America's Got Talent-Season 9 Epsidoe 12-John & Andrew
That’s right folks, now you can thank Sharknado for doing more than taking over your preferred social media feed.  The TV movie has inspired the America’s Got Talent producers to manipulate that terrible moniker into another ridiculous label.  Thanks for that.  Luckily, much like Nick Cannon’s ludicrous burgundy fedora, no one has time to care.  It was performance night on AGT, and with five more slots in the semi-finals on the line, the twelve quarter-finalists had enough to get along with.  This year voting is even easier: just go to Google and search the show.  Voting is up until 12 noon Eastern Standard Time, so go, fight, and vote!

Hart Dance Team
Swapping out their black and white box and matching leotards for a sparkly box with equally identical bodysuits, Hart Dance Team opened their set by popping out of their camouflage surroundings.  Considering they used the same technique during their original audition, the whole performance lost some of its mystique.  Their routine was good, but there didn’t seem like there were enough special moments to amount to votes.  A lone aerialist spun on a rope in the air above the group in the finale, but that’s about it.  Even though Howie and Mel B. found favor with the performance, Howard and Heidi were as nonplussed as I was.  Their shot at the semis depends on the public.

Loop Rawlins
Professional rodeo star Loop Rawlins returned to lasso America’s votes.  Warming up with a few lasso sticks, Loop moved on to the big time quickly.  Spinning a rope nearly twice his size, he jumped in and out of his own loop with ease.  Moving the rope around his body for the finale, there’s no doubt that Loop’s talent is engaging.  With Mel B. already questioning the need for his act Howard’s fear that America may pass up on a good thing could become reality.

John & Andrew
The stunning male salsa duo returned to obliterate the competition yet again.   There are no worlds for the seamless, flawless way these two men perform together.  The pair moves swiftly, and with precision: Andrew spins and twirls with flourish, leaping across the platform before your brain has time to fully comprehend the sequence of events.  There was never a misstep or even a moment of hesitation; John & Andrew move with such fury there’s obviously no time to make errors.  Most of the judges were pleased, but when Mel B. called their performance lacking the rest shouted her down, led by Howard, chief gusher of the make duo.  Hopefully America knows enough not to let these amazing dancers slip through their fingers.

Livy, Matt, & Sammy
Performing together for only the third time seemed to be a heady ordeal for Livy, Matt & Sammy.  Their usual folk song offering was of the Queen variety thins time around; “Fat Bottomed Girls” should have been a crowning achievement for the trio.  Unfortunately Livy’s vocals never raised to the heights the live show and Radio City Music Hall demands.  The judges were equally disappointed by their one note performance.  I wouldn’t put them on the short list for the semi-finals.

Andrey Moraru
Hand balancing has been redefined by Andrey Moraru.  His grace and control never falters—if you’re not careful, the ease with which he contorts his body into swimming motions while balancing on one handstand might trick viewers into thinking it’s easy.  Andrey’s body molds to whatever is needed moment to moment.  His fluidity is unmatched.  Watching Andrey spin his body around each handstand bar made it clear theirs only one place he’s headed: the semi-finals.

Juan Carlos
My expectations for Juan Carlos’s paltry roller skate choreography were decidedly low.  Filling the stage with flashing lights and dancers wearing contrasting bodysuit and Juan Carlos style mustaches did nothing to distract from Juan Carlos’s awesomely bad performance.  Roller skaters across the globe are embarrassed and hey, maybe next season one of you could come and restore your crafts reputation.  Predictably, the judges table erupted in pandemonium when Howard accused the other judges of faking their attraction to Juan’s act.  His anger is well deserved—the other judges continued support not only robbed us of another quality act for the quarter –finals.  Every time they encourage the public to look upon Juan Carlos with praise, they run the risk of stealing votes from more deserving acts.  Which, just in case you weren’t paying attention, means literally any other performer.

Mara Justine
Wearing a shiny dress and sneaker set befitting her age, 12 year old soloist Mara Justine belted out “Unconditionally.”  Howard’s critique was right to the point; the girl has talent and deserves to move on but she needs to lay off of belting out every line.  Mara needs to show range in the other direction, but that didn’t stop the judges from supporting the young girl.  Wishing ill will for the child performers is a hard thing—though we have hopes for Mara we’re worried she’ll be eclipsed by the others.

Aerial Animation
There’s a reason Aerial Animation got a straight shot to the quarter-finals.  This time, Abagail told a story of a shipwrecked canoe with her moving animation.  After washing ashore and braving a tornado, she hopped on a horse and rode away.  The story itself is encapsulating enough, but Abagail again used gymnastics and her Aerial silk to interact with her animated surroundings.  This time she added the element of a blacked out body assistant.  Lying on the floor her helper helped support her and toss her in the air for different moves.  The standing ovation she received was beyond deserved—if Aerial Animation isn’t headed for the semis then there is no justice.

Jaycob Curlee
Once the live shows start nice doesn’t get you very far.  Jaycob Curlee found favor early on with his sweet voice and his sad tale.  Searching for a family for many years before being adopted, he’s had America’s heart since day one.  Unfortunately his performance of “Beneath Your Beautiful” did nothing to raise his own esteem.  Though he attempted to create an intimate setting with the low lights and solitary stool, his voice never seemed to complete the promise the surroundings made.  The judges all called for a stronger vocal showing next time.

Mat Franco
Approaching the judges table for another card trick, Mat Franco first spray painted a prediction of which card Heidi would choose.  After Heidi chose the ten of spades, Mat revealed his giant spray painted sign that read two of diamonds.  Not deterred, he used a make shift blowtorch to burn of his bad guess and reveal a picture of the ten of spades that had been there from the start.  Taking it a step further, he instructed Howie, who Mat never approached or touched, to stand and reveal the two of diamonds hidden in his pocket.  There’s no way America can allow a magician of this caliber go home.

Darik Santos
Comedian Darik Santos relied heavily on his nervous shtick for this performance this go around.  His jokes were punctuated by intentionally bad puns and his nervous laughter.  He was amusing, but not in an overly hilarious way.  The female judges have traditionally been very hard on the comedians, and Darik was no exception.  His character gave them very little pleasure and no humor, something Howard had to agree with as well.  Howie was Darik’s lone champion, demanding the judges see the appeal in a many who says things in a funny way, instead of the usual saying funny things.  Howie made a valid point, but its doubtful Darik has enough pull to garner that support.

Acte II
Closing the show with a surprisingly contemporary choice, Acte II continued in the same vein of most of the night’s performers by polarizing the judging panel.  Their multi-language performance of “I Will Always Love You” elevated the classic in an elegant way.  The control these women have over their voices is nearly unmatched.  Most of the judges were impressed, though Howard seemed to be immune to their spell.  It’s just hard to imagine an operatic duo as talented as these two being bunted from the competition so soon.

Who Should Advance: John & Andrew, Andrey Moraru, Aerial Animation, Mat Franco, Acte II

Wild Cards: Loop Rawlins, Mara Justine, Darik Santos