America's Got Talent - Season 8
Bigger and better are the words for season eight of America’s Got Talent.  No more will contestants just have a show in Las Vegas to hope for; like American Idol before them, finalists will now be going on tour.  That’s not all though, Twitter is becoming more than just something the show refers to incessantly—voices are being heard.  Votes coming from the social network site now mater, along with their concerns over Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel’s critiques as well as contestants’ well-being.  Some things will never fully improve though.  Mint is the color of the season so Nick Cannon’s suit of the same hue was a forgone conclusion.  His bright pink shirt was not.  Oh Nick, if you’re going to wear mint, compliment it with a pale hue.  Will he ever learn?

America's Got Talent - Season 8

Innovative Force

This troupe of young female dancers began their set in a heart shaped formation, moving like the beat of that organ.  Once everyone’s heart rate matched theirs, the young girls catapulted viewers into a thrilling routine, matching their synchronicity and precision with amazing acrobatic leaps and jumps.  Every judge except for Howie was rightfully impressed by the risks the girls took; as usual the dance routine barely registered on Howie’s radar.

Ciana Pelekai

Until she belted out a strong note near the end of her performance, Ciana’s voice did not equal the stage she stood on.  Her rendition of “Next to Me” sounded a little off key at the start and was plagued with a few sour notes.  Near the end Ciana’s talent for throwing her voice around nearly made up for her rocky start.  Howard and Mel B. both complimented the twelve year old while still critiquing her questionable vocals; Heidi and Howie lauded praise on the future starlet.  Ciana’s sure to be a favorite: she’s young, adorable, and the audience’s standing ovation should have been a clue.  No matter what happens tonight the viewing public will have to address her uneven voice eventually if it doesn’t improve.

Alexandr Magala

Never one to coast this daring pole acrobat incorporated fire into his routine.  Alexandr twirled and slid around the pole while holding a flare.  Once off the apparatus, he revisited his scariest and most compelling feat: sword swallowing.  After the sharp long knife was all the way down his throat he did a few flips and turns, his final turn that included a stumble that made everyone’s heart race, especially when Howard made it clear that Alexandr already cut himself internally practicing earlier this week.  It didn’t matter: all of the judges not only respected the risk he took, they were appropriately stunned by his abilities.  The audience felt the same—though his shirtless state might have had something to do with that.  As usual the only performers that can falter without reproach are the ones that put their lives on the line for our entertainment.  Let’s just hope the judges’ respect that unspoken rule.

Struck Boyz

Clad in pastel colored scorpion jackets from the movie Drive, this group of Italian boys allowed their charm to carry them through their performance.  The Struck Boyz skill may not match the girls that preceded them, but their charisma was palpable.  Their routine was heavy on the hip gyrating and ab flashing; surely we’re not the only ones that were torn between being tickled and feeling like the performance might have been a thrust too far.  Howard’s criticism echoed our own, while the rest of the judges seemed taken with the little tykes.

America's Got Talent - Season 8

Brad Byers

Sticking his lounge in a fan was a thrilling start to Brad Byers crazy performance.  Immediately afterwards he lay down shirtless on a bed of nails as a group of men put a huge metal ramp on top of him.  Brad’s brother drove a thousand pound ATV over him, leaving pin pricks all over his back.  All of the judges acknowledged the danger Brad flirted with, but were unimpressed by his lack of showmanship.  We were too busy holding on to our chair to notice, but the audience did seem to die out near the end.  Do what you can to keep them on your side Brad; you deserve as many votes as you can get.

Kid the Wiz

Coming out of the audience with a glowing chapeau, Kid the Wiz must have sucked up all the showmanship that the previous act left backstage.  Even though he dropped the key article in his performance, the hat, he still managed to win nearly everyone over with his cap flipping.  It seems easy, but all it takes is one attempt to mimic him to realize the skill involved.  The male judges weren’t as won over as the female judges, but anyone that can moonwalk and catch a hat on their head from any position is a winner in our book.

Forte

Three men who barely know one another continue to dominate this competition.  Singing “Somewhere” from West Side Story the operatic trio Forte blended their voices together for an amazing sound that bound about the Hall in awesome fashion.  Theirs is a performance beyond reproach; in Las Vegas the new member didn’t seem to blend as well but that wasn’t a problem last night.  All the judges were wowed except for Mel B—criticizing them for being overdramatic seems ridiculous.  This is the venue for dramatics; this is the venue for flare and commitment.  Without a doubt the voters will validate the group’s histrionics by giving them a well-earned slot in the semi-finals.

Angela Hoover

Impressionist and comedian Angela Hoover began her set by dropping the name of another NBC competition giant, The Voice.  Her impressions centered on the female judges from both competitions—her Mel B was spot on and her Heidi was good but needed to be flashed out.  Angela’s Christina Aguliera impressions was truly mystifying though; her singing wasn’t quite a match but when she belted out that final note it was definitely Aguilerian.  Heidi loved her, but wanted more of her own impression; when Angela snapped to during the critique and pouted out another quick hilarious line during Heidi’s critique we wondered why it didn’t make the routine.  The rest of the judges were equally pleased, but last night’s resident sour puss Howard found the routine lacking.  Whether or not he’s right is a problem for tonight.

Dave Shirley

Dave Shirley took his digital dancing to new heights by incorporating several different styles of dance into his performance.  With the top half of his body in real time and the bottom half plunged into the realm of computerized perfection, Dave and a talented crew of backup dancers barreled through a set of tap, ballet, irish dancing, and twerking.  For a finale, he inverted the digital picture, making his top half one in a line of beautiful showgirls as his bottom did can-can like kicks while trying to kick off his pants.  Dave’s performance was good, but we were more taken with his slew of backup dancers than him; the judges thought his lack of synchronicity with his digital image robbed the set of some of its luster.  If last week’s digital dancers taught us nothing, it’s that relying on the novelty alone won’t do you any favors.

Marty Brown

Dedicating to his first performance on the live stage to his father, Marty Brown plunged into his traditional rendition of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One.”  Unfortunately seeing his father’s picture in the opening package made him so emotional that he faltered in his opening notes and never recovered.  It’s a real shame too; his voice is one that should be lauded.  Like the gentleman he is, Marty accepted the judges critiques heartily, making us love him even more.  If there was a save, if there was a special circumstance, if there was ever a time to vote for someone just because this would be it.

Aquanuts

It seems unprecedented for a group to be allowed to prerecord their performance; obviously the producers haven’t figured out how to get an entire pool on and off stage in less than four minutes yet.  Performing to Rihanna’s “Diamonds (Shine Bright),” the Aquanuts moved precisely, cutting through the water in perfect unison and in heels no less.  Howie thought their routine, while good, had not improved since their last showing, while the rest of the judges found favor in the girls’ routine.  There’s something to be said for Howard critique about their talent being mystifying, though their performance was not.  The votes will tell all which is true.

America's Got Talent - Season 8

Tone the Chiefrocca

Even if his dream of being a one hit wonder is never realized Tone the Chiefrocca’s fantasy of being a rap star was realized.  Ascending the stage with a flashy car, a plethora of backup dancers clad in barely there American flag attire, and a gang of gold chains took “Booty” to new heights. Yes, it is the exact same song, but it’s a catchy one that always warrants a spirited performance that brings a smile to everyone’s face. All of the judges expressed their approval and we have to agree. Lets hear it or the one hit wonder folks; if you make it to the semi-finals can we have one of those booty chains?

Who Should Advance:  Aquanuts, Innovative Force, Alexandr Magala, Forte

Wildcards: America should give Angela Hoover, Brad Byers, and Tone the Chiefrocca a chance, but if they don’t they will be sorely missed.