America’s Got Talent (AGT), the NBC variety talent contest, is launching its 6th season on Tuesday, May 31, 2011. This article will give results and recaps of the episodes throughout the season.
In the sixth season, all of the main players are back, including judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel. Nick Cannon is back to host, as well.
Early previews indicate this may be yet another year for a singer to win, as a keyboard player who is an unemployed IT technician is already being touted as a possible favorite. In addition to the typical adult and child dancing acts, it looks like there are also more light shows in the dark after Fighting Gravity took its flying-in-the-dark illusion act all the way to 3rd place in Season 5.
The first few episodes are always the initial auditions. Of course, these are not the real first auditions, as the producers first go in and have a round of auditions with thousands of acts. They then cherry pick the ones they want (some for talent and others to spice up the show) and bring in a live audience for the audition in front of the judges. Several episodes broadcast these auditions in different cities around the US. Season 6 has the same basic format.
As far as the rest of the format, it’s impossible to say because the show intentionally changes the format every year to keep the audience and viewers guessing. For example, last year was the first year that there was a finale with only four finalists. Other years typically had around 10 finalists. The only thing that is certain is that America’s votes ultimately decide the winner of America’s Got Talent 6 and who will replace Michael Grimm as the new champion.
First Episode: The Los Angeles and Atlanta Auditions
LA is the first stop in the AGT 6 audition season.
50-year-old juggler/comedian Frank Olivier (Oakland, CA) makes it to the Las Vegas auditions.
34-year-old singer and piano player Ryan Andreas (Ontario, CA) is a potential favorite who easily advanced to the next round of auditions. He sang Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” However, he will have to get over his nervousness to have a chance to win.
John Jacobson did a silly dance-teaching routine and was buzzed and booed out of the auditorium.
After that, there was a parade of random bad auditions who all got booted out on the first audition.
Magician Landon Swank is a 26-year-old magician from Alaska who is currently trying for a career in Las Vegas. He does a fairly simple magic act and makes it through to Vegas.
The Body Poets are a hip hop and breakdancing crew that made it through, as well. This act combines lights and lasers and does part of the act in the dark. They need better choreography to have a chance of winning.
Brennan Figari is an aerialist who does tricks on huge silk curtains. The audition was very short, but he did make it to the next round.
Olivia Bellefontaine is this year’s sexy female dancer that always gets picked to go to the next round. As usual, the guys love her. The audition clip was very short, so we will have to see if she gets more airtime later.
Debbie is the leader of the Vegas Birds act. This was a rather unique parrot act. The parrot even impersonates animal sounds. She makes it to the Vegas round.
Frank Miles is a juggler who adds danger to his act. He juggled three stun guns, standing in water for part of the act. He made it to the next round.
Udi Abagnale was a bad singer and dancer (joke act) that was buzzed all three times twice after Nick asked to give him a second chance.
Miami All Stars is a large dance group from Miami. They do mambo and other styles of dance. The judges loved them and sent them through to the Las Vegas auditions.
Scott Alexander is a magician who did a levitation act. This was pretty unique for a levitation, and he made it through, as well.
SH’Boss Boys are three young rappers who made it through on the “cute” factor.
Primitivo Montoya was a horrible dancer and singer who ended up doing a somersault right off the stage. He was buzzed and booed right out of there.
Vocal Element was a young a capella group that did not make it through. It seemed a bit disjointed, but the clip was too short to draw an opinion.
Forever Young Dancers were old men who came out in diapers and were summarily cut because they didn’t really do anything.
Metatron was quickly cut. This was some sort of poetry reading or something. He then falls off the stage. Two of that gimmick in one night is two too many.
A group called The Crossed Swords is up next. The do sword fighting. This couple is rather devoid of any talent. Such a skill might work as part of a show like Cirque du Soleil if they were actually good. But they wouldn’t get past the first audition for such a show. They are booed and buzzed and do not make it.
The last act was Team iLuminate. This was definitely the act of the night in the non-singing category. Team iLuminate is kind of a spinoff of last year’s Fighting Gravity. However, these guys are actually talented dancers, unlike the random frat boys of Fighting Gravity. This act is an instant favorite. Along with Ryan Andreas, Team iLuminate is far ahead of the rest of the contestants on this debut episode of America’s Got Talent Season 6.
Second Episode: The Seattle Auditions
The Seattle visit was aired on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.
On this episode, the three standouts were comedian and impressionist Melissa Villasenor, Kenyan dance and acrobatic troupe Zuma Zuma and teen band Poplyfe.
Of these three, Melissa was the most impressive to me. However, she does have an uphill battle putting together a string of shows that will continue to entertain audiences and voters at home watching on TV. Terry Fator was an impressionist who won in Season 2. However, he was also a ventriloquist and better singer than Melissa. One thing Villasenor needs to be careful of is to avoid impressions of celebrities that might not be well known to the general public. Kathy Griffin, for example, might not be known to some of the viewers (even though that impression was awesome).
Zuma Zuma is essentially a glorified cheerleading act, and that is a problem. While they are very athletic, those kinds of acts have never done well. They need a show, and that requires more than doing fairly routine pyramids and similar tricks that have been seen so many times. Yes, they do it better than most, but it still has low entertainment value compared to more seasoned acts with interesting choreography.
The judges loved teen band Poplyfe for the most part. However, I found the lone sole girl (who is also the lead singer) to be very average in vocal tone. This group has a lot of spunk, but we need to see much more talent for them to win America’s Got Talent.
Here are some of the other acts that performed in Seattle:
The A + C Twins were a joke singing act that couldn’t even sing in tune. They did not advance to Las Vegas.
The Rice Rockettes were a bunch of guys dressed up like girls doing a terrible dancing act. They were also thrown out of the theater.
Mr. Mystic PTP was a magician and some rappers. What an odd pairing, but it seemed more like a comedy act and almost worked in that way. Nonetheless, they did not advance.
The Daring Jones Duo was an acrobatic group. They did tricks on a trapeze hanging above the stage. This is essentially a circus act and will have problems on such a small stage. It really needs a whole circus tent, but such an act is going to get old really fast. It is generally best left to the circus. However, they did advance to Las Vegas. The clip was very short, though.
The Elektrolytes got an equally short clip. These are also dancers/acrobats, but they seemed even less skilled than Zuma Zuma. They advanced to the Las Vegas auditions, but they looked pretty overrated in that short clip.
Mauricio Herrera was kind of a joke act. He is an entertainer who apparently had a show in Costa Rica. But he did a laughably bad performance of Rickey Martin’s “Livin La Vida Loca.” Both the singing and dancing were bad. However, likely as a joke to get under Piers’s skin, Sharon and Howie gave Herrera a “yes,” sending him to the Vegas round.
The last contestant was a guy who played paper horns and cups. This was another joke act that made Piers walk off the set. They then called Piers back, saying that he must come out and say “yes’ or “no” to the act. Sharon said “no’ and Howie wanted Piers to say “yes.” He still said “no,” causing a weird ending to the Seattle auditions.
Seattle was pretty poor in talent except for the possible exception of Melissa Villasenor. Hopefully, the two-hour special episode on Wednesday will have more talented acts.
Third Episode: The Houston and Minneapolis Auditions
Standouts in this episode were The Silhouettes, Darren Taylor and Lys Agnes.
Other acts that made it through the Las Vegas round (from Houston) included Wild West act The Rhinestone Ropers, singing trio Mona Lisa, blacklight juggler Charles Peachock, sexy dancing group The Perfect Angels, singer Daniel Joseph Baker, the Sando Trio Russian Bar Act, singer and Justin Bieber lookalike Dani Shay, 6-year-old dancer Tanner Edwards (Lil’T), and Darren Taylor, who jumped from 26 feet into a 12-inch kids’ wading pool.
Other acts making it through from Minneapolis included parrot act Echo of Animal Gardens, a wild guitar-playing Mrs. Smith (guy dressed up a la Mrs. Doubtfire), St. Lukes Bottle Band, magic act The Halls of Magic, Viva La Muerte (some little person that does a pseudo stripper act), costume dancing act Those Funny Little People, and chain-reaction gadgets maker Tim Ford (The Kinetic King).
Darren Taylor got a huge segment to do his diving act, but this is just such a simple trick. I don’t see him winning because, while it is obviously dangerous to some extent, there is no surprise in the act.
Lys Agnes is one of the most beautiful contestants ever on AGT. However, while I found her opera to be excellent (especially her range), we have seen better opera singers on the show. She will likely need to mix it up (she said she loves jazz and rock) to have a chance to win.
The Silhouettes have the nice gimmick of performing behind a white screen, making it look like shadows dancing. This act needs to up its talent level. A mere gimmick cannot win this show, so we need to see more talent.
The Sando Trio Russian Bar Act has a similar but different problem. The talent is there, but there needs to be more variety to the act. The main girl in the group promised that she has more tricks up her sleeve, so we will have to wait and see if this is more than one semi-dangerous act.
Charles Peachock makes juggling more visually appealing by doing it as a blacklight act. Here again, though, that is just a gimmick. There is now a plethora of blacklight acts after we had Fighting Gravity last year. The juggling must win out at the end of the day, and I did not see any spectacular juggling just yet. In this category of act, Team iLuminate is way ahead because their dancing is more impressive than juggling bowling pins.
Daniel Joseph Baker is kind of a funny and enertaining singer, but his style is more Broadway than anything else. To translate that, this means he lacks emotion. Emotion is more important than stage presence for singers on America’s Got Talent. So he is going to have to refine his style to have any kind of chance of winning.
All other acts that made it to Vegas have little to no chance of winning. The Kinetic King is pretty unique, but it’s not really a show in and of itself. This type of thing is better for a live publicity stunt with a new business or something like that, not a show where people actually buy tickets to watch. The other acts, such as Lil’T, are really there more for ratings than anything else.
Echo of Animal Gardens is a good bird act, but it seems the show is setting up a rivalry between it and Vegas Birds. I would expect Vegas Birds to have the upper hand in that fight.
The Halls of Magic did a quick-change trick and a disappearing act. The problem is there was nothing new or at least progressive about either one of those tricks. So they would really have to up their game to get through.
Walt Winston did not make it through to the Vegas auditions, but he had a pretty funny song that he wrote called “Truck Drivers Aren’t Supposed to Cry.” This was an entertaining segment, and the song was not bad as a Weird Al-type thing. But Walt’s singing was nearly painful to the ear, so they did not put him through.
Other poor or joke acts that were shown not going through from Houston were Jay Maynard (The Tron Guy), Status B.L.A.K., Johnny Di Domenico, and Asian James Brown.
Other acts not going through from Minneapolis were Miss Cherries Jubalie (she stuck needles through her skin) and Sid Yiddish (a horrible singer).
Fourth Episode: More Seattle Auditions
This was a one-hour episode and frankly a bit light on actual talent.
Those who made it through (partial list) include comedian Geechy Guy, pole dancer Soleil Rousseau, acrobatic magician Seth Grabel, music band The BGP, and kid hip hop dancers The Art of Teknique.
Acts that did not make it through (partial list) included singer-songwriter Marylee, chihuahua act Amadeus, dancer Alaska, comedian Robo, Madonna impersonator Kimo, and Brian Jackson, a guy who blew up hot-water bottles to make them explode.
None of these acts appear to be strong favorites. Geechy Guy was very funny, but his series of one liners will start to seem repetitive after a while, a performer like Soleil should be in a strip club instead of AGT and The Art of Teknique kids are fine for their age but just aren’t anything special compared to the adult dancers. They are like Future Funk all over again. Seth Grabel is an interesting magician, but his style seems limited to simple tricks so far. The BGP does have a pretty good lead singer, but the band as a whole seems fairly unsophisticated.
Episode 5: More Atlanta Auditions
This is the second round of the Atlanta auditions. This episode was truly light on talent for the most part. 11-year-old Anna is an interesting contestant, but even she has little to no chance of winning unless her voice matures very quickly.
Hershae Chocolotae is a drag queen. This was just not high-level talent, but AGT loves sending some of these acts to the Vegas auditions every year. I’m not sure what crowd these guys are supposed to draw in, but it must not be a large voting block since these guys never make it far in the contest. Sharon and Howie send him through to Vegas.
Summerwind Skippers is a jump-rope team. They seem to be very good for what it is and much better than that young kid who jumped rope before. The clip was very short, but we know they made it to the next round.
The next group is Fiddle Heads, a bluegrass band. The clip was short, but they did a bluegrass version of “Forget You” and made it through to the next round.
DJ Face is a 6-year-old disc jockey. There is no way an adult would have been picked to advance doing this act. This is purely a kid act with literally no chance of winning.
Attack Dance Crew is a group of dancers who are also law students at Florida A & M University. They claimed to be bringing a new style of dance called “drilling,” but that appears to be a promotional gimmick. There really was nothing revolutionary in the performance. It was decent, but Howie was right that it was rather like a cheerleading act (in a bad way). Piers was fooled (or pretended to be fooled) by the “drilling” gimmick, and Sharon joined in to send them to Vegas. It’s not that they don’t deserve to go to the next round. I just don’t like the drilling gimmick when this is not really new.
Next up was Joseph Ravens, a guy in a costume that was some kind of body part. He rode a stationary bike, got X’s and left. Very weird segment.
Robo Mike also failed to go through to Vegas. He did a robot voice and robot dancing, and the judges didn’t really think it was an act.
Kevin Harlow Jasper had a weird “North Carolina hollering” act. He basically hollered and howled. This was not really an act at all, and the judges sent him home.
Mr. Shake It Up was also a bad dancer. At least this guy was kind of comical and clearly making fun of himself. But it was apparently not funny enough to the judges. They all said “no.”
Captain and Maybelle do a kind of sword-swallowing act. Captain also swallowed a coat hanger. This went through to the next round, but I do not expect them to do well at all unless they have a lot more tricks.
Armand and Angelina are two bad singers (he is rock and she is opera). Both were well below expectation, but Sharon and Howie put them through, saying it was so bad that it was actually entertaining. Even the crowd booed the decision to send them through. These two have no chance of winning.
Anna Graceman is the only one this episode that might make the finals. While I did not find her very good, the show obviously loves this 11-year-old singer and piano player for some reason and is going to push her through to the best of its ability. She sang Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” and was unanimously advanced to the Las Vegas auditions.
Episode 6: New York Auditions
Triple Threat is a Broadway act. They sing, act and dance – hence the triple threat of talent.
They seem average in every possible way. Anything that is average is not a real threat, so they got buzzed off the stage.
Joel Podelsky is an eater. He tries to eat a pumpkin pie in 90 seconds, but they buzz him.
Some typewriter orchestra comes on. It was pointless, and they were axed.
The Parrot Wizard failed. The bird didn’t seem to know what it was doing or was too nervous.
Snap Boogie is a dancer from Boston. He dances to “Everybody Dance Now.” He is a good popper and breaker, but it’s not as good as Haspop from last season. And even Haspop had trouble getting votes. There’s no doubt he will get through to Vegas and probably to the voting rounds. But without substantial choreography, he will not get enough votes to win.
Michael Turco is a pretty good magician. He’s great at the disappearing and reappearing acts. But that’s all he did. I guess he deserves a shot because at least his timing was excellent. He makes it to the next round.
Riley Schillachi is a sword swallower. She claims there are less than 20 women in the world doing this (how would she know such a thing?). This woman doesn’t have much of a star personality to be honest. Riley swallows a fairly small sword and some other item. Her timing is just horrible. She refuses to smile even when Howie asks her. They all say “no.”
Steven Retchless is a dancer. He claims to be a professional and trained in many styles of dance. He comes out in shorts only with some kind of silver body paint on his chest and face. We find out that he is actually a pole dancer. Steven is decent at pole dancing, but that’s hardly high-level talent. I get the feeling Howie and Sharon will send him to Vegas. And of course he goes through as another joke pick.
Next up is a pretty bizarre act but decent piano player. Elew seems very strange, but he has uniqueness on his side. The gimmick won’t last that long, though. He says his piano playing is like Beethoven meeting Jimmie Hendrix, but it’s a pretty hollow set of actual talent when you get past that. All the judges vote to send him to the Las Vegas round.
Landau has never auditioned, although he is a singer. Car washing is how he makes his money. He seems so silly, but then he pulls out some jazz when he starts to sing. He will definitely go through to the next round. That was a surprise. He needs to show more than Sinatra-like jazz to win, but that was a great start.
Top 48 – Round 1
Acts advancing by the public vote in Round 1 of the Top 48 were Snap Boogie, Anna Graceman, and Sandou Trio Russian Bar. Miami All Stars made it through as the judges’ pick.
Acts eliminated in Round 1 were Dezmond Meeks, Duo Aero, Echo of Animal Gardens, Fearless Flores Family, The Fiddleheads, J Chris Newburg, Squonk Opera, and Those Funny Little People.
Top 48 – Round 2
Acts advancing by public vote in Round 2 of the Top 48 were The Silhouettes, Steven Retchless, and Daniel Joseph Baker. The judges picked Smage Brothers Riding Shows to advance over magician Landon Swank for the fourth spot.There were no surprises at all this week. In fact, the only semi surprise so far in 2011’s results is Dezmond Meeks not making it. But considering that they threw him under the bus, that was only mildly surprising.
Those not making it through to the next round are Attack Dance Crew, Dani Shay, Geechy Guy, The Rhinestone Ropers, Dylan Andre, Thomas John, and Mona Lisa (and Landon Swank).
Top 48 – Round 4
The last regularly scheduled round of people already in the Top 48 saw a lot of singing acts make it through. Certainly, magician Seth Grabel could have gotten the nod for his performance. But in the end, Professor Splash was chosen by the judges, and Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., Lys Agnes and Poplyfe got through to the next round.
Others eliminated were SH’Boss Boys, Mauricio Herrera, Ian Johnson, Monet, Summerwind Skippers, Purrfect Angelz, and Captain and Maybelle.
Top 48 – YouTube Special
In the YouTube special, there were a few pretty strong acts and the usual stinkers that probably shouldn’t have been there. Most of the stronger acts did make it through, however. Dance/acrobatic group Gymkana was a somewhat surprising pick in the Top 3. They have little chance of winning. The two totally expected top vote getters were stunt bike rider Matt Wilhelm and Kevin Colis.
For the judges’ pick, it came down to teen solo dancer Beth Ann Robinson and West Springfield Dance Team. The judges chose Beth Ann Robinson. Those who preferred West Springfield, however, will be happy that they made it to next episode’s Wildcard Round.
Top 48 – Wildcard Round
These acts were previously cut either by the judges in the Vegas auditions (only one) or did not make it through the first live voting round. But they get a chance to come back one more time for a spot in the semifinals. Joining West Springfield Dance Team as wildcard picks are the following:
The Kinetic King
Yellow Design Stunt Team
J. Chris Newberg
Those Funny Little People
Avery and the Calico Hearts
There are a few poor picks in here to make it easier for the favorites to make it. The four acts who do make it will most likely come from Landon, Charles, Seth, the Fiddleheads, and Avery and the Calico Hearts. Of course, I am saying this before they even perform. Those who may up their chances with a good performance are Summerwind Skippers and Yellow Designs Stunt Team. With a lack of singers this year, Shevonne Phillidor could make it if she gives a strong performance.