As promised, our third quarterfinal results episode offered its share of tense match-ups. Jeffrey Ou over Bri. Mario & Jenny over Marcus Terell and the Serenades. Lawrence Beamen over…okay, we were expecting that one. Regardless of personal preference (and with one iffy exception), you have to admit that last night America selected five strong additions to the Top 20. To review:

After wasting eight minutes of our time recapping the previous night’s performances (this would be infinitely more enjoyable if introduced by Kiefer Sutherland: “Previously, on America’s Got Talent…”), Nick brought out the first two contenders: piano players Jeffrey Ou and Bri. Jeffrey, of course, had suffered a pretty major technical mishap during his performance that all but guaranteed — or so I thought — his elimination. Bri, while a little “off”, still played and sang her way through a unique and engaging version of “Pokerface”. America voted…and decided that half a song, incomplete, was enough to send Jeffrey through to the next round. Wrong choice, America! Jeffrey was screwed over by the show’s producers when he wasn’t afforded another chance to perform the night before, but what we saw from him was still inferior to Bri’s heartfelt (full) song*. Can Simon Cowell intervene again?

Ashley Tisdale sang. Good for her.

Determined to make Dave Johnson‘s quarterfinal experience as miserable as possible, producers paired him up with Lawrence Beamen and Jay Mattioli for the next decision. No surprise here — Beamen got the nod — but I couldn’t help but feel bad for a guy who was unjustifiably praised in the first round, flown out to LA, then made fun of for doing the same “weird, wacky, and wonderful” act that had gotten him there in the first place. That just sucks. And as talented a singer as Lawrence Beamen is, he’s been so transparently promoted on the show (we were seeing his promos back in June) that you have to wonder just how easily our votes are manipulated. Piers: “You’re great.” Sharon: “Bloody brilliant!” Hoff: “Hoff-alicious!!” You: “…Well, he must be great!” Psychology 101.

Marcus Terell and the Serenades against Mario & Jenny* presented a difficult choice, as both excelled in their respective mediums (singing; juggling flaming guitars) and on any other night would probably both have advanced. Tonight, however, the votes went to Mario & Jenny, who are now one step closer to being able to buy a hot shower. As they basked in their soot-filled glory, I couldn’t help but wonder what happens to Marcus and his (new) Serenades. Will they continue performing? Will Marcus beg the (old) Serenades he left behind to re-join the group? Let’s get a K-Mart “Blue Light” update on that next week, Nick.

Daughtry performed their single “No Surprise.” I enjoyed the song. Chris seems like a nice guy.

Hairo Torres was the next performer to advance, marched out on stage with U4RIA Dance Crew and G-Force before learning his fate. In a perfect world, U4RIA would have advanced, too — they were tight and energetic in their performance — but the number of dance groups this year, and last night, was definitely not in their favor.

FINALLY, our last match-up: Pixie Mystère and FootworKINGz vying for the mythical “judges’ decision”, awarded to the person/group in 5th or 6th place who best exemplifies the qualities of “what?” and “seriously?” Of course tonight the criteria changed — the judges banked on energy, creativity and viability instead, with FootworKINGz moving on to the semifinal round. Justice! The Pixies were unfortunately another victim of this week’s abundance of talent, simply too young (“A great kid act against a great adult act,” said Piers) to compete in a field dominated by pesky grown-ups. If nothing else, they created the funniest visual of the night: two six member dance groups who, while different in size and shape, still managed to wear roughly the same costume. AGT bringing people together.

What’s your take on the evening, guys? Frustrated with Bri’s dismissal? Elated with the first sensible judges’ decision? Ready to be done with all this quarterfinal noise and onto the next round? You’ve got comments; we’ve got space for you to share.

*It’s worth mentioning that none of these “match-ups” are actually, well, “match-ups”. Save for the judges’ decision at the end of the show, which allows them the chance to pick the fifth advancing act, each of the top four has already been selected before being paraded out on stage with other (departing) contestants. What’s a shame is how ineffectively the producers are able to match up their performers. The bad ones go with other bad ones, guys!

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America's Got Talent
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