‘One of the strangest evenings we’ve ever had,’ says one of the cast members of ‘AGT.’
“God only knows what you must have been thinking, Mike… because this has been one of the strangest evenings we’ve ever had,” an irritated Simon Cowell told comedian Mike E. Winfield during America’s Got Talent’s fourth qualifying round on Tuesday. “And then you walk on and bring it.”
It was understandable that Simon was relieved that Mike, the night’s second-to-last performer, had finally arrived. Mike, a true rising star, delivered on the promise of his incredible first audition. Unfortunately, many of the other ten contestants in the episode did not.
If I’m being honest, as Simon would say, Tuesday was nothing but disappointment after disappointment. The night got off to a slow start with New Zealand tap-dancer Bayley Graham, whom Simon called “slightly underwhelming,” followed by tween a cappella group Acapop!, whose dreary original song and tacky styling had Howie Mandel buzzing them with his big red X. “What’s the matter with you?” host Terry Crews yelled as Howie crushed those poor kids’ dreams. Acapopwooden !’s performance improved after Howie buzzed them, according to Simon, but it was too little, too late.
The British were not faring much better. While the judges were impressed by Southampton singer Lee Collinson’s audition of Dermot Kennedy’s “Better Days” a few weeks ago, they were disappointed that his more conversational song this week, Lauren Spencer Smith’s “Flowers,” did not showcase his vocal range. Howie grumbled, “If I was listening to that on the radio, I would have turned the channel because the song bored me.” Simon thought Lee sounded like he was “reading a letter” in the wrong key. (I think they were a little harsh on Lee, but this wasn’t his best performance.)
Then there was the Lazy Generation, a Jackass-style stunt/comedy troupe from London. The last time they were actually hilarious, but this week’s bizarre act — mincing around in ballerina tutus, whacking each other in the crotch with various inanimate objects, and wrestling in a cactus garden — was rather lazy. Fellow mad Englishman Simon thought their routine was “beautiful,” but admitted it was “not to everyone’s liking”; judge Sofia Vergara sure didn’t like it, so she red-X’d them midway through.
The two impressionists on Tuesday, ventriloquist Jack Williams and opera singer Merissa Beddows, received mixed reviews as well. They demonstrated some abilities, but both lacked comedic chops. While Merissa’s impersonations of Cher, Celine Dion, and Evanescence’s Amy Lee were spot on, she inexplicably decided to drop the comedy element that had made her first audition so much fun. Even her brief impression of Lois Griffin from Family Guy couldn’t lift the spirits on Tuesday. Simon liked her singing but thought Merissa lacked personality, and Sofia wished Merissa had written another “little story” to go with the music.
The bad news for AGT viewers is that they had to sit through two hours of mostly mediocre performances. However, because this was not a competitive week, viewers will find it much easier than usual to vote through only two of Tuesday’s 11 acts to the Season 17 finale. Mike E. Winfield, as previously mentioned, was clearly the night’s favourite. As Heidi boldly predicted, he could soon become the first stand-up comic to win AGT. Even if he doesn’t, Howie has already hired Mike as his opening act.
But who remains, and who else has a chance?
Jannick Holste, Germany’s campy dancing magician, may advance because judge Heidi Klum named him the series’ best magic act of all time; however, he’s not a sure bet because Simon called his dancing “horrible.” Harper, a little-girl screamo singer who Simon “loved,” and singer-songwriter Lily Meola could both make the cut, even if Howie said Lily’s original ballad for her late mother didn’t “blow the roof off the place.”
But I think Metaphysic, who Simon called “the best act, I believe, of the series so far,” will take this week’s other finale spot.
It’s possible that Simon is biassed because this was the second time the deepfake act used AR technology to make it appear as if Simon was singing. This time, they also used Uncanny Valley versions of Terry and Howie for a creepy but compelling rendition of “Nessun Dorma” — “It’s like Il Divo, but Il Stupido,” Howie quipped — and it was unlike anything seen on AGT before. If they made it, Metaphysic promised to digitally resurrect “the greatest rock act ever” (Elvis Presley? What about Freddie Mercury? What about John Lennon? What about David Bowie? Prince?) for the finals, so they’ll probably get some votes just for being curious.
See you on Wednesday for a results show that should be more entertaining than Tuesday’s. At the very least, Wednesday’s episode will be one hour long.