‘America’s Got Talent’ review: Benton Blount, Oz Pearlman, Mountain Faith Band, and more

AGTWe are starting to get near the end of “America’s Got Talent‘s” judge cuts round, and there were moments tonight where we wondered if some of the best acts had already advanced before we got around to the ones tonight. Luckily, the second hour was much stronger than the first, and we are starting to feel like we could have a very intriguing group of finalists in the next round of the show.

In terms of the guest judge, tonight brought us the super-funny Marlon Wayans. Interestingly, we think that almost any Wayans is good for reality TV right now; Keenen Ivory Wayans makes for a great judge on “Last Comic Standing,” as well.

Triple Threat – A serviceable group set to Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” It was fun! We’re not sure that it blew us away enough for a spot though. Instead, we envision this a little bit more as one of those acts that could hover between making it through to the next round and going home.

Animation Crew – Their name really says it all. They are not so much perfect in other styles, but when it comes to their specialty, they are really better than almost anyone.

Johnny Shelton – He’s a decent singer, but we don’t really think of him for anything other than having lost his child since his story is so heartbreaking. We feel for him and we cannot imagine being in his shoes, but you do have to judge this fairly and based on skill and not what has happened to him personally. He’s decent, but far from a lock to advance.

Paul Zerdin – Probably the show’s best ventriloquist since Terry Fator. Was he worthy of the Golden Buzzer? He was the best of the acts we’ve seen at this point in the night. We don’t particularly like this baby character (we’ve seen similar ones with other ventriloquists), but he has the talent and the writing to do something great.

Oz Pearlman – This is an act about charisma just as much as it is actual skill, since you have to make people buy into the fact that you are a “mentalist.” The trick was familiar, but the way that he performed it was captivating to watch. Also, the paper trick would be neat all on its own.

Pretty Big Movement – They are a fun group for sure, but Howie Mandel did get it right somewhat here. Putting them through right now would be more of a testament to their story than their talent, which is what we felt about Johnny a little earlier in the night, as well.

Mountain Faith Band – It’s a bluegrass version of The Darkness! Love it. We love this genre of music, and the musicianship and singing were tremendous. They need to learn to work the stage and the crowd a little more, but they should be a lock to advance.

Stacy Kay – For some reason, the show hates showing us anything that she does, but in the time in which we saw her tonight, she was really rather incredible.

Vita Radionova – We know that we have seen other contortionists do what she does, but she really carried the audience’s attention mostly through her timing, the choice of music, and the way she focused the attention right on her.

Benton Blount – We’re not sure America is really pulling for a solo singer to win at this point, mostly because we’ve become over-exposed to them and are clamoring for something new. With that said, Benton has the tone, the emotion, and the artistry to go really far. One of the best singers remaining.

Advancing tonight were Oz, Vita, Benton, Mountain Faith Band, Triple Threat, and Animation Crew. This may be the first time this season that we’ve agreed 100% with the judges’ choices. No drama here.

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