'America's Got Talent' recap: 'Hoff the charts!'

David Hasselhoff is rarely on target with any remarks he makes from the judges’ table (or, well, anywhere), but his proclamation that last night would be “Hoff the charts”…rang surprisingly true! For over two hours we were treated to everything from fire juggling to break-dancing to “Poker Face” remixing, the large majority of it entertaining and, well, vote-worthy. How about it, guys? By my count, we saw at least eight contending acts — a dramatic improvement on the last two weeks’ ho-hum rotation and a guarantee that tonight’s results show will be anything but “duh.” To recap:

FootworKINGz got things going at a frantic pace with their opening act, a dance number that had Piers calling them the “fastest group [he’d] ever seen” and earning much praise from the other two judges. Even an ankle injury to one of its members the night before couldn’t stop the guys from imbuing their performance with incredible energy — and a surprising creativity, too, that made it that much more exciting to watch. (Verdict: Top 20-worthy.)

While I was convinced in the opening montage that Simon Cowell had intervened and brought Marcus Terell’s backup singers — so coldly ditched in Las Vegas — back on the show, those Serenades we saw last night were most definitely new. And a welcome change, as they added some much-needed firepower to their lead singer’s hungry vocals. Marcus Terell and the Serenades didn’t offer the night’s biggest performance with their cover of Duffy’s “Mercy,” but it was nevertheless a consistently fun and engaging one. Many of the more talented singers in competition still lack stage presence; not a problem for Marcus, who commanded the crowd with ease. (Verdict: Top 20-worthy.)

Kid acts always make me pause. Will their whole act revolve around variations on “cute”? Will the judges afford them a leniency not granted to the other contestants? And so on. (I’m definitely of the mind that there should be a separate show for children.) Pixie Mystère, however, immediately put any concerns to rest. These girls can dance! And flip! Like seasoned veterans, the group of acrobats from Cape May, NJ pulled off their challenging routine with a refreshing matter-of-factness. It was well-choreographed; it was visually exciting. It was the “whole package,” as Piers would say. (Verdict: Top 20-worthy.)

Jay Mattioli didn’t quite hit that “something you’ve never seen before!” level like he boasted in his introduction, but a searing confidence and sense of theatricality — along with some decent, if tired tricks illusions — proved at least that the twenty-something magician deserved his quarterfinal shot. While it’s unlikely he’ll advance to the next round (Piers called his act “end of the pier” magic, which is British for “run-of-the-mill”), I’m happy to have seen him one more time. (Verdict: Gone.)

High school musician Bri held on to the formula that worked so well for her in the audition round and returned to the stage last night with another cover — this time Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” I’d argue that she wasn’t as in control of this one as she was with “Burnin’ Up” the last time we saw her, but Bri’s “unique attitude” and “Katy Perry vibe” still shone through. Get it, girl! (Verdict: Top 20-worthy.)

U4RIA Dance Crew was another group invited back after being dismissed in Vegas, and showed the judges — especially Piers — that their first assessment was most assuredly wrong. Against a “freaky dance mental hospital” backdrop (so popular these days!) U4RIA danced in appropriately freaky ways. Strong choreography was bolstered by an adherence to theme that’s so often been lost on the dance acts we’ve seen so far. (Verdict: Top 20-worthy.)

Dave Johnson‘s act bothered me, but less for the Golden Girls novelty song (it wasn’t that terrible) than the fact that he was strung along this far due solely to David Hasselhoff’s ego. The man was out of his league even in the first round, and to bring him out in front of further millions — and live — seemed a cruel and unnecessary decision. Not one of your more “Hoff-tastic” moments, David. (Verdict: Gone.)

Could this guy move or what? Even when his choreography wasn’t so strong, Hairo Torres break-danced in some pretty unbelievable ways. The judges kept harping about how “weird” he was (1. Do we remember Manuela Horne? 2. What?), but in this case, the moves really did speak for themselves. Arm this guy with a more polished routine and he could easily contend for the top prize. (Verdict: Top 20-worthy.)

G-Force gave us our second kid act of the night, a trio of sister rockers aiming to be the “female Jonas Bros.” who played a cover of Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold.” While they were nowhere near as tight as Pixie Mystère — singing in particular was a little flat — the group was nevertheless charming and fun to watch. Very good for their age. (Verdict: Gone.)

NBC owes a second quarterfinal chance to Jeffrey Ou, whose take on “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” fell on deaf ears — the judges’ included — when his piano mic was accidentally cut halfway through his performance. Just a crappy turn of events. Trying to resolve the situation, Nick Cannon asked the audience to judge him on his classical intro. Sure…except we didn’t get to hear the meat of the song! (Which I’m guessing would have been great!) Huge duff, NBC. (Verdict: Possibly Top 20-worthy.)

Mario & Jenny lit plenty of stuff on fire –guitars, metal frames — then juggled it, as they delivered what Piers called “as near to a pure Vegas act as we’ve seen tonight.” Which is very good, I guess, though once again the question of what the judges (and America) are actually looking for makes it difficult to assess the performance. The combination of mortal danger and tight leather outfits earns a thumbs-up from me, but do AGT voters feel the same way? Guess we’ll find out tonight. (Verdict: Top 20-worthy.)

Last but not least, booming bass singer Lawrence Beamen came down from Walnut Creek, CA to sing “You Are So Beautiful” to a swooning judges’ table. Piers (is he the only one on this show who says anything worth writing down?) calls him the “closest thing to a nailed-down star” they’ve yet seen on the show, while Sharon mumbles something about “jolly good…handsome” and the Hoff tries once again to turn his name into a bizarre compliment. A strong, subtle performance with a near-guarantee to advance. Get it, girl! (Verdict: Top 20-worthy.)

Like I said, tonight’s results show is going to be something of a heartbreaker for more than a few deserving acts. Competing against some of the weaker contestants of last week and the week before, all of the “Top 20-worthy” performances of last night would have easily held their own. But tonight…it’s anyone’s guess. FINALLY, a reason to tune in!

What’d you think of our third quarterfinal performance episode? Exhausted from the number of surprisingly good routines? In disagreement over the undoubtedly blind calls I’ve made above? Indifferent? Whatever your take on the show, now’s the time to make yourself heard.

Comments (24 total) Add your comment
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  • MEL31602

    I agree with your assessments over who could go through, though I think Dave Johnson has a shot simply because he did not deserve three Xs and might get some sympathy votes like Jeffrey will get. I would put through U4ria, Pixie Mystere, and FootworKINGz for sure. I also liked Marcus and Bri though not quite as much as the judges did. I also wasn’t a big fan of Lawrence’s but he should get through easily. Hairo and Mario/Jenny were okay but not the type of thing I would pay to see.

  • Jason

    Last nights round was probably the closest the show has ever had, a lot of deserving acts as you mentioned. My picks; Lawrence Beaman, FootworKINGz, Pixie Mystere, and Hairo. Mario and Jenny, U4ria, and Bri are very close, but U4ria aren’t the best dance group in the competition (they weren’t even the best last night) and Bri’s not the best singer. I wouldn’t be upset with them going through though.

  • Jason

    Last nights show was packed full of talent. It is a shame the acts were not better sorted out because i would much rather watch some of these acts again then some of the ones that got by last week. I think the footworkingz and Lawrence are shoe ins. I would prefer the other three slots be filled with Mario/Jenny, Marcus Terell and the Serenades, and Bri but any of the other three acts approved above would not be disappointing like the dog act last week.
    There were however 2 big problems this week. One is that Jeffery Ou deserves another shot. I am not sure how to accomplish that but when you can not be judged by the judges or America because they can’t hear you, it is going to be tough to get deserving votes. Second, it was bad enough that Dave Johnson was moved on, but then the way he was judged made no sense. What were the Judges expecting from him? They yelled at Manuela Horne for giving them something different in round 2 (not that she didn’t deserve to be cut as well), but Dave Johnson gives them another mildly funny song and they say he is terrible??
    He should not have been moved on in the first place. These are the acts that are infuriating.

    • Mysti

      I agree 100%!! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • carolina

    I have to disagree with you on Laurence Beaman. His voice seemed very shaky and the song choice did not at all play to his strengths. The fact that the judges were falling all over themselves to praise him tells me the producers told them to do so, as with the guy from Kentucky with the equally shaky semi-final performance. I like both of those guys, but their performances didn’t deserve the effusive praise. Loved FootworKINGz, Marcus and Bri. I love the weird Vegas couple, but that act was so-so. Balancing guitars on your chin? Not exactly ground-breaking. Still, I agree this was the best show yet!

  • RB

    My guesstimate on how America voted:
    1) Lawrence Beamen
    2) U4RIA
    3) Hairo Torres
    4) Mario & Jenny
    5) Bri
    6) Footwork KINGz
    7) Jeffrey Ou*
    8) Pixie Mystere
    9) Marcus Terell
    11)Dave Johnson
    12)Jay Mattioli
    * They will bring back Jeffrey Ou as well as well as the top 5 for a total of 6…this is the only way barring a legitimate top 5 finish for Jeffrey that they can handle the mishap

  • Talent watcher

    My hopes for the TOP FIVE tonight:
    in this order of best ….
    Mario and Jenny
    Lawrence Beaman
    Jeffrey Ou
    U4RIA has a possible chance – as does Pixie Mystere,too

  • ron

    G-Force. That little girl was NOT playing the drums on that song. You could see her hit the snare a full beat after you heard it. Watch it again and you tell me if she was really playing. Piers made a point of saying how great the drums sounded. Well that’s because it was a recording!

    • Tanny

      Your right! Those drums were going way to fast for an 8 year-old to keep up with. And I swear I heard some synth going too. I think the producers may have ruined it for them by adding a backing track to make them sound fuller.

    • Shane

      Omg I know! I knew right from the biggining that she wasn’t playing and I was really curious what they were going to say. Right when it’s done Nick Cannon comes out, “Good job on those drums!” or whatever. haha. All the judges were commenting that she sounded great and all. Watch her face dude! It’s so funny. She looks like she feels like crap or something. I bet she feels so bad. Whoever put the song in the background is an idiot. How could someone ruin a performance like that? Especially for the little kids. Way to lie about their talent! haha. Ye. I’m writting way too much. peace

  • 2k

    After watching the show I came up with my top 7 as I feel America will vote, and it usually comes out fairly true. After reading every recap I can find online for the episode, my list has been completely altered not in the slightest.

    1) Lawrence – as all singing acts that are pampered to be in the final.
    2) Hairo – the only solo dancer that has appeared on the show that could possibly make it to the final and win with a good enough routine.
    3) FootworKINGz – decent dance act but Piers is overrating them.
    4) Bri – wavering between 4 and 5 due to the Marcus sympathy votes based on him sacking his girls.
    5) Marcus – should have remained a solo singer act since it brings more sympathy votes.
    6) Pixie Mystere – will probably get higher votes than U4RIA due to the cuteness factor.
    7) U4RIA – started out interesting, but stopped being interesting after some 10 seconds.

    *Mario & Jenny – Beyond overrated by recappers across the board. Apparently everyone’s forgotten season 1 where we’ve seen every one of these tricks and done better. I suppose jugglers are free to recycle old tricks while magicians are not. Balancing dangerous objects on head – Mark the Knife, juggling chainsaws – Passing Zone, cube – Leonid. Good for season 1, mediocre at this point.

    *Jeffrey Ou – I feel very bad for him. The technical problems weren’t his fault, but he won’t be given a second chance because he’s not a pre-teen cutesy girl.

  • allie

    I hate to be mean but seriously, the Pixie’s are a dime a dozen. No way could they sustain a Vegas act for more than one night – every city in the US has a 9-10 year old gymnastics crew just as good – and many that are better. I felt really bad for Ou and hope they give him another shot somehow. My favs were Footworkingz, Bri,& Hairo. Don’t understand the hype about Marcus at all but Lawrence is ok… not my type musically but interesting. U4RIA is another dime a dozen dance group – not a single one of them would have made it through the auditions of SYTYCD. None of the other acts are worth mentioning.

  • Alex

    I liked Hairo, Mario & Jenny & Jay. But so many good acts were on last night it would be a hard choice.

  • Alex

    I forgot to mention that Dave Johnson was funny, but out of his league. G-Force were just terrible. The oldest one was also just plain ugly.

  • Sue

    I didn’t see the first few acts, but I have to say that I was not impressed with Bri at all – neither her voice nor her song selection. I think that some people around my age (50’s) may not relate to that type of music. Jeffrey Ou did not impress me either. If he is a classical concert pianist, then that is what he should stick with. He should not need any gimmicks to try to impress people. Sadly, G-Force needs a lot more work. And, Hairo Torres is okay, but not great. Overall, it the performers were just blah for me last night. Bring back Neil E. Boyd!!

    • Lisa Simpson

      I don’t think it had to do with her song choice as to the fact that her voice was shaky and mediocre in tone.

  • summertime

    Did anyone notice that Bri has an ‘adams apple’? Is she really a guy?

  • Rancid Karma

    The best thing about the magician is that he could make himself disappear in the future, because he will be gone tonight. this show is awful. Yes Hoff, this is what America is about. This is what the show is about. Mediocrity and a moron.

  • Wil Carter

    Is Grandma Lee still in the competition?

    • Jason

      yes, she made it through in the first week of live acts

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