Here we go with the 8th season of ‘America’s Got Talent’ with two new judges, because the show needs at least two people to match the sheer gravitas of ex-judge Sharon Osbourne. Mel B, of the Spice Girls, and Heidi Klum, of ‘Project Runway’, have joined Howard Stern and Howie Mandel in the eternal quest to find talent in America along with the show’s host, Nick Cannon.
I have mixed feelings about ‘AGT’ having four judges. While I think both Heidi Klum and Mel B are equally qualified to judge this competition and both are fairly likeable, the rapport between all four judges is lacking. I assume the relationship between the judges will grow as the season goes on but right now the majority of their banter consists of Howard talking about the sexual tension between himself and Heidi Klum, which is less than surprising.
In the show’s premier we see the auditions from San Antonio, NYC, and Los Angeles. We are shown everything from a ten year old pianist/vocalist to an Orchestral performance of Carly Ray Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’. Here is the breakdown of the performances that stood out in each city:
David Weathers – The show opens with a rather dangerous act and we meet David, a 35 year old who has the most dangerous snake in america pop a balloon that David holds with his teeth. It was a high tension moment as the rattlesnake lunged at the balloon, but the trick was a success and all of the judges loved it. David is going to Vegas, but let’s face it, the snake did all the leg work while David held a balloon in his mouth. The trick was no doubt amusing but the judges failed to ask the most important question: How can this act evolve into a headlining Vegas act?
Marty Brown – When I watch AGT I usually pay the least amount of attention to vocalists because the beauty of the show is the inclusion of the wide variety of talents, and there are one hundred other singing programs on tv. Before Marty performed I was already biased against him, because not only was he going to sing but he was a country singer, a genre that I can’t get my head around. But Marty pulled out a Bob Dylan song, and one of my favorites, ‘To Make You Feel My Love’, and even with his country lilt I fell in love. He’s Going to Vegas!
Miu – We get off to a rough start in New York as Miu dances to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” as though hundreds of volts of electricity are running through her. Three out of four judges give her the ‘X’ as she performs but Howie makes sure we see the entire performance and holds out on pushing the buzzer. Thank you so much for that Howie (that sentence is loaded with sarcasm). When it comes to voting Howie says yes to Vegas, but this is most certainly a safe yes knowing that the other three judges will say no. What could possibly come after that insane performance?
OH MY GOD IT’S A BLUE SWISS ALIEN! IT’S WEARING LEDERHOSEN! YESSS! But it gets better, the Lederhosen clad alien prompts Heidi to yodel and she’s not half bad!
Catapult Entertainment – This dance group puts on an absolutely amazing and unique dance performance that essentially is a shadow puppet act that feels like a James Bond film opening. Now that was a Vegas act! While watching this show I often ask myself “would I go out of my way to see this performance?” and for this dance group the answer is a resounding yes. There was dance, music, and story and they could easily keep an audience’s attention for an hour. The judges love it and Howard Stern bowed down to them. That’s four big yeses from the judges.
Hype – Here is another dance group and they claim that their act was choreographed the night before. The three men gave a rather enjoyable performance that consisted of multiple dance styles to a remix of “Singing in the Rain”. I love the idea of mixing old Hollywood with modern styles of dance. They move on to the next round. Clearly the threesome was talented and deserve the chance to one up themselves in Vegas but I doubt they will make it too far. After seeing Catapult Entertainment’s performance Hype can not possibly compare.
Chuck from the Bronx – Chuck should win the award for the best pointless performance on ‘AGT’. He performed 3 tricks, each one more pointless than the next. First he ate three raw eggs, followed by snorting salt and doing a shot of tequila while squirting lime juice in his eyes, and for his finale he sat in a bathtub of cold water while he ate the world’s hottest pepper. Why, why, why,why? There is no reason, but it was worth it when Howie Mandel decides to test the pepper after Howard challenges him to it and he learns that the pepper is indeed real. Howie flips out and chugs down some cold milk, a very difficult task. Howie is going to Vegas! However, Chuck is not.
Alex – This is the first kid we are shown and he sings Maroon 5’s ‘Payphone’. He was so nervous! His performance was shaky and the judges were encouraging but ultimately all voted no.
Anna Christine – This 10 year old sings and plays piano. She performs The Animal’s ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and she gives Marty Brown a run for his money when it comes to musical performances. The judges endlessly compliment her and Mel B tells her what depth her voice has and she’s right. The judges all vote yes and she is off to the next round.
The 3 Penny Chorus and Orchestra – We are given an orchestral performance of ‘Call Me Maybe’. Yes, yes, yes! This may be the only way I will listen to this song. This is another performance that I would go out of my way to see. The Orchestra moves on to Vegas.
Pacific Boys Choir – They perform The Mama and the Papa’s California Dreamin’ and the audience loves it. For me this is another case of “Will this work as a big time Vegas show?”. Ultimately the ensemble deserves to go to the next round because they truly are talented, but there are many choirs in the world and was this choir truly unique?
Special Head – I am going to avoid all jokes that the name Special Head could prompt, but I am surprised Howard didn’t immediately look and Heidi and start moving his eyebrows up and down. He starts out by meditating and doing deep, guttural humming and a sound fills the stage that can only be described as one of David Weather’s rattlesnakes stuck in a beehive. Howard Stern prematurely gives him the ‘X’ and I would have done the same but then… Oh snap! He levitated! It was so unexpected. The judges are amazed and Howard takes back his ‘X’, which is a great trick in and of itself.
Angela Hoover – I struggled with this performance. I love standup comedy and am always excited to see a standup comedian on ‘AGT’. Angela did impressions of celebrities at a children’s birthday party. Her Drew Barrymore and Penelope Cruz stood out and they were solid impressions but when standup is driven by impressions the act becomes less about the jokes and more about how well the imitation is performed. I would not have sent her to Vegas because her jokes were lacking. Hopefully her act will be more fluid and filled with actual, well constructed jokes when she goes to Vegas. The judges loved her and Mel B yelled “Girl Power!”. Uh-oh.
An hour and forty-seven minutes into the show and we finally get a Spice Girls music montage of banter amongst the judges. Do you see what yelling “Girl Power” does?!
Anthony Granger – I would be remiss if I did not mention Anthony Granger aka Tone the Chief Rocker (along with his hype man/brother) whose dream is to have a one hit wonder. His original song called “B-DOUBLE O-T- Y” is his talent. He performs and – oh my god all the judges are dancing! The crowd goes wild. The judges are initially baffled whether they should say yes to someone whose dream is to be a one hit wonder, but Howie Mandel loves the idea that every time this guy comes back he does the exact same song. The song is terrible but catchy and silly. I highly doubt he will make it too far in the show, because how can you make a show on the Las Vegas strip with one song?
Overall the season opener had some really strong performances and a few weak, but rather entertaining ones. Hopefully next week’s auditions will get that “B-DOUBLE O-T-Y” song out of my head with some more outrageous performances.