We are now close to the finals and these semi-final acts are all pretty darn good. Tonight, there wasn’t a true dog in the bunch. It’s going to be interesting to see who makes the final five to add on to last week’s five.
My guess of the top five are: Landon Swank, because he pulled off a great magic trick; Anna Graceman, because she is a cute kid who can sing; Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., because he has heart and croons Sinatra well; Smage Brothers Riding Show, because they pulled off so many dangerous acts in such a short amount of time and in such a tight space; and Sillhouettes, who benefit from a gimmicky concept, oodles of adorable kid dancers and the pimp spot.
[UPDATE 8/31/11: I got all five correct! Woohoo, as Kinetic King might say!]
I personally loved Steven Retchless but I think there is a group of people who think like Piers and he may fall just short of the necessary votes. Fatally Unique could sneak through over Smage Brothers.
Gymkana and Summerwind Skippers messed up. Kinetic King and Professor Splash are too one note. Snap Boogie didn’t bring out his best.
Here are my grades in order of appearance:
1. Kinetic King (strange novelty act) -This guy is a bit of a freak but in a good way. His act of fancy dominoes is pretty much the same concept each time. This one was a bit quicker and slicker. It’s executed well. Will he make the top 10? I’m surprised he even made it this far. Grade: B
2. Fatally Unique (dance group) - A cool “Silence of the Lambs” feel, intense dancing and dark atmospherics make this a good act, even if the actual technical execution is not at all clean. Grade: B-plus
3. Landon Swank (magician) – He’s done some good tricks and this was a foregone conclusion but executed flawlessly. It was brilliant to include the judges in pushing buttons that explode three boxes, while he’s in the fourth. He earned a top 10 spot for sure. Grade: A
4. Gymkana (gymnastics act) – This YouTube act has some amazing gymnasts and they tried to up their game with the fire ring but it backfired literally when one of the gymnasts knocked the ring down. And as Sharon said, no personality either. Game over. Grade: B-minus
5. Summerwind Skippers (jump-rope act) – I have enjoyed these guys from day one. This one didn’t quite work. There were some cool moves but they did botch a couple of moves in the end. The difficulty level is extremely high so I give them that. But I doubt they’ll be able to make it to the finals. Grade: B
6. Snap Boogie (dancer) – He is an exceptionally fun street dancer. But this routine was a bit off. I agree with Piers. The choreography wasn’t up to par. It simply was okay. Grade: B
7. Anna Graceman (singer) – AGT loves opera singers and kid singers, which is why last year, Jackie Evancho almost won. Anna has a singer songwriter vibe, though. She opts for Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” It starts strong while working the piano but when she stood up, I felt she lost a bit of her vocal control. It felt strained to me by the end, not sincere. Grade: B-plus
8. Steven Retchless (pole dancer) – Piers can’t stand this guy but I have always found him elegant and mesmerizing to watch. Again, I thought this was another fine performance. The stair stepping on the pole was very cool. He also brought in two female pole dancers. It worked. Grade: A-minus
9. Smage Brothers Riding Show (motorcycle show) – They are a stupendously good circus act and the uni-motorcycle was delightful. The danger level was high, too, which added an element of tension. Grade: A-minus
10. Professor Splash (shallow diver) – When in doubt, bring on the fire! It didn’t work for Summerwind Skippers. This dude is a great circus act, too. He simply jumps ridiculous lengths into shallow water. He plunged 70 feet at 60 miles an hour into an eight-foot pool filled with fire-lit water. He milked it by staying under the water awhile but burst out, no problemo. Grade: B-plus
11. Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. (singer) – He decided to take on his idol Frank Sinatra and pulled it off. He has finesse, he has passion, he has the voice and demographically for “AGT,” a perfect fit. Grade: A
12. Silhouettes (sillhouette dancers) – They went for another high concept, the creation of the Earth. But this one didn’t really work well. The creation of the tree was cool but the planet portion was a mess. Grade: B-minus
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog