Can Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel please be the next two judges booted from America’s Got Talent? After Monday’s episode of The Champions, which set the stage for next week’s semifinals, I’m not sure either one of them knows the meaning of the word anymore.
My frustration — which I imagine will be shared by many — comes from the final elimination of the night, the dreaded “judges’ choice.” This week, the panel’s options included Brian King Joseph, an exceptional violinist whose neuropathy will someday leave him paralyzed; Christian and Percy, a human-dog act that exemplifies strength, dedication and companionship; and JJ Pantano, a 7-year-old child whose “comedy” routine was basically just a roast of the judges. (His sick burns included ripping on Alesha Dixon for not being as successful as Alicia Keys, and belittling host Terry Crews for only playing 32 games in his NFL career.)
Talking amongst themselves, the judges concluded that this was not going to be an easy decision, and I agreed. I couldn’t imagine having to choose between the inspirational musician or the incredible athlete/animal trainer. With all respect to the child standing between them, BKJ and Christian might as well have been the only people standing on that stage. (Boy, did I misjudge the situation.)
Mandel, for reasons I will never comprehend, cast the first vote for Pantano. (My Spidey sense immediately began tingling.) Dixon and Heidi Klum threw their respective votes behind the other two acts, which resulted in a tie, leaving the contestants’ collective fate in Cowell’s hands, and he… I can’t believe I’m even about to type these words… chose the kid.
I’m honestly at a loss here. Cowell stealing Mandel’s Golden Buzzer a few weeks ago was one thing, but this is a whole other level of crazy. For a show that prides itself on spreading inspiration and positivity, it’s kind of mind-blowing that AGT would promote a little roaster — no matter how precocious — over the other two. And I know it’s ridiculous to get worked up over the results of a reality show, but let’s be honest, we crossed that line weeks ago.
Fortunately, the night’s other seven acts ended up exactly where they belonged. Dixon gave her Golden Buzzer to Silhouettes, a dance group whose beautiful story illustrated the enduring relationship between a girl and her dog throughout their lives together. And the super-fans sent through Strauss Serpent, a jaw-dropping contortionist, and Sandou Trio Russian Bar, whose ocean-themed acrobatic routine had everyone in the audience gasping.
As for the acts that didn’t make it to the semifinals, we said goodbye to gospel quartet Voices of Service, dancer Emil Rengle (who was totally paying homage to Britney Spears in that “Oops!…I Did It Again” bodysuit), musical duo Bars and Melody, and young songstress Connie Talbot.
Following tonight’s results, we now know the 16 acts competing in next week’s semifinals: Alexa Lauenburger, Angelina Jordan, Boogie Storm, Dania Diaz, Duo Destiny, Duo Transcend, Hans, JJ Pantano, Marc Spelmann, Marcelito Pomoy, Ryan Niemiller, Sandou Trio Russian Bar, Silhouettes, Strauss Serpent, Tyler Butler-Figueroa and V. Unbeatable. (Click here for a closer look at each of those acts.)
OK, let’s talk: Am I overreacting here, or do Cowell and Mandel need to take a step back and reevaluate their life choices? Vote for your favorite acts in our poll below, then drop a comment with your thoughts about Monday’s episode. Plus, which semifinalists will you be rooting for next week?