America's Got Talent-Season 8-Forte
Two things happen once America’s Got Talent reaches the semi-finals round of the competition. Acts begin to distinguish themselves and Nick Cannon’s stylist allows him to look good on a regular basis.  Season eight is no exception: with the finals quickly approaching more than a few hopefuls let nerves and ambition clouds their judgment while a few standouts owned the stage. With so much on the line Howie Mandel, Mel B., Heidi Klum, and Howard Stern weren’t afraid to fight for and demand the best.  Luckily Nick’s stylist isn’t making us beg for the same anymore—his gold sparkly jacket, black shirt, lapels and pants made him a winner, right down to his glittering gold shoes.

Tone the Cheifrocca

Beginning the night with Mel B.’s Wildcard pick, Tone the Cheifrocca did his best to dominate the screen for every moment of his performance.  When the first strains of the “BOOTY” music began Tone, his hype man, and the backup dancers were clad in choir robes.  Instead of performing their one hit wonder with the influence of a different musical genre, the robes were stripped away for the same old performance of “B Double O-T-Y.”  Perhaps Tone’s screaming at the start was the reason Howard gave him an X, regardless the fact that their act was more frantic than normal was unavoidable.  It hardly matters what the judges thought—though most of them enjoyed it—because if America is so taken with this song that they would actually vote them into the finals, then nothing else needs to be said.  You know except for, “Oh gosh please no,” and, “Come on guys, seriously?”

Red Panda

When a fall during rehearsals prevented The KrisStef Brothers from taking their rightful place on the semi-finals stage, it was only proper that Howie use his Wildcard pick to bring back Red Panda.  A family emergency kept her from performing during the quarter finals but nothing stopped her from rushing to New York City for another shot.  She took to her unicycle while atop an eight foot high platform, with her first few sets of bowls making it from their perch on her foot to her head with no problem.  When Red Panda increased to five bowls, one toppled to ground while the rest flew neatly onto the stack balancing on Red Panda’s head.  The flub stopped her from ending her routine properly, something the judges ignored completely.  Though there was an error the judges still loved Red Panda’s ability enough to support her, but will America do the same?

Angela Hoover

Comedian Angela Hoover returned to the stage, and though the judges found her material much improved we didn’t notice a change.  As usual her impressions were spot on; it sounded like Arianna Huffington, Kourtney Kardashian, Sharon Osbourne, and Sofia Vergara were on stage with Angela.  We fail to see how her material was any different than usual—the topic of celebrity mothers was just fodder for new and exceptional impressions. The judges thought she stepped her game up while we felt it was business as usual. Does that even matter when Angela can mimic the voice of and endless number of stars? Only the votes will tell.

Duo Resonance

Heidi’s spontaneous Wildcard pick Duo Resonance used a thin clear crate to stun the audience.  Their ability to move gracefully as they perform feats of amazing strength is a quality they heavily rely upon; without it watching the female one gracefully dangle into the clear box as she held on to the neck of her partner wouldn’t be quite as mystifying.  Balancing on one another they formed a sideways letter s, both hanging off the sides of their see-through support, dangerously and beautifully wowing the crowd.  Howard Stern thought their box got in the way but everyone, including us, was just impressed by their skills.  Hopefully America was as well.

Collins Key

Never one to rest on his laurels, Collins Key milked his new heartthrob status for a matchmaker trick.  He put envelopes under the seat of every audience member in Radio City Music Hall, with only one containing a red card reading “Possible Date.”  The girl that came to the stage matched the choices the judges blindly made; she had black hair, a short dress, ankle boots, and a polka dotted cell phone.  Collins even had Twitter’s choice for their date local, Central Park written on his arm.  Though his ability to predict random outcomes was amazing as usual, Mel B. questioned the validity of the trick while Howard Stern plain old hated it.  No matter what, Collins is one of the most amazing magicians to compete; to lose him would be a travesty.

Innovative Force

These girls maybe young but the need to step things up for the semi-finals was not lost on Innovative Force.  Their performance began with a few girls launching a dancer across the gap between the judges table and the stage and continued in that vein for the full 90 seconds.  There was much less choreography this time—the main focus was exactly how many young girls could climb, be lifted, or tossed high in the sky only to drop to the ground quickly and precisely.  Every one of their stunts was impressive, but their routine was jammed with so many it seemed disjointed, something not lost on every judge except for Heidi Klum.  Maybe the live audience’s standing ovation means that won’t matter to America.

Dave Fenley

In an unexpected song choice soulful singer Dave Fenley performed the Spice Girls “Giving You Everything” with mixed results.  One the one hand, his acoustic rendition mixed with beat boxing in the chorus was one of the most original things of the night.  One the other hand, his breathing falter briefly during the performance, and Howard absolutely hated the entire thing.  His complaint was true: the tune isn’t the emotional song his voice needs to be properly showcased.  The rest of the judges didn’t mind, nor did the audience.  Let’s hope Dave’s connection with Mel B. pays off.

Taylor Williamson

Instead of being deterred by Heidi Klum’s disdain for his sometimes irreverent comedy, Taylor Williamson used the complaint as the focal point for his performance.  First he addressed Heidi directly before launching into a set of off color jokes with a child theme.  The most amazing part about Taylors lines are that they are completely dirty without ever crossing the line to inappropriate; it’s all implied.  Thankfully he finally found favor with Heidi and as usual Howie and Howard gave him a standing ovation.  With any luck, America will continue their streak and push this hilarious comedian into the finals.

Jonathan Allen

Sometimes when competitor attempt to step up their game for the next level, they end up damaging their position.  Case and point: Jonathan Allen’s decision to strip down his performance and sing a quiet ballad backfired.  He was trying to show another side to his vocals but he ended off sounding high pitched and off key.  Everyone except for bleeding heart Heidi Klum; we doubt Jonathan will make it any further.

Catapult Entertainment

Last time we seemed like the only ones nonplussed by Catapult Entertainment’s routine.  Thanks to their convoluted story most of the judges are now ready to let this group fade into the e background.  Their silkscreen routine started telling an aquatic story, which quickly morphed into a lost-at-sea scene before being swallowed by a whale transformed the plot into a reunited love story.  If all of that confused you then you know why everyone except Heidi was put off by their tale.  Voters will be the ones to decide if the story was as bad as it seemed.

Cami Bradley

Cami Bradley may be surprising herself with her own talent, but she’s astounding America with her star power.  Her rendition of Elvis Presley’s iconic hit “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” was again original, though the pacing was slightly altered, instead of a complete revamp like her last performance.  On a small circular platform in the middle of the audience, she and her accompanying guitarist was the intimate stripped down display that Jonathan Allen wanted to be.  For some reason Mel B. found Cami’s touching ballad boring, but the rest of the judges adored the emotion she poured into her recitation.  Anyone who feels Cami has to perform something upbeat is ignoring the magic her voice creates.

Forte

In the season of the opera singer Forte is the group to beat.  This wasn’t always an act we cherished; begrudgingly we admitted to their prowess without truly throwing our support behind them.  This trio’s classical performance of “Unchained Melody” changed all of that.  Singing in two different languages was a good move, much like deciding to use the infamous song from Ghost.  The tremendous unioty of their powerful voices overtook anyone listening—like us Mel B. could no longer deny her love for their abilities.  Howard Stern said it best: on a night when most acts were slightly off Forte was a clear frontrunner.

Who Should Advance: Taylor Williamson, Forte, Cami Bradley, Collins Key