America’s Got Talent 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – Judge Cuts 1 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for the America’s Got Talent 2016, “Judge Cuts 1”! Judges Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell join host Nick Cannon on the biggest nationwide talent search of the summer!
The auditions have wrapped, and now we begin the next phase of the competition, as the judges narrow down the remaining acts to the select few who will advance to the live shows. And they’ll be getting help from a celebrity fifth judge each week! Tonight, Ne-Yo joins the judges’ booth, and he’s got a Golden Buzzer! But which act will prove worthy of receiving it?
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary, results, and videos as soon as they become available!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We welcome the judges, and Ne-Yo is here! And he makes it clear that the big thing he’s looking for is passion. If you have passion for your art, you have a good chance of earning Ne-Yo’s Golden Buzzer. You know, I’m actually really interested in seeing how Ne-Yo works as a judge, because he seems like the kind of guy this show can employ in the future. He’s likable, knowledgeable in the business, talented, and seems like he has a knack for this. I guess we’ll see.
HARA opens the show!
-Hara is the visual effects artist who is a magician and escape artist. He came to Japan in an attempt to give back to the Las Vegas showbiz culture that inspired him in the first place.
-Hara’s act involves two assistants lighting a plank on fire. The plank holds three swords in place over a box. Hara has until the fire burns through the plank to escape the box, or risk being impaled. Ultimately, Hara manages to escape at the last moment…and give Mel B a fright by magically appearing at the judges’ booth in front of her.
-The judges positively love the act, particularly Ne-Yo, who says he’d pay good money to watch Hara live, although he’d sit in the back. Simon also loved it, but he asks why Hara chose America rather than Japan. Hara tells his backstory about how Vegas inspired him. “Good answer,” Simon says. Of course, since this is Judge Cuts, we don’t get a final decision on the spot. So we’ll see if Hara manages to make it through. But I feel like he has a great shot.
PHILIPPE AND MARIE LEE are up next!
-The acrobatic dance duo note that while they were together in the past, they aren’t together now. This is similar to Duo Volta last season, if I remember correctly. Of course, it becomes far more of a sticking point with this group than it was for that one.
-Philippe and Marie Lee do a wonderful routine set to a cover of “Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer, and I love the gracefulness of their act. I’m shocked they aren’t together, because they come across as a couple. Hell, even Heidi is rooting for them to kiss.
-The judges ask if there’s any chance of them getting back together, and Marie Lee is quick to say no. Simon asks the same of Philippe, and he takes longer to respond with no. Simon makes note of this, so Philippe tells him to ask again. Simon does, and Philippe responds “no” like it’s no big thing. Hilarious. I like this duo.
EDGAR is up next!
-We get a brief recap of Edgar’s story, as Nikki was a Christian pop artist who got pregnant and was dropped from her record contract for it. Eventually, she met Ryan and found happiness, and she and her daughter, Jaslyn, have a shot at achieving their dream as a family. Nikki and Ryan gush about how much they mean to each other (seriously, this was ADORABLE), and Jaslyn says how she loves Ryan because she feels he was meant to be a part of their family (okay, that was even more adorable).
-Edgar sings “Let It Be” by The Beatles, and their harmonies are GORGEOUS. Seriously, the other singing acts backstage get nervous upon hearing how strong the vocals are here. And the singing acts backstage are NOT slouches by any means, as they include Linkin’ Bridge, Raii and Whitney Smith, and Ronee Martin. Ultimately, I feel this was a really strong second audition for the act.
-Much like with Hara, the judges dig the act, with Mel B particularly gushing over Nikki. Granted, Simon feels like the act needs to find more of an identity. But for now, they’ve got the judges’ attention. Hell, they’ve got Ne-Yo on-board to such a degree that I feel like he’d try and get them signed if they don’t go through.
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-Back from break with a montage of acts, include popping dance crew Miniotics, who wear black-colored versions of Mork’s uniform from Mork and Mindy, and dance to a remix that includes “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. But Simon feels it was “amateurish”. Jumpers In Command are up next, and while the jump-rope crew did a great job in the auditions, they bomb here, with tricks going wrong, and dancers stumbling at crucial moments. It’s unfortunate to see, but I could see them potentially being brought back as a wildcard. So all hope might not be lost.
CHRISTOPHER is up next!
-Much of the video is centered around how Christopher is single, and how his best friends are the Village People mannequins with whom he dances. In a hilarious moment, he states that if he met someone who told him, “It’s me or the puppets,” he would respond by saying, “It was nice knowing you.” Christopher is awesome.
-Christopher and the mannequins are dressed as Navy men, and they perform “In the Navy” by The Village People. Ne-Yo is confused while Simon is super-amused. That is, until they drop a portrait of Simon-as-Uncle Sam, with a moving mouth that sings along. He rolls his eyes, but he seems to enjoy it. Not as big as I was hoping for Christopher’s second audition, but I think he’s interesting. And that counts for a lot in this competition.
-Mel B notes how similar this was to the first audition, but adds that she couldn’t take her eyes off of it. Simon says it was stupid, but he likes it. Ne-Yo is puzzled, while Howie asks who Christopher’s favorite mannequin is. “The one behind me,” he says, making that mannequin’s head move, in a hilarious moment. Heidi is won over by Christopher, although it’s hard to know if he’ll make it through.
BRENNLEY BROWN is up next!
-Brennley talks about singing for Simon once several years ago, and how that gave her even more of an itch to make it as a singer. She’s only 14, but she’s got talent for days. I can’t help but root for her.
-Brennley sings “Think It Over” by Buddy Holly, and I really love it. My only issue is her complete lack of annunciation. I have no idea what she’s saying, and only identified the song through melody. Still, I think that’s something that will improve with experience.
-The judges think Brennley is tremendously talented, although Simon states he’s heard that version of the song several times, implying he didn’t find it special. But I guess we’ll see.
LORI MAE HERNANDEZ is up next!
-Lori recounts her backstory about getting into comedy as therapy for her father, and her father confirms it by saying how her routine often made him laugh and feel better. Lori is positively adorable, and her family’s support makes her somebody I NEED to see get to the next round (what can I say? Whether sob story or not, Lori is simply someone I’m rooting for. Luckily, she’s got the talent to back it up).
-Lori talks about what it’s like to now be a tween, and what it’s like to leave childhood behind. I can’t really do justice to how good this was, but needless to say, she makes a wonderful Caitlyn Jenner joke about training bras, and how admirable it is for a man to go to great lengths to show his daughters how to dress well.
-Simon thinks Lori is hilarious, and Heidi and Mel are quick to agree. Ne-Yo notes that he was skeptical when he heard “13-year-old comedian,” but Lori made him a believer. Howie says a comedian says funny things, but a comic says things funny, and he feels Lori is more of a comic. I think Lori is a surefire bet to go through to the live shows.
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-Back from break with rejected acts, including John “Gino Martino” Ferraro, a dude who hammers nails with his head (whom Howie calls a “tool” in the literal sense) and Jon Call (a.k.a. Jujimufu), who does an entire Tarzan routine by swinging across the stage and throwing his “Jane” off the stage towards the judges. In both scenarios, the judges are positively puzzled by the acts.
DUO GUERRERO is up next!
-Husband and wife duo of Werner and Aura talks about the danger of their high-wire acrobatic act. In particular, Werner talks about how his brother fell during a performance, and now lives in a wheelchair. Throughout the interview, both seem positively terrified by the prospect of having to perform, even though there’s no way NBC would be showing this if anything had gone wrong.
-The judges go outside to view Werner and Aura as they tightrope walk while blindfolded and carrying a giant pole. And also a chair. And also with Aura balancing on top of Werner. Did I mention that the tightrope is at an angle? Basically, this is pure insanity, and there are more than a few moments where it looks like Werner, Aura, or both will slip. It’s miraculous that they aren’t killed, quite frankly. Still, it’s impressive to see this sort of danger act performed with such grace, as the two seemed perfectly in sync on the descent down the rope.
-Mel B tells the team that what they do is absolutely incredible. However, she feels the risk was higher int heir first audition. Howie feels Mel B doesn’t know what she’s talking about here, since that was insanely dangerous. Ne-Yo wants to know why the roles were reversed, and why the wife had to handle the chair and the pole. Ultimately, he really enjoyed the act, as did Heidi and Simon.
JON DORENBOS is up next!
-In one of the most emotional backstories of the season, Jon talks about how his father murdered his mother when he was a teenager. However, Jon’s aunt quickly stepped up and took in Jon and his sister. Suddenly, she went from being a single, 32-year-old woman to a mother to two teenagers. Although he’s a proud member of the Philadelphia Eagles, he owes his life to magic, which gave him comfort during hard times. But even more than that, he owes his life to his aunt, who took him in and fought for custody to have him and his sister.
-So Jon has Ne-Yo pick a card from a deck. Jon then draws a box on a piece of paper. He predicts the card…and gets it wrong! But that’s part of the act, as he tells Ne-Yo to tell him the card. It’s a five of clubs. Sure enough, Jon has the drawing of the box open up to reveal a five of clubs! He turns the paper over to show that the five of clubs had been drawn on there the entire time! Incredible! The judges are positively perplexed, and Howie can’t help but stand up.
-Simon feels there are no tricks, there is real magic in the world, and that some people have magic powers. He feels Jon is one of those people. He praises Jon for his act, and Ne-Yo is right there with Simon. So much so, in fact, that….
NE-YO HITS HIS GOLDEN BUZZER FOR JON DORENBOS!
-Ne-Yo gets onstage to congratulate Jon, and explain that while some people might view this as only card tricks, he sees it as real magic. Jon states this is one of the coolest moments of his life.
THE PASSING ZONE is up next!
-The duo talks about meeting each other at a convention in the 80s. They recall using Howie for their last act, and add that they plan on using the judges again for their next act. Should be a good one.
-The guys bring Mel B onstage as their lovely assistant for a bit of knife-throwing. She’s on the target, while Howie is brought onstage to sit on a dunk tank. Sure enough, the guys manage to miss Mel with the knives, but hit the target to dunk Howie. So even though Mel had the more dangerous role in the act, Howie is still the one who gets foiled at the end. Pretty funny.
-Naturally, Simon applauds the act for once again including Howie, suggesting that the act should involve him going forward. He also feels it should include Mel B. Simon then suggests introducing Heidi to the act as well. I kind of love this as a potential running gag of Simon throwing his fellow judges under the bus. If they make it through, they simply HAVE to use Simon in an act.
-We then get a montage of really awesome singers such as bluegrass band Julian Davis and the Hayburners, and Raii and Whitney Smith. It’s going to be a tall order topping either of these acts, particularly after Howie’s glowing, effusive praise of the Smiths.
RONEE MARTIN is up next!
-Ronee talks about what she’s given up in pursuit of a music career, including a husband and children. But music has been everything to her, so it’s no real surprise to find she’s pursuing this with everything she’s got.
-Ronee sings “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” by Dusty Springfield, and she delivers one of the best musical performances of the entire season, serving up a soulful vocal that is just brimming with passion. I think she’s one of the frontrunners in this competition, because she’s one of the purest vocalists here. I love this.
-The judges gush over her, particularly Simon, who feels that the world just missed Ronee for some reason. However, he feels if Ronee keeps singing the way she has been, then the world might finally catch up. Ronee’s tearful response is just so heartwarming. I can’t see how she doesn’t go through.
-Back from break with a wonderfully self-deprecating comic named Cory Kahaney. I wish we’d seen more of her, or even gotten a name. Then again, maybe the chyron flashed quicker than I could catch it.
AXEL PEREZ is up next!
-Axel is a daredevil and an acrobat who brazenly challenged Simon to put him through to see what he’ll do next. Axel is only 17, but he’s already got an incredible knack for danger. Granted, his mother is understandably nervous every time he performs, but she absolutely believes in her son, and is proud of him.
-Axel balances on some cylinders, and if that sounds simplistic…well, I’m not really sure how else to explain it/ Needless to say, this is seriously awesome. I’m not even kidding. He balances planks on the cylinders and then balances on top of those, creating stacks that go higher and higher. There’s no reason he shouldn’t fall, but he’s got such impeccable balance that he keeps himself upright.
-The judges talk about what incredible risks Axel takes, with Simon singling him out and asking how he’ll possibly top an act like this. Axel says that if he makes it through, he promises the judges he’ll show them something they’ve never seen before. I’m rooting for Axel. I feel like the competition needs a guy like him. And he’s got loads of personality, reminding the judges and the audience that he’s single. In a cute moment afterwards, Nick asks Axel’s mother if she was nervous, and she says that she wasn’t, because she has complete trust in her son.
-Back from break with an impressive acrobatic dancer named Rory Freeman who impresses the judges with his passion, dedication and enthusiasm. That said, I seriously doubt he makes it through.
-The guys talk about their difficult upbringing, as their neighborhood was filled with violence, and one singer’s mother ended up going to prison. Still, they found their salvation in music, forming this group and having an incredible moment during their audition.
-Linkin’ Bridge sings an a cappella version of “Free Bird” that I think would have earned a Golden Buzzer if Ne-Yo hadn’t used it already. Their harmonies were positively impeccable, and they just come across as a legitimate, star-making group, in the vein of Boyz II Men. They’re the kind of R&B vocal group we don’t really have in the mainstream market today. I love them.
-Howie states that Ne-Yo was looking for passion, and that’s what these guys delivered. Ne-Yo agrees, praising them for their dedication. Both Heidi and Mel B are blown away by their flawless vocals. Simon, meanwhile, says that these four guys are the ones he was looking for when he came to judge this show, even though he may not have known it. The guys express a desire to change the world through their music, to which Simon responds by praising them for the risk and inventiveness of their song choice. “You are everything this show is all about,” he tells them.
Result #1: Julian and the Hayburns, Brennley Brown and Ronee Martin are called to the stage. Only one act is going through…
JULIAN AND THE HAYBURNS and BRENNLEY BROWN are eliminated from AMERICA’S GOT TALENT 2016!!
RONEE MARTIN advances to live shows!
Result #2: Jon Call, Philippe and Marie Lee, and The Passing Zone are brought onstage. Once again, only one act will advance…
JON CALL and PHILIPPE AND MARIE LEE are eliminated from AMERICA’S GOT TALENT 2016!!
THE PASSING ZONE advances to live shows!
Result #3: Christopher, Cory Kahaney and Lori Mae Hernandez are brought onstage. Only one act goes through…
CHRISTOPHER is eliminated from AMERICA’S GOT TALENT 2016!
LORI MAE HERNANDEZ advances to the live shows!
Result #4: Raii and Whitney Smith, John Ferraro, and Miniotics are onstage…
ALL THREE ACTS are eliminated from AMERICA’S GOT TALENT 2016!!
Result #5: Duo Guerrero, Axel Perez and Hara are brought onstage. Only one act advances…
DUO GUERRERO is eliminated from AMERICA’S GOT TALENT 2016!
HARA advances to the live shows!
Result #6: It all comes down to Linkin’ Bridge and Edgar. But if you’ve done the math, you know the result…
LINKIN’ BRIDGE and EDGAR advance to the live shows!
So there you have it. Your first seven acts for the live shows from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood are…
The Passing Zone
Lori Mae Hernandez
It’s a pretty good set of finalists! In fact, I can’t think of anyone I’d switch out. I think I’d have liked to have seen Miniotics advance, if only to get more dance acts into the finals. Last season’s finals was positively dreary for the lack of dancers. But I’m sure we’ll have more of those types of acts in the weeks to come. Here’s hoping anyway.
But what did you think of the acts tonight? What about the results? Did the right acts go through? Sound off in the comments!
Until tomorrow night’s “Judge Cuts 2”, thanks for reading!