‘America’s Got Talent’ review: Laura Bretan, Malevo, Grace VanderWaal, Deadly Games perform in semifinal show #1
“America’s Got Talent” fans, rejoice! We’ve made it now to the semifinals, which means that there are no longer any dud acts left in the competition. Everyone’s got the ability to shine, but at the same exact time, you have to meet the high expectations that are set by everyone else.
Of course, we’re going to be updating this review live just like we have all of the others this seas.
Sal Valentinetti – After needing the Dunkin’ Save last time around, Sal went back to his roots (and smartly so) this time around. We do think there’ll be chances in his career to do things that are a tad more contemporary, people who are voting for this show probably want more standards rather than unconventional covers. Therefore, his take on “That’s Life” was a substantial improvement “Story of My Life.”
Blake Vogt – With a trick like this, the real selling point is to find a way to make it your own. It’s similar to a singer picking a familiar song. We’ve seen the whole “disappear from one part of the auditorium only to appear somewhere else” stunt multiple times, but what made Blake’s effective here was the presence of a little bit of humor, whether it be him “taking his clothes off” to replicate invisibility to the way he seemed to improv with reading Simon Cowell’s card. It didn’t redefine our view of magic, but it was very good for early in the show.
Edgar – The family band had a very emotional / sentimental introduction to their performance, which made it clear what their story was — and probably also appeals them to religious-minded voters. It may be who they are, but it’s also smart strategy. Admittedly, this isn’t for us. It’s a little too sappy, and there’s not enough that stands out here versus other bands on the market to make us interested in seeing another performance.
Lori Mae Hernandez – The first part of her act tonight was a little weak, mostly because for whatever reason, her doing humor that is actually age-appropriate just doesn’t work for her. She’s so much better either A) talking about political stuff or B) roasting the judges. Her final zinger at Nick Cannon was especially brutal, and it was made all the better by him briefly pretending to be upset about it.
Musicality – The glee club was a little rocky the last time we saw them, mostly because the blend and intonation seemed to be off. This time around, it was almost night and day. They do need to do a slightly-better job extending their notes, but from their song choice (“Born This Way”) to their staging to their energy, this is precisely what we wanted to see from an inspiring youth choir. It’s hard to be cynical about them making it this far after this.
Deadly Games – Every time they perform, they get better and better. Tonight, they showed more than just knife-throwing, and they did it in a way that was well-choreographed, intense, and thoroughly entertaining. We certainly had the fear that they were going for, but at the same time you never got the sense they were nervous. That’s one of the reasons this works while many other danger acts fall by the wayside.
Tape Face – Once again, this was really fun and completely silly, but at the same time, we think he is one of the better acts this season. We do think that his act benefits from having a little bit more time than his offered; it took him so long to set up the balloon battle that by the time we were there, there wasn’t too much left in order to see it in action.
Jon Dorenbos – While this was utter chaos for most of the trick, the end of it was really cool and we’re super-happy that Jon found a way to incorporate the NFL and his history into what he was doing. While there are a lot of magic acts on this show, and some of them are a little more polished than he is, there is something about his story that makes him a fascinating entry into the program.
Grace VanderWaal – This probably was the least-catchy of the three songs that she’s performed at first, but it got better and better as it went on. Also, consider the extreme degree of difficulty of what she’s doing at her aging. She’s performed three original songs, showed off some musicianship, and really won us over with the passion she brings to what she’s doing. She’s at a huge disadvantage in that we can’t really sing along to what she’s doing, but her talent still makes her worthy of advancing.
Malevo – There are some components to what they do every time that are similar, but much like Deadly Games, they do figure out a way to add some new dimensions to it and have it stand out in the field. They’ve got so much intensity and energy that it’s almost impossible to not watch them. The one thing that we would like to see from them if they advance is a chance to actually hear more of their percussion, which does get drowned-out at times.
Laura Bretan – We have no problem with Laura having a preexisting talent-show resume, which we know some see as an unfair advantage. However, we do question why the show has given her the final spot in two straight shows, since that always tends to give acts an advantage. Now that we’ve said that, her voice is sensational, and everything aside, it would be wrong to not have a talent on her extraordinary level in the finale.
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