America’s Got Talent 10 – Live Blog and Recap – Judge Cuts 1 (VIDEO)
America’s Got Talent 10 is back for “Judge Cuts 1,” as judges Howard Stern, Mel B, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and host Nick Cannon begin narrowing down the contestants who’ve survived auditions.
But they won’t be judging alone, as they’ll be joined this round by guest judges Michael Buble, Piers Morgan, Marlon Wayans and Neil Patrick Harris! And each of them has his own Golden Buzzer to send one lucky act straight through to the live shows at Radio City Music Hall! The search for the next great million dollar act continues, as AGT Season 10 rages on!
Will the winner be among tonight’s auditioners? Which acts will advance to the next round, and which acts will fall short?
Keep it locked right here as I’ll be updating with commentary!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with the arrival of the judges, as they anticipate the arrival of their first special guest for this week: NEIL PATRICK HARRIS! Howard is the one who chose him as the guest judge. We’ll get a different guest judge for each of the next four weeks, as we figure out which acts will move on to the live shows.
-Howard introduces Neil to the other judges, and jokes that Neil said he was too good for this show. Neil adamantly denies this, saying he actually said, “I’m a huge fan of this show, and why wasn’t I on it sooner?” Neil shows off some juggling skills, and then gives a motivational speech to the first contestants of the day.
-Onstage, Nick chats a bit with Neil and lets him know that he has a Golden Buzzer to use. Neil tests it out, which results in all of the confetti coming down. And now we have to hold off the auditions for the staff to clean it up. Neil apologizes to the audience for getting carried away.
FREELUSION DANCE COMPANY
-Freelusion is a video mapping and dance company, as they create stories using dance and video projections. It consists of two male dancers and a female, with the lead male explaining how his grandfather is the only person who ever understood him. It’s a poignant video package, as we get to see how much this means to all three of the members of Freelusion.
-It’s a pretty interesting interpretive performance, as the performance tells the tale of what appears to be the Seven Deadly Sins, or at least a serious of evil qualities. One dancer signifies all that is evil, while the other two do their best to avoid his temptations and powers. It’s far more interesting to watch than it is to hear about, and you’ll see once we get the video up, hopefully.
-Howard loved the story and said even an ignoramus like him got it, while Neil thought it was tremendous. He even says he’d hit the Golden Buzzer, except he’s pretty certain they’re going to go far without it. Mel B thought they raised the bar very high, and set an even higher standard. Howard notes that they’re taking 20 acts and cutting them down to 7, and he’s seen some amazing talent go home before, so nothing is certain.
-Paul is back for more juggling action, and he hangs out in the back with his mother, Silvia Silvia, who advanced as a danger act (she shoots crossbows). He recalls the childhood he had, as his mother was fairly typical during the day, but she shot crossbows at night. In a cute moment, Paul’s mother encourages him by telling him to be himself.
-Paul leaves the hats behind this time around and instead brings out a soccer ball, which he keeps in the air with his head. Howard isn’t impressed and hits his buzzer almost immediately, shocking Heidi. But Paul wins over the crowd and the judges with more involved tricks (such as having the ball jump-rope over his head, and maintaining balance while holding onto Howie). It’s a fun act, but not necessarily a million dollar one.
-Howard explains that he buzzed Paul simply because he’s just a guy bouncing a ball on his head. Heidi couldn’t disagree more, saying Paul was flawless. Mel B is somewhere in the middle, saying it started out mediocre but picked up as it went along. Meanwhile, Howie liked the tricks, but didn’t like being touched. And Neil has a lot of respect for jugglers, as someone who does a little juggling himself.
-Silvia prepares backstage as Paul notes how he’s never felt comfortable with his mother’s act, even as a kid, since there’s so much danger to it. While watching backstage, he even notes that she’s risking her life out there. And honestly, he’s not wrong. One false shot, and it’s game over.
-This is an escalated version of her first act, shooting a wine bottle off her husband, and finishing with the most complex trick she possibly could have conceived. Basically, she ricochets an arrow across a series of separate targets in order to shoot an apple off of her own head. How she did this without killing herself, I’ll never know, but it’s downright mind-blowing how she pulled this off. I couldn’t have been more impressed, and the judges are just as floored.
-Howard applauds Silvia not just for her skill, but for her ability to wear a belly shirt at age 60. Neil, meanwhile, notes that he loves how a 60-year-old woman shoots a crossbow at all, since this isn’t necessarily the type of act you’d expect from a woman of her age.
CHAPKIS DANCE FAMILY
-Their Ukrainian choreographer grew up watching Michael Jackson and MC Hammer, and wanted to come to America to make something of himself in the realm of dance. Their dance company has a lot riding on this, of course. Once onstage, Neil notes that he’s surprised a large group hasn’t won this show yet, so he tells them to “represent”.
-This is a high-energy routine, although a bit busy for my tastes. So much is happening that I can hardly tell what’s really going on, even though it’s supposed to be in sync. Still, there’s absolutely no doubting that this group is talented, and their use of lighting is very clever.
-Neil thought it was really high energy and fun, while Mel B says it was fresh and intricate. Howard thought it was too busy (GET OUT OF MY HEAD, HOWARD!), but Heidi insists it was perfect choreography and perfect dancing. Howie enjoyed the act too, but Howard declares it’s going to be hard for this act to get through, since they can only take seven.
-The professional cuddler is back! And she states she’s going to hug people, and they’re going to accept it, in a line I’m sure she didn’t intend to sound as creepy as it was. She says she’s received a whole range of responses since her first audition, some positive and some negative. But she’s cuddled over 10,000 hours in preparation for this round, a number I somehow doubt. For the record, I find Samantha adorable, but I have no idea how this act is in any way sustainable. Once Samantha is onstage, Howard asks his fellow judges how on Earth they didn’t hit their buzzers the first time. Howie, meanwhile, asks Samantha if she’s certified, and she explains that she wrote a hundred page manual and certified herself, basically.
-Neil is the volunteer, as Howard immediately hits his buzzer. Samantha cuddles him a bit with some positions, including The Fortune Cookie (letting him wear her like a backpack) and The Romeo (where she lays across his junk, basically). Heidi and Howie hit their buzzers, and Mel B finishes the execution with the fourth.
-Howard felt Neil looked uncomfortable, and says no one needs a hug that badly. Neil just thought it was a strange act for a show like this, to sit and cuddle for a minute. Howie says she got four Xs, so she’s going home. But they’re pretty sure she’ll find someone to comfort her in the back. And, sure enough, Nick Cannon is there with a big hug at the ready.
-After recapping Neil’s history as a child star, we get a montage of youth acts, including dance team ELIN & NOAH and music act LOS ANGELES CHILDREN’S ORCHESTRA, both of which go over like gangbusters with the judges.
-This leads us to…
-Alondra is a Spanish singer. She’s nervous, but her parents are proud of her. Her father, in particular, fights back tears as he declares, “She’s my pride.” Alondra is determined, noting that her parents came here from Mexico to give her a better life, and she wants to give back to them. She wears a dress she describes as a mix between a sweet sixteen dress and a mariachi dress. It’s a gorgeous gown, honestly.
-Alondra sings the Mexican classic, “Cucurrucucu Paloma” by Lola Beltrán, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It started out a bit shaky, but I thought she brought it all together nicely by the end, showing a dynamic amount of range with her voice. For being 13-years-old, she also has a lot of poise onstage. I loved this.
-Neil says Alondra’s parents should be very proud of her, while Howie feels like he was at the nicest quinceanera, and he wasn’t even invited. Howard says he made a note to himself to remember this girl, and she pulled through once again. He even does an impression of her song and hits an impressive falsetto note. Long story short, they like this girl a lot, and even Neil notes how difficult this is getting. They can only take 7 acts, but he already likes far more than 6.
-Back from break with Neil talking about how magic has been his hobby since he was eight years old. Which leads us to…
-Michael talks about how difficult it’s been to juggle magic and baseball. He recalls being scouted by the Seattle Mariners, and choosing not to pursue it. His family and friends all thought he was crazy. But he found validation in how well his first audition went, recalling how emotional he got when he was put through to the next round. Aw, I like this guy. He seems very earnest. He notes that Piff the Magic Dragon is his main competition, but unlike Piff, he doesn’t have any comedy in his act, so he’ll have to make sure his magic is on point.
-So his trick involves pushing a penny through a soda can, and then emptying the soda can to reveal the coin was inside without any holes or punctures in the can. He seems really nervous here, and a bit lifeless at the same time. Howard hits his buzzer, and while it’s awful to see that sort of thing happen, I can’t say I blame him.
-Howard feels it’s a very quiet presentation, and one that was difficult to get excited about. Mel B states showmanship is something he’ll get with time. Yeah, this sounded like goodbye. Neil, in particular, is upset he wasn’t better, noting what a good-looking guy he was.
PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON
-Piff talks about living in Las Vegas, the mecca of magic, while also introducing Mr. Piffles, the world’s first magic performing Chihuahua. The judges are already loving this. And Heidi is the volunteer, getting to hold Mr. Piffles for this act. Part of me feels like he has a real chance of getting through even if his magic bombs.
-Piff has Heidi sign a playing card, and then puts the stack of cards in a little doghouse with Piffles, who shoots out a series of cards, leaving only Heidi’s. He then deadpan jokes that Piffles has found Heidi’s card, only he’s changed it and removed Heidi’s name. Except that isn’t the case at all. Turns out, Heidi’s card is in Piffles’s can of unopened dog food. It’s an impressive trick, although not necessarily anything all that new for the show. That said, Piff’s humor is what elevated this, as his carefree attitude and effortless charisma helped make this an act to remember. He even sneaks a kiss from Heidi!
-Piff starts making a sandwich onstage, prompting Howie to ask if this couldn’t wait. But Piff insists he’s hungry from looking at all this dog food onstage. Neil praises Piff for the uniqueness of his act, saying he loved the humor, the showmanship and the magic. In fact, he loved it so much…
PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON RECEIVES THE GOLDEN BUZZER FROM NEIL PATRICK HARRIS!
PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON IS HEADED STRAIGHT TO RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL!
-Piff gives Neil his sandwich in celebration, as the acts backstage lament that now no other act can receive the Golden Buzzer. However, Howard praises Neil for his choice, saying Piff’s attitude is part of what’s so compelling about him. And I agree. I could see him going really far in the competition.
-Back from break with fiery, dangerous acrobatic act DUO IGNITE. I wish we could have seen the whole thing, because seeing them swing on flaming ropes like the world’s most dangerous trapeze artists looked insane.
-Myq is intimidated by some of the other acts in the competition, noting that they’re all dangerous, whereas he just speaks. We get background on his relationship with his girlfriend, who was a fan of his who emailed him one day, and things just sort of took off from there. He jokes that if he wins the million, he’ll both stick with his girlfriend and play the field.
-Myq jokes about being unable to take a girl for drinks because he’s broke. He follows it up with a killer gag about having studied philosophy in college. “Or did I? What is philosophy?” He keeps the gag going with a rapid-fire pattern about philosophy that I couldn’t dare to transcribe here.
-Howard loves this type of act, and thinks Myq is great. Neil agrees, and Myq is flattered, joking he would say Neil’s critique made sense even if it didn’t. Mel B and Heidi both note that they were literally laughing out loud, and Howie states he not only laughs at Myq’s jokes, he believes him too. I feel like he has a real shot at going through.
-Back from break with crooner duo NICK AND EDDIE, whom Howie buzzes for some asinine reason. He later says it felt like a cruise act, and he wanted to get off the cruise. Howard says the guys are very new at this, and they haven’t perfected this yet. KEITH KLEIN follows up with his own crooning, and I actually think Nick and Eddie were stronger, from what little we hear. The judges wish the performance had a little more spark to it.
3 SHADES OF BLUE
-The rock band consisting of three brothers and a buddy from high school is back. Their parents were hesitant to allow them to drop out of school, but they eventually became supportive of their choice. They want nothing more than to call their family and say they made it to Radio City Music Hall, because if they fail here, they go back to flipping burgers, waiting tables, and working on a farm. Onstage, Howard lets the guys know he really wants to see a rock band win this thing.
-They sing “Fairly Local” by Twenty One Pilots, and they actually sound like Muse. I’m still not crazy about the singer, but they’re excellent musicians. This feels like an arena-ready act that can deliver on a main stage. The song is dark, but also kind of catchy too. I’m interested to see how far this act could go.
-Howard asks the guys if dropping out of college was a wise move. He says that in most case it wouldn’t be, but he feels in the case of 3 Shades of Blue, it was. He’s excited about 3 Shades of Blue. Neil thinks they’re an act that leaves a strong impression. Mel B didn’t love the song, but she loves the guys themselves. Howie agrees, saying it’s not a song that would ever win it for them, but it’s ultimately up to the young girls who vote just how far they go.
-Back from break with more montaged acts, such as impressive dancers MARC & KIRI, body-twisting dancer VIBEZ, and extreme team X-TREME TRICKING & TUMBLING, all of whom the judges love. This is a tough group to choose between.
GRAND MASTER QI FEILONG
-His interpreter talks about the standing ovation Qi Feilong received in his audition, in addition to how he harnesses energy.
-He brings Mel B and Neil onstage to hold a newspaper, and has the audience point at the paper with their finger, to try and channel the energy into the newspaper to set it on fire. The audience seems enthused, but things quickly go south when nothing happens. All four judges hit their buzzers, and that’s that. Of course, go figure the newspaper catches fire just as Qi Feilong picks it up himself. Ultimately, the judges just didn’t feel it worked, saying the act took too long to get where it was going.
-Dude, Samantha is SO pretty, you guys. But beyond that, she’s also super-talented. She talks about how her mother was invested in her as a child, teaching her everything she knows about music, until one day…she just left. She left her father and left the entire family. As the oldest of six kids, she stepped up to become mom and help keep the family together. Her father lets Samantha know that the family wouldn’t have stuck together without her. Samantha states she’s the singer she is today because of the good things and the bad things that have happened to her. Onstage, Samantha says she needs this and she wants this, and feels it’s her time to make this happen.
-Samantha sings “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith, and it’s absolutely stunning. I liked her first audition, but I thought this was a thousand times better, and went a long way towards making the case for her as a current artist, and not just a big ballad diva who sings throwback tracks from the Whitney Houston era. She’s got something here, and I think she could be a big deal in this competition.
-Howie asks how that feels, and Samantha says it felt amazing. He then singles out Samantha’s father and says he can’t imagine how proud he must be. Mel B can’t believe how beautiful Samantha sounds, calling it “mind-blowing”. Neil feels the deck is stacked against singers in this competition, since there are so many other shows that focus on singers. So to stand out, it needs to be extraordinary. However, he feels Samantha was just that. And Heidi agrees. Looking like Samantha is a sure thing, and that’s a damn good thing.
-The judges bring the acts out in groups…
-LOS ANGELES CHILDREN’S ORCHESTRA and X-TREME TRICKING & TUMBLING are cut, while CHAPKIS DANCE FAMILY advances to Radio City Music Hall.
-MICHAEL JOHN and KEITH KLEIN are eliminated, while MYQ KAPLAN advances to Radio City Music Hall!
-Freelusion advances over DUO IGNITE and MARC AND KIRI. So FREELUSION advances to Radio City Music Hall!
-3 SHADES OF BLUE advances to Radio City Music Hall over VIBEZ and ELIN & NOAH.
-SILVIA SILVIA advances to Radio City Music Hall over her son, PAUL PONCE. Tears of joy and sadness abound.
-NICK AND EDDIE and ALONDRA SANTOS are cut while SAMANTHA JOHNSON advances to Radio City Music Hall!
-So the 7 acts from this week advancing to Radio City Music Hall are…
Piff the Magic Dragon (GOLDEN BUZZER RECIPIENT!)
Chapkis Dance Family
Freelusion Dance Company
3 Shades of Blue
-And that’s a wrap! I’m not the least bit surprised by the choices that were made, although I thought Alondra Santos has a chance of making it in over Silvia Silvia or Chapkis Dance Family. But this was mostly a suspense-free week, although the talent was very good, in many respects.
But what did you think of tonight’s show? Did the judges make the right choices? Was Neil Patrick Harris right to give Piff the Magic Dragon the Golden Buzzer? Sound off in the comments! Until next week, thanks for reading!