The second live quarterfinals episode of America’s Got Talent Season 16 aired Tuesday, and suffice to say the judges were not nearly as impressed as they’d been by most of last week’s dozen contestants. With the exception of a few hopefuls — namely opera-singing child prodigy Victory Brinker, self-trained teen aerialist Aidan Bryant, comedian Josh Blue, and mentalist Peter Antoniou — the panel was utterly underwhelmed this week, liberally whacking those red X buttons and complaining that the performers had failed to live up to the promise of their first auditions.
But no quarterfinalist of the week had the judges as heated — or as divided — as 40-year-old disco prankster Johnny Showcase, who was buzzed mid-song by Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell. And yet, Heidi Klum was totally “feeling the funk” during Johnny’s freaky-deaky lounge act and seemed totally in on the joke… even if this Showcase showman actually claimed he was as serious as a sheer heart attack. (Well, maybe that is why Howie “didn’t get the joke,” then.)
Philly novelty act Johnny Showcase — imagine Har Mar Superstar fronting an amateur Scissor Sisters tribute band, playing a regional Eurovision semifinal, and you’ll kinda/sorta get the idea — was a hit during his sexxxed-up, wannabe-lothario first audition of the original slow jam “Sensual,” which seemed to be a semi-successful attempt to conjure some Beck-circa-Midnite Vultures vibez. This week, though, Johnny declared, “They're probably thinking they're going to get another joke. No! Tonight they're going to get power, funk, soul.” However, when Johnny and his spandex-sheathed sunshine band returned to AGT with a bonkers number titled “The Octopus,” three out of the four judges were more confused than amused.
“I don't know what is happening tonight. I felt like you guys lost your essence. What does a giant octopus have to do with anything? To me it didn't click like last time. I couldn't feel it tonight,” griped judge Sofia Vergara.
“If it ain't broke, don't fix it. You showed up the first time and gave us a great comedic song. This was not funny. It was terrible. I think they were trying to be serious,” said Howie.
Simon, of course, was the harshest, grunting, “It was horrific. Absolutely horrific. Honestly, you were so good the first time. This song about an octopus was horrible — I mean, the worst song I have ever heard on a live show.” Simon seemed so irate, in fact, that if he’d had eight octopus-esque arms, he probably would have hit his red X button eight times.
And yet… Heidi was up out of her seat, lost in her own boogie wonderland, and shaking her groove thang in earnest. “I loved it!” she surprisingly exclaimed. “I'm feeling the funk! This is giving me life! The armpits are back, the hairy armpits. I love it all. I’m like totally on overdrive. My brain is about to explode, because there's so much going on. It’s hilarious, and I loved it.”
Johnny, at host Terry Crews’s behest, then attempted to “explain the funkiness” to the three unimpressed judges — but that just seemed to baffle them all the more. “An octopus has three brains. Maybe eight brains. That's a lot of brains,” shrugged Johnny. “And I thought we would bring them all here.” (OK, then.)
Well, America’s Got Talent’s grand prize is a headlining revue in Las Vegas, and certainly Johnny Showcase is a very Sin City-worthy act — albeit one more suited to play during bingo hour at some dollar-shrimp-cocktail joint many, many miles away from AGT’s official Strip venue, the Luxor. That actually would be a damn good time, come to think of it. But anyway, after Johnny’s bizarre performance, he probably won’t even come close to winning that prize, as voters will likely side with Simon, Howie, and Sofia.
So, on Wednesday’s live results show, seven of this week’s 12 contestants will advance to the semifinals, and they’re probably going to be the above-mentioned Victory, Aidan, Josh, and Peter, along with Broadway belter Tory Vagasy, the Northwell Health Nurse Choir, and vocal group Korean Soul. Do Johnny and his hairy armpits have any chance of making it to the next round? See you then, when we'll find out.
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