America's Got Talent Review: Dogs vs. Birds

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Last week's America's Got Talent semifinals were difficult to call, with people such as Joe Castillo becoming the dark horse art act that inched his way past a ventriloquist.

Last night, however, the contestants were clearly split. Five have a great shot at making it into the finals; the other seven should just be happy to be performing in front of such a large audience...

Olate Dogs on America's Got Talent

All That! - The solo opening, with just their shoes tapping was a great idea. Setting their shoes on fire was also a great touch, though I wished all of the members used fire instead of half. The water element reminded me of Blue Man Group, which helped show that All That! has been trying. It was a strong opening routine that was still memorable for the fire/water by the end of the show.
Grade: B+

Sebastien "El Charro de Oro" - Sebastien went back to his roots but increased his band size and production value. His high notes weren't as good as they were previously, his low notes were worse than they were previously. He was flat throughout the whole song.
Grade: C

The Magic of Puck - Last time we saw Puck, he was playing with a hanky. I didn't have high expectations this time considering that he started with a handkerchief again. His routine felt even more like a cruise line performance with the cheesy velvet fabric and the sub-standard assistants.
Grade: C+

Clint Carvalho - Clint started with his "Here kitty" and from there, I realized that Clint's act would be perfect for a children's party. The act had a daring element as the bird flew into the audience with accuracy and then scared Sharon by allowing the parrot to fly onto her arm. It was a step in the right direction, but I could see him as a sideshow at Disney.
Grade: B-

Jacob Williams - With Tom Cotter in the finals already, I find it very difficult for Jacob Williams to move on. His jokes had a little bit too much of a buildup for each punch line. There were really strong transitions between each story/joke, but it was almost too awkward for me.
Grade: C-

Shanice and Maurice - There isn't a good singer in the finals yet, and the two could have filled a spot. The problem was Maurice was wavering though the whole performance and Shanice was being drowned out by the choir behind the two. The two didn't seem to gel as well previously, possibly because they pushed themselves too hard.
Grade: D+

All Wheel Sports - I forgot this group existed, which wasn't a great start for them in my book. The group fills a stage wonderfully and the climbing work was nice, but they wasted too much time on it. The Lightwire-esque colors was a smart idea, but who decided to hire a live drummer? That made no sense whatsoever. Then the guy wiped out off of his bicycle. If Piers was still there, that would have been a buzzer right there.
Grade: C

The Olate Dogs - If I could only pick one animal act between the dogs and the parrot, the dogs are more dynamic. How cute is it to have jump roping dogs? And then conga lines? The birds had danger, but the dogs have the undeniable cute factor. To make it better the two guys physically get into the act.
Grade: A

The Untouchables - I really liked the Argentine Tango vibe the whole routine had. The tempo shift was nice. There is a degree of uncomfortable-ness realizing that the story of an Argentine tango is highly sexual. I loved the quick costume change, even though it's not hard to accomplish. The group had a clean routine and the fact that they were excited that they aced their act made me smile.
Grade: B+

Tim Hockenberry - I wished that Tim did any song that wasn't by John Lennon. The song was nice, but I still think that "Imagine" shouldn't be touched. Tim's vocals were nice and the visuals were smart. The performance was strong, but ended both abruptly and not as emotional as it should have been.
Grade: B-

Lightwire Theater - The biggest difference between Lightwire Theater and Team iLuminate of last season is that I never got bored of iLuminate. They changed their dance styles and created intricate storylines. I just feel that the dinosaur concept was a little overdone. Adding lightsabers actually made the quality worse in my opinion. While I liked the Matrix spinning and speed shifting, it didn't feel large enough. They deserve a chance at winning, but they haven't progressed as quickly as other acts this season.
Grade: B

David Garibaldi & his CMYK's - Kudos to the production team for giving an odd art group the last spot on the semi-finals. The group added much needed staging and production as they created a very accurate painting of the Statue of Liberty. I would go and buy a four panel Statue of Liberty piece if David was selling it.
Grade: A

There are only two acts that should make it into the finals: The Olate Dogs and David Garibaldi. While there was a lot of competition for third, The Untouchables have both the cute factor and were ages better than the other kid act (Sebastien). A pet act, an artist and a dance troupe would bring great variety to a sand artist, earth harpist and comedian.