Finally, you guys, FINALLY. America's Got Talent has entered the home stretch of this season's competition. This week it's the semifinals and the cuts are going to be brutal. Of the 12 contestants that we saw perform on Tuesday night, only three will be advancing.
The Twelve Semifinalists
William Close -- Earth Harp
Close is always entertaining to watch and Tuesday was no exception. He uses the stage well and manages to up his game in every performance without completely alienating the talent that landed him on the show to begin with. Howie Mandel declared him the judges' favorite and Stern called him a "formidable foe." They aren't wrong.
Tom Cotter -- Comedian
I've been a big Tom Cotter fan from the beginning. His delivery is spot-on and his jokes are delightfully nuanced with a great deal of word play. Tuesday's set was a special display of "comedy on demand" in which he invited Howie to choose the topic of the night from a list. Howie went with "college" and we were treated to a set featuring naked naps, piercings, and tramp stamps. Howie called him "amazing" and Howard tested his knowledge of what had to have been extensive material to cover all of the potential subjects that Howie could have chosen.
Academy of Villains -- Dance Group
The undisputed "best" act of the awful YouTube round, Academy of Villains delivered a solid performance showcasing their precise coordination -- impressive when you consider there are 30 of them flipping around the stage at any time. Though Howard claimed to be bored by their routine, Sharon Osbourne loved then and compared their choreographer to a modern day Busby Berkeley.
Eric Dittleman -- Mind Reader
Dittleman! I still have no idea how he does what he does, but it's awesome. Instructing Howard to color in his doodle from a few weeks earlier, Dittleman exercised some mind control over the audience, including the audience at home, which was a welcome gesture. Did anyone else find themselves thinking of the same shape he "projected?" After that exercise, Dittleman revealed his own version of Howard's portrait, one that he colored himself prior to the act, showing that he and Howard used the same odd colors to complete the doodle.
Edon -- Singer
Following the trend of, well, pretty much every singer on the show this season, there was nothing technically wrong with Edon's One Direction cover. He was great. However, when compared to the likes of William Close, Edon's performance simply felt lacking. Howard Stern called him a cute kid and promised that he would certainly garner a few votes form the junior high crowd. I'm always amused by how quickly everyone turns on a judge as soon as he or she is honest with the child performers.
Joe Castillo -- Sand Artist
Frankly, I've struggled to see the appeal of the sand art thing all season long. I mean, it's cool, but it just doesn't feel like a million-dollar Vegas act, you know? Sharon saw Jesus and loved it, but Howard was concerned about the fact that Castillo has basically done the same show the last three times that we've seen him. It doesn't matter if he drew animals last time and people this time -- it's all drawing in the sand to a rock song.
Turf -- Contortionist/Dancer
After being advised to add more dance to his performance the last time we saw him, Turf claimed to do just that, however both Howard Stern and I were hard-pressed to see it. Turf's show was solid, as usual, but to an extent, that "business as usual" vibe made me a little bored. Howie begged for votes and I'd be okay with Turf gaining enough make it to through to the finals, but I'd also understand if he was sent home too.
The Scott Brothers -- Dancers
Another dance group, the Scott Brothers, faced a similar problem as Turf. Their robot routine was technically well done, technically flawless, but I felt like everything that they did was something that we had seen before. It wasn't a stand-out performance.
Todd Oliver -- Dog Ventriloqust
Oliver and his puppy-puppet, Irving, have been another act that, despite the judges' adoration and support, I just never really got. I blame a lot of that on the fact that using a live animal as a puppet just seems kind of awful to me. Anyway, Oliver's performance was a Tonight Show spoof where he was Jay Leno and Irving was his celebrity guest. Again, the judges loved it, but I thought the material about dogs eating their own poop was kind of weak.
Andrew DeLeon -- Opera Singer
Wow, the judges' favor can turn against a contestant quickly, can't it? Despite the audience very vocally enjoying DeLeon's rendition of "Ave Maria," our three judges seemed rather lukewarm on the act. Stern thought the whole thing was strange, Howie voiced concern over the lack of formal training, but Sharon was the one to really sink her claws in, claiming that she had re-watched all of the footage of Andrew's previous performances and found him to be "off" vocally. To add further insult to injury, she advised him to ditch the whole goth thing if he hoped to be taken seriously, despite the whole "goth thing" being part of his initial appeal. I think someone needs to sit Sharon down and go through some reruns of The Osbournes before she makes anymore comments about not being taken seriously based on looks.
Donovan and Rebecca -- Aerialists
Another one of my regular favorites, Donovan and Rebecca continued to make their balancing tricks look far easier than they really are, incorporating a rather scary looking neck hang and ditching their glittery ethereal costumes for black leather and studs. The general consensus among the judges was "amazing" and "fantastic."
Bria Kelly -- Singer
The same could not be said for another YouTube refugee, Bria Kelly, whose cover of Pink's "Perfect" was vocally fine, but generally boring as far as stage presence goes. Sharon lamented the lack of emotion in what is, in actuality, a very emotional song. Despite being a capable vocalist, Kelly's performance just wasn't a stand-out show.
So, who did you vote for? Who are you crossing your fingers for? Or, who do you think will actually make the cut?
I'm leaning toward William Close, Eric Dittleman, and Donovan and Rebecca. It's going to be a tight race.
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