“Mike, God only knows what you must have been thinking … because this has been one of the weirdest nights we’ve ever had,” an exasperated Simon Cowell told comedian Mike E. Winfield during Tuesday’s fourth qualifying round. AMERICA has talent. “And then you go ahead, and you brought the.”
It was understandable why Simon was so relieved that Mike, the second to last performer of the long night, had finally taken the stage. Mike, a true superstar in the making, lived up to the promise of his amazing first audition. Unfortunately, many of the other 10 contestants in the episode did not.
If I’m honest, as Simon himself would say, it was just disappointment after disappointment on Tuesday. The night started off slow with New Zealand food dancer Bayley Graham, whom Simon called “a bit subdued”, followed by tween a cappella group Acapop!, whose wistful original song and catchy style had Howie Mandel calling them buzzes with its big red. X. “What is it wrong with you?” Host Terry Crews barked, as Howie crushed these poor kids’ dreams. Simon noted that the wooden rendition of Acapop! improved after Howie buzzed them… but it was too little, too late.
The British weren’t doing much better either. While the judges were blown away by Southampton singer Lee Collinson’s take on Dermot Kennedy’s ‘Better Days’ weeks ago, they understood that his most talked-about song this week, Lauren Spencer Smith’s ‘Flowers’, failed to showcase his vocal range. Simon thought it sounded like Lee was “reading a letter” in the wrong key and Howie grumbled, “If I’d heard that on the radio I’d have turned the channel because the song was boring me.” (Personally I think they were a little too hard on Lee, but that wasn’t his best.)
Then there was London Fool-style stunt/comedy troupe The Lazy Generation. They were really hilarious last time, but this week’s weird act — dismembering ballerinas, pinning each other on the crotch with various inanimate objects, and wrestling in a cactus garden — was indeed lazy. Fellow crazy Englishman Simon thought their routine was ‘beautiful’ but admitted ‘not everyone liked it’. Judge Sofia Vergara definitely didn’t like it, so she red-X’d them in the middle.
Tuesday’s two impressionists, ventriloquist Jack Williams and opera singer Merissa Beddows, also received mixed reviews. They showed some ability, but both lacked comedic chops. The inexperienced Jack definitely needed stronger comedic material, and while the spoofs of Cher’s Merissa, Celine Dion and Evanescence’s Amy Lee were spot on, she inexplicably decided to drop the comedy element that had made her first audition so entertaining. Neither did her brief impression of Lois Griffin from Family guy could lighten the mood on Tuesday. Simon appreciated her singing but complained that Merissa had no personality and Sofia wished Merissa had created another “little story” to accompany the music.
Well, the bad news for AGT The viewers are that they had to spend two hours of performances for the most part. But the Good The news is that it will be much easier than usual for viewers to vote for just two of Tuesday’s 11 acts for the season 17 finale, because this was not a competitive week at all. The aforementioned Mike E. Winfield was clearly the player of the night. He may, as Heidi boldly predicted, even soon become the first stand-up comic to ever win AGT. ONEAnd even if he doesn’t, Howie has already offered Mike a job as an opening act.
But… who stays, and who else has a chance?
German dance magician Jannick Holste can move on after judge Heidi Klum named him the show’s best magic act of all time. It’s definitely not a safe bet though, as Simon said his dancing was “horrible”. Little screamo singer Harper, who Simon “adored”, could make the cut, as could singer-songwriter Lily Meola, even if Howie said Lily’s original ballad about her late mother didn’t “make the roof from the place.”
But I’m going to predict that this week’s other final will go to Metaphysic, who Simon called “the best act, I think, of the series so far.”
Now, it’s possible that Simon is just one a little bit biased, because this was the second time the deepfake used AR technology to make it look like Simon was singing. This time, they also incorporated Uncanny Valley versions of Terry and Howie, for a chilling but thrilling rendition of “Nessun Dorma” – “It’s like Il Divo, but Il Stupido,” said Howie – and it was certainly unlike anything we’d seen on AGT before. Metaphysic have promised that if they make it, they’ll digitally resurrect “the greatest rock act ever” (Elvis Presley? Freddie Mercury? John Lennon? Davie Bowie? Prince?) for the finals, so they’ll probably get a few votes just because viewers they are curious.
Tune in on Wednesday for a results show that is hopefully more entertaining than Tuesday’s show. At least Wednesday’s episode will only be an hour long.
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