AGT Valo & Bobby'
The first of four weeks of the quarter finals of America’s Got Talent began as it always does: with host Nick Cannon in a shiny suit.  Luckily his iridescent chocolate brown ensemble was less of an assault on the corneas than expected—he might have even pulled of dashing.  Good thing too—with the producers upping the number of hopefuls that can pass on to the semi-finals form four to five, the votes seem more attainable yet the competition is even stiffer.  It’s always nerve wracking, wondering how America will be able to choose between such a wide and varied group of hopefuls, but the truly talented always distinguish themselves.  Of course, having Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B., and Howie Mandel around to point out the highs and lows always helps.   Get ready folks, the next four weeks are going to fly by.  Quarter-finals, ho!

Sean & Luke
Friends since birth and partners since the age of three young Sean & Luke tapped their heart out.  With a bevy of beauties decked out in red behind them, these young men kept perfect timing.  Their skill is quite wonderful, but Howard’s words of caution were the same as my thoughts: will they match of to the flashier acts of the night?  Their routine was stellar, but outside of a few very impressive jumps, there’s a real fear that these amazing tap dancers simply won’t stick in America’s mind.  Though the other judges were absolutely right to give Sean & Luke praise, we hope America will agree—without them it’s all for naught.

Valo & Bobby
Admittedly risking everything for their families future, husband and wife team Valo & Bobby came back to raise the stakes.  Bobby warmed up the crowd by balancing his wife on his forehead from a gigantic and heavy metal cylindrical contraption that touched the rafters.  Since they already did that during auditions, their main attraction was much more terrifying.  Bobby again balanced his wife on his forehead, this time from a much larger heavy metal contraption.  Meanwhile Valo used the extra room to ride a trick bike around her circular metal shell while her husband paced gently side to side.  It’s nearly impossible to convey how utterly horrifying yet thrilling the moments watching Bobby literally hold his wife’s life in his hand felt.  The judges fawned all over the pair, as well they should.  Valo and Bobby were the night’s first sure thing.

Julia Goodwin
Sixteen year old songstress Julia Goodwin took the stage to serenade the crowd with the Goo Goo Dolls “Iris.”  Looking breathtaking, Julia sang with a clear and beautiful voice.  Though Heidi praised her and wished her safe passage to the next round, the other judges were not as positive.  Though they all praised the young star for her obvious prodigious skill, they all doubted whether this performance was enough for this level of competition.  If Julia’s able to win the votes, she’ll have to give an explosive performance to gain favor.

Baila Conmigo
Latin dance groups have a history of making waves on AGT and Baila Conmigo built on that momentum.  The sheer volume of performers took over the stage, with a healthy dose of tiny child dancers stealing everyone’s heart out in front.  This group may have had a few missteps during judgment week, but every single move was perfection on the live stage.  Their energy would have been enough to win my heart, but every seamlessly executed stunt made my admiration grow.  The pandemonium they received in place of applause was well deserved.  Let’s hope America keeps up their taste for fast and fancy feet; anyone with eyeballs would want to see this group again.

David & Leeman
This double pack of magical power got a straight shot to the live shows by manipulating Howie’s mind; this time David & Leeman tricked America.  After taking a selfie with all the judges, the pair passed out all the foursomes various autobiographies (or photo books in Heidi’s case), had them swap, pick out random pages, and rip them up.  Out of Mel B.’s hand they chose seven random pieces at Howard’s request.  The largest word on seventh page just happened to be camera-ready, the same word the pair used in their selfie caption on twitter minutes previous, and the same word David & Leeman had been wearing on their name tags since they came out on stage.  Though Howie felt they ran a little long and Heidi felt more moved by their original performance, there’s no denying their mystifying abilities.  It’s down to America now.

The Willis Clan
This brood of twelve siblings brought their singing, dancing, and instrument fueled family band to Radio City Music Hall with their usual brand of family friendly fun.  The Willis Clan sang the pop classic “The Power of Love” in their usual folk music way.  Unfortunately, no matter how sweet they sounded, their performance never swelled to the heights necessary to succeed in such a grand venue.  It’s still possible for them to gain a lot of votes—Heidi pointed out country music fans could rally behind this down home sound.  Still, the rest of the judges seemed more on the mark questioning whether this group deserves to move on.

Flight Crew Jump Rope
Flight Crew Jump Rope began with a sweet black light jump rope dance routine that almost tricked me into thinking they’d lost a step.  That was until a lone jumper started flipping whilst jump roping on and enormous routine.  After that the black lit routine was just a feast for the eyes; pairs of dancers jumping and doing tricks simultaneously on the same trampoline while performers jump and perfect synchronicity above and below.  Closing the night with three levels of flipping double dutchers—with one defying gravity on the trampoline—was matched only by their final simultaneous double level flip.  At this point counting the number of deserving acts has become increasingly nerve racking; America could easily fall for this super talented crew.

Jasmin Flowers
If anyone thought fan dancing wasn’t equal to the main stage, Jasmin Flowers proved them wrong.  They took over the entire space, utilizing different size fans and a lot more choreography.  The girls never faltered—the precision that got them to this level still amazed me as they performed classical dance moves to accompany their eye pleasing fan work.  Though Howie and Heidi were in awe of the group’s continued perfection, Howard and Mel again questioned whether their act measured up to the competition at hand.  Luckily this is your choice and not the judges.

Emily West
Playing up her 1940’s screen siren aesthetic, Emily West belted out Sia’s “Chandelier” for all it was worth.  With an orchestra behind her and her glamorous wavy blond curls billowing around her face, and her sequined gown, just the look of her could have transported anyone to another place.  But to close your eyes and listen to her vocals was the kind of dream you rarely get on America’s Got Talent.  Emily held nothing back, and as her voice echoed with passion around Radio City Music Hall, everyone wanted to swing on a chandelier with her.  The standing ovation she received hardly feels like enough; this woman could win the whole thing.

JD Anderson
Strongman JD Anderson ripped off his tux and broke a few bats before starting the real show.  After lighting three piles of bricks of fire, it looked more like he was trying to break all three at the same time, using both arms and his head.  Instead he punched them all to submission before leaping out of the ring off flames.  He closed the night with the same trick he performed during judgment week, smashing his body through a great many slabs of ice.  Though the last one shattered thanks to gravity, the rest met their end thanks to a sheer amount of force that few others could duplicate.  All the judges gave JD his dues, especially when it looked like he might have knocked himself out.  Whether America finds favor with a man who can literally crush his opponents is yet to be seen.

Dan Naturman
For comedians, the live show is always sink or swim time and it was the same thing for Dan Naturman.  His first topic was a killer—the ease with which anyone can make a baby is still mystifying to those of us who have known the ins and outs of the birds and bees for eons.  Dan comparing the ease with which you can wake up to a baby with waking up to discover a perfectly self- built Ikea table was genius.  After a few barbs about Canada, he closed with some remarks on having to pick your own medication from a plethora of advertisements.  Though Heidi felt his performance lagged in the middle, the rest of the judges were thoroughly impressed with his set and his perfectly awkward personality.  America’s never had a problem attaching themselves to a nervous funny guy before—Dan’s future could be bright.

Miguel Dakota
Early favorite Miguel Dakota performed with unbalanced, yet mixed reviews.  His song choice was stellar as his backup band; “Come Together” is the kind of classic song that deserves to be rocked out,  While the band hit all the right notes, it only took a few long stares into the camera to see that Miguel was relying on his heartthrob status.  Miguel commanded the stage like a professional, and though it’s clear he could easily move on, what Howard said is valid.  You can’t just be good; you have to be great.  It’s just under the surface with Miguel—next time he needs to let go.

Who Deserves to Advance: Valo & Bobby, Baila Conmigo, David & Leeman, Emily West, Flight Crew Jump Rope

Wild Cards: Miguel Dakota’s heartthrob status could push him through, as could The Willis Clans’s country style G-rated appeal.