America's Got Talent recap: first semifinal

Sep 2, 2009 at 3:46 p.m. ET

We're closing in on the big prize and that means more than half of last night's acts will be cut in tonight's elimination show! I hear Miss Piggy and Kermit will be there, so it's going to be a huge night.

Let's look back at last night's America's Got Talent semifinal performances.

Acrodunk continues is runAcrodunk's aerial audacity

The evening opened with basketball dunking acrobats Acrodunk. They were hot and I mean that literally.

One guy actually jumped through a flaming hoop that had to be fifteen feet off the floor. They really were exciting as they tumbled and jumped to Let it Rock but I could have done without a few of the dance moves in between. Once again I have to say what's up to the cameraman.

That last dive would have been fabulous straight on but they cut away to a different angle and really negated the drama of the move. I think these guys may be going through the finals after all.

Next was the Texas Tenors, my favorite group of the night. Yes, they're cheesy, but I love it. They sang Unchained Melody and it was wonderful. They remind me of The Oak Ridge Boys and there's a guy for every taste, from the blond baby-faced one to the rougher-edged, lonely cowboy.

I also like their outfits tonight, casual cowboy with gem colored shirts. It's funny, David said he could already picture them on a Vegas billboard and I was thinking the same thing. I don't know if they'll win this show but I hope some casino picks up their act anyway. They're ready for Vegas.

Paradizo Dance was up next and they made that fatal flaw that so many make -- they changed up the act. Instead of sticking with the haunting, ethereal style they've been doing, they went with a silly, up-tempo number with a plot. The song was I'm a Believer and it was all about two newlyweds finding their places together in their new home. The opening was funny (she was standing on his head but you didn't know it until the camera panned down) and they had a fabulous lift near the end but the rest was muddled. In the middle of the routine, she was hanging on a trapeze and pretending like she was stuck because he wasn't there to support her. I got the idea but the bit looked sloppy. I don't think they'll be moving forward after this.

Drew Thomas Magic also changed up the act and met with criticism from the judges. Instead of his usual cool, rock style, he went with a sweet, slow routine that centered on his life with his young daughter. If this had been one moment in a larger stage show, it would have worked. But as a semi-final performance? It was a bust. I'd still vote for him because I know he's better than that.

Next was Tony Hoard and Rory and though I still don't think a dog act belongs in the semi-final, I will admit he was better than last time. The routine was fast, the dog did some fun tricks but it's not Vegas.

Voices: one beautiful voice

Voices of Glory continues to impress on America's Got TalentThe Voices of Glory took the stage next with Anytime You Need a Friend. The boys begin and they just don't have the talent, then the little girl steps in and it's beautiful. She reminds me of a young Michael Jackson when he used to sing lead with his brothers. I know the novelty of the act is that it's a family group, but the little brother doesn't have the chops. I don't think they'll make it through.

The dancing Fab 5 sisters put on majorette outfits and did a tap and drum corp number. There's no doubt that they can dance but there's something so amateur night about these girls that they bother me.

I don't find them exciting to watch. Same old steps. Same routine. Just different costumes.

Grandma Lee does her thing on America's Got TalentGrandma Lee was up next and I begrudgingly admit that she's funny. I'm not sold on her timing but her jokes were spot on, including a few about Piers and contestant Kevin Skinner. I don't think she'll win this thing but I bet she pops up on Comedy Central in her own stand-up show.

Arcadian Broad continued where the Fab 5 left off with a rollicking dance number straight out of High School Musical. It was an appropriate piece for him to an extent. I see him more as a modern/classical dancer but you have to please a cross-section of America, so I get that. He did a little partnering this time and it looked very awkward. I'm with Piers when he said that the boy is talented but not yet ready for a competition like this. Wait a couple of years and we'll see him on So You Think You Can Dance. That he can win.

The last act was crooning chicken-plucker Kevin Skinner. What is it about this guy? He has that non-singer Willie Nelson kind of voice and it works. He sang You Are Always on My Mind and it was so touching. He really could win this thing.

America's Got Talent controversy

There was also a touch of controversy on the show last night that could fizzle to nothing or could blow up in the show's face come tonight. When Piers said he didn't think Arcadian was good enough the boy battled back saying basically that he didn't want to do High School Musical but the producers pushed him in that direction. He didn't say pushed, but that was the drift. After the judging was over, Nick Cannon was cued to add a comment, saying, "acts do have the final say." Now, if he hadn't said anything, the boy's remarks probably would have gone unnoticed. But with Nick being prompted to set the record straight, it made me wonder just how much influence the producers really have. This is especially interesting when you look at the acts that changed their tempo and style to something unbecoming such as Paradizo Dance.

I imagine that it's tricky business. They have only a week or two to put together these routines and that means choosing music that can be cleared and is within the show's budget. Then there are costumes to be made. Props, sets and backup dancers -- it's a lot to put together in a short amount of time.

This time around, I have no idea who America will choose but if it was up to me I'd go with Acrodunk, The Texas Tenors, Drew Thomas Magic and Kevin Skinner.

Agree or disagree? Who do you think should make it into the next round? Let us know below!

Watch America's Got Talent tonight at 9:00 on NBC.

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