Season 9 of America’s Got Talent has dived right into the talent pool week after week, with much less time spent on frivolous and flatly ungifted. This week was no exception in the city of dreams, with its sidewalk of stars, and Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Mel B got their share of exercise from offering ovations, and even a good share of hugs!
Emily West was dressed like a starlet from the Golden Age of Hollywood in her black lace and red ensemble, her hair coiffed something like Carole Lombard, as she began “Sea of Love.” She was completely at ease in her nostalgic performance, perfectly in the niche, and perfectly on pitch. Howard Stern called her “magnificent– I love you,” as Howie Mandel echoed the same. “You know how to sing,” Heidi Klum praised, while Mel B loved her persona as “old Hollywood.” Audiences and viewers will be be seeing more of Crystal Feet, a pair of female balancing acrobats, who certainly impressed the judges. Carly Jo Jackson has the look and the voice of someone who wants to be around the stage for a long time, and she’ll be away from the coffeehouse circuit real soon. Uli, the amazing table juggler who carried on her family tradition, wowed the panel, too, as she twirled a red table with her feet, Baile ConMigo from New Jersey performed superspeed salsa, and truly sizzled! Heidi Klum and Mel B both gave ovations, and Howie Mandel called the number “salsa on caffeine” while Howard Stern praised the speed and accuracy as “something different.” After a brief interlude of humor with Howie giving tourists the Hollywood walk of his own star, Rachel Butera came out swinging with something unique of her own, putting together a space Odyssey with voices of Wanda Sykes, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, and Joan Rivers, and she got everyone rolling. The comedienne had been a guest on Howard’s radio program, so he abstained from voting, but not from his affection and pride for her. Standing ovations were in order once more, and Mel B told Rachel that she “blew my head off, literally” to much teasing from Howie! Heidi gave her credit for putting so much material into her 90 seconds.
Legacy wasn’t very warmly received on stage, as the foursome of technology geeks introduced themselves by profession, but singers by passion. Howard Stern lambasted Mel B for even prompting them to talk about themselves! As soon as notes came out of those harmonious mouths, though, delivering a mesmerizing doo-wop in perfect, polished synchronization, yawns from the audience ceased, and the panel’s jaws dropped in unison! Mel B loved their “Who’s Loving You,” and claimed she had a sixth sense after Howard said he owed her and the group an apology, saying they were “godlike” as performers. Howie Mandel gave an ovation, and Heidi said they were really good. Who said that guys with pocket protectors couldn’t belt it? Mat Franco is a marvel of a young magician, and he proved it with his close-up magic tale of America’s Got Talent and each one of the judges, matching numbers to details in perfect synchronicity with his deck, even including head shots! None of the judges could say enough praise, apart from passing Mat unanimously through for the live shows. Paul Ieti served in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. Army, where music was “a comfort zone” for him and fellow soldiers. Everyone honored his service, but there was some hesitation when his music started, some of the panel wondering if he missed his start. When Rihanna’s “Stay” started to flow from his lips, every doubt was erased, and wide-eyed looks of admiration appeared. Mel B raced to the stage to hug the young man first, followed by Heidi, and then, even Howard! The soldier’s emotion was raw and real, and Howie Mandel gave a full salute as he departed the stage to the lingering applause from the crowd. There was a limo chatter comparison, demonstrating the small talk of the ladies and the guys silence getting to the auditorium. Christian Stoinev showed that he had more than a little something extra as a hand balancer. Within minutes, he was supporting his whole weight on one finger in a wine bottle! He followed that by becoming shirtless, to the ladies’ delight, and switching his whole weight from one arm to the next on single poles. Howard teased about taking off his shirt, but couldn’t take anything away from the talent. Heidi Klum and Mel B appreciated the added drama of the bare chest, and Howie was sufficiently impressed overall.
Coming weeks will offer more footage from a wire walker, Bad Boy Ballet, and two brothers very definitely in harmony, one on guitar, the other on drums. Grace Ann Gregorio is going to be a top contender, with her soaring soprano at only 14. Maggie Lane also sings opera, and she also wasted no time in stripping down to her bikini body before all the world! Howie particularly admired the performance, admittedly not listening to much of the song! Heidi and Mel B approved of both her voice and her va-voom, but Howard felt distracted by her choice of dress. Still, Maggie will be moving on. The Dr. Benji was dressed in the nines, but his Auto-tune vocal track was audibly awful, and the horror was soon over with X’s. The Magical Voice Doctor did her best to teach Howard to sing, but The Sound of Music is hardly Howard’s style, and he pleaded with Heidi to put both he and his teacher out of their misery! A Rubik’s cube whiz kid made it through, and another amazing preteen, Josh Orlion, summoned the strength at 12 to debut as a standup comic! Nerves took some time to settle, but when this kid got in his groove, he delivered a gutsy, gritty, and downright dirty routine, but it was funny as all get out, and kept his audience! It was even the first time his mom had heard the jokes. Call him the Andrew Dice Clay of pre-pubescence, but his fresh material hits the funny bone along with private parts!
Laura Dasi was the evening’s final performer, and the aerialist who emerged into performing after her battles with alopecia perfectly demonstrated that she could create a thing of beauty by hanging from a single sash. Unfurling herself to the heartfelt lyrics of John Legend’s “All of Me,” Laura personified delicate beauty that moved everyone watching, particularly the four seated to judge. Every one of them praised her as “beautiful” and courageous for “opening herself up” about her struggle. Beauty starts from within.
Sunday, there will be a special show stopper offering of performances starting at 9 PM ET. Danger acts captivate viewers and the panel, so don’t miss performances that might not be seen again!
America’s Got Talent broadcast, June 17, 2014 NBC Networks.