America’s Got Talent review: Darci Lynne, Just Jerk, Yoli Mayor, & more (live show #1)

Just JerkTonight, the first America’s Got Talent live show is here! That’s exciting — you’ve got a wide array of different acts (though a lot of them are singers), and the potential for some crazy stuff to happen. Tyra Banks, making her live-show debut, even promised to Simon Cowell that this would be one of her goals tonight. (This is going to be a big test for Banks to see how she thrives in this environment.)

Our big goal tonight is to give you a take of all of the acts as we see them … live! Be sure to refresh this page early and often for updates + grades on everyone who takes part.

Christian Guardino – Good singer. Hate hearing “Make It Rain” for the billionth time. This is a song that has almost no pop-culture reference outside of Sons of Anarchy these days; clearly, it’s a cheap song for producers to license. Unfortunately, it’s overdone so much that we didn’t get anything out of Christian singing it. There wasn’t a bad note in here, but it was missing a certain “wow” factor — maybe we’re wrong given that the judges all gave him a standing ovation. Grade: B.

Artyon & Paige – These two are super-adorable, and it’s hard to say anything negative about them. They brought as much to this Footloose routine as we could’ve wanted, in between flips, ballerina moves, and plenty of personality. While we don’t think they have any chance of winning, this was by far the best performance that we’ve seen from them. It was at least so exciting that you couldn’t help yourself from smiling throughout. Grade: B+.

In the Stairwell – “Some Nights” was an interesting song for this group given that so much of it is based on vocals in the first place — yet, “what do I stand for” coming from a military singing group sounds like almost political commentary. Things did get a little bit cluttered when they started to get into the verses of the song — we’ve heard better acapella groups, but we do like them and their story is inspiring. Good on them for still wanting to do something like this. Grade: B.

The Singing Trump – Just like Trump’s actual popularity at the moment, the singing version is going down in the polls. This was moderately amusing the first time we saw it, but the second or the third time we were just bored. Also, we STILL don’t know just who this act is for since we don’t know who’s going to vote for him … but we thought that same thing with the election. In terms of the act, he was SO OFF in the beginning with his timing! Grade: C-.

Angelica Hale – “Clarity” is a great song, and we like she did something reasonably current. we’re not sure she’s old enough to understand the pain of it, but this is probably one of the better vocals that we’ve heard of the song — also, she did a few things and runs that were unique to her. Her best performance of the season and the best of the night so far. Grade: A-.

Bello Nock – Obviously, he was a surprise addition to the show that was not previously announced. He’s a complete crazy man, but we’re fine with that given that he’s such a breath of fresh air. What he did tonight you will not see on ANY other show. To us, this is what a million-dollar act could be, someone who pushes the envelope and does something that puts their life on the line. Amazing. Grade: A.

Just Jerk – We don’t necessarily think that the dance group is a revelation in the same way that we think Bello is, but they are still incredibly precise and very good. They are, by far, the best dance group we’ve seen on this show in a while. Their moves are precise, but there is also this further element of culture and identity here that is both refreshing and exciting. Grade: A-.

Puddles Pity Party – We’ll admit that “Royals” isn’t our favorite song in the world. It was also a little bit jarring to see a much more confident Puddles than we’ve seen in the past. The thing here is that in terms of pure singing, he was tremendous — he didn’t miss a single note, but for whatever reason Simon Cowell went ahead and buzzed him. Grade: B+.

Preacher Lawson – He came back tonight with another really great set with a lot of good physical comedy bits. He of course had to deal with the harsh comedy judge that is Heidi Klum, but kudos to him for bringing so much to the table and showing so much of himself — while also sharing his story in the process. Vulnerability in comedy can be a very tough thing to share! Grade: A-.

Yoli Mayor – Another good performance from Yoli! We give her credit for doing a current song and finding a way to stay true to herself and hitting some killer notes in here. She sometimes takes a little while to get going vocally, but when she does, she DELIVERS time and time again. Great vocal. Grade: A-.

Billy & Emily – Somehow, someway, they find new ways to impress. We know that their act is largely variations on the same thing every time, but there is something magnetic about what they do. They do change things up slightly every week, and it’s odd to be hard on them only to be more than fine with singers largely doing the same thing every week. This was incredible, the best thing we’ve seen from them. Grade: A.

Darci Lynne – She was the most anticipated act of the night, and she totally gets the cheesy joke of the night award for the Heidi Klum – Seal comment. What she’s able to do as a ventriloquist is pretty incredible — we’ve probably seen better ventriloquists, but when you combine her singing talent with her ventriloquism skills with her being so young, she’s incredible and did nothing but raise her status as the one to beat this season. Grade: A.

Who was your favorite on America’s Got Talent tonight? Share in the comments or the poll below! (If you can’t see the poll, click to view the non-AMP page at the bottom.)

Meanwhile, click here in the event you do want to get some additional news and updates right now on America’s Got Talent. We’ll be back tomorrow with more on the results, so our advice to you is clear: Stay tuned. (Photo: NBC.)


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