America's Got Talent got off to a congenial start with hopeful words for the dozen acts taking the stage for the third round of the show's quarterfinals this week, and even a toast from Howard Stern as Nick Cannon introduced the panel as the best judges on talent TV. The night had its share of ups and downs, and some acts gambled big in going for a lasting impression. Which ones brought the panel and the public to their feet?
The youthful zest of The Untouchables proved an irresistible opening for the night, as these super-talented kids from 8-14 danced with Vegas polish! Costumed like banana trees, their tooshy-shakes and toes on target choreography captured ultimate praise from the panel. Howard Stern reminded that dance was this year's toughest category, but deemed these kids "inspiring." Howie Mandel called them already "professional" in their poise and presentation, as Sharon Osbourne simply said "you make me feel good" to this tween gang of salsa sizzlers. Rock Star Juggler Mike Price had big plans for his torch tossing on unicycle to the screams of The Who, but pressure caused his precision coordination to crumble, and across the board, his dreams fell along with his knives and other objects, and his hopes for the million went up in the flames that continued burning in a trash can. Inspire the Fire encapsulates all that makes America's Got Talent a special showcase. Their mission to reach youth through the arts and "set hearts ablaze" is beyond admirable, but the troupe's endearing qualities couldn't overcome an overdone song choice in Katy Perry's "Firework," and the fire to propel them on by the panel was extinguished. Sharon Osbourne said their routine revealed lost innocence, and Howie Mandel's cut was the deepest, declaring that this performance $125, not $1 million. Their final remarks were full of grace, and encouragement to their hometown South Carolina youth never "lose their fire" and hold their dream. Regardless of the vote, let's hope their mission gains strong new support. Cristin Sandu, who has displayed amazing athleticism along with courage through his balancing atop a smattering of small boards and rolling cans, couldn't stand the tension this time, and took his first tumble before his act even began. He left with the panel's full admiration and support, all praising his talent and his future profession in medicine.
Elusive was the first act to bring any in the crowd to their feet, as the hearing-impaired beat dancer displayed his brute strength to funky James Brown, walking up some stairs on his hands! While Howie Mandel and Howard Stern applauded his strength and inspiring story, they cautioned that Turf was his main competition contender, and he had to step up his moves and originality to stay in the game. Sharon Osbourne favorite, Jake Wesley Rogers, still had her support following his stripped-down Britney Spears song "Toxic," but the ballad choice was way too bland for her, Howard, and Howie, who still loved the boy's big hair. The 15-year-old Missouri boy has great vocal ability, but maybe not mass appeal for America. All Wheel Sports had their moment at last, showing off their fusion of gymnastics, dance, skateboarding, and cycle maneuvers altogether. They got an ovation and praise that they were a "headline act" from Howie Mandel, and Howard Stern said the small stage helped their action filled act, as Sharon concluded they "perfectly" brought their elements together. Howie Mandel implored America to trust the panel on this group deserving a vote, not sure if they translated to the small screen well. The tally will tell tomorrow. Wordspit and the Illest has had the judges raving since their New York audition. This unique fusion band of rap, rock, and jazz took a huge gamble in performing their own composition, "Lights Cameras Flashin," over a known song at this stage, but the crowd still felt their passion. Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel criticized that the choice could cost them, saying those at home couldn't feel the crowd, but Howard Stern stayed firm in his approval.
Quirky but so clever comic Jacob Williams did a soliloquy on the single life, and left Howard Stern raving that his "likability was off the charts" and Howie Mandel agreed with an audience shoutout that Jacob was "best of the night" at that point, as Mrs. O only said she still "liked" this awkward boy with true comedic timing. Nothing about drag singer, All Beef Patty, was moving in her quarterfinal performance, including her! Her costume was a dazzling Nikki Manaj knockoff, but there was no life to her song, no matter how Sharon said she lifted the show, and she's likely left the big stage for now. Spencer Horsman has been captivating in his last-second magic at escaping his own traps, but this time, his straitjacket out of the bank bag was called "clever but boring" because the audience could see his defying struggles behind a screen, and he lost some of his sensation in translation. The Lightwire Theatre capped the night with a tremendous but tender story in light of a duck that joins with some huge pterodactyls in dance, and still lives to waddle away. The spectacle brought the first judges' standing ovation, as Howie raved that these performers "brought it home." Sharon Osbourne said they were "spectacular," and Howard Stern said there were "no if's, and's, or but's" that they were a million-dollar act.
Predictions for the four semifinalists from this group:
Wordspit and the Illest
See who America chooses tomorrow!