America's Got Talent Review: Grading the Quarterfinals

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After a week and a day of waiting, the second part of the America's Got Talent quarterfinals arrived with a bit of a whimper. There were only five strong acts overall, while a majority were clearly not prepared for the big stage.

But let's give them all a grade anyway, shall we?

Hawley Magic on America's Got Talent

LionDanceMe - There was an awkward fall in the practice but the group performed a clean act. The routine still looked like a lot of the same. I'm not discrediting that jumping on small posts takes talent and accuracy; there should be more.
Grade: B-

Turf - I would have been more impressed if the producers had the endless camera as he was performing during the whole routine instead of just during one section. The moves continued to be great, the only problem was when he casually walked from the side of the stage to the center. I agree with Sharon that there needs to step up, I'm not sure if that means better dancers or better pants.
Grade: B+

The All Ways - They took a chance with "Telephone" and I got to say that their version doesn't work for me. Both "Rolling in the Deep" and "Fighter," their previous songs, had a better sound. It was the rock undertones to the prior songs. The lead singer this time sounded out of his league. If they went down half a step then it would have helped a lot.
Grade: C+

Hawley Magic (pictured)- The act seemed pretty standard: place a woman on a pole and "magically" float her around. There's a few magic based waving and stabbing of the partner. After the "Floating Wife" act from the Vegas round, this illusion was okay, but a bit too old school for me.
Grade: B-

Lisa Clark Dancers - Whoever decided to give the group Jedward hair did a disservice to them. The act felt like a recital even though the group’s movements were clean. The bubble popping sound effect in the song threw me off. I was shocked that only Howie buzzed the group, they didn’t deserve to finish their whole routine. The girl saying "America loved it" was wrong.
Grade: D-

Aurora Light Painters - They claim to be doing "something different" by doing a "Monsters under the bed" theme. The setup of the bed and the sleeping girl was interesting. The eyes took a bit too long to load. The balloon eyes at the end didn't work. Aurora was original, but this time I didn't get it. I liked the mermaid and the more spaced out themes, but the monster theme didn't work. They lacked pizazz.
Grade: D

Danielle Stallings - I give Danielle credit for singing with braces without her lips being ripped off. She chose "It Will Rain" and she had fear in her voice. She didn't have her breath right and she didn't have the attack on her high notes. The song choice threw me off the most. On a night of crappy acts, she stood out.
Grade: B

Donovan & Rebecca - The act started off pretty simplistically with a swing, until Donovan got on and was hanging. There was something ironic about choosing a song about "laying" and flying on stage. There was something special about watching the degree of trust from the couple and the final trick was both dangerous and beautiful to watch.
Grade: A

Big Barry - Big Barry was given a package that emphasized his short stature. He sang "Feeling Good" and immediately Howard buzzed him; Sharon followed. A modeling runway show didn't help. He ended up getting sympathy claps. Watching Nick lift him up was the funniest part.
Grade: D-

Tom Cotter - After 25 years, Tom still needed his breakthrough; he emphasized having a lot of laughs per minute. He tried a "break a leg" joke and then decided to analyze other phrases. Some jokes like the "party pooper" worked while "bend your ear" didn't. The fact that he went so rapid-fire with the jokes covered the weaker ones.
Grade: A

Ben Blaque - The adventure junkie started over the judges’ table, but it was such a huge balloon that it wasn't an issue. While the rose was a nice middle section, he spent way too much time setting up his 4x crossbow and his balloons grew in size from his practice shot where he missed two normal-sized balloons.
Grade: B+

Tim Hockenberry – The traveling singer/rehab survivor has a great story even though he sounds a lot like Michael Grimm. He decided to pick an anti-Joe Cocker artist: Katy Perry. His take on “Part of Me” was interesting, but now he sounded like Michael Bolton.
Grade: B+

Of the acts I can see Donovan & Rebecca and Tom Cotter automatically making it through. The final two spots could be between Tim Hockenberry, Ben Blaque, Turf or Danielle Stallings depending on how America judges danger and bone-breaking. If they can't stand either, Danielle and Tim would grab votes.