A few of the most over-rated acts in my mind showed up Tuesday. Some, like iLuminate, pull it off and exceed my expectation. Others, like opera singer Lys Agnes, befuddle me. The biggest disappointment for everyone? Sandou Trio Russian Bar for dumping the bar and the woman’s barely there vocals.
Here are the top four who will make it through in my estimation: Lys Agnes, because “America’s Got Talent” voters loves this stuff, even if it’s just mediocre. iLuminate is an easy gimme. POPLYFE brought out their best and deserve a spot in the finals. And since singers tend to do better than dancers in this competition, Daniel Joseph Baker will just beat out West Springfield Dance Team for the final spot.
[UPDATE: 8/24/11: I didn't realize it would be five acts making it to the finals instead of four. I discounted Miami All Stars and completely missed them. They made it through. I was spot on with Lys Agnes, iLuminate and POPLYFE. They were gimmes. I picked the final two correctly, but the judges chose West Springfield over Baker. But I'll give myself credit for four out of five since I chose a top 5 thinking there were only four spots.]
1- Zuma Zuma (dance group) – These Kenyans with bendable bodies threw out more impressive gymnastic stunts. As Howie and Sharon noted, the energy level seemed a little lower than in the past but I agree with Piers: it was truly entertaining. Grade: B-plus/A-minus
2- Beth Ann Robinson (solo dancer) – The only solo dancer left in the group via YouTube, this 14 year old is quite good. She is undoubtedly talented. But are her skills going to get her to the finals? I can’t see it. Grade: B
3- Sandou Trio Russian Bar (acrobats) – This Texas group decided to dump the Russian bar, the reason people got them through. But the group decided to people have seen that enough times so they are opting to sing instead to show their versatility. Her voice, unfortunately, is too thin. And what was the point of her piano going upside down? “Biggest suicide mission I’ve ever seen on the show,” Piers said. Grade: C
4 – Kevin Colis (singer) – He takes a wimpy Plain White T’s song and starts out weakly but sounds okay by the end. He isn’t quite ready for primetime. Grade: B-minus
5- Matt Wilhelm (blacklight stunt cyclist) – This is definitely a cool act for 90 seconds but as Piers noted, it isn’t something that you can watch for a long time. He does some amazing tricks. He fell, unfortunately. Grade: B
6- POPLYFE (band) – I understand this teen band’s appeal but I haven’t ever been sold up to this point. They chose a Beatles song “Come Together” and hit it. They sold me. They filled the entire stage. Impressive. Grade: A-minus
7. West Springfield Dance Team (dance) – The horror concept is cool. The costumes are great. The dancing? Just meh to me. Grade: B
8. Melissa Vellasensor (impressionist) – She never impressed me with her impressions. She’s really not that funny. What’s she doing here? Oh, right. She’s adorable. Her Sarah Silverman was horrid. Wanda Sykes? Almost tolerable. Shakira? My wife giggled. Christina Aguilera was her best. A mixed bag. Grade: B-minus
9. Team iLuminate (Glow-light dance troupe) – This group was hyped to high heaven up to this point. I wasn’t quite as taken given that there was a similar group last year. But this particular night was well executed and clean. The “video-game” concept worked well and was fun. Grade: A
10 – Daniel Joseph Baker (singer) – He brings Sharon Osbourne to tears with his defiant, earnest performance. Grade: B-plus
11- Miami All-Stars (dance troupe) – This huge Latin dance crew gave us a very busy, very stylized, very cool routine. Grade: B-plus
12- Lys Agnes (opera singer) – I find her a bit chilly. And this cover of the Evanescence song “Bring Me to Life” does nothing for me at all. But “America’s Got Talent” loves pop opera and she gets a standing ovation. I don’t get it at all. Grade: C-plus
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog