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America's Got Talent Anal-ysis - Semi-finals - Week #2

10 More acts go up to perform for your pleasure. 5, 4, or whatever number of acts that the judges feel like putting in get through to the Finals. Haterade was a perfect 5 for 5 last week. Let's see if he can repeat the feat this week.

Welcome again to another performance show of AGT. Just as a reminder of what I (and most of America) is looking for in an act...:

1. Do something different. The audience wants to see what else you got.
2. Make it bigger and better. The stakes are raised. Your game must be as well.
3. Remind us what brought you here. You have 105 seconds. No second chances. Go hard or go home..
4. There better be music involved. 90% of the acts that advance in this round are music-based.

Let's start the show.

Recycled Percussion begins the evening with some rock, and they promise something crazy. Crazier than using a power drill to play a guitar? Apparently so, as they play on a van that vertically splits open in 2, with the top half levitating upwards.
The Good: The band's performance is very creative and catchy. The group played another high voltage rock song, featuring people using a sledgehammer to nail a bus. The fact that the top of the van was elevated was a very nice touch.
The Bad: I don't know if it was an audio issue or intentional, but the music was in the background while the drumming was in the foreground. If it was intentional, the very sloppy finish of the performance may have shown them that it was a tactical error.
The Verdict: This was a fun effort. I agree that if they compare themselves to Stomp, they'll get into trouble, but if they stay as a rock band, they can be a dark horse to win the whole thing.

Lawrence Beamon wants to follow up his act with something more contemporary. His version of contemporary is 'Fallen' by Alicia Keys.
The Good: If you weant to win this competition, you have to be special and take risks. He did, and unlike Sharon, I liked the vocal acrobatics. The trills and vocal stretches are hard to pull off, and he did so very well. He also stayed in tune for the last 90% of the song.
The Bad: The first 10% of the song, however, was trouble. He was shaky to start. I also hated the song choice - the voice makes him Barry White, and there's plenty of Barry White material that he could have selected that would have made him fit the mold more commercially, instead of trying to make us imagine him as Alicia Keys. If you're a guy, never sing a song made famous by a woman. Barry White's 'Let The Music Play' (Yes, Barry made a song called that, not the song made popular by Shannon - that's a different song) would have been a perfect choice.
The Verdict: Despite the song choice, the 'vocal acrobatics' are going to be a hit with the voters. If they vote like the audience popped when he hit the acrobatics, Lawrence should have no problems this evening.

But will Erik & Rickie have problems? They want to take their act to the next level. In this case, the next level features them as toys in a global shop. Can they dance to the finals?
The Good: I liked the moonwalk segment of the performance. I also liked the dancing to the current music and I'll disagree with him on the buzz for that reason. This was an act that DID work with the contemporary spin.
The Bad: However, I would have buzzed them for a completely different reason. There was not enough going on with the act - there were too many slow spots and not enough dancing. And when they were doing their individual technical spots, they were not in synch at all, which makes me think that by the end of the act, a pair of garbagemen will come to take the dolls to the land of misfit toys.
The Verdict: No group that has been saved by the judges ever advanced past the next episode. Erik and Rickie will not be breaking that trend.

When we last saw Jeffrey Ou, he had microphone issues. America voted him through anyways, though I would not have due to other things, like song choice. Can Jeffrey redeem himself this week with Liszt's 'Hungarian Rhapsody' and make a believer out of me?
The Good: There's no doubt that he is a very technical performer. He can hit the notes, and for an 18 year old, he is an amazing instrumentalist. I also loved the idea of a spinning piano and the lights reacting to how he was playing the music.
The Bad: It's a great idea in theory, but in reality, it didn't come off as well as it should have. Once again, I have an issue with the song choice - it would have worked if he picked a more emotional piece of music that the audience could relate to. This would have been a perfect spot for some 'Christmas Eve in Sarajevo' by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with the lights alternating in green and red, signifying Christmas. That would have worked. And for the first time since we've seen him, he wasn't technically perfect; he had a few clunky notes that would have resulted in the star falling off the Christmas tree.
The Verdict: Jeffrey may want to hope that the sympathetic audience shows some love once again, because if they don't, Jeffrey could have some massive problems advancing tonight.

Hairo Torres is talking to us about him idolizing his mom when he grew up. His dance scene this week: The Prom. I don't think he was idolizing his mom as the Homecoming Queen though - that would be creepy.
The Good: This is the first person to actually raise his game from the week before. Sure, we get some contortion, but we also get a small group synchronized dancing, B-Boy moves and an ensemble dance maneuver. A vast improvement over the Round 1 performance.
The Bad: Not really much bad for him - more for the supporting players, who lost costumed apparel during the routine and had to kick it out of the way so Hairo's next performance doesn't take place in a hospital, with him stuck in traction.
The Verdict: Before the night started, I was thinking Hairo had an outside shot to get in with a save from the judges. However, based on what I've seen so far, Hairo could get in via the audience. He still needs some help from some of the later acts to falter.

One of those acts would be The Eriam Sisters, who wowed the crowd with Beyonce last week. So what else can they do? What about 'When you Believe?', which was made famous by Mariah Carey and later remade by David Archuleta. Can they make America believe?
The Good: The judges (and myself) wanted them to stop dancing and start staying in place and singing. So from that standpoint, they listened. And at the end, it paid off with a nice harmonization to finish it off.
The Bad: The song was from the movie 'The Prince of Egypt'. And at the end, it did feel like Moses did lead his people out of Egypt, but the beginning and middle of the song sounded like Moses and his people got detained by a tar pit or a herd of angry camels on the way. The vocal harmonization was flat, and they suffered from Archuleta-itis with a case of the lyrical dropsies.
The Verdict: Not nearly as strong as the first round. If the sisters are going to make it to the next round, they better not finish in 5th or 6th. The judges have already sent through a shaky group of young siblings. I'm not sure they are going to allow a second set in.

Mario and Jenny's last act featured burning guitars and a fire arc. That was good enough to advance last week, and with some of the favorites faltering, a good act would be good enough to get them through this week. Can they accomplish this?
The Good: We get Mario bouncing some balls, Jenny balancing on a pole, Mario doing some dancing, Mario playing drums, and Mario balancing a pole containing a flaming drum with his face. It's a fun enough time to spend 90 or so seconds.
The Bad: None of that screamed 'Danger' or 'Excitement'. It didn't feel at all like a dangerous, maddening act. With Mario and Jenny wearing those light green spandex outfits, it felt like 'Mario and Jenny's Workout', and I'm getting ready to aerobicize.
The Verdict: If you're a 'Vaudeville' act, you need to bring something new, exciting and fresh to the table. Mario and Jenny did none of that, and hence they can do their next act on the streets in front of where the audience will be buying tickets to watch the acts perform in the finals.

Nobody knew who Drew Stevyns was before the show. There's a chance that no one may remember who he is 5 months after the show, but he's looking to extend his fame with 'Careless Whisper'. Yes, the George Michael (a la Wham) song. Can he whisper his way into the finals?
The Good: VERY smart choice of song by Mr. Stevyns. If you're a girlie magnet, you do a song that the girlies will love. The 16 year old girls, while polishing their toe nails and chatting about hitting the sauna, will scream at Drew and flood the phone lines once he starts singing the song.
The Bad: Yes, I know that it's been remade into a rock song, but George Michael had a panache that included making love to the low-pitched passages and nailing the high notes - neither of which Drew did. And a special boo to the judges who say that he made the song his own and didn't credit Seether for rocking out the song first.
The Verdict: I hated this performance. Hated it. That being said, it's a perfect song to get the kiddie bop singers to vote in - especially with a song they know. I think it does pay off in the form of a trip to the finals.

The FootworKKINGZ just barely got here thanks to the judges. Now their next act to get them to the finals features...The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? Wha?
The Good: Obviously the group got spooked by what happened last week and got younger. In that respect, by dressing up as pseudo Power Rangers, they succeeded.
The Bad: However, it's their act that's old. They did the same back and forth foot sweep motion move, which is cute, but they need something else to go with it. They don't, which violates rule #1, and in a competition where you need newness to get votes, that spells trouble.
The Verdict: Power Rangers, this past year, got canceled. Expect the FootWorkkingz show to similarly go off the air on Wednesday night.

Barbara Padilla ends the evening. The opera-singing powerhouse gives us 'Ave Maria', but will we be praising it just as highly afterwards?
The Good: What a great, great voice Barbara has. Amazing tone, and it was solidly in tune. It was an incredibly powerful performance.
The Bad: That ridiculously long yellow dress combined with the goofy 3 tiered platform looked like she was either 1. A butterfly melting in a frying pan or 2. A poor woman trapped on an Emmy statuette platform. Either way, it looked el bizarro.
The Verdict: Based on the pop from the crowd when they announced her and the standing ovation when she was finished with the performance, you can stick her in one of the Top spots.

Overall: I thought this round was going to be tougher to predict, just by the quality of the acts that got in for the past 2 weeks. It looks like I'm going to be proven wrong here. I only saw 5 good acts, and those are the ones I think are getting in.

Haterade's Picks:

Barbara Padilla
Recycled Percussion
Lawrence Beamen
Drew Stevyns

Judges Choice: Hairo Torres Vs. ERIam Sisters: Hairo Torres Advances.

Join us tonight to see if I can get them all right again.
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