing and dance admirably during a medley of classics. Only Mel is blown away, but they all agree that the guys are fun, even if Simon only enjoys how much he hates their act.
Who doesn't love an Argentinian dance crew? The German Cornejos Dance Company is made up of seven couples who infuse ballet, jazz and South American flair into the Tango. They're skilled, spicy and sexy, but it's slow moving and boring with a handful of timing issues. The praise seems overblown.
Angelina Green is bursting with excitement and nerves as she hits the stage. But, hey, she's only 13. She got serious about singing after her dad skipped out on the family and left them with nothing, so her rendition of The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You" is all about mom.
There are pitchy moments, and while it's spectacular when she opens up her range, she visibly struggles to reign it in during the restrained moments. It's not that she lacks the control, but it appears the music is actually trying to explode from her body, and it's taking every ounce of her energy not to spontaneously combust.
The talent is there even if she doesn't know how to use it yet, but I'm not sure she's worth the golden buzzer Heidi gives her ... which of course goes to another singer with an emotional backstory. These judges are such suckers.
A group of dancers who call themselves Brobots and Mandroids flip around the stage in American flag T-shirts.
Harrison Greenbaum is a goody two-shoes valedictorian who went to Harvard and gave it all up for stand-up comedy. He's apparently been doing 600 shows a year for the past 12 years, so hopefully he's pretty good. Annnnnnnd, yes, he is. Seasoned like a quality piece of meat.
In an ode to core strength, a collection of hand balancing contortionists includes:
--A young guy (Clark Gatson)
--A well-dressed guy who does the handstand-with-one-finger-in-a-champagne-bottle trick
--A half-naked guy (Yosein Chee) who balances on the end of a sword he's holding in his mouth
The montage ends with Inka Tiitto, who flips around in a wind chamber while wearing a sleek spacesuit. It's zero-gravity choreography to music.
Newlywed Jonathan Rinny hasn't yet told his mother-in-law she's his mother-in-law, as the folks watch AGT but don't believe what he does for a living is good enough for their daughter. It's rolla bolla with skateboards instead of the usual planks, and he follows up the first trick by climbing atop the tallest totem I can recall. Rolla bolla doesn't get the respect it deserves and never goes far, but every year we find a maniac performer who manages to up the ante.
Mike Yung has been singing on New York City subways for 37 years, and while his pipes are solid and sweet, he sounds like most every performer trying to make a buck during my evening commute. It's overdone, with every note possible crammed into each overrun, and he gets mixed reviews and ultimately another shot at being a big stage singer.
A martial-arts projection dancers interacts with flashing lights behind him while telling a story of awakening and freeing an alter-ego. Could Canion Shijirbat be the next Kenichi Ebina? Perhaps with more elaborate moves and backdrops, but it's a good start.
Danylo and Oskar are a father/8-year-old son strongman duo, with pops holding Oskar's feet while twisting and flipping him into various positions. I initially thought they were going to be doing dueling strip teases, meaning half of me was terrified and the other half hopeful for a Swayze-Farley parody.
Twins Trent and Colton Edwards are Mirror Image, and they claim to have the voices of Stevie, the moves of Justin and the charisma of Missy. None of that is remotely true, but they certainly pack the sass with enough fierce faces to scare off a kindergarten class. They sing fine and dance ridiculously enough to be entertaining, but I wish I could've put them in the "bad" category. Simon is on my side.
Capping off the show is Dr. Brandon Rogers
, an inspiring young singer who practiced family medicine and tragically passed away shortly after his audition. He has a musical background, even performing on stage with Boyz II Men, and his family requested that his segment still run. You can read more about his history by clicking here
, or simply enjoy his final performance in what is a fitting tribute to all that he brought to this world in his far-too-few 29 years.
More often than not, AGT saves a volume of the most outrageous acts for the final audition show, cramming in as much silliness as possible. And a montage of ridiculous rejected dancers includes:
-- A large woman in fishnets who emerges from a giant cardboard box
-- An older lady in a track suit wearing a "dope" necklace
-- A large guy in a unitard who drops his baton
-- A guy dancing with a dummy
-- A guy in a leprechaun costume
-- Another older lady, but this one is also twirling flaming balls on chains
-- A pole dancer in an inflatable velociraptor costume
Vispi and Team India claim to have the most dangerous act ever performed on the stage of Americas Got Talent, and considering that the buff dude has phallic vegetables taped all over his body, how could they not? Vispi pulls out a samurai sword, blindfolds himself and proceeds to Fruit Ninja the f*** out of his assistant.
Vispi hacks away at the shoulders, chest and legs of the poor guy, who visibly grimaces as each whack leaves a bloody slash across his body. The best and worst part of this routine is the absolutely terrified look on the assistant's face as Vispi finishes off by slicing a small bit of fruit on his neck. Simon is in awe, but it's three X's.
Stand-up comic Tony Bologna is so bad that Mel B. hits all four buzzers herself.
A chick in a leather cat suit meekly sings Britney's "Toxic" while rocking out on a bedazzled ukulele.
An older lady straight out of the wild west dubs herself The Breath Mint Bandit, insults the audience members' stinky breath and hurls Certs at them.
The Quiddlers are dressed like full-size versions of The Village People, but after a quick trip down an escalator, they emerge as miniature copies dancing around to "YMCA." It's like they looked at those dog Halloween costumes that turn pooches into a mobile teddy bears and made grownup ones. It's hilarious and silly but probably a bit offensive as well. If they do the same thing next time, they're goners.
A woman with a thick accent identifies herself as Victoria Gonzalez and does a puppet show with her dressed-up feet as the characters.
A large school administrator in a tiny outfit (Aileen George) dances on a pole. That is all.
Send in the Clowns
I don't know if there are any surefire contenders in the bunch, but comedian Harrison Greenbaum, air dancer Inka Tiitto and projection dancer Canion Shijirbat likely have the best chances to make an extended run.
Sure, he was saved by a wildcard he never should have needed in the first place, but we still must rely on this quartet of justice to advance the best and brightest until we get to take over and screw things up on our own.
Who were your favorites out of this group and who do you think has the best shot at winning? What did you think of The Quiddlers, and did Heidi waste her golden buzzer? Finally, what are your thoughts on AGT closing out the auditions with the late doctor who seemingly had such a zest for life and enthusiasm in bringing joy and healing to others? There was talk of whether or not it would air, but for me it was the classy way to honor his life and leave a legacy.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)