America’s Got Talent 10 – Live Blog and Recap – Semi-Final 1 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap of America’s Got Talent 10! It’s the first Semi-Final round as Judges Howard Stern, Mel B, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and host Nick Cannon continue the search for that million dollar act! Eleven acts will compete live tonight from Radio City Music Hall for just five spots in the finals!
The 11 acts performing on tonight’s show are:
Arielle Baril, Opera Singer
Benton Blount, Country Singer/Guitarist
Derek Hughes, Magician/Comedian
Drew Lynch, Stand-up Comedian
Ira, Singing Puppet
Metal Mulisha Fitz Army, Motocross Team (The Judges’ Wild Card Act!)
Mountain Faith Band, Bluegrass Band
Oz Pearlman, Mentalist
Samantha Johnson, Singer
Siro-A, Video Projection Dance Group
The CraigLewis Band, R&B Vocal Duo
Keep it locked right here as I’ll be updating with commentary and videos as the night rolls on!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We get introductions, and Nick points out Mel B’s cartoonishly oversized sunglasses. She explains that she woke up with a really bad eye infection, and she isn’t sure if she’s still contagious or not. Naturally, this freaks out Howie, who flees into the audience and onto the lap of an unsuspecting crowd member. And now, we kick things off with our first act…
IRA FENNELBLOOM opens the show!
-We get a downright adorable video package, in which Ira goes into training for the Semi-Final, with other puppets helping out. He goes through wardrobe, gets a massage, and even gets knocked out while boxing for some reason. I absolutely loved this. But then, like always, I’m a sucker for felt puppets.
-So it opens with a skit in which Ira is looking over old family photos, with Miriam recalling how she met Ira’s father. They then decide to retell the whole story of the courtship through a big, lavish musical number. This involves a parody of the song “Copacabana”, with a golden staircase set, feather dancers, and everything. Of course, and I just KNEW this crap would happen, Howard BUZZES them. Because of COURSE he buzzed them. I thought this was adorable, and was really entertained by it. So I can only imagine Howard is utterly devoid of joy. Then again, the crowd wasn’t really making any noise for this either, unfortunately.
-Howard says that Ira can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again, since only five acts can go through. He feels burned out on this act, and thinks they’re burned out on America’s Got Talent. Mel B is somewhere in the middle, saying they’re entertaining and adorable, but aren’t exactly the most thrilling act on the show. Howie actually loves Ira, and thinks they’re perfect for a family show. He couldn’t disagree with Howard more. Heidi, however, says that it’s probably going to be a rough night for Ira, since the competition is so high here. She wishes them luck. Afterwards, Nick interviews Ira, and he feels the judges’ comments just bought them two tickets to the Dunkin’ Live Save tomorrow night…a joke that, sadly, doesn’t land at all with the audience. I fear this might be the end for Ira. However, he did well in even getting this far, considering the acts that didn’t make it here.
MOUNTAIN FAITH BAND is up next!
-The band talks about needing to go bigger for the semi-final, while also discussing the culture shock of going from their small town to NYC. Summer got lost on the subway for five hours, since she comes from a town with only one stoplight. However, they see this as their shot to make bluegrass music big in America. Some would argue it already is big, albeit in a niche market. But I see where they’re coming from, and I do hope they do well, because I really like this act.
-They sing “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd, and I LOVE THIS. Seriously, I never would have thought this would be the type of song that needed a bluegrass version, but hot damn, this has me listening to this song with new ears. I would buy this RIGHT NOW. The audience sounds like they’re really digging this too. I’m so happy they did well. No Xs either! (With Howard, you really never know)
-Howie says that only five acts can go through, so he understands where Summer was coming from in her video package when she said they needed to go bigger. But he feels their bigness comes from their harmonies. Unfortunately, he felt this was more Branson, Missouri, than Radio City Music Hall. Howard agrees, saying they’re incredible musicians, but are lacking in the vocals or a “big moment”. Heidi says she can see this group’s limitations, and she feels it’s a shame because she really likes them. Mel B thought the song was the wrong choice, but says she’s always loved these guys, disagreeing with Howard by saying they don’t need a “big moment” because they’re a great “groove band”. Howard is perplexed by this, naturally. Nick interviews Summer about the song choice, and she says they picked it because it’s something you’d never expect a bluegrass band to cover. To the credit of Mountain Faith Band, the audience DID boo the negative opinions against them, which is more than could be said for Ira, so they might still have a chance, even if it does end up coming down to the Dunkin’ Save.
-Back from break with the Judges’ Wild Card pick, Metal Mulisha Fitz Army. Howard explains they brought these guys back because they’re true daredevils, and they’ve never seen anything like this. Of course, this is technically the second time they’ve been brought back after elimination.
METAL MULISHA FITZ ARMY is up next!
-Their leader talks about how gutwrenching it was to be eliminated. They were genuinely surprised, because they thought they had it in the bag, and they can only assume America thought they were wimps or something. They talk about having lost six of their best friends to this, so the danger is very real. But they want to stick around in this competition. So now they have to go bigger to keep from going home, as they plan to set the stage on fire tonight. Literally.
-Aaaaand it’s more ramp-jumping. Of course, I say that, but these guys ARE really talented, and their jumps involve some really cool tricks in mid-air. But it all has the mark of having been there and done that, except with the flames shooting up into the air as they jump from the ramp to the opposite platform. But then, the finale brings it altogether, as one rider is set on fire and then performs a massive jump. Awesome stuff. And the judges love it, giving the guys a standing ovation.
-Howard thinks they ran into trouble last time because we live in an age of special effects, and people don’t know what to make of daredevils. But he feels they earned their due here. Heidi loves the act, even though she’s constantly worried for them. She makes note of the black eye one of the guys has, and he says while they like to get rowdy on their bikes, they get just as wild off of them (“Maybe I can borrow Mel B’s glasses!”). Mel B loved it, thinking the guys are absolutely crazy. Howie agrees, but goes one further and pleads with America to put these guys through. It was good, but I honestly enjoyed the previous two acts way more. But they’re very different kinds of acts, so it’s hard to really compare them.
SAMANTHA JOHNSON is up next!
-Samantha recalls how great it was to be on the AFT stage during the Quarterfinals, saying it was overwhelming. However, the follow night’s results show was like almost losing her dream altogether, as she landed in the Bottom 3. Luckily, Samantha was saved, but it lit a fire under her. “This is the most important thing to me ever, and I can’t let it slip through my fingers.” She vows to show America that she can do this. I already trust that she can.
-The Weeknd gets another shoutout tonight, as Samantha sings “Earned It”. I’ll say this, Samantha is looking absolutely fine as hell. But more than that, she also sounds great. I mean, I’m not sure if this is the best song to be singing for the Semi-Final, but she certainly sings the hell out of it. In fact, she gets some pretty big moments towards the end of the song that I think could put her in contention for one of those five spots in the finals. Heidi and Mel B certainly seemed bowled over by it, giving Samantha a standing ovation.
-Heidi says Samantha’s voice blew them all away, and she’s a total pro. Mel B says she was worried when she heard Samantha was doing this song, since it doesn’t have a lot of range, but she thought Samantha tackled it like a pro, and put her own stamp on it, proving she’s a true artist. Howie says Samantha took the show to a new level, calling it the best performance of the night so far, and adding that she just made it harder for America to decide. Howard loved it, and thinks Samantha is a real talent, although he wasn’t a fan of the lighting, although he admits that isn’t in any way Samantha’s fault. In getting interviewed by Nick, Samantha states that this is like a dream come true. Ugh, she’s SO PRETTY, you guys.
DEREK HUGHES is up next!
-We see Derek going through his routine upon arriving in New York City. He notes that there is no 9-5 job for a magician. He misses a lot of days at home, and a lot of days of normal family life. But this is the only path he knows. It hurts that he can’t be there for every single moment, but he feels that if he wins, he’ll be able to live his dream: make a living doing what he loves, while having his family there along with him the entire time. Derek wants to do this to show his boys that achieving your dreams is possible.
-Derek shows up in pajamas, saying it’s his kids’ bedtime story, so he’s going to do what he doesn’t always get to do: read his boys a bedtime story. He has a newspaper-like storybook with him, and it’s reflected on the video screen overhead. It’s a Humpty Dimpty story, and at the halfway point, he starts ripping up the paper the story is printed on. Then he starts mashing the pages together, somehow making the newspaper whole again! Except for one missing square, which has a smiling Humpty Dumpty on it. He wishes his boys a goodnight, and tells them to brush their teeth. This was really sweet, although it was probably his least exciting performance so far. Still, Howie gives him a standing O.
-Mel B loved the end result, but thought it was kind of dry, mostly because she expected him to be more “punchy”. Derek explains that he picked this routine because, in a Vegas show, he’d need to show range by changing things up and slowing things down a bit. Mel B appreciates that explanation, and thanks him for it. Howie asks about who drew the pictures, and Derek credits his artist pal Nathan Cristopher, although Derek states that he himself wrote the poem. Howie loved it and thinks America will love it too. Howard thought this was a big risk, but felt Derek pulled it off. Heidi feels Derek keeps giving them new things each week, and that’s what she loves about him. Nick asks Derek what his kids would think of his performance, and he says that he hopes his kids didn’t stay awake for all of it, that they’re crashed out while his wife enjoys a glass of wine.
-Afterwards, Nick announces that The Illusionists will perform on tomorrow night’s results show.
DREW LYNCH is up next!
-Drew says that getting put through to the Semi-Final is like getting the Golden Buzzer all over again, but this time by America. The support he’s received from fellow stutterers has been an inspiration to him. In particular, we see one little girl than Drew for showing her that she can do whatever she wants when she grows up, despite her condition. Drew looks so deeply moved by all this that it’s hard not to like him. He just has this honest, wholesome goodness, like Raisin Bran. Except more consistent.
-Drew makes one of the few jokes to ever make me laugh out loud on AGT, saying that when he talks on the phone, people think he either has poor reception or he has a Sprint plan. He then says how a lot of people assume he’s a woman from his high-pitched voice, relaying a conversation in which he tried to deepen his voice to convince a bill collector (for a bill that was late on two weeks) that he was a man. However, she kept calling him “Ma’am”. This leads into a wacky back-and-forth in which the collector thinks Drew has a bad connection, but Drew tries to explain that he’s a man with a speech impediment. Like much of his stuff, his delivery is what makes this. His final joke is a killer, as the collector wants him to call back because he’s “breaking up.” That’s when Drew wound up shouting in a grocery store, over the phone, “No, we are not breaking up! I’m only two weeks late, and I’m not a woman!” The crowd stood up for this, and so did Howie. I consider this the best stand-up performance AGT has ever had.
-Howie couldn’t be more proud of Drew, declaring that the only people who don’t love Drew are probably from Sprint. Heidi agrees that Drew will probably never get a Sprint deal, but thinks he’s funny and inspiring. Howard loves Drew and thinks he’s hilarious, but wishes he wouldn’t laugh so much at his own jokes, since he views it as a crutch Drew doesn’t need. Drew says he’ll try to be less funny in the future (AWESOME!). Mel B actually wished Drew would be given more time, because she loved his act. Drew tells Mel B he can actually do an hour with only ten minutes of material. Dude, this guy is on FIRE! Best act of the night, and possibly the best act I’ve seen on this show this season. In the interview with Nick, Drew talks about how he’s inspired by the people who are inspired by him, and the crowd absolutely loves this guy. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win this thing.
THE CRAIGLEWIS BAND is up next!
-The guys talk about their mothers, and how much they love them. They also talk about how their voices don’t really come from their mothers. I thought this was a really cute video package, and reiterated why these guys are so likable. Their shocked realization that they’re so close to the finale is quite endearing. I hope they do well, because they’ve both got amazing voices.
-The guys sing “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, and this is pretty much my favorite performance of theirs. However, it comes with the caveat that I still think they’re shouting by the end of each vocal. I get that their voices are high, and they can hit some crazy notes, but I’d love to hear them do a song that didn’t end with them sounding like they’re on helium. Still, it’s basically impossible to argue with this vocal, particularly when three of the four judges are on their feet by the end of it (Mel B abstains, because either her standards are too high, or her dress is too tight once again).
-Howard thought it was an amazing performance, and congratulates them on making the finals, since America HAS to pick up the phone for them, after that. Heidi praises them for their beautiful voices and said they both rocked it. Mel B, however, notes that while they’re both incredible singers, she felt something was missing. Howard claims it has to be her eye infection affecting her brain, but Mel B sticks to her guns by saying she felt their last performance was better. Howie agrees with Howard that Mel B’s eye infection must be affecting her, because these guys deserve to be in the finals. He pleads with America to vote and put them through. Nick asks the guys why they chose Sam Cooke, and they say it’s because the song means a lot to them both, and they hope it inspires people.
0Z PEARLMAN is up next!
-So Oz is running a marathon in order to prepare, saying that it helps him get ready, noting the similarities between performing onstage and running a marathon. Essentially, you block out everything else in your life and you only see the goal. It’s about what you give, but it’s just as much about what you’ve got left in the tank. Oz states he’s just two performances away from the million dollars, and he wants this more than anything. So does everybody else, buddy. Granted, Oz is one of the most consistent talents in this competition, so I’m really looking forward to this.
-Oz brings Howard and Heidi onstage, as he sets up a table with jars of beer, soda and other beverages, each of which has been poured into a cup. Oz has Heidi cover his eyes (Howard: “This is how Mel B got her eye infection.”), while he guesses what cups Howard is drinking from. He gets each one right, and then has Heidi double check him for earpieces to prove he’s not being fed the information. Heidi covers Oz’s eyes again as Oz tells Howard to drink all the cups in any order he wants. Naturally, Oz gets the order perfectly right. For his next trick, he has Mel B envision the perfect drink and then pantomime taking a drink of it. (She gets SUPER into this. I love it) Oz writes down his prediction for what Mel B is drinking. Mel B reveals she was thinking of vodka, two olives and a splash of dirty. Oz reveals his prediction: martini and olives, an extra dirty martini. He then predicts the fruity drink Howie is thinking of, to make it a perfect set of predictions. Not as exciting as he past acts, but still pretty great.
-Mel B finds it mind-boggling, and has no idea how Oz does it. But she loves it. Oz says he’d make a great waiter (Mel B: “And a great everything else!”). Howie finds it amazing that Oz can not only read their minds, but read their tongues. No one laughs, prompting Howie to feel very strange and awkward. Heidi insists the judges are not in on this, and says it’s incredible what Oz does. Howard says with the disgusting drink Mel drinks, it’s no wonder she has an eye infection. But for Oz, he says that it’s the season of the magician. He tells America to vote for Oz. I think he’s going to be safe.
BENTON BLOUNT is up next!
-Benton talks about how much he loves his family, saying he looks for them in the crowd every time he performs, because they give him strength. He reveals that his wife is pregnant with another child, which is a happy occasion, although it increases his pressure to succeed, since his wife will eventually have to stop working. He wants this more than anything, continuing in the theme of people fighting to continue on for their family’s sake.
-Benton sings “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, and while I love the tone and grit of Benton’s voice, I think this was the wrong song for him, in some respects. The verses are pitched way too low, and the chorus is just tricky enough to throw off his pitch. Still, I thought he did what he could with the song. I doubt it’ll be enough to advance, but the guy does have talent, so he might be able to have a career after this.
-Heidi feels this was the perfect song for him, calling this his anthem. Mel B says he’s a great guy and sings from his heart, but she disagrees with Heidi, saying this wasn’t the best song choice. Howie feels this will ultimately be up to America, but is uncertain about this, because only five people can go through. But he thinks Benton deserves to go through, and he hopes he does. Howard loves Benton’s look and he loves his story, comparing him to a badass Navy SEAL who sings. However, he notes that the singing competition is really tough. Nick congratulates Benton on his upcoming child, and Benton says he’s no longer just performing for two, he’s performing for three. Well, he certainly is a likable guy. I just wish I liked his performances more.
SIRO-A is up next!
-The guys talk about meeting in a high school drama class, and coming up with the idea for their routine after finding a projector in class and experimenting with it. This is another instance where an act spends most of the package talking about how much they want this, although it’s not as though I’d expect anything different here. I mean, it’s the Semi-Final, after all. If you don’t want this more than anything, what are you even doing here? The guys are so goofy and lovable that it’s hard not to root for them.
-The performance is like a greatest hits of their past performances, such as using the silhouettes to give the impression of their bodies beind cut in half, growing, shrinking, multiplying, and walking on the ceiling. It’s hard to really convey how good this is through text, so I’m looking forward to posting the video later, because this was awesome, although a bit more subdued than their usual routine. Still, the judges absolutely loved it, giving the guys a well-deserved standing ovation.
-Mel B “absolutely loved it”, noting that she couldn’t tell what was real and what was a projection. She declares Siro-A are “serious contenders”. Heidi says she can’t get enough of this act. Howard, meanwhile, says the guys are so good that Donald Trump is going to let them stay in the country. He then says that it’s not enough for other acts to just dance anymore, that acts like this have raised the bar by incorporating video and more. Howie says he’d build a room for these guys in Vegas right now so they could have their own show, then goes on a painful routine with Siro-A’s producer in which he asks her how to say different victorious terms in Japanese. I love these guys, and I think, right now, this competition is a race between Siro-A and Drew Lynch.
ARIELLE BARIL is up next!
-Arielle talks about how nerve-wracking it is to be onstage, saying it doesn’t look as big on TV. However, she loves performing, and recalls her phone absolutely blowing up after her last performance. Her mother feels that some people forget Arielle is only 12, but she still gets support from her family and friends, particularly her school friends. We even see her Face-timing with her entire school, which has packed into the gymnasium to wish her luck. I still can’t believe she’s as young as she is.
-Arielle sings “Nessun Dorma”, mostly because the list of opera songs the general public knows is pretty damn short. Still, this is a perfect choice for her. Not only does she sound like a grown woman, she makes this look easy. Seriously, it doesn’t even look (or sound) like she’s straining to hit any of these notes. It’s a terrific performance that very well could earn her a spot in the finals. Hell, I wouldn’t be mad. Nor would Heidi, who gives Arielle a standing ovation.
-Heidi tells Arielle she checks all the boxes for a winning act, and states how happy she is to have pressed the Golden Buzzer for her. Mel B says Arielle is pretty amazing for a 12-year-old, but warns her that she needs to be more careful with her timing and breath. Of course, she says this will only come with experience, and Arielle already has a beautiful voice, which is more of a head start than most people get. Howie praises Arielle for rising to the occasion, noting that acts twice her age couldn’t handle the pressure of closing the show. He tells Arielle that they’re proud of her, her mom should be proud of her, and America should be proud of her. Howard still can’t believe a voice like Arielle’s is coming out of someone so young, and says Arielle is what this show is all about.
-Aaaaand that’s a wrap on tonight’s show! But what did you think about the first Semi-Final?
Until tomorrow night, thanks for reading!