Jackie Evancho, Fighting Gravity best of weak 'America's Got Talent' semi-final

fighting-gravity-320-agt.jpgThe second set of semi-final acts on "America's Got Talent" was surprisingly weak.

1. Alice Tan Ridley
The call for the semis is "I Have Nothing" from "The Bodyguard" and while Alice can certainly hit the big notes, she doesn't have the vocal chops to do the runs, which makes the song a little boring. The ending is nice, though, when she brings it down.

2. Haspop
Weirdly, Haspop dresses up like an old man and dances in front of video he filmed, including a background of Haspop Energy Drink. This is ... not that good. The dancing is good, sure, but but the set-up and video thing doesn't work for me. Sharon and Piers agree with me.

3. Maestro Alexander Bui
Bui appears to be combining "Flight of the Bumblebee" with ... something, I can't tell honestly. And it's really kind of an atonal nightmare for parts. I mean, obviously this kid is immensely talented, but this is not pleasant to listen to, nor is it recognizable. Howie buzzes him and while I don't think he should've been buzzed, this was not the right call for his piece this week.Piers gets his cultural-stuff-British pants in a twist about Howie's buzz, but I do think Howie has a point.

4. Michael Lipari and Ashleigh Dejon
So after their fake-out drop last time, what will they do to surprise us this week? Dressed all in white, they have smoke and clouds and "Bleeding Love," it's sensual but kinda boring. Without the big scary drop, it's just a lot of twirling around in the air. Piers says he likes their chemistry, which is kinda funny because I don't think they *have* romantic chemistry -- and I'm pretty sure Michael is gay. Not that that means they can't have a great act, but I don't buy them as a romantic couple, even for pretend during the routine.

5. Michael Grasso
For his next trick, Michael puts a woman in a tall cage, which lifts off the ground from its pedestal. He then reveals that she is gone from the cage and who you think is Grasso turns out to be the girl and he appears behind the judges. Eh, that was pretty good, but it was a bit obvious. I knew the minute they took away the stand that she had left the cage through the bottom, so the reveal that she wasn't in the cage (which took too long to get to) was not that excitign. You also could tell when "Michael" walked up to the front of the stage that it wasn't really him. I wanted to be more surprised.

6. Debra Romer
For the semis, Debra does "To Make You Feel My Love" and the entire thing is pretty weak -- not on pitch, unsupported and breathy. Bum notes all over the place. This is not good enough to go through, but she's pretty and has a sad story, so I'm sure she'll be fine. *eye roll*

7. Studio One Young Beast Society
This was great, their tricks are out of sight. So good. My one complaint was it took juuuust a bit too long to get to the tricks. They needed to start the routine with one big one, so that it was hopping right out of the gate.

8. Jeremy Vanschoonhoven

So Jeremy does tricks in a park setting and falls off some benches, then bops around a fake waterfall set. It doesn't get exciting until he's at the very top and even then -- we wish he did more riding and less hopping. Ehhh -- it's great that he fell off in rehearsal and got right back on for the show, but that entire routine was not our favorite of his.

9. Nathaniel Kenyon
"You and Me" is his song. It's, uh, wow. Can he hear his backup? He is SO off pitch. I mean, this is awful. This is worse than Debra Romer. And then he bites his lip and stares into the camera at the end and I feel dirty. Just no. Stop. Yuck. Howie says he has the package to be a pop star, which is true when you realize pop stars only need to be cute and not good singers.

10. Murray
For his trick this week, Murray takes us back to 1932 and he vanishes a giant train locomotive using a couple audience volunteers (who were pre-selected). They stand on either side of the trick to keep an eye on things. The train lifts up in the air and then it's gone from behind the curtain. Very David Copperfield of him. Not as exciting as his previous stuff and the talking wasn't showman-y enough. Piers says Michael Grasso did better tonight, which may be true (though they were both a little boring) but Murray is better overall, I think.

11. Jackie Evancho

After starting with the very recognizable "O Mio Babino Caro" for her first performance, Jackie picks "Time to Say Goodbye," which is not as easily recognized but still sounds very good. The words get a little muddled on the fast part at the beginning, but once she hits the chorus, it really ramps up. The last note dies riiiiiight at the end, but overall it was still great. Not as good as her first time around, but there's no reason she shouldn't advance. She looks just a doll in her blue dress, btw -- she's like a little Wendy from "Peter Pan."

12. Fighting Gravity
Their semi-final routine is a skateboard-based performance and it's just as neat as the previous ones. There wasn't anything that really blew me away, though. If they advance (and I think they should), they need to ramp it up past the three guys in white and the one guy up above conducting. They need to get bigger and better and do something surprising. Watch video of tonight's performance here.

Who should advance?

Jackie and Fighting Gravity are the only two shoo-ins. I think Murray deserves to advance based on previous performances. Other than that? I have no idea. It's really a toss-up between Alice, Alexander, Jeremy and Studio One for the last two spots. I'd choose Alexander and Studio One, if it were up to me. What do you think?

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Photo credit: NBC


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