After such a promising first episode, the quality of AGT season 8 took an absolute nosedive. There are literally not enough words to sufficiently express what a terrible night this was.
There were no Xs this night, but there absolutely should have been.
It wasn’t all bad, but anyone who suspects that the entire night may have been deliberately intended to try and prop up an otherwise weak act should definitely feel validated in that assumption.
The twelve acts for the second round of quarterfinals were:
#1: Innovative Force
Innovative Force’s strategy was to bank everything on their tricks, with the actual dance elements still being just a thin distraction away from the setups.
The setups, however, were well worth the effort. The act is unquestionably impressive. It just lacks in fine tuning.
The judges were all positive, minus Howie Mandel, who dodged the question by saying “So far, you are the best act tonight.”
If anything will keep America from voting for them, it’s the danger, which Howard Stern pointed out in his compliments to them. Stern might like that, but America has proven time and time again that it does not.
Fortunately for Innovative Force, this was a really bad night. The only other possible downside is that one of the few acts who didn’t fail to impress immediately followed them.
#2: Ciana Pelekai
If Pelekai did anything wrong, it was her song choice. She didn’t perform poorly, but she chose a very wordy, challenging song that didn’t let her show off her full vocal range until the very end.
Pelekai’s vocals are, however, unquestionably mature, and unlike Anna Christine the week before, Pelekai couldn’t have appeared any more at ease on the Radio City stage.
Only Stern offered any critique, saying that he felt like she was straining and got lost in the background. Mel B. sort of agreed with this, saying of Pelekai that she “could just sing with a guitar” and her voice would speak for itself.
#3: Alexandr Magala
Good news: Magala didn’t kill himself.
He did, however, start his performance without the sword down his throat and instead performed on his pole while holding what appeared to be a lit firecracker. This allowed him to move much more freely than when he worked with the sword, but at the expense of gradually submerging him in a cloud of smoke that completely obscured him towards the end.
Then he set that aside and went back to the sword, which once again required Magala to focus himself on staying straight, and by extension, killed the pace of his act.
The delayed reaction from the audience said it all. Nobody wanted to even watch this act until it was over.
If that wasn’t enough, Stern mentioned that he was aware Magala had suffered an internal injury during practice and couldn’t eat for two days as a result of it. The other judges all applauded him just for surviving.
Much later in the show, Nick Cannon mentioned that people were asking all over Twitter if Magala was alright.
#4: Struck Boyz
Apparently with the presumption that these kids were not irritating enough, the AGT producers decided to give them an introduction stylized after the opening to Jersey Shore.
Which was appropriate, given that the performance involved a lot of fist pumping and one kid showing off his abs twice.
As a reminder, none of these kids are even in their teenage years, yet they’re already acting like the next generation of drunken meatballs America desperately wishes would just go away.
Once again, Stern offered the only criticism, noting that they were out of sync and that he wasn’t sure what was more disturbing: That they even had abs to begin with, or that they were constantly showing them off.
#5: Brad Byers
As if Alexandr Megala’s chances were not bad enough, he had to compete during the same round as the one man who could take what few votes he has away from him.
Fortunately for him, Byers did not perform any sword swallowing stunts. Instead, he stuck his tongue inside a fan until it came to a complete stop, then lied down on a bed of nails and had his brother drive an ATV over him.
The performance, however, actually involved the ATV driving over a ramp, which made it look more fake than it actually was. Byers also lost points by playing dead after it drove over him.
Mel B. said it best: “Why?”
#6: Kid the Wiz
After promising he would not drop the hat again at Radio City. . . Yes, you guessed it. He did drop the hat. He recovered nicely, but there was still no mistaking it.
Which was even more discouraging given that his strategy was apparently to do fewer of his signature hat tricks.
Stern once again offered the most useful comments, saying that he could see him in a sneaker commercial and complimenting him for his stage presence. Mandel and Klum, meanwhile, disagreed about whether the Wiz had taken his act to the next level.
Mel B. faulted this act for being “over the top” dramatic and theatrical.
Bloody duh, Mel. They were singing a song from West Side Story.
Scary Spice aside, the response to this act was completely positive, with a standing ovation from the other three judges and the Radio City Music Hall audience.
Mandel predicted he would see Forte in the Top 10, and for once he’s actually right about something.
Don’t get excited; he’s still the bane of my existence. He would proceed to make that abundantly clear at the end of the night.
#8: Angela Hoover
Hoover, like most impressionists AGT has had, still apparently has trouble grasping the fact that an impression, no matter how accurate it is, will not carry the act itself. She did Mel B. and Heidi Klum impressions, followed by Christina Aguillera, but she once again failed to tell any funny jokes (or in some cases, even any jokes at all) with them.
Even Klum, who has proven several times over to be as dumb as a rock, picked up on that. Mandel, who is notoriously soft on comedians (because he likes to pretend he used to be one) conceded that the material was bad, and Stern speculated that she was unprepared.
#9: Dave Shirley
Fortunately for Angela Hoover, the comedian who followed her blew it phenomenally.
On paper, this was a good idea. Shirley predominantly used his monitors at waist level to continually give himself different dancing legs, first a tap dancer, then a ballerina skirt, and so on and so forth until he finally morphed completely into a Vegas showgirl.
It sounds like a great idea, but as has been said on this column before, an idea is only as good as its execution. And the execution for this act was absolutely abysmal. Shirley’s movements almost never matched his legs, which made what should have been a very funny act just kind of sad to watch.
None of the judges failed to mention this. They all agreed that the concept behind the act was genius, but with his timing as off as it was, it just didn’t matter tonight.
#10: Marty Brown
The nerves got to him ladies and gentlemen. Marty Brown is no longer a front runner.
He also made a song choice that was absolutely terrible for his voice, making his performance sound almost like a parody of country music.
Mandel: “That emotion choked you up.”
Stern: “Man, what happened tonight?”
Mel B.: “I think you definitely just blew it just then.”
Making things worse, Brown could not shut up for the life of him and kept talking over them, making what should have seemed like a potential champion start to become really annoying.
Fortunately, in the annoying department, Marty Brown would proceed to be overshadowed ten times over, so there might still be hope for him yet.
The AGT crew definitely made sure to make this act look as good as possible. But the problem is still that you can’t see it all at once; can’t see how hard they are working while also seeing the intended finished product.
It was also mentioned that one member sustained a concussion during rehearsals, giving America even less incentive to vote for the Aquanuts.
The judges all evaded passing actual judgment on the act, mostly stating that they were very impressed by it but neglected to say whether or not they expected America to vote for it.
The sad reality is that the “Any act, any age” promise doesn’t always pan out. The Aquanuts have talent befitting of an Olympic level, but there may not be a stage in existence where they can properly showcase it.
#12: Tone the Chiefrocca
This?! This is how you close the night?! Seriously?!!
Why?! He performed the exact same song! And everyone knew he was going to do that!!
Even Nick Cannon couldn’t keep a straight face as he was introducing this crap.
Which got a standing ovation from Howie, of course.
Mandel even tried to call out his Twitter critics who told him this was not a Vegas act or not an hour show. To which he said “We’re just looking for talent!”
And you funked up big time in that department too Howie.
“How can you not enjoy this song?” shouted Mel B. Ask me, I know the answer.
And all through their idiot comments, Tone would not shut up for one second.
They did it. They actually managed to pull it off. They actually found someone who might very well be worse than Mary Ellen.
And the only reason this epic waste of flesh is not at the absolute bottom of the list where he belongs is because of how shamelessly the entire AGT production crew is trying to prop him up. For whatever reason, this is the act somebody in the AGT crew desperately wants America to believe is worth actually voting for.
It will never happen. America will never be as dumb as Howie Mandel continually wishes they would be.
The twelve acts of the night, arranged from most likley to advance to least, are:
- Ciana Pelekai
- Innovative Force
- Marty Brown
- Angela Hoover
- Kid the Wiz
- Dave Shirley
- Struck Boyz
- Tone the Chiefrocca
- Alexandr Magala
- Brad Byers