Most of these acts are pretty good, but there were specific reasons why most didn’t make it into the semifinals in the first place. So I gave most of acts grades in the B-minus to B-plus range.
But the last two, as the producers clearly knew, were slightly better.
So here are the four I think will go through:
Landon Swank, the magician, performed his trick with precision and professionalism. He’s in. The Summerwind Skippers are exceptional and fun. I say they go through, too. People like musicians and there were three acts tonight. The Fiddleheads were the best of the three. I put them in, even if I wasn’t favoring the lone Georgia act. Fourth? Tough call. I think it will be between West Springfield Dance Team and Yellow Design Stunt Team. I bet the judges will pick Yellow Design Stunt Team.
[UPDATE 8/17: I only got two of the final four correct. I really didn't think West Springfield Dance Team would make it through but they did. The Fiddleheads didn't make the cut, a bit of a surprise to me. Glad to see Landon and the Summerwind Skippers make it through. I didn't think Kinetic King had a chance and surprise! He made it through, too. So in the end, I only got 16 out of 24 right, or a 67% barely passing grade.]
1- The Kinetic King (trick designer/Piers pick) – His last effort was one of the biggest disasters in AGT history. It simply did not work at all. This time, he made it more fool proof and it worked. It was a bit dopey and slow to me but it at least worked. And the nerdy professor is a funny goofball. Grade: B
2- Those Funny Little People (novelty dancers/performers/ Howie pick) -This group really has very little discernible “talent” but they are cute and oddly mesmerizing to watch for 90 seconds. And they annoy the heck out of Piers Morgan, which is why Howie brought them back. As Howie said, Piers’ reaction to them is even more entertaining than the group itself. Grade: B+
3- Avery and the Calico Hearts (little girl singing trio/ Sharon pick) – These young ladies are cute but as Piers noted last time around, they really aren’t ready vocally for the big stage. And even as they did a current song in “Dynamite,” the same problem cropped up again though the lead singer didn’t sound like a chipmunk this time. Grade: C-plus
4- Seth Grabel (magician/ Howie pick) – This dude has generally decent charisma and a good look for a magician. His move with the hoop was intriguing for about 10 seconds but this was more show than substance, even with the gimmick of three “mini” judges popping up at the end. Grade: B
5- Shevonee (singer/ Sharon pick) – She is the only one who wasn’t even in the quarterfinals, cut during Vegas. She has the look and personality of a star. Her vocals? Meh. Too bad. Grade: C-plus
6- West Springfield Dance Team (dance/Sharon pick) – They’ve got the “Thriller” feel down pat. So atmospherically, this works well. But their choreography isn’t complex enough to make this more than an okay act. Grade: B-minus
7- J. Chris Newberg (comic/Howie pick) -This time around, instead of novelty songs, he opted for a “roast” of Piers Morgan. He even had the cojones to reference the phone hacking scandal in England, which Morgan has insisted he had no part of. While that joke wasn’t funny and a few were really old, he garnered a few good laughs. Grade: B
8. Yellow Design Stunt Team (stunt bikers/ Sharon pick) – I actually saw these guys live at the Fox Theatre in March. They are pretty darn good at their craft. This time, they brought a pirate theme. How that ties into bikes? Who knows? The tricks are fun but repetitive to a degree. They dress it up with dancers and costumes and a lot of activity. Grade: B
9- Charles Peachock (juggler/ Piers pick) – The last time he was on, Sharon and Piers didn’t like him. But Piers was a fierce defender. He juggled fire. He then tried swords while balancing two swords on his head. This looked incredibly difficult. Unfortunately, he dropped a sword. Bummer. Grade: B
10 – The Fiddleheads (bluegrass band/ Howie pick) -Georgia’s last hope slipped up during their quarterfinal effort by picking a Michael Jackson song that didn’t really work with the lead singer. This effort to merge contemporary music with bluegrass sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. In this case, I’m actually on the fence. The lead singer Adam Kersh is pretty good but he didn’t add anything new to the record version. And the bluegrass flavorings were just that, flavorings, nothing more. Grade: B
11. Summerwind Skippers (skip roping team/ Piers pick) – Despite the dork factor of jump roping (Rocky notwithstanding), this Boise, Id. group is hot. I have always liked them and they should have been in the semifinals in the first place. I think they earned it this time for sure with the fire roping. Grade: A-minus
12. Landon Swank (magician/ Piers pick) – This is a classic Houdini underwater trick. We’ve seen it before. It’s still tough and dangerous and he executes it flawlessly. So it depends on your need for novelty. This was not novel. Grade: A-minus
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog