What the second week of Top 48 performances lacked on "America's Got Talent," the third week made up for Tuesday evening, twelve more acts taking the stage and, instead of letting the legendary Radio City Music Hall swallow them up, commanded the attention befitting acts trying to win a million-dollar contract. There were a couple of slips, but where Week 2 was primarily underwhelming, Week 3 was beyond the ordinary -- which is what you want in acts vying for tons of money and a Las Vegas headline gig. But on night of great performances, the producers had stacked far too many musical acts, apparently determined to whittle the number down.
As noted in Reality Rewind's recap of the show Aug. 13, the first thing noticeable about Week 3 is host Nick Cannon's budding mohawk, giving his features a more rounded look. A nod to the "America's Got Talent" judges and an emotionally powerful eulogic moment from Judge Howie Mandel mourning the passing of the one of the greatest comedic geniuses ever, Robin Williams -- and the on to the show.
Since there are 18 musical acts in this year's Top 48 and only eight have performed, the remaining ten were split between Week 3 and Week 4, so, unless they make a clean sweep in the voting, one or more of those acts will be headed home on their particular results nights. And after hearing the acts from Tuesday's performance round, one was likely to wish that at least a couple of them had been on last week's episode, especially given the lackluster performances.
Like the two weeks prior, Week 3 started off with a dance troupe (or team), this time with Dragon House's The Agents. Their synchronized animation is usually a thing of beauty but something was off Tuesday night. And it might have been the poor choice of camera angles. Sadly, as talented as these guys are, they will likely meet the same fate on the eliminations results show that their predecessors did.
Only one of the music groups failed to impress. Kieran and Finian Makepeace performed Ellie Goulding's "Lights" in a well-harmonized arrangement that just didn't quite hit the mark.
But the other four musical acts looked ready for the big time. Little 9-year-old inquisitive genius Adrian Romoff showed his mastery of the ivories with dramatic rendition of a classical piano piece. Ann Clendening, who prefaced her performance with a video clip of overcoming her anxiety disorder, sang Cristina Perri's "Only Human," which prompted Judge Howie Mandel to praise her bravery and note that, in light of the recent death of comedic great Robin Williams, mental illnesses require illumination and education. The Sons of Serendip continued their phenomenal run of taking well-known hits, this week's being Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game," and making them into minimalist and vocalized masterpieces. And soldier Paul Ieti closed the show down with a soaring rendition of One Direction's "You and I," a guy on piano looking amazingly similar to Coldplay's Chris Martin.
Making it difficult for the singers (and the confident, soon-to-be-in-college Adrian Romoff), though, were other superb acts, like Blue Journey, one of the few acts to get all for "America's Got Talent" judges on their feet for a standing ovation. A mixture of dance and shadow imagery, the duo told a captivating story of having something desired, then losing it. And Christian Stoinev, the hand balancer, enthralled the audience with both balancing himself and then balancing his little chihuahua, a move that had Judge Mel B. looking through her fingers, afraid the dog was going to become unbalanced and plummet to the stage. (A cute act, but Christian has to be careful not to rely too much on the cutesy hook, because, in the end, he's a hand balancer.)
The "Today" show contest entree, Cornell Bhangra, would champion Punjabi dancers, had the entire Music Hall on their feet with their colorful and energetic performance. The AcroArmy tumbled, jumped, flipped, vaulted and performed all sorts of acrobatics that impressed the judges as well as the audience.
Mike Super, the "Mystifier," played on a bit of voodoo magic with Judge Mel B., getting his spirit buddy, "Desmond," to tap her on the shoulder, heat up her hands (leaving ash in the palms), and become a conduit to shock her as he tortured a voodoo doll. Judge Howard Stern told him he was good and entertaining but the Desmond schtick had to go.
And then there was Wendy Liebman, the talented comedienne who stepped out and seemed to get off to a slow start (each act only has 90 seconds to perform), but set in after about 20 seconds and had the entire Hall roaring with laughter by the end of her routine. Judge Howie Mandel told the audience and viewers that Liebman's performance may have been the most difficult of all, having to win over an audience with presence, wordplay, and an act that requires a bit of thinking as opposed to mere passive observation.
So twelve performed -- but only five will make it through. Unlike Week 2, attempting to predict which five that might be would be difficult for even the most observant and intuitive individual. But some might have an edge, something extra (the "X" factor) that makes them stand out and above the rest -- the Sons of Serendip, Adrian Romoff, Blue Journey, Wendy Liebman, Anna Clendening. However, Cornell Bhangra and AcroArmy were impressive, as was Christian Stoinev and his chihuahua. Paul Ieti continues to amaze with his vocal stylings.
Face it, people, voting for the best five among the Week 3 performances had to be a free-for-all.
Of course, instead of speculating, just tuning in to the "America's Got Talent" results show at 9 p.m. (EST) on NBC Television Wednesday night should suffice. The unfortunate aspect of performance night's like this week's is that, if a couple of the acts that get voted off had been on during the Week 2 performances, they probably would make the Semifinals.