Simon Cowell joins Mel B., Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel for season 11 of America’s Got Talent–your favorite summer guilty pleasure. Nick Cannon returns as host. We’ll be live blogging all the auditions right here.
Typically, I find America’s Got Talent and its cheesy lounge acts boring. I haven’t live blogged the show in years, but decided to take over when Simon announced his return. I have to say, the premiere was a well paced two hours that actually entertained me. Some talented acts, and just the right amount of silliness. The night also featured Hara, one of the best visual artists the show has ever had.
Oh sure, it’s still cheesy. And the music acts won’t come close to what’s found on Idol or The Voice, but I think I can handle a little well-done fluff this summer. Each judge can hit the Golden Buzzer once for an act they love, sending them straight to the live shows. This week, Mel B. buzzed in 13 year old classical singer, Laura Bretan. Read on for a full recap!
AGT opens with “Time in a Bottle” playing over a tracking shot of hopefuls in freeze frame. I’m waiting for the punch line…the freeze frame ends with Howie slapping his buzzer and a montage of the acts to come.
Aw. Howie is in charge of the “Welcome Simon” surprise party! There’s a cake and party hats! Howie even hugs him. There’s a cake with the birthday boy’s face on it. Simon slices right into his nose.
Nathan Bockstahler – Comedian – The first act is a precocious 6 year old boy. YAY. Not. He’s practiced a WHOLE LOT, he demonstrates with his hands mimicking A HUNDRED TIMES. He’s SO EXCITED. Simon guesses that he’s 25 years old. “Are you married?” Simon is funning with him. Oh, this kid is a comedian. Simon asks him if he’s ever watched the show. “No. NEVER!” he says. But he does know the prize is a million dollars. He wants the payout in legos. Oh geez. He’s making ADHD jokes. And corny jokes about girls. Oh wait. They’re actually about his mom. “I’ve been calling her mom…but I come to find out that’s not even her real name!” The crowd eats it up. “Do you realize how funny you are Nathan!” gushes Mel. Apparently he comes up with his own jokes. Heidi calls him a charmer. Simon likes him. “You’re a real character,” he says. – Four Yeses
Jose and Carrie – Dog Act – Carrie, the golden retriever, is the “best dancing dog in the world.” Simon smiles as soon as the dog appears. He loves the puppies. Jose danced as a boy. His wife hated dancing, so he divorced her and got a dog. OK then! Carrie is a sweet, good natured dog, as Goldens usually are. However, the ballroom dancing dog is nothing new. A short search on YouTube will turn up a ton of stuff. Carrie is in a dress, up on her hind legs following her master’s cues. She keeps falling down and doesn’t always make her marks. Really. Do that YouTube search. There are better dancing dogs acts out there. Simon wishes his dogs did the same thing. Mel B really liked it, but Heidi was bored after 15 seconds. The crowd boos her! – 3 yeses Heidi says no.
Amelie and Tommy (The Clairvoyants) – There is a very special connection between the duo. They claim to be psychically connected. Sure they are! The dating couple tried out their mentalist act on friends and family, and then schools and parties! Now they’re hoping to win A MILLION DOLLARS. Heidi takes the stage to assist their first trick. They allow her to inspect a blindfold that Amelie will wear. NO WIFI. Heidi hands Tommy a lipstick she’s pulled from a hand bag. Amelie not only guesses it’s lipstick, but the shade as well. Next, Tommy picks up an audience member’s iPhone and Amelie is able to determine what the item is, but also what it looks like, and the carrier. She guesses the expiration date on a bottle of eyedrops Howie has at the desk. These two are pretty slick! Howie is totally amazed. Mel B feels trapped in the twilight zone. Heidi has no idea how they did it. Simon calls Amelie a witch. “You have magic powers!” Ha ha no. – 4 yeses
Linkin Bridge – A’cappella group – The quartet met as kids–they grew up in the same rough St. Louis neighborhood. Their childhood soundtrack was full of hip hop, and of course the crowd expects the dudes– dressed in black and sporting tattoos–to spit some rhymes. But instead, they launch into a smooth a’capella version of “Over The Rainbow.” They would have been a big hit on The Sing-Off. They’re a little rough around the edges, but overall pretty solid. Very soulful, with nice harmonies and they perform with a lot of heart. That means more than precise harmonies with this crowd. It was so good, says Mel, she is speechless. They admit to Howie they are total amateurs (boys, ya better not be fibbing! We’ll find out in about 2 seconds) Simon thought the first half of the performance was OK, but really picked up when the lead singer busted out a solo in the second half. “It was sensational,” he says Aw. One dude is so emotional, he can’t talk. “There’s that voice inside that tells you to never give up,” he cries. Heidi thanks them for a beautiful performance. – 4 yeses
We’re 45 minutes into this, no joke acts. NO NOs. C’mon. Get with it! Simon is back! Where is the snark.
The Spice Gurlz – Drag Act – Five guys sit in the waiting room, dressed up in typical boy band duds. Each reveal the archetypes they play in the group (the shy one, the cute one, etc), and praise 90’s groups like *Nsync and Backstreet boys. They are hoping Simon can work his magic on them. But then. OH WAIT. When they hit the stage, they are all in Spice Girls DRAG. Oh my. I spoke too soon, Here’s the joke act. The buzzers go off as they strut And lip sync to a Spice Girls song. Simon asks them to sing. And yep. TERRIBLE. Simon snarks that their horrible singing was better than the original. Ha ha. 3 nos Mel says yes (of course.). It’s the first rejected act of the night.
Next is a montage, including a trio of female acrobats, and various terrible acts. Lots and lots of buzzing.
Hara – Visual Artist – Back from break, the show immediately opens to a black screen and a pretty spectacular act that involves 3d images of flowers, trees, birds appearing and disappearing. The imagery is creative and breathtaking. That had to be spectacular in person. The act ends with Hara turning into a bird and flying into the dark. Gorgeous illusions. Simon invites him to come home with him, because his act made him so happy. – 4 enthusiastic yeses
Charles and Rose – Singing and Dancing duo – They love to entertain! They’ve been married 4 years. An older couple, they met at bereavement counseling. They got kicked out…for flirting? They started singing in a karaoke bar. NEVER a good sign. Charlie is 57 and a letter carrier. Rose is in her 60s and a makeup artist. SIMON CALLS ROSE A LITTLE MINX. Recycling lines, is he. Charlie sings an atonal rendition of Viva Las Vegas, while Rose shimmies and shakes her ass. They can’t be serious. The crowd is cracking up. Heidi buzzes them. Rose likes to strip because she gets hot flashes, she says. Simon wants to know why the track keeps stopping. She takes her dress straps down. This is so bad, it’s actually kind of good. “One of the worst acts I’ve ever seen, but I can’t take my eyes off them,” says Simon. Heidi says no. But Mel B, Howie and Simon say YES They can’t resist. “I think I peed on myself,” says Rose as she walks off the stage, “WHERE’S THE TOILET.” She wins all the awards.
Tape Face – Comic mime – Bug eyed dude with black tape across his mouth refuses to talk. His act? Lip syncing a duet of “Endless Love” wearing oven mitts as puppets. It’s so weird and random, it actually is…funny. His eyeliner rimmed bug eyes are hilariously expressive. But that’s not all! The next bit is a Victor/Victoria deal where he covers one side of his body with a red dress. He perfectly mimics dancing with a woman–grabbing his partner’s ass and pulling out her bra as “they” sway to “Lady in Red.” The judges LOVED it. He leaves his bra behind. Nick, also with his mouth taped, dashes out on the stage to grab it. – 4 yesses.
Ryan Stock and AmberLynn – Carney act – They met at a festival. She was dressed as a fairy, crying on a bench. He hired her as his assistant. They’ve been together 15 years! OH YUCK. He’s a gross out artist. He sticks a pair of scissors up his nose and then operates them. He pulls them out and licks them GROSS GROSS GROSS. I hate these acts. HATE THESE ACTS SORRY NOT WATCHING. He takes a meat hook….and he sticks that up his nose. I think it came out of mouth. I stopped watching. I peeked. His assistant attached a bowling ball. Heidi buzzes. He attaches a chord to the meat hook and a pully thing and pulls himself off the ground. I’M PRETTY SURE THAT HAPPENED. Sorry. I couldn’t watch. Warning: I do not watch the gross out acts. You’ll mostly have to guess what happened, or wait for the video. Simon calls it disgusting, but he loved it. So did Howie. 3 yeses. Heidi says no
We come back to an off-key singing trio. Simon tells the middle guy that he shouldn’t be singing. The crowd boos. There’s a young female singer waiting in the wings, watching musical acts bomb.
Laura Bretan – After watching all those bad acts, the 13 year old eighth grader nervously takes the stage. But when she opens her mouth she is full of confidence as she belts out some operatic singing. Nessun Dorma of course. The go to song for Opera contestants! She sings with a surprising amount of emotion for a middle schooler. She’s just an emotional girl–shedding tears as the crowd cheers for her. I prefer her to that singing robot, Jackie Evancho, from a few seasons ago. Laura doesn’t come off as a polished pro, which adds to her likability. The judges go crazy. Simon compliments her humility and sweetness. Mel says the show will change her life AND HITS HER GOLDEN BUZZER. The golden confetti flies! She’s so surprised. Her mom comes out for a hug. Mell takes the stage to congratulate the young singer. Straight to the live shows for Laura.
Mr. Splat – Danger Act??? – Dude looks like a suburban dad, but claims to be living ON THE EDGE! He’s going to be bringing the DANGER. Danger for this dude is standing on a teenie weenie stool and diving into a plastic pool full of shaving cream. OK then. Simon’s had it. “GOODBYE EVERYONE” he says as he walks away. They don’t even bother to vote. The Benny Hill theme plays as Heidi jumps on stage to push Nick into the pool. She falls in with him. She chases Howie, Mel and Simon and manages to cover them in the white stuff. The ensuing melee ends the show. “This is not why I came back to America!” huffs Simon as he finds his car.