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America’s Got Talent: Season Premiere Part 1 Review

NBC

“Go big or go home” is the phrase that opens up the seventh season of ‘America’s Got Talent,’ a reality competition that showcases the best (and worst) of what America has to offer. The question is whether or not we’ll see any talent blossom during the first set of auditions.

‘Talent’ is soaking up the fact that they’ve got Howard Stern on their show. Some people – mainly those who listen to his radio show – wish that he had the capability to be uncensored in this program. They’re making him look like an absolute bad boy, like he’ll absolutely crush anybody who sucks.

They’re already recapping, which is odd for a first episode. Hopefully they didn’t show off the best moments. Season seven gets up and running when Nick Cannon jumps up and introduces the judges to the audience. Howard Stern is getting the biggest praise and applause – maybe they’re hoping that Stern will be this version of the show’s Simon Cowell in regards to dishing out the harsh criticism.

The first set of auditions begin with Aoni Jackson, a man who reveals himself to be a magician/stripper. Howard was looking forward to seeing what magic he would dish out and is utterly disappointed along with Sharon Osborne and Howie Mandell. It’s an odd way to start the show.

Now we meet Miss Les, or who is better known as “The Bird Lady.” Her real talent is singing but she uses her dozen Cockatoos to draw more attention to herself. Sadly, it doesn’t work. “I can appreciate something here but I’m not sure what I’m appreciating,” says Stern.

And so begins a small montage of mediocre performers which is topped off by a Michael Jackson impersonator who can’t hit the notes and a young woman with a pretty face but an unimpressive set of vocal pipes. Howard’s first comment to the girl is “Some fatherly advice, marry a rich guy. Sharon did that.” Well, at least he’s enjoying himself.

The second half of the Los Angeles auditions start off on a high with William Close, a music teacher who plays his own unique instrument called the Earth Harp. He impresses everyone – including Howard Stern – and  becomes the first contestant to get accepted by all of the judges.

Then they dive into the dance portion of the competition, with the first being Elements Dance Cru who take clogging and adapt it to different forms of music. They’re impressive. Another dancer who wows them all is Elizabeth, a little girl who’s around eight years old and knows how to do aerial stilts. Everyone bites their nails while watching the little performer as she’s suspended in the air, but they loved it.

However, you can’t explain the judges’ love for the next audition: a middle-aged man who begins to freestyle rap. Once he’s done rapping they ask if he memorized his lines before he went on stage but he denies it (a likely story). You can watch the “rap” here. At least audiences are able to forget about him right away when Jorge Navaez and his daughter Alexa show up on stage to sing a song together. Stern is taken by the whole performance, saying it’s ‘The most touching part of the show.” They end their Los Angeles part of the auditions tour, and their next stop is St. Louis.

The St. Louis auditions begin with Ben Blaque and his crossbow act, which isn’t something that Nick Cannon is too happy about since he’s in the line of fire. This makes everyone uncomfortable, but will this get him eliminated? Nope, he’s able to make it to the next round along with Light Wire Theater which is the badass light equivalent of the Blue Man Group. The audience is immediately floored, so the group gets to move forward.

But who else makes the cut? A sweet dance group by the name of Stick and Move Dance Crew shows off their moves and is able to advance. Unfortunately, a couple of oddballs are able to join them, including a man who can put a whole scorpion in his mouth and a ventriloquist who uses a live dog. There are the couple of sad hopefuls who didn’t quite make it – including a man who carves shapes in artificial pumpkins, a kazoo group that plays “Eye of the Tiger” and a circus performer who can insert long needles into his face. Ouch.

Then we see a man by the name of Reggie come up on stage and poorly perform one of Nick Cannon’s songs. Nick Cannon likes his song, but not the way that Reggie’s performing it, so Nick hops on stage and takes over. Not cool, sir.

The last one of the dance crews we’re able to see is Loyalty Dancing. Their performance is solid – in some ways the most impressive one of the dance troupes – but their routine ends a little too abruptly. The judges are happy with what they see, which touches some of the performers so much that they begin to cry. Wonder how they’ll act if they manage to advance to the third round.

In comes Sergio, a confident older man who’s ready to sing and dance it up in front of the panel. Sure, his performance isn’t that impressive but Howie eats it up. So, in an attempt to wow over the remaining judges, Sergio sings a slightly operatic rendition of “God Bless America” which gets him to the next round. He should have just done that in the first place.

Last but not least is Shanice and Maurice, a father/daughter duo who are singing street performers. Their duet moves Howie nearly to tears and warms the hearts of everyone in the theater. They make it to the next round, which is outstanding for Shanice since she’s always wanted to perform in front of a massive crowd. Well, Shanice, you’re getting your wish.

Although this is the first episode and a little rough, it was nice to see Howard Stern deliver some verbal stings to some of the less-talented performers, but still manage to dish out the praise when needed. He makes a fine addition to the group and there’s still more of this to come as ‘America’s Got Talent’ airs again tomorrow night at 8 PM.

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