Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A weird and wonderful night on 'America's Got Talent'

It was a night for strange acts on America's Got Talent.

Of course the Chicago auditions had its share of the usual dancers and singers, but there are other shows for those talents. To see the truly weird, you've got to come here, and if you did, you didn't come away disappointed. There were plenty of acts that sounded, at first blush, like they would be awful, and some of them were: the banjo-playing Tuvan throat singer and the guy who broke stuff with his butt were prime examples. I do have to admit that I didn't hate the woman whose music combined – this is true – Gregorian chant, gospel, and blues. From a purely academic standpoint, it was fascinating, but this is not America's Got Esoteric Talent. Besides, it wasn't really good music, for all its inventiveness.

But there were a few acts that were much better than they sounded. The Fault Line, an acapella rock group, and the 2nd Story Guys, a dance troupe on stilts, easily exceeded expectations and turned in some great performances. They were the kind of acts that America's Got Talent was made for – fun, original, and totally incapable of fitting in anywhere else. They're the ones I watch this show to see, because where else are you going to see a suprisingly cool act on stilts?

As for controversy, well, there was a little of that, too. Perhaps taking his cue from Sharon's and Piers' walkout of a couple of weeks ago, the Hoff left the stage in a huff to protest the other judges giving a pass to Boy Shakira. Since Boy Shakira was not one of those acts that was better than it sounded (it was exactly the way it sounded), I'm on David Hasselhoff's side on this. I honestly don't know what Sharon and Piers were thinking. Look, Boy Shakira was a sweet kid, and charmingly delusional as opposed to sadly delusional, which, in itself, is refreshing. But he had no business getting through. And I don't feel bad about saying no to him, because his mom is proud of him, and that makes him really lucky. Really, really lucky.

My favorite acts of the night:

  • Butterscotch, a beatboxer. She was lucky enough to audition in the Year of the Beatboxer, but even without Blake Lewis to blaze the trail, Butterscotch would be through, no problem. She had perfect timing and good vocals. Will the Blake Effect carry her through to the finals?
  • Cas, a singer who performed "Walking on the Moon" better, according to Piers, than Sting. Since singers always have an edge, he'll be one to watch.
  • Sideswipe, a martial arts/acrobatics group. They performed some amazing stunts, and it certainly didn't hurt matters that the group was composed entirely of buff young guys.
  • Terry, a ventriloquist, who complained in his pre-audition interview that, after all his years of hard work, America still didn't know his name. At home, I was starting to think that there was a reason for that, possibly tied to the fact that no one likes ventriloquists. But his act, in which his puppet belted out "At Last" in true Etta James fashion, actually wasn't bad. In fact, it was – dare I say it – good. And he even got in a nice Ashlee Simpson lip-synching joke. Congratulations, Terry, for breaking down my prejudices concerning ventriloquists.


David said...

I was disappointed that the Brits let through Boy Shakira and didn't let through the clowning/krumping troupe (which I think is largely owing to the fact that they probably didn't understand what krumping is about). I was with the Hoff on that one--it was a slap in the face of some hard working kids, especially when they're apparently letting in all the drag acts they can find.

Also, I wanted to see more of the a capella group that had like 600 people in it.