After months of auditions, we were finally down to the live quarterfinals on America's Got Talent. The first 12 contestants hit the stage last night, with jitters as high and song choices poor. Let's grade each hopeful, shall we?
Miami All-Stars - After sailing through to Hollywood, the troupe hit a roadblock: their music wasn't cleared. They had to change their routine in just a few hours. It started with six couples and I hoped it remained there. It looked like a confusing army of dance when everyone formed a rectangle. There were some dancers in the back that were behind a few steps. The group solved my gripe when the dancers moved to the sides and the women and men had their own solos. Their dancing and tricks were amazing; I'm a huge fan of the pot-stir and that one woman was stirring for a long time. My Grade: A-.
Dezmond Meeks - The show isn't going to acknowledge that Dezmond auditioned for American Idol, so he had multiple chances to achieve his dream. Either way, the performance reminded of an outlandish Adam Lambert performance. I loved the chandelier dancer and the general incorporation with the James Brown style dancing. The arrangement wasn't the best and, as the first live singer, the audio wasn't balanced. My Grade: B-.Those Funny Little People (pictured) - Extra credit for the manager introducing the group. We knew that Piers would buzz the group. I understood the rain theme and the extra dancers were hysterical because they were wearing elf shoes while gyrating. The performance fell short, possibly because of the transition between the two songs. My Grade: B.
Fearless Flores Family - After seeing the children perform in the auditions, mom has joined the fray. We began with only the siblings connected to a piece of fabric. The two stop and mom enters. There was a lot of prep time when the three began but the performance was flawless. The combination of the lights, the in-cycle camera, and music added to the danger, but how long can everyone watch people spin in a sphere? My Grade: B+.
Squonk Opera - Squonk explained themselves a combination of music and art. The singer was pitchy but the visuals of the screen were very Disney-esque. The woman's vocals were overpowered by the electronic guitar, which was good because she never got away from sounding squeaky. My Grade: D+.
J Chris Newberg - Chris introduced himself as "Chris" which makes me wonder why the "J" even exists. His early jokes were a bit off with the PETA and the peanut butter jokes pushing a bit too far with animal cruelty angle. The "That's Probably a Bad Idea" was just like one of those Bud Light Salutes Real Men of Genius. My Grade: B.
Snap Boogie - Snap had a hip injury before the performance, so he wasn't at his healthiest. I liked the shadow/eye-trick concept and the gliding, but I thought too much time was wasted with tutting when he should have gotten to the ground tricks faster. Even his turn looked sloppy. I wished his solo section was longer, since the backup dancers were replaced with a trippy camera effect. My Grade: B+.
Echo of Animal Gardens - Echo stumbled in Vegas, so Binky, Echo's girlfriend, was brought alone for moral support. The introductions and whistles were strong. Echo tried his best to eat his trainer's microphone. The routine was redundant, but Echo was accurate. My Grade: B-.
The Fiddleheads - The Bluegrass introduction and transition into "Billie Jean" was great. I thought the singer's lower end during the verse was weak and his falsetto during the chorus needed help. The singer has a nice tone in his upper-middle range, but the song choice wasn't the best. I loved the rebuild where each of the instruments got a time to shine. They would be my vote for the Wild Card round in hopes they choose a better song. My Grade: B-.
Duo Aero - It was smart for the couple to be up on the trapeze before the performance started. The routine had a slow build towards the harder tricks. The rope work above the trapeze was great but I was convinced that Shannon would kick her partner in the crotch. The spin and release section near the end was the best part of the act; they should have put that in the beginning. My Grade: C+.
Anna Graceman - Anna upgraded to a real piano and performed a unique rendition of "What a Wonderful World," the performance was good until the generic karaoke background accompanied her. It was like a smack to the face to her piano playing that Anna's tried to fix. Her vocals were strong, but she occasionally forgot that she needed a microphone and her head wandered away from it. My Grade: B+.
Sandou Trio Russian Bar - Like the trapeze act, Russian Bar is one element of Cirque du Soleil, but unlike the trapeze artists this group has been adding elements of danger to differentiate themselves. The music could have been less generic, especially because there was something about it that skewed belly dancer instead of Russian. I appreciated that the group added fire for the second pass of flips, as if being impaled wasn't enough. My Grade: A-.