Different than some of its talent TV competitors, America's Got Talent goes for something outside the traditional formula for seeking undiscovered gems in need of a big break. That also applies to the timing of the voting revelations, because in no time Wednesday, two of the most memorable artists from week's quarterfinals performances, Turf and Tim Hockenberry stood before their audience of millions awaiting the vote of truth. The judges were torn beyond words, as Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, and Sharon Osbourne seemed as compelled and captivated by the swift call as everyone else. When Nick Cannon gave the affirmative news that both these men from different genres and generations would be semifinalists, the joy was palpable, and Howie Mandel thanked America, saying the voters "did my job." Howie played some of his trademark hijinks on the talents, posing as a staff at their hotel, likely to leave some smiles before the hard choices came. Moving on from the verbal battles of the prior evening, the panel appeared committed to more pleasant commentary, and Gavin DeGraw's performance of his new album's title track, "Sweeter," with its theme of appreciating others in life seemed most apropos.
A quartet of very different acts who each had their troubles came up next to center stage. The Lisa Clark Dancers, The retro boy rockers, The All Ways, the Aurora Light Painters, and Howie Mandel hero, Big Barry all faced their verdict. It was perplexing that Howard Stern scolded Howie's critique of the Lisa Clark Dancers' routine as being like a "recital," but he had no problem calling out the Aurora Light Painters as "hippies" who needed to know better! Howard's mom liked the toe-tapping young troupe, so maybe that was the difference! The hard truth came that none of these four were going forward, and Mr. Stern made an effort to let Big Barry know there were no hard feelings for him personally, but his talents could only be appreciated by the hard of hearing!
Comedian Tom Cotter, Chinese acrobats, LionDanceMe, and North Carolina illusionists, Hawley Magic, all made their way to the stage for their vote. LionDanceMe had an underappreciated routine, despite its danger, as judges declared they needed more sizzle and diversity. Daring and dashing as their sword spinning illusion was, Hawley Magic had too high of a cheese quotient, in the panel's estimation. In contrast, Tom Cotter's rapid-fire routine playing on perplexing expressions was called "perfection," and America agreed, because the 48-year-old's delivery and expertise got him a semifinal slot and a sweet moment of celebration!
Last season's America's Got Talent alums, Traces, took to the stage with their own spellbinding version of the Olympic trials, before crossbow shooter Ben Blaque, strong and sentimental acrobats Donovan and Rebecca, and 14-year-old Danielle Stallings stood for the evening's final decision. Nick Cannon revealed that Ben Blaque would be heading home before the judges were called to deliberate the final vote. Blaque's daring skill in preserving the life of his assistant, Devon through three auditions had made him a favorite of the judges and Twitter fans, and this final remarks were that he had already lived his dream in "performing before America," and there is no doubt his phone will be ringing for more engagements now.
Donovan and Rebecca and the lovely teen, Danielle Stallings, stood for the panel's decision. In very similar language, each judge praised the acrobatic pair for their unique combination of pure strength, beauty, and romance, as each week, they delivered a fresh, new display. Sharon Osbourne rightly remarked that only on America's Got Talent's stage could an act like theirs be appreciated. Everyone on the panel praised the poise and polish of Danielle, reassuring her that her future was bright in finding stardom and defining her own gift. Howard and Howie cast their votes for Donovan and Rebecca, as Sharon gave Danielle hers. The young singer was visibly shaken with the news, as Donovan and Rebecca beamed in their words of gratitude. Another great group of semifinalists goes forward in Turf, Tim, Tom, Donovan and his pretty and pretty strong partner, Rebecca.