America’s Got Talent: The Champions kicked off its Season 2 semifinals on Monday, ultimately eliminating half of the show’s remaining 12 acts. But before we get to the results, let’s break down this week’s dirty dozen…
JJ PANTANO | I still don’t understand the appeal of this seven-year-old insult comic, and the tiny Australian bully did nothing to change my mind with his obnoxious semifinals routine. Were his jokes about Heidi Klum dating younger men supposed to be funny? Or his uninspired belittling of Alesha Dixon? I’m honestly at a loss. I know I’m not supposed to make fun of children, but the fact that he made it through his set without receiving a single X is baffling to me. (I’m also not convinced he isn’t an Amy Sedaris character, but I’ll save that mystery remains for another day.)
TYLER BUTLER-FIGUEROA | Now here’s a kid that deserves our respect. The 12-year-old cancer survivor treated us to a stunning violin rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” that left the audience sobbing. The judges commended him on his bold decision to divert from his typical high-energy performances.
MARC SPELMANN (AS ‘X’) | The judges weren’t completely sold on the magician/mentalist’s latest routine, which involved predicting Terry Crews’ answers to several random questions. While I agree that it wasn’t necessarily a “progression” from what Spelmann has given us before, I’ll tip my hat (mostly out of fear) to any act that’s able to access a live feed of Crews’ living room.
DUO DESTINY | I can’t say a damn word about the athleticism that Kinga Grzeskow and Goncalo Roque displayed tonight, which was obviously out of this world, but I can say one word about the overall presentation: boring. And I’m clearly not alone. “These are all the same moves we’ve seen before,” Howie Mandel told the pair. Even Dixon, in her attempt to defend the acrobats, admitted that there were “some” moves she recognized.
HANS | Forget the Iowa Caucus update that aired at the top of this week’s episode, the true political moment of the night came when Hans announced his candidacy for champion of Season 2. (“Make America glitter again!”) Directly addressing his online haters — who, me? — Hans vowed to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. And while Klum remains his No. 1 fan, I wouldn’t say that Hans’ performance of “Bang Bang” was any more impressive than his lackluster rendition of “Juice” a few weeks ago. I appreciate his energy, but screaming and streamers alone do not an AGT champion make.
DANIA DIAZ | The magician took a more personal route this week, pulling inspiration from her late mother, who always emphasized the importance of remaining positive. What began as an admittedly pedestrian trick eventually grew into another jaw-dropping feat, as the end of Diaz’s routine revealed that she predicted the card Dixon would choose before the act even began.
DUO TRANSCEND | Mary Ellen Wolfe and Tyce Nielsen immediately set themselves apart from the night’s other “Duo” by giving us a Greatest Showman-themed performance (even if the music got a little distracting at times). As for the difficulty level, these two raised the bar in ways I never could have predicted. As if the acrobatics weren’t enough, a blindfolded Nielsen ended the routine by swinging Wolfe around… while spinning around on roller skates. Like, what even?!
STRAUSS SERPENT | Not since Samara crawled out of that well in The Ring have I been this unnerved by a person’s entrance into a room, but that’s to be expected with an act like Serpent, whose body is basically made of Play-Doh. I feel like Dixon summarized his semifinals routine best: “Every single thing about that was brilliant. It was funny and painful to watch at the same time.” (Cowell said that Serpent didn’t have the “wow factor” this time around, but can we really trust the guy who gave a Golden Buzzer to Boogie Storm?)
RYAN NIEMILLER | After stepping onto the stage with confidence — backed by Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” — the fan-favorite comic launched into another hilarious, self-deprecating act. (“I was going to shave but I didn’t have four hours and a pint of blood to lose.”) Though the judges wished him well, they seemed to agree that Niemiller’s material didn’t feel as “fresh” as it has in previous performances.
ALEXA LAUENBURGER | The season’s only remaining dog act returned to the stage with a Scooby-Doo and Beetlejuice-inspired routine that had all four judges enthralled from start to finish. “This is the best dog act I’ve ever seen!” Mandel exclaimed at one point, while Dixon simply told her, “I will never get bored of this act.” Even Cowell that he wishes there was another Golden Buzzer to push tonight.
SANDOU TRIO RUSSIAN BAR | These three adrenaline junkies more than made up for any of their past mistakes with a flaming, high-flying performance that brought the crowd to its feet. “You meant business and you upped your game,” Dixon said, followed by this desperate plea from Klum: “You have to be one of the six! You have to be.”
MARCELITO POMOY | Monday’s semifinal performances concluded with another mind-blowing display of talent from Pomoy, who brought the house down with a one-man duet of the operatic classic “Time to Say Goodbye.” We’re sure Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman would be impressed… and perhaps a little jealous. Mandel told Pomoy that he has the best shot of winning this whole thing, and I don’t disagree.
OK, time for the results. Once the super fans’ votes were counted, the following six acts were eliminated: Strauss Serpent, JJ Pantano (phew!), Dania Diaz, Marc Spelmann, Ryan Niemiller and Duo Destiny.
That means congratulations are in order for Hans (how?!), Tyler Butler-Figueroa, Marcelito Pomoy, Alexa Lauenburger, Sandou Trio Russian Bar and Duo Transcend. Those six winning acts will return to challenge the four Golden Buzzer recipients — Angelina Jordan, Boogie Storm, V. Unbeatable and Silhouettes — next Monday.
Which six (6) acts would you have sent through this week? Vote in our poll below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on Monday’s episode of America’s Got Talent: The Champions.