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MaryAnn Sleasman

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'America's Got Talent' Recap: Quarterfinal Jitters

Posted: 07/18/2012 1:20 pm

It was a night full of ups and downs on the America's Got Talent stage in Newark, New Jersey, as 12 more Vegas hopefuls brought out their best in hopes of wowing America. Unfortunately for some, the (understandable) nervousness of competing at this level simply got to them. We saw some past favorites take a few spills -- literally.

1. The Untouchables

As I've said again and again and again in the past, I just don't care for the dance crews. But I can't help but like The Untouchables. Their performances are time and again polished and exciting. Our judges unanimously showered the dance team with praise, pointing out, as always, that their flawless execution of clearly difficult dance moves is made that much more impressive by the fact that most of them are under the age of thirteen.

2. Rock Star Juggler Mike Price

I like jugglers. I know it's cheesy, but a good juggler never ceases to entertain me. Unfortunately, Mike Price never really managed to get there, mostly due to his habit of dropping whatever he was juggling at a given time. His performance started out promisingly enough: a grand entrance on a unicycle while juggling some knives... until he dropped one. A good recovery and successful bit of juggling fire couldn't cover the fact that this wasn't the first time we'd seen him falter.

3. Inspire the Fire

So, brutal honesty time here: it wasn't that great. In fact, it was kind of a disappointing act from one of the perennial favorites. But wow, did the judges favor turn fast. Howie Mandel easily gave the harshest critique when he told the perky glee club that their act wasn't work a million dollars, it was worth $125. When Sharon Osbourne misquoted his price as $150, he quickly corrected her, insisting that it was ONLY $125. Ouch, bro. I mean,I'm sick of hearing people cover "Firework" as much as anybody, but this was hardly the worst thing we've seen on the AGT stage. Still, I agree that the "fire got put out" on Tuesday night.

4. Cristin Sandu

Sandu quite literally fell during his usually impressive balancing routine and I think that those twenty seconds immediately after the fall, when he realized that a tiny slip-up had just ended his run on the show, were the hardest moments to watch of the entire evening. The judges were gracious and complimented his previous performances. Howard Stern told him that he had "plenty to be proud of."

5. Elusive

Hearing-impaired breakdancer Elusive was complimented for a fairly strong performance. Howie called him inspirational and everybody generally liked his performance. The audience gave him the first standing ovation of the night. However, the judges were cautious in their praise and Stern in particular pointed out that he didn't think Elusive's place in the semi-finals were a sure thing, that he would have to step things up significantly if he hoped to compete on the same level as fellow dancer Turf.

6. Jake Wesley Rogers

I liked his "Toxic" cover. Nobody else appeared to, but I did. Unfortunately, my love alone is not enough to propel the teenage singer with the delightfully poofy hair forward. Stern said that he felt no emotional attachment to the song. Howie didn't mind the song, but didn't care for the loungy arrangement. Sharon just plain hated the song. Still, the audience response was fairly solid, so who knows, maybe he'll get lucky.

7. All Wheel Sports

The judges often voice concern over the difficulty performers face in creating a show that is entertaining to both the live audience and the TV watching audience at home. When they talk about those challenges, they're usually talking about acts like All Wheel Sports, the gymnastics/dance/BMX fusion, and with good cause. All three judges applauded the act and claimed that they had improved a lot since their Vegas Week audition. However, as a member of the audience watching from my sofa, I didn't really feel it.

8. Wordspit and the Illest

On one hand, I applaud the musical group for having the guts to perform an original song. On the other hand, I see where the judges are coming from. Howie Mandel, in particular, hit the nail on the head with his bluntly honest admission that shows like America's Got Talent and it's talent show brethren, are essentially popularity contests. Song selection is half the battle. If the audience like's an act, but doesn't like the song that they performed, then half of the potential vote is lost. "They're not playing the game," Mandel quipped. THANK YOU, HOWIE. I always feel like that's some sort of taboo topic when it comes to reality talent shows, that the audience, more likely than not, isn't exclusively voting for a "talent" but rather for a personality, a pretty face, and certainly, a favorite song. I'm not immune to it myself. I get giddy when contestants perform songs that I'm familiar with. It's such a prevalent concept that I didn't even realize that performing original songs were an option.

Sharon agreed with Howie that the group took a big risk with an original song, but Howard loved it. He claimed that the move was a good one to show off the band's songwriting skills and musicianship. I thought it was a pretty catchy tune myself.

9. Jacob Williams

Awesomely awkward comedian Jacob Williams was clearly nervous during his latest performance, but his piece on the perils of being single was hilarious and his constantly understated delivery always makes me laugh. Both Howard and Sharon liked him, while Howie went as far as to call him "the best act of the night." Nice.

10. All Beef Patty

All Beef's "Let's Hear it for the Boy" was fun, and she certainly has an amazing voice. Sharon's comparison to Cher was spot on. However, the judges felt that All Beef's cabaret background limited her this time around by not utilizing the stage to it's fullest extent and not moving around very much during her performance, instead, relying on background dancers to build up the excitement. Howard bluntly said, "Not a Vegas act," and while Sharon agreed with her co-judges about the staging issues, she said that she hoped America voted for All Beef Patty anyway because she brings a lot to the show. I don't see it happening, though I'd be thrilled if it did.

11. Spencer Horsman

Spencer was so awesome in the past, with his death-defying escape acts. His latest escape certainly sounded good on paper -- escape from a steel strait jacket and bank bag in 45 seconds or drop out of the suspended box to be impaled on some spikes. However, in execution, most of the action took place behind a curtain, to the point that the only thing the audience saw of Spencer's escape was a shadow wiggling around before the (empty) bag landed on the spikes. Sharon flat-out called it boring. Howie went with "confusing." I'm going with "disappointing."

12. Lightwire Theater

If any act walked away from Tuesday's competition with the title of "shoo-in," I'd have to say it was Lightwire Theater. While their recently eliminated competitor fumbled through a muddled story, Lightwire premiered a cohesive, cute, and colorful new tale featuring a new duck character joining up with the pterodactyls that we've come to associate with the troupe. Our judges were rendered pretty speechless by the spectacle, describing it as "WOW," "spectacular," and "A million dollar act."

What are your thoughts? Who are you pulling for in tonight's eliminations?

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