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August 31, 2015

'America's Got Talent' - 'Episode 525' Semi-Finals Recap

by Piet Levy, posted Aug 25th 2010 10:20AM
'America's Got Talent'"For the past six weeks the acts have been battling it out for your votes." - Nick Cannon

Honestly Nick, it's felt like 60 years. My interest in "AGT" has seriously waned over the past few weeks, and my boredom transformed into anger when the semi-finals were delayed for two whole weeks by obnoxious YouTube and Wild Card specials (yes, not even little Jackie Evancho could compensate for all the tedium). On Tuesday night we finally made it to the semi-finals. But even though host Nick Cannon boasted that "the ultimate prize is closer than ever," all this episode was going to do was inspire viewers to pick five acts out of 12 amongst the 24 still eligible to make it to the final 10. It's exhausting even thinking about it.

I went into "AGT" with an open mind Tuesday, really I did. But even the judges didn't seem all that impressed by the performances. Still, during the occasional thrilling act, I was reminded why I liked this show in the first place.

- Anna and Patryk, ballroom dancers: I'll never condone "AGT" for spinning its wheels with its Wild Card week, but one bright outcome was the return of Anna and Patryk, two talented kids who earned a right back in the competition. Tonight, they gave their best performance yet (even critical judge Howie Mandel approved) with a swift, stylish pasodoble to Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi." Judge Sharon Osbourne, in her typical hyperbolic fashion, called it perfection. I wouldn't go that far, but it was definitely sharp, and Patryk cracked me up with his borderline arrogant Michael Flatley-like facial expressions.

- Christina and Ali, singers: One of the problems I have with shows like this is when acts earn a spot based on their sad back story, not their talent. This shouldn't be a charity competition, and Christina and Ali, sweet sisters that they may be, are strictly on there because they suffer from cystic fibrosis. The fact that they can sing is indeed inspiring, but do we really need to be subjected to such cheesy (and really, not all that hot) renditions of blatantly inspirational ballads like the 12-year-old "When You Believe?" Straight-talking judge Piers Morgan acknowledged the performance "wasn't great," although even he couldn't refrain from describing the performance as "inspiring."

- Antonio Restivo, magician: Speaking of inspiring, there was Antonio Restivo, a Goth-tinged magician in a WWE wrestler's body. I don't think I've ever seen a tough-looking guy cry so much. See gents, it's okay to be in touch with your feelings and still come off as macho. Restivo's act seemed like more of the same -- fire, scantily clad girls, the magician's brooding performance -- climaxing with Restivo seemingly escaping from inside a closed-up chamber before fiery spikes slammed into its sides. Howie was right on the money in calling the performance campy, but about 95 percent of 'AGT' is campy, so it works.

- Future Funk, dancers: Here's another charity case of sorts. Hip hop children's dance duo Future Funk isn't in the semifinals because of their skills, but because they're just so cute -- particularly 5-year-old Baby Boogaloo. That doesn't mean the dancers are bad -- they're quite good for their age -- but at this stage of the competition, cuteness alone shouldn't cut it. This performance, from a technical perspective, was one of Future Funk's most forgettable. Although I have to admit that while Piers was more or less justified to buzz them, I nearly shed a tear seeing the sad look on little Boogaloo's face.

- Taylor Mathews, singer: Or, as I like to call him, "that singer that wears the same style hat as Michael Grimm." That said, Mathews' style is different -- more The Fray than John Mayer -- and while he tried to change up his singer-songwriter thing with a stint at the piano and guitar-free singing at the end, he was drowned out by the gospel choir during his take of Carolina Liar's "Show Me What I'm Looking For." Maybe that was just on TV, though, 'cause the judges didn't mention the sound problems (although Howie and Piers didn't seem all that impressed). But that is definitely a big problem for Mathews as he hopes to move on.

- Connor Doran, kite flyer: The third act of the night here because of the back story, not the talent. The sweet-natured, seemingly troubled 17-year-old Doran, whose skill is flying an indoor kite choreographed to music, got a taste of criticism from Howie and Piers for performing to Owl City's "Fireflies," a song deemed too fast-paced and generic to register much emotional oomph from Doran's flying. As with Future Funk, I felt bad looking at Doran as Morgan told him he didn't feel the magic, but, then again, Morgan was completely right.

- Dan Sperry, magician: A winner from the YouTube rounds, the spiky-haired, Goth-punk Sperry made a solid first impression on 'AGT' with a grisly performance that sent Howie flying from his seat. Based on that, he was a magician to watch in a competition crowded with them. Now, he's all but guaranteed to go home due to a poorly executed illusion where Sperry seemed to cut off part of Nick Cannon's arm. (It was all too obvious that the arm Sperry sawed off was fake). Piers called it "one of the most pathetic tricks I have ever seen." Ouch. But once again, he was right. And Sperry didn't do himself any favors with his defensive response.

- Kristina Young, singer: Another YouTube act destined to go home, and the only one from the night to get buzzed by all three judges. Again, justified. Young, in an attempt to be "sexy," stumbled epically with her cabaret-style rendition of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." It. Was. Dreadful. Even the optimistic Sharon couldn't spare her from criticism, accurately calling it "really wrong." And it was actually left to Piers to offer some encouraging comments, telling her that while it was a gamble that didn't pay off, she shouldn't give up. Points to Young for calling their criticism tough but constructive.

- ArcAttack, "electrical" musicians: The Austin science nerds who make music out of electricity and traditional instruments warned that they were dealing with dangerous equipment, and so the performance couldn't be done on the AGT stage. The judges kept their distance, but how dangerous could it be with audience members standing just at the feet of the performers? This act is a bit one-note, but it is cool to see, and the spectacle factor went up a notch with the introduction of a zombie-like Bride of Frankenstein character that convulsed inside a metal cage that was continuously struck by electricity. Kudos to the actor for going all method on us and staying in zombie-like character even as the judges gave their mostly positive comments.

- Michael Grimm, singer: Or, as I like to call him, "that singer that wears the same style hat as Taylor Mathews." That said, the rootsy Grimm is definitely a much stronger singer, and tonight, he showed he could actually keep his eyes open and give an engaging performance of Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On." This was hands down the best performance of the night -- even more impressive considering Grimm was diagnosed with strep throat and forced to miss rehearsal. "I have been waiting all night, and I think the audience has been waiting all night, for a moment," Howie said. "And I think they've been waiting for you, Michael." Too bad it took 90 long minutes to reach that special moment.

- AscenDance, rock-climbing wall performers: Another act doomed by a bad song choice, Nelly Furtado's uptempo "Say It Right" didn't work with a technically strong but emotionally flat four-person dance routine choreographed on a rock-climbing wall. Sharon said it missed "danger," and Howie said the song choice took away the sexiness and strength found in the troupe's slower-paced acts.

- Prince Poppycock, singer: Tonight, we saw the real man behind the lavishly dolled-up opera singer, and a new type of performance, as the singer known for baroque renditions of Mozart tackled Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Despite his inability to shatter a vase, and an awkward moment when he pushed aside a pianist only to play a simple note or two, Poppycock owned his performance, sang admirably and earned a standing ovation from all three judges. Sharon, again with the forced hyperbole, called him "the male Lady Gaga ... a superstar." Definitely not on Gaga's level, but on a lackluster night, he was definitely one of the stars.
Five acts are moving on. My money's on ArcAttack, Michael Grimm, Prince Poppycock, Anna and Patryk and the adorable Future Funk. Who do you think will make it to the final 10?

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The worst part of AGT is freakin' Nick Cannon - he's just a terrible MC. And as for the length of time, ye gods, will AGT ever get to the final?

August 25 2010 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Watched the semi finals tonight and was puzzled by the voting. How can all three in one group be sent home and then all three in one group allowed to remain. I thought the voting was that whoever got the most votes went on,

August 25 2010 at 10:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Antonio Restivo isn't remotely entertaining. What did he do that was interesting? Pointing to timed fire effects when they go off? Pretending to be caught in chains that are simply wrapped around him? Or perhaps it was lumbering into a giant box where we couldn't see the back or bottom? Or perhaps it was the miracle of being able to stand having a clump of hair in your mouth for minutes without noticing??? I don't get his act, I guess. Talk about boring.

August 25 2010 at 5:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My picks: ArcAttack, Michael Grimm, Prince Poppycock,Antonio Restivo and AscenDance.

August 25 2010 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

you're right on who's going through, except no FutureFunk, it will be Antonio.

August 25 2010 at 2:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If by "Joe Cocker originally did" you mean FOURTEEN years after Randy Newman, you would be right.

August 25 2010 at 1:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good recap. I've also been underwhelmed with AGT this season. I agree that the season has been far too reliant on sob stories (and I still think the kids - even Anna and Patryk - should be on a separate show.) After last night, I've really some around to adoring Prince Poppycock, and I hope he wins. He's unique and has an awesome voice and, as he proved last night, he can take on more contemporary music - just as adeptly as he handled opera.

Oh...and Joe Cocker originally did "You Can Leave Your Hat On" (if you like the song, seek out Tom Jones' cover, it's a great listen!)

August 25 2010 at 10:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to xtinemichele's comment
keith Williams

I am willing to bet that Defying Gravity will win the whole competition... The show was soooo boring last night. Poppycock was the only bright spot and "wow" factor as Howie would say.

August 25 2010 at 6:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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