America’s Got Talent is ever among the purest delights of television, much less a sign that summer has truly commenced, and Season 9 opened this week with Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Howie Mandel taking their familiar seats, but a surprise button to push beside the dreaded red X. Dapper dressed host, Nick Cannon, announced the arrival of the Golden Buzzer, which may be used by each judge only once per season to override the vote and save any act. It didn’t even take the full premiere episode to put it to use, either! The excitement akin to a Madison Square Garden event only added to the excitement to welcome the waiting performers. The competition has always been “out-of-the-box” with its offerings of surprise and spontaneity, and the fun started right away.
Nine-year-old Adrian Romoff could be called precocious, if he wasn’t so darn good at his piano keyboard, and conversation, too! The Atlanta youngster has already skipped to 10th grade next year, and has no problem noting how good his talent is “according to reality,” as he quickly reminded Mel B. Howard Stern wondered if Adrian had true talent or just good tracks programmed into his instrument, until a second selection was performed, and Howard affirmed “you cleared my confusion.” Howie Mandel was bouncing for joy throughout the performance, offering that “the UK has Harry Potter, and we have you,” while Heidi and Mel B were as taken with Adrian’s conversation as with his keyboard skills. Some sparkling speed cloggers made the cut, as did a super good acrobatic couple, and a dancing troupe decked in stars that everyone will be seeing more of later. For a good stretch, it seemed comedy was not King for this night, but then Dan Naturman took the stage with his quick-fire shtick comparing marriage to buying a car, and bringing everyone to standing ovations. “You fit the bill,” Howard remarked, calling Dan’s set a “home run.” Mel B said Dan was “quirky and full of fun,” Heidi agreeing, and Howie Mandel concluding that the comedian was the offspring “of Seinfeld and Jon Lovitz,” with four yeses. Rokardy climbed to the rafters with his amazing strength for hand balancing, lifting himself even beyond the light grid, building as he rose. The Cuban native had a most worthy assistant in son, Carlos, with whom Howard was so taken, he wanted to sign him for a movie deal! Howie Mandel said the act was “phenomenal,” before Heidi Klum praised it as “elegant,” and Mel B called Rokardy “seamless, but you’re crazy!”
Donnie Valentine just knew this was “my time” to share his vocal gift, seeming so prepared, but sadly, the pain of his falsetto was put on pause by four very swift X’s. Giving him the second chance to show his best, Nick Cannon raised a cigarette lighter, as Howard Stern slow danced with Heidi, but that didn’t change the vote, and the Stylistics still want their song back. A woman weightlifter pressing Nick Cannon didn’t have the stuff to impress the panel, nor did the reappearing head slappers from last season. Snoozies to certain X’s were overtaking the proceedings before 93-year-old Mike Greenstein, a.k.a. The Mighty Atom, came before the judges, proclaiming that he was carrying on his family tradition of pulling vehicles with his teeth-yes, his real teeth! He not only tugged an old model station wagon across the line– he did it with four people inside. Despite praise for Mike, saying he was glad when his own father “takes a walk,” Howard Stern didn’t find enough showmanship in Mike’s feat, but the other three judges were pleased by the prospect of the Atom pulling a truckload of people next time. On the Mighty Atom goes! Duo, Acte II, surprised everyone with their operatic, soaring voices that brought everyone to surrender, and offer standing ovations. These stylish friends are definitely divas with a different kind of song in their souls. Mel B proclaimed “this is your moment,” and Howie Mandel said listening to them was like hearing “a beautiful soundtrack.” Heidi Klum exclaimed “Wunderbar” in her native tongue, and Howard Stern gushed that the two had transformed the venue into an opera house. A contortionist and a guitar-strumming quartet will get more views, and a karate comedy team of two who poked fun at their own competitive abilities had Howard Stern in such stitches that he snorted! Howie Mandel, too, said he hadn’t “laughed so much in a long time,” loving the pair’s failed efforts at plank-breaking and attacker protection. When Heidi and Mel B couldn’t be persuaded to offer a pass, Howard Stern pressed his Golden buzzer, so the act was saved on the first try.
Blue Journey are a dance duo who didn’t want to admit to the panel that they have only been dancing for four days, and no one would know it to see their delicate, lyrical performance, putting projection and the human form in perfect harmony. Their performance was fully unique and unanimously praised. “Oh my gosh, amazing,” were Howie Mandel’s words, as Heidi gushed over the story they told in dance, and Mel B adding that the performance was “dreamlike.” Howard Stern said the dancers had “over-rode the worst pre-interview ever” with their dance. Larry the Mime was one silent man with attitude. After getting panned for not putting his abilities into a story to improve his performance, he came nearly to blows with Howie Mandel, stripping suspenders off, along with his hat, before revealing that he was, in fact, lovable Nick Cannon! Howie was seconds away from requesting security take down, and diving under the desk, and Howard Stern praised the host for completely getting him going!
Sentiments switched from silly to serious as Jacob Curlee’s bio was screened for viewers– the judges don’t normally see these. Removed from his family at 5 for neglect, he and his sister were placed in foster care, and many homes, before being adopted at 8. His adoptive mom looked on with pride from the side stage as the Daphne, Alabama youth sang “Waiting on the World to Change” with more conviction and soul than its composer, John Mayer. The whole audience rose in ovation, along with the panel. Mel B felt his tearful emotion, and walked on stage to offer a real hug, saying “dry your tears” as she did it for him. Howard Stern said that Jacob had passed the test of making the judge want to invest his own money in the artist. The singer shared his story with Howie Mandel, who wondered where he got that sense of soul. “America loves you now,” Howie assured Jacob. “America’s Got Talent is your home.”
The auditions continue as the competition airs Tuesdays on NBC.
America’s Got Talent broadcast, May 27, 2014 NBC.