The second night of auditions brings a funky family band, a hilarious standup comic, amazing magician, naked towel tricks and unicycles like you’ve never seen them before — there’s also a terrible boy band and a guy with a pencil, but we’re trying to be positive here!
“America’s Got Talent” returned for its second night of auditions and there were definitely more heartstrings pulled than ever before. We also saw something we’ve never seen before, which is always a good night on America’s craziest talent show.
Unicyclists are usually either doing odd danger stunts or performing as clowns or jugglers. But tonight, we saw unicyclists delivering lyrical dance. The night also featured a battle of the boy bands, a funky family band and an adorable drag-inspired (and trained) young dance troupe and a genuinely harrowing danger stunt.
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There was more nudity on stage, but this time it was part of a cleverly calculated and very funny routine. There was comedy in the form of one of the most coolly confident stand-ups we’ve ever seen on the show, and one of the most unexpectedly delightful full-group performances.
But the highlight had to be the powerful and inspiring performance by a young woman actively battling cancer with only a two percent chance of survival. “Two percent isn’t zero,” she said. Everything about her was incredible, including her talent.
Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
And just for fun, I’m gonna rank them from worst to first to see how my favorites do and then we can track them throughout the season to see how they fare.
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(singers) Their intro package was all about bravado — juxtaposed perfectly with the humility of fellow boy band Korean Soul — which certainly had us set up and prepared for a reversal. As such, we expected LTL to be Lamer Than Life. Well, it delivered just as we expected. The harmonies were pretty terrible and the slight solo work we got was even worse. Their dancing — which they clearly put more effort into — was very boy band, but not in-sync (ahem) at all. This group was created by a fanboy and it shows. Not in a good way.
(musician) This might be fun for about two seconds at a party. He got five or so from the panel before he was buzzed off the show. And that felt really generous. This was way too limited for this format. Plus, it’s not so much a talent as something anyone can do.
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(dancers) There was so much fun to be had in this unexpected dance routine choreographed by a drag queen for a troupe of little girls. There were plenty of great moments throughout the routine, and enough sass and drag-itude on that stage to make RuPaul blush. This could have been just camp (you’ve seen drag, right?) but it was so much more than that, with impressive acrobatics, some great synchronized segments and stage presence for days. This is a group with a lot of potential to just keep getting tighter and stronger.
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(performance art) We’ve had nude acts before, but there was something really charming about the way these two circus performers played off of each other with those towels. It was funny, energetic and had some genuinely clever moments — and close calls. We’re not sure how long this exact same schtick could remain entertaining, but if they can bring something that feels different enough, we’d love to see where they can go with all of this nonsense.
(escape artist) It could all be b.s., but we loved that Matt presented this as his big comeback stunt after having given it all up for his wife. The addition of two lines (and saying they don’t know which one triggers the spinning saws to drop) added a delicious new layer of tension and anxiety. He wasn’t as pretentious as escape artists we’ve seen before, nor as dramatic about how dangerous it is — sometimes that speaks for itself. It also wasn’t overly elaborate or obnoxious. It was just a very straightforward escape performed to perfection by someone who knows how to ride that line.
(singer) “They say fake it until you make it. Well, I’ve been faking it for a long time.” We loved the comedic energy Johnny brought to his pre-performance interviews. And we are in love with his spiritual advisor in attendance, along with his backup singers. It was all very sharp comedically even before they hit the stage. When he finally started performing, it got even better. The comedy was still great, but he’s got a great singing voice on top of it for this type of throwback sound. His backup singers came through, too. Honestly, the whole presentation, the original comedic song, everything about this was pure entertainment value.
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(singers) These guys’ introductory package was interspersed with the egos of Larger Than Life (and you saw how well it went for them). Basically, LTL’s entire trainwreck of an audition was the warm-up for this K-Pop group taking their last shot at stardom. So could they bring it where LTL did not? They revealed that they had a shot at a contract in South Korea — a competitive market if ever there was one — but it didn’t work out. It’s easy to see how they got that close even as these harmonies were incredible, with lots of texture and richness. This is a group that knows how to harmonize, with each member finding their part, and the solo work was strong, as well. That’s about as good as you can do coming out as a musical act.
(magician) Shin Lim would be proud of this, as Patrick took close-up magic closer than ever with a genuinely incredible card trick incorporating all four judges, disappearing and reappearing cards and even a deck that resealed itself. It was more interactive than we usually see and we’re not sure the cameras could have gotten closer, and yet his performance was seamless. Magic does very well on this show, and if you’re a very good magician, like Patrick, it can go very well for you, indeed. We’re expecting big things.
(family band) Everything about their energy, from their love for one another to their incredible wardrobe choices to their musical style to their presentation worked. There were so many strong vocalists throughout the piece, with some outstanding work from everyone. They could have worked on balancing out the sound a little better so the vocals would rise above the instrumentation, but their musicality is through the roof. This was funky and totally in its own lane musically in a way that’s both a throwback and as fresh as if it was 1972 all over again.
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(comedian) A rock-solid session that was relatable and yet so uniquely suited to her story. We loved her commentary on dating white guys and marrying one, as well as coming up a Latina in the Bronx. But when she got into the identical twin material, our face was hurting from laughing so hard. It’s so hard to connect with an audience in such a short span, but Gina did it masterfully. She could go really far … and she has no idea how good she is.
(singer) Set aside her incredible story and Nightbirde delivered an amazing audition. The song was heartfelt and beautiful in itself — she’s a great songwriter — and her voice had such a haunted ethereal quality that draws you right in. She’s a storyteller and the story she’s telling is the story of her life. That she’s living with cancer and battling that just adds depth to her story. “I have a two percent chance of survival, but two percent is not zero,” she said afterward. That she came to share her gift is inspiring, that her gift is this damned impressive, well, there aren’t words. So Simon took care of that.
Results: [Simon’s Golden Buzzer]
(unicyclists) Like nothing we’ve ever seen before, we can only imagine how incredible this could be with the full 12-person membership. These four unicyclists performed intricate and beautiful choreography on wheels, incorporating light stuntwork with partnering, grace and elegance and, most importantly, lots and lots of wow moments. We didn’t even need “AGT” to slo-mo it for dramatic effect. We love that it’s fresh and unexpected at every turn and hope that they can come back and expand their numbers to do even more impressive moves.
“America’s Got Talent” auditions continue next Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.