America’s Got Talent 9 – Semifinals 2 – Liveblog and Discussion (VIDEOS)

Live from Radio City Music Hall–I’ll be blogging the America’s Got Talent Semifinals part 2 right here!

Nick Cannon in rather subdued attire tonight. Maybe it reflects his  pre-divorce mood. Howard Stern gives us some crazy hands in the air! “The heat is on,” he says. The performers have to be crafty and smart. Think it through! A million dollars is on the line, he says.

Jonah Smith (band) – He’s a New York boy in his element. At one point he was able to quit his day jobs, but then the dream began to slip through his fingers. His struggles have given him depth as a singer, he says. He and his band perform a bluesy rendition of One Republic’s “Love Runs Out”  He a real throwback, reminiscent of Elton John in the 70s. His vocal chops, musicianship and performance skills are impressive, but we’ve seen this before, haven’t we?  “YES YES YES” says Mel B. She’s very excited. “You’re so friggin entertaining! I love you guys! Howie can’t imagine America not voting for them. Heidi loves his rich soulful voice. Jonah is Howard’s favorite male singer in the competition, he’s not convinced it was his best performance. Not a show “closer,” Howard said.   Jonah felt he did really well. He purposely chose a current song so he could prove his relevancy. Apparently, Howard thought he should chose a classic song. Him. I’m Team Jonah on this one. Although, the singer still managed to sound old-fashioned, even on a new song.

Baila Conmigo (Latin Dance Group) – The judges saved them last time. Howard was the deciding vote. The little ones declare that they love him very much. They tiny ones are also pulling focus. The others aren’t too jealous. Heh. Dancers ranging from adults to wee little kids perform precision latin dance routines. One one hand, it’s a novelty, but they are very well rehearsed. And the little kids are not only very talented, but adorable too. Heidi and Mel are standing by the time they finish. Howie says it’s hard not to smile. He loves the little ones too. He thinks maybe the kids should be their own act. Howard thinks the act is fabulous. But it’s not a mistake they keep narrowly escaping elimination. Putting the kids front and center would give them the extra edge they need to win. Heidi loved it. “It makes me feel good watching you guys,” she says. Mel thought they DID something different, noting a couple of extra tricks they threw in. Howard interrupts. She shushes him. “You really gave it your all,” she says.

Jaycob Curlee (Singer) – His last performance wasn’t reviewed well by the judges. He’s been practicing ever since and hopes to bring it for the panel. He’s working hard to overcome his difficult past. He sings “Your Song,” accompanying himself on guitar. He possesses an interesting tone, but the performance is languid and lacks energy. He’s holding back. He’s also having pitch issues. He’s mostly flat throughout. Unremarkable. Howard thinks we saw his personal best. Hm. Really Howard? I thought it was sleepy. It’s faint praise, however–Howard never asks America to vote for him.  Heidi calls him truly blessed with a great voice. She notes his lack of stage presence. YEP. Mel believes he took a risk tonight. The performance was small, she’s not sure America will respond. Howie reminds him that it’s no longer about his story. America will decide. Nice sidestep there, Howie. Jaycob is only 18. He reminds me a little of Sam Woolf. A kid unable to express the emotion roiling just under the surface.

Mat Franco (Magic) – This young magician is a fan favorite. He explains that right after he performed for AGT, he went back on the college circuit. Tonight he’ll be showing America a completely new trick. The judges choose cards at random. They reveal the cards they chose. Mat takes the cards back. He asks Mel to hold the three cards the other judges chose. After he snaps a photo he “accidentally” dumps the phone in water.  He promises he can fix it, by dumping it in a bag and aiming a blast of hot air from a hair dryer at it. Smoke rises from the bag…he opens it…the phone is gone!  He asks Heidi to call Mel B’s phone.  It rings somewhere out in the middle of the audience. He and Mel go looking for it. After moving audience members out of the way, Mat rips a seat open. Mel reaches inside and finds her phone. To prove it, it’s got the photo of her holding up the three cards. And what’s more, the SEAT NUMBER CORRESPONDED TO THE CARDS. Wow. For a minute, I wasn’t sure where Mat was taking us, but the conclusion was a fabulous twist. The act started off as a card trick and then turned into something else entirely. Howard congratulates him for doing so well. He loves the way he works the camera. His work ethic pays off, says Howard. Heidi calls it “mind boggling.” Howie is impressed with his ability to stage a small trick for a large audience. Mel would have kicked his ass if he hadn’t retrieved her phone! Ha. She calls him brilliant and marvels at his delivery and stage presence.

AcroArmy (Acrobats) – Saved by the judges, they barely made it last time. One of the acrobats couldn’t get off work for the previous performance, but he’s back. The group, which consists of young people of all ages, mixes acrobat with movement and dance. It really is quite beautiful to watch. Their feats, which include creating towers of people as a launch pad for impressive and dangerous looking flips, is quite impressive. The last trick had a woman tossed so high in the air, I held my breath as she came back down, caught effortlessly by a fellow acrobat. As Mel B said, it was breathtaking. “Off the chain,” she says. Howie makes a bunch of military analogies. You know–because they are an army. Har. He loves them, though. It’s confusing to Howard that they haven’t placed higher. He’s thinking the home audience can’t absorb everything that’s happening on stage. He hopes viewers vote for them. Heidi compared it to a huge Las Vegas act, a million dollar act.

Kelli Glover (Singer) – She was so nervous last time. The live performances psych her out. She’s got real self esteem problems. She was cut from AGT in 2009 and stopped singing. Hm. She intends on killing it this time. She performs “Love on Top” by Beyonce. Why does this contemporary song still sound like it’s 20 years old? Yeah, the tune is a throwback even when Beyonce sings it, but it loses all it’s modern elements here. There’s no argument, she’s a great singer, but she’s packaging herself poorly.  At this stage, she might have fared better singing a big, ballady, competition friendly song. Howie emphasizes that she has to be sure of herself, if she hopes to advance. Howard sees cruise ship and beauty pageant when she sings. Oh. That was some SERIOUS depimping from Howie and Howard. Mel felt she didn’t “give it” tonight. the performance “fell flat,” she said. Mid-tempo songs rarely go over well in competition. Wrong song Kelli.

Wendy Liebman (Comic) – Howard brought this middle aged mom back as a wildcard after she was eliminated.  She makes class reunion jokes. Weight jokes. Family jokes. Yada yada. This is pretty rudimentary stuff. Oh. Now it’s time for husband jokes. The comics haven’t made an impression this season, and I don’t believe Wendy is going to turn that around. Howard is still so glad he brought her back. He hopes that America appreciates that she brought her A game. Heidi notes this is they type of relatable comedy that she likes. Mel B loves her because she’s a strong independent woman. Howie concurs. He stresses her writing skills and how difficult it is to wrangle the crowd. Wendy is the last chance to get a comic in the finals. The judges are pushing for it.

Blue Journey (Contemporary dance duo) – They work with animation, which is pretty cool. Ooh. The hallucinogenic melting backgrounds even look good on TV. I bet this is awesome live. The Radiohead song added to the surreal tableau. The only objection I have is that the dancing took a backseat to the theatrics. But maybe that’s OK. The entire performance was beautifully staged. Heidi compares them to a Dali painting, come to life. One of her favs. Mel loved the creativity. “You have to stay in this competition.” Howard calls it visually stunning, but he’s not sure America will vote for their risky performance. Howie mashes his superlatives together before urging America to vote!

Emil and Dariel – Impressive teen cello duo performs a very energetic rendition of Wings’ “Live and Let Die.” They saw away at their electric cellos, replete with flames and backing orchestration. THIS is a Las Vegas act. I expect sin city will be the next step for these two. Mel B says they come out every time and just smash it. She calls the band “hot.” Howie felt it was like Paul McCartney didn’t show up to his own concert. That was meant to be a compliment. Howard suggests they bring a singer to the next performance. Heidi liked it a lot. Grandpa is in the audience looking really proud. Also a musician, the kids dedicate the night’s performance to him.

Smoothini – The father of twins, he can’t support them with just bar magic! He’s a funny guy. Saved in the final minutes before, he’s grateful to America.  The act consists of a series of small, but impressive tricks completed at the judges panel, with their help. He uses small props. But can the studio audience even take in what’s going on? It’s hard to imagine these tricks in a large venue, although they could work in an intimate setting with lots of audience participation. But if it comes down between Smoothini and Mat, there’s no contest. Mat is the million dollar act. Heidi loves the close up magic. He kept them all mesmerized, says Mel. She hopes people vote for him. Howie felt he really stepped it up this week. He says America has a tough vote. For Howard, the act is too small. Hm. I agree.

Christian Stoinev (Strength act WITH PUPPY!) – SCOOBY! I love scooby the dog. This is such a cute act. The dog rolls o to stage in a mini jet fighter to the tune of “Danger Zone” from the movie Top Gun. ADORABLE. Christian is a talented acrobat, but Scooby steals the show, the way the dog coolly balances on the top of Christian’s feet. He’s so well trained. Oh wait. What’s that? Two dogs! Are they friends? Scooby in the little airplane is too much. The new dog is called Scooby 2. Mel felt he needed to do a little more. Too much Scooby. Heidi’s children are obsessed with Scooby. She’s cool with it. Howard calls him a frontrunner, who became too relaxed. It wasn’t his best night, he says. Don’t forget about the strength act. It’s true, there were fewer strength tricks than last time, and the tricks he did we’ve seen before. Christian basically admits that he didn’t have the time to whip up something new, hence the reliance on the dog and gimmickry. That honesty could hurt him. But then. SCOOBY! So, maybe not.

Quintavious Johnson – This Franklin TN teen performs “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. Wait. He’s not a teen HE’S ONLY 12 YEARS OLD. I would not be surprised if this kid came out of the womb singing like that. His mastery of tone, phrasing and performance skills are so effortless and natural, he might have been born that way. He’s like a young Michael Jackson, in terms of preternatural skill.  “You taught everyone a lesson tonight,” says Howard, “You have it…America vote Quintaveous!

About mj santilli 35052 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!