As "America's Got Talent" weeds contestants down to its own Sweet 16, acts that were once charming and original have grown somewhat stale. The Season 7 Quarterfinals are quite grueling for both million-dollar hopefuls, as well as the judges. There really are no second chances here as even the ever-cheerful Howie Mandel dresses down an act that is not ready to move on.
Turf sets the bar high during the Quarterfinals
Season 7 of "AGT" has its share of feel-good stories, especially singers Mary Joyner and Andrew De Leon. Joyner, daughter of the late Olympic great Florence Griffith-Joyner, has the pipes to make it as a performer, but she failed to deliver in Las Vegas.
De Leon, a nervous Goth opera singer, had what took to be the season's first real Susan Boyle moment. Yet, when he made his Vegas debut, this young man also failed to deliver the goods. De Leon looked like the act to beat, but he didn't even make it to the Big Apple.
Turf, on the other hand, continues to step it up in every performance. A street performer who had been homeless before appearing on "America's Got Talent," Turf combines dance steps with painful body contortions. His performance in New York City overshadowed other acts during the second Quarterfinal round.
Sharon Osbourne continues to be impressed with Turf's dedication, saying that he appears willing to break bones each week to advance to the next round. Turf is emerging as the act to beat.
Aurora Light Painters and LionDanceMe lose their sparkle
During the preliminaries, the Aurora Light Painters, a group that blends computer technology with music and dance, demonstrated serious promise. While the performance artists earned high marks for originality in earlier rounds, their New York City performance didn't advance their art or technology. If the Aurora Light Painters move forward, the judges encouraged them to create stories to go along with their light displays.
LionDanceMe, another previous favorite, did a good job, but Howie Mandel couldn't see any new moves. Judge Howard Stern admired the difficulty and danger in doing traditional lion dance moves on metal platforms, but he thought the group was in trouble with the audience at home. Stern encouraged LionDanceMe to abandon the costumes so that viewers could see the effort and danger that goes into the act.
Big Barry causes a big controversy
"Strangers in good company" is probably the nicest way to describe the ongoing friction between judges Stern and Mandel. The radio host refers to "America's Got Talent" as "his stage," which rubs his colleagues the wrong way. Mandel's cheerleading and support of longshots definitely gets under Stern's skin, as well.
No act has caused as much friction as Big Barry, though. Defying the odds, the karaoke singer advanced to the Quarterfinals despite a lack of true singing ability. Mandel, his biggest champion, thinks Big Barry's stage presence and stature could pack houses with the right ensemble of talent around him.
Howard Stern, on the other hand, took an almost personal offense to Big Barry's East Coast performance. Stern brought up the dismissals of Joyner and De Leon, two singers he thought should have moved forward. To his ears, Big Barry is not worthy of the Quarterfinals.
Ultimately, America does decide the fate of contestants on "America's Got Talent." Wednesday night's result show will reveal the performers who are moving on.