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'America's Got Talent' recap: The final 12 perform

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Week four of the semifinals, guys. Five spots left. Twelve acts in contention. What’s it gonna be?

My television was having all kinds of technical difficulties last night, which means that only this morning was I able to catch the performances on NBC’s website. And just the performances, too — no judges’ reactions, no pre-show interviews. America’s Got Talent minus the bells and whistles…which maybe isn’t the worst thing ever? What you’ll read below is strictly a response to the talent on display, and nothing more. RAW.

(It will also be shorter than usual. I’ll make it up to you with a dissertation tomorrow, I’m sure.)

Ishaara was one of the more distinctive dance groups to emerge from the audition round, and proved their advancement was no fluke with another memorable — and skilled — performance. That they’re on the show in a year where a pseudo-Bollywood (emphasis on pseudo) movie wins Best Picture at the Oscars can only help, but tight choreography and a nice stage presence will make their Top 20 nod a deserved one.

Barbara Padilla continued her operatic attack, singing Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye”. A moving song on its own, and wielded with power by the understated and classy (that goes a loooooooooooong way on this show) Padilla. There’s no way she won’t make the Top 20.

More dogs? It’s no fault of Pam Martin and her Top Dogs that America already voted through Tony Hoard & Rory two weeks ago, but it won’t help her cause. That’s a shame — Martin is clearly a hell of a trainer. She got some remarkable moves out of her latest dance partner, who seemed not to miss a step.

Another group that will likely feel the effect of previous vote-getters was African High Flyers, who while very different from dunking acrobats Acrodunk still elicit the same kind of “they can really do that?” response. Not the best routine ever, but they’ve clearly got the talent to advance.

Stop trying to make Mia Boostrom happen! It’s not going to happen! The 16-year-old sang a perfectly satisfactory cover of the ubiquitous “Hallelujah”…but that’s all. There are at least 3-4 better singers already in the mix. (But it will happen. Boostrom will advance.)

The youngest contestants on the show, Erik and Rickie, performed a…dance of some kind (illuminate me, I’m hopeless at identifying anything rhythmic) with oodles of charm and technical prowess. While there’s no getting over the fact that they’re kids and will always be performing a sort of “junior version” of the dance in question, they’ve got undeniable talent. The best underage act, IMHO.

Poor Coney Island Chris never stood a chance. Like his name suggests, the guy seems more suited to the boardwalks of Coney Island than the stage of Vegas. I’ve no doubt the judges gave him another hot/cold critique like they did Dave Johnson the week before.

Matt & Anthony never quite worked for me in their audition performance, and didn’t do much to change that opinion last night. The tap-dancing is very good, no question, but the guitar playing…it just feels sort of perfunctory. Do the two elements ever really connect? Acts with two people need both to contribute equally if they’ve got any shot at success, and Matt & Anthony never seemed more than halfway there.

The Lollipop Girls stripped and strutted. Drew Stevyns sang The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” and reminded us all how much we love HBO commercials.

I don’t remember Recycled Percussion from the audition round, but thought they offered an exciting and captivating performance last night. Energy goes a long way on this show (and in Vegas), and they made a solid case for advancement.

I do remember ErIam, the three singing sisters, and their quarterfinal routine was exactly what I expected it to be: very good for a young act, but not good enough for the Top 20. At least an idealized version of the Top 20 — there’s every likelihood they will advance.

So that’s that. What happens tonight? That’s up to you, dear voters. I hope you chose wisely.

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