After last year’s impressive array of talent, this first half of the 48 has been exceedingly disappointing. Last week was weak. This week was not any better. The only truly memorable act came at the end.
Two factors hurt many of these acts. This is the first time we are watching them live. Some wilted under the big spotlight. For a few acts, especially the roping duo, it’s obvious they couldn’t step it up and had used up their best moments already. The four singing acts were serious letdowns especially since singers tend to have an advantage in the voting at this stage and just being good is often good enough.
Who will make it through? The Silhouettes, using the gimmick of a shadow screen, are the easiest pick. Go America! They brought it home at the right moment. The Smage Brothers Riding Show will certainly make it given the danger factor. Landon Swank, the magician, did enough, given the competition. And for pure beauty, I will give the final slot to Steven Retchless, the pole dancer.
[UPDATE: July 20: For the second week in a row, I got three out of four correct. Daniel Joseph Baker, the best of the four singers, made it through, no problem. The Smage Brothers just barely beat out magician Landon Swank. Swank's trick, I think, lacked enough style, even if it was rather cool. Piers preferred Landon. Sharon and Howie picked Smage. The poll on the left reflected the actual results with the correct top 5.]
Attack Dance Crew (dance group) – They did a decent job. It held my attention. But this wouldn’t have even gotten them past the first round of “America’s Next Dance Crew,” where much better dance groups reside. Adequacy could get them to the next round if this is as weak a crew as last week. B
Dani Shay (singer) – The Justin Bieber look-a-like did a great “Baby” during her audition. She’s appealing visually and is very warm. But vocally, this was a weak performance of David Gray’s “Babylon.” She was shaky and off key at many times. I can’t see her moving on. B-minus
Geechy Guy (stand-up comic) - This man does dopey one-liners with a scintilla of charm. Howie didn’t think he was good enough to move on but he deserves to “make a living.” “One of the single least funny things I’ve ever had to watch,” Piers said There is no reason why he should move through. C-plus
Daniel Joseph Baker (singer) – A gay man from a small town with no stage experience, Baker opts for Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” (rather than taking the more obvious “Born This Way”). This is his first big live show. Relatively speaking, he does a pretty good job given his amateur status. He’s the anti-”The Voice.” Howie dubs him “Lady GuyGuy.” B
The Rhinestone Ropers (circus act) – With only 90 seconds, you have to hit the viewers quickly. Using the horse Lucky Joe instead of knives and guns didn’t work. His little tricks were too underwhelming for the big stage. “It wasn’t exciting,” Sharon said. “It was nice, more like a kids’ birthday party.” Piers: “You completely blew it.” D
Dylan Andre(singer) – He has sung for only a year. Yes, another true amateur. And it sounded like it. He opted for John Mayer’s “Daughters.” It was very shaky. He was nervous. As Piers said, “It’s perfectly pleasant. I can listen to you in a bar. But you’re not a million dollar act.” B-minus
Landon Swank (magician) – He goes through glass! It was actually impressive. “Clever,” Piers said. “I was confused,” Sharon said. “The presentation wasn’t as slick” as his previous efforts, Howie said. B-plus
Smage Brothers Riding Show (motorcycle act) – This was similar to the original audition but they did up the ante near the end riding around the dude lying on the floor. “It’s difficult to do this in a confined space,” Piers said. “Great act.” Indeed, given how relatively weak tonight’s acts have been, they are the cream of the crop so far. B-plus
Thomas John (comedic juggler) – This was a mess. It was cheesy and lacked any pizazz. Then he dropped a club, which guaranteed a buzz from Piers. At the end, he was on a balanced plank and tried to juggle five clubs. He failed. D
Steven Retchless (male pole dancer) – This guy can put on a show with incredible athleticism. Piers, possibly uncomfortable with the homo-erotic nature of the act, buzzed him again. “There is a reason there are no male pole dancing clubs in America,” he said. Sharon disagreed: “That was spectacular!” A-minus
Mona Lisa (singing duo) – This Houston combo opts for a classic Rascal Flatts song, an unusual pick. Compared to the previous three musical acts, they aren’t bad. It’s sweet in a mild way, not spicy or gut-wrenching. B
Silhouettes (visual performers) – They get points for using the patriotism theme. How can you lose with that? They create shapes like Mt. Rushmore and the Capitol and even evoke the World Trade Center. I have to admit: I got a lump in my throat at that. “That was complete genius,” said Brit Piers. “I loved it. A world-class act.” A
By Rodney Ho, email@example.com, AJCRadioTV blog