America's Got Talent Recap: The Great 48

In last night's America's Got Talent two hour Vegas Week finale, it was the standbys turn to compete for the remaining New York slots.

Hawley Magic opened up the magician category with a levitation routine that Howard Stern pointed out might have been more interesting if the duo had done something to prove to the audience that they weren't simply dangling from wires. It was a good point. I totally assumed they were using wires.

Mind reader Giani lost some of the magic when he misheard Sharon Osbourne during his act. He asked her to name a city. She said "Milan" and he heard "Bilan," which Sharon helpfully pointed out isn't a real city after his big reveal. Oops.

I think the real gem in the standby magician group was Jarrett and Raja, who improved so much after their lukewarm audition-- remember the awkward chainsaw/piano routine? Yeah. I'll take their shiny new box o' musicians though. That was pretty cool and the judges thought so too.

Speaking of musicians, Wordspit the Illest and the Distinguished Men of Brass dominated the band category while every single rapper was ultimately sent home. It got weird when Granny G started gyrating her hips in black spandex. Burton Crane literally performed the same song as he did during his original audition, justifying it by pointing out that he changed the key. I was both amused and a little bit confused, though my favorite "drama" surrounding the rappers was the over-the-top outrage of the three "serious" MCs at the inclusion of Granny and Crane in their category. Admittedly, I felt that they would have been more at home in the novelty group myself, but c'mon guys, chill the hell out. It's going to be okay. I promise, I don't think that Granny G is the face of rap. I don't even think that she raps particularly well. Her appeal was that she was a sassy old lady, because sassy old ladies are awesome (ie: Betty White). Three different clips of Rob Hayes going off about how offensive the two senior citizens acts were to him and his craft was overkill.

Over in the danger category, LionDanceMe did their thing. I don't think we were shown enough of their performance to determine whether or not they blew their old performance away, but the judges were pretty thrilled. Meanwhile, Serengeti Steve walked on stage with cockroaches in his mouth (cool!) and grossed Sharon Osbourne out.

Donovan and Rebecca made me dizzy with their awesome aerobalance act while Benn Mendoza's Circus made me dizzy for a different reason with their dance-infused Alice in Wonderland retelling. I think they fell victim to a common mistake among AGT contestants: they changed too much. On Tuesday, Frank Roche, who was advanced to the Vegas rounds for his impressions, ditched the impressions for a stand-up routine and bombed the act. Last night, the pattern repeated when the aerial circus abandoned the very talent that had landed them on the show in the first place. I encourage future AGT hopefuls to take notes.

Things looked bleak for Inspire the Fire going into the dance group segment when one performer injured her ankle and another fled to the restroom to hurl up some nervousness. However, they pulled it together and impressed the judges. Good for them! Dancer Lil' Starr earned herself a place on the live shows as well.

And finally, we ended up at the very crowded standby novelty category. David Garibaldi and his CMYK rocked out to Elvis and pint-sized singer Big Barry continued to make an impression with his off-key singing. Virtual ventriloquist John Pizzi fizzled with an unfunny marriage counseling bit and judging by Sharon's expression, the impression he made was not a good one. I wonder if she ever gets sick of people imitating her husband's famous Sharon call? I sure would. Especially given the fact that most of the time they suck at it.

Dancer contortionists Turf and Stepz faced off. The best part about their "rivalry" was the fact that the two have apparently cultivated a genuine friendship during their time on America's Got Talent. They were so quick to cheer for each other that I had a hard time picking a favorite, though my better half, who had been roped into watching the Vegas rounds against his will, pointed out during one of Turf's numerous sobfests, "How can you not root for that guy?"

It was close, it really was, but Stepz prop-heavy act didn't really measure up to the awesome of his original audition and since the judges had voiced concern over featuring two near-identical acts in previous episodes, it was obvious that one of the contortionists would be going home. I'm happy to report that it was NOT Turf.

Live performances kick off Monday at 8:30 on NBC because this show loves to switch up its time slot as soon as I learn the old one. Which contestant are you cheering for?

Follow on Twitter: