Following tradition, the first round of semifinals was very disappointing.
First, the acts were not in the order they were originally promised, though very little explanation was given as to why this was the case.
It was, however, revealed that the KriStef Brothers were originally supposed to be a part of this set but had sustained an injury that left them unable to perform. They are, however, expected to be able to return next week.
To fill in the gap, Howie Mandel used his wildcard pick to bring back Red Panda.
Of the twelve acts that performed tonight, six will advance.
Which, with this set, can only mean one thing: Somebody's going to become a finalist who doesn't deserve to be one.
#1: Tone the Chiefrocca (X from Stern)
Hey, guess what. Nothing's changed.
Quoth Mel B.: "That was off the chain!"
Quoth the AGT examiner: "Mel B. is off her rocker."
#2: Red Panda
It was shown in her introductory reel that Red Panda had only arrived in New York that morning. All things considered, it's amazing she was even able to perform at all.
The problem, however, is that her act remains completely unchanged. Worse, during her intended big finish, she once again dropped one of her bowls.
#3: Angela Hoover
Angela Hoover actually can tell a decent joke. The problem is that she doesn't know how to incorporate jokes into her impressions. She started off by joking about Gwen Stefani (whom she did not impersonate) having two kids named Oreo and Placemat, but then proceeded to impersonate three celebrities (Courtney Kardashian, Sharon Osbourne and Sophia Vergara) commenting on Jack & Jill.
And while she did have the impersonations and the mannerisms spot on, she barely told any jokes at all during this set.
Klum summed it up best by saying that "The material isn't as good as your impressions." And that pretty well describes the problem with this act: Hoover has focused so much time and effort into getting the act right that she completely neglects to take into consideration what she should do with it.
My advice to Hoover at this point would be to consider a career in voice acting. On the average animated show, Hoover could be the entire voice cast all by herself, and she's in desperate need of someone to give her direction.
#4: Duo Resonance
For their performance, Duo Resonance added a "danger element" in the former of a narrow box for them to balance on.
While the act is still impressive, the box did nothing to add to their perforamnce. If anything, it might prove to be a liability.
Remember, America doesn't like danger acts. And the act they were supposed to be in a rivarly against tonight, the KriStef Brothers, didn't perform tonight because one of them fell and hit his head from a smaller height.
The judges praised the originality of the performance, though Stern said he felt that the box "got in the way."
Which is true. There was very little they did tonight that could not have been done on the floor. The box added nothing but liability in the form of categorizing them as an act America has proven time and time again to have no interest in.
#5: Collins Key
You almost get the impression tonight that the judges knew their preferred acts were in trouble and were trying to find reasons to fault good acts to swing America away from them.
This was once such act.
Earlier, Collins Key asked the audience to pick one of three locations in New York via Twitter. Then when he took to the stage, Key mentioned that a fan had asked if he had a girlfriend and suggested he would like to change that.
For his trick, he gave each judge a long list of traits all written down and thrown into bags, from which he asked them to pick one each. He then asked if any woman with a red card (passed out previously) who would like to go out on a date would stand up.
After about half the audience stood up, Key asked that just the one with the hashtag "possible date" would come forward. Once she was on the stage, the judges revealed their answers, all of which matched the woman who answered. Finally, Key asked Cannon to reveal what America had chosen, which he in turn revealed was already written on his arm under his sleeve.
Key's detractors were Mel B. and Howard Stern.
Stern faulted his act because he was "trying to squeeze a big long trick into ninety seconds." What Stern conveniently forgot, of course, is that the reason is stretched out was because Key was stuck doing crowd control, first when he took to the stage, and later when he asked for all the ladies interested in him to stand up. This was what made his performance drag.
Mel B. was even worse, saying of his act "I don't know if I believe it."
Mel? That's the whole bloody point of magic. If you're confused as to how Collins Key did that, that means he did his job (though based on what you did with your wildcard pick, it's understood that the idea of someone doing their properly well would be completely alien to you).
#6: Innovative Force
Best way to describe Innovative Force tonight would be as an act of desperation. They evidently knew they were still lagging behind -- still being overshadowed by the sea of drama -- and tried to squeeze as much content into ninety seconds as possible.
Unfortunately, in the process, they may have portrayed their shortcomings. None of the judges called attention to it, but at one point, a performer did appear to miss her mark, and during a stunt that could have severely injured her no less. During a trick in which two performers were flung into the air simultaneously and in identical arks, one landed in the the arms of other group members while the other appeared to land with only her upper body being caught, resulting in her landing hard on her feet instead.
The judges had other criticisms, most notably Howie Mandel, who compared it to a cheer-leading competition. Mel B. also called the performance "a little bit messy."
Stern likewise was not entirely optimistic, saying that he hoped it was coming across on TV how impressive what they do is.
Of course, he also highlighted how dangerous what they do is, and referenced the KriStef Brothers and how they got injured for good measure.
Way to go Howard. That's going to resonate with a lot of people as an argument against voting for Innovative Force.
#7: Dave Fenley
He covered a song by the Spice Girls. . .
And he beatboxed. . .
Oh God Dave, why?!!
Big surprise: He's still uncomfortably awkward. In fact, he made himself appear even more so by talking to little children during his introductory video, then saying he'd catered his act to be specifically for children.
Which, as you've most likely guessed, meant his act was all about boobs, crap, and being attracted to dogs.
Williamson got a standing ovation from the Manchild. That's all the proof anyone could ask for that this act really blows.
The judges, however, were all praise, making Taylor Williamson the AGT judges' new polished turd (sorry Tone, you've been dumped).
#9: Jonathan Allen
During his introduction, Allen revealed that he was facing pressure from Forte and decided the best thing to do was, instead of trying to compete directly with them, to differenciate himself from them.
From a tactical standpoint, this was the right move. More than that, it actually may pay off for him as it allowed him to demonstrate his versatility with a much more muted, sentimental performance.
Allen started off soft and intimate. From here, he built up to the powerful theatrical tone he'd been known for, and concluded on a sutble, almost falsetto tone.
Mel B. questioned whether this new approach would register with America, but withdrew her own personal judgment. Mandel, however, said this was "not your strong side" while Stern faulted him for not connecting emotionally.
"I think they're all wrong," said Klum. "You couldn't have sang it better."
She also said of his performance that, by the end of it, "You could hear a mouse fart" in Radio City Music Hall.
And it's for that reason that Heidi Klum is right and the other three are wrong. Jonathan Allen did the only thing harder than getting an audience up off their feet: He rendered them speechless. Allen had his audience's full undivided attention tonight, and that's why he's a lot closer to the Top 12 than the other three judges would like to believe.
During their introduction, the leader of Catapult conceded that they may have bitten off more than they could chew by trying to significantly raise the stakes with only a week's time.
It showed, especially in the beginning, but the performance still looked visually stunning once they got it going.
The narrative was not quite as clear as before, but the general idea was that it involved two people being lost at sea, reuniting at the bottom of the ocean, and then returning to land with the blessing of Poseidon. . . Or something like that. At the very least, all the sea life they tried to replicate with their shadows was recognizable.
The judges all agreed that their previous performance had been better. Fortunately, this had been a really bad night, and with half of the acts advancing from this round, it's pretty much a guarantee that Catapult will be among them.
#11: Cami Bradley
Bradley chose to perform the ever-classic "I Can't Help Falling In Love With you," which. according to Heidi Klum, she performed in such a way that she didn't even recognize it initially as being such.
The judges were mostly praise, with only Mel B. offering criticism, saying "I would have gone for something a little more full on."
Cami? This is the woman who brought back Tone the Chiefrocca, that guy who is now likely with you in the Orville lounge constantly yelling "B-Double-O-T-Y!" over and over again so loud it makes your ears bleed. Ignore her completely.
Klum: "Wow, wow and wow. All I have to say."
Mel B.: "I really bloody like you."
Mandel: "You solidified yourself a place in the finals" and "I believe you just sent Jonathan Allen home."
Stern: "From the opening notes, you had me. Now that's the sign of true professionals."
So. . . Nobody's going to say it? Okay, allow me: This was not their best performance. Far from it. They picked a cheesy, overused song and stopped harmonizing, getting dangerously close to bellowing Texas Tenors territory.
Are they going through? Yes.
Were they the best act of the night? No.
Are they going to send Jonathan Allen home as Howie Mandel suggested? Definitely not now that he's suggested so.
In order of most likely to advance to least, the twelve Round 1 semifinalists (whether the judges like it or not) are: