And since I'm considerat of people who time-shift their TV viewing -- unlike a certain blonde co-host of "The Five" on FOX, which I transcribe every night -- I'm going to put this below a cut, just in case you don't yet know who won.
The star-studded results show revealed magician Mat Franco was this season's winner, the first time ever for a magician! While I agreed with the judges that any one of the Top 6 acts could have won, I believe that Mat Franco won because he was unique, had fresh ideas, and never faltered throughout the season. He was charismatic, talented, and original. Plus, the four vocal acts probably split the musical votes, and America was unlikely to crown dance acts two years in a row.
And now to the recaps of the two performance shows, starting with last week's Top 12 performances.
• Leading off the show was 12-year-old singer Mara Justine, singing "Perfect" by Pink. There was a strange lag in the audio, as if they had the echo set wrong, which is particularly noticeable when listening on headphones. She put a lot into it, but the mix was truly distracting. Mel B., however, called it "perfect in every single way." Howard Stern called her the "little girl with the big voice" and praised her for learning her lessons well, graduating "America's Got Talent college." Howie Mandel called her great but said it would be up to America to decide. Heidi Klum told her to "never think that you're not perfect." She congratulated her for the high note.
• Next were magicians David and Lehman, who did a trick involving scratch-off lottery tickets. As the duo popped balloons, the judges were asked to select numbers. They wrote it on a giant lottery ticket and then popped the final balloon, revealing a folded up lottery ticket that they gave to Howard to scratch off. All the numbers were correct except for the final number, which was Howard's. The guys removed their jackets and revealed the back of their shirts, which said "Howard will be off by one." Howie was speechless, saying he didn't know if they were just really lucky or magical. Howard said they'd consistently been great and asked America to remember their body of work. Heidi said she loved the banter as much as their magic. Mel B. said she was always left with the question of "How do you do it?" She finds them thoroughly entertaining.
• Sons of Serendip did an enchanting version of "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran, making it sound absolutely heavenly. The judges gave them a standing ovation. Howard said he was praying the lead singer would "open up your throat and give us a full blast, and you did." Heidi thought the performance was more majestic than any of their previous performances. Mel B. called it stellar. Howie called them one of the most talented musical acts in the competition.
• Hand balancer Christian Stoinev had his dog, Scooby, sit at the judges' table while he performed this time, showing off his strength with a series of upside-down moves. His other dog got in a basket before he performed. Heidi wanted to see more dog. Mel B. thought it was one of his best performances. Howie loved that "a hand balancer of your caliber also has a paw balancer in his possession." Howard said he'd been brilliant and "came off like a million-dollar act."
• For a bit of a different tone, brother cellists Emil and Damien played a lovely version of the Aerosmith song, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." It was a bit unexpected but smart, since it showed a new dimension to them, especially when a choir of vocalists came in near the end. Mel B. called it "just amazing" and proclaimed them "very special." Howie called them phenomenal, and Howard agreed. He had one piece of advice: the vocals had worked and having a lead singer would be a good idea. Heidi, though, differed from the rest, saying, "You were a little bit safe. Normally, you rock out hard."
• A group of acrobats, Acro Army, did some amazing stunts, including holding some of the team members in seemingly impossible positions and one performer taking a wild leap from a platform, to be caught by teammates. Howie said, "You thrilled the heck out of me... I am now heckless." Howard said he wished all of America could have his front-row seat. Heidi said they deserved to win. Mel B. called it "off the chain."
• Then, young singer Quintavious Johnson sang "I'm Going Down," with his characteristic control and charisma. Standing o. from the judges. Howard told him, "You are a contender." Heidi called him a superstar, saying she was reminded of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Mel B. said, "You could easily win this." Howie predicted "You're moving on up to the finals."
• Wild Card act Mike Super asked Howard to open up a predication he'd made yesterday. Then he got into some patter with Nick as he had him help shuffle a deck of cards. Then he had Nick deal out eight cars. Next, he had him step into a wind booth, where he put some dollar bills in with him and asked him to grab one. Not only did the serial number match the number he'd printed out, but when he added some heat to the secret message he'd given Howard, it also revealed the serial number. Heidi said "Over and over again you come up with this amazing stuff, and I love it." Mel B. declared, "I believe in music." Howie said, "I don't know how you do it." Howard praised him for having gotten rid of his spirit "helper," and added that he'd killed it.
• Blue Journey interacted again with video screens, with a giant hand acting as a puppet to control them like marionettes. It wasn't as well-coordinated or surprising as previous performances by the dance duo. Mel B. called it "on the boring side" and repetitive. Howie felt it needed more, but Howard thought it was excellent. Heidi liked that they always come up with something new and different.
• Emily West, singer, delivered a nuanced rendition of the Moody Blues song, "Nights in White Satin." All four judges gave her a standing ovation. Heidi said she was in awe of her and thought the performance was perfect. Mel B. said she'd nailed it and her voice was killer. Howie said he loved her. Howard called her unforgettable and amazing.
• Magician Mat Franco began by having Mel B. place her phone on top of a small box. Then he asked the audience to pay attention to the cards as he ruffled them and remember one. He shot some cards into the ceiling and called attention to a card stuck to the ceiling, which was a king of hearts (the one I'd noticed). He had Howard sign a card and then did a series of tricks where he managed to produce the card in surprising ways, including finally opening the small box and showing the card, folded up, inside. Mel B. said he's "doing the impossible" and the act was "genius." Heidi called him her favorite. Howard said that he's a professional and fantastic. Howie said he deserved to stay and needed to do some magic to make votes appear.
• The final act of the Top 12 was singer Miguel Dakota, who sang a rough, uneven version of the Rolling Stones song, "Gimme Shelter," with some great backup singers who, frankly, were showing him up a bit. Heidi thought his voice had gotten lost in the big song. Mel B. called him a fully fledged rock star. Howard thought the song was lacking an emotional connection. Howie called him "possibly the biggest star we could ever have."
After that performance show, I would have personally predicted the Top 6 would be: Sons of Serendip, Emil and Damien, Acro Army, Quintavous Johnson, Emily West and Mat Franco.
Now for the recap of this weeks Top 6 performance show. Both of the finalists performed twice, first repeating a memorable performance and then doing something new.
• For his reprise, Quintavious Johnson chose "I'd Rather Go Blind," showing off a swagger and maturity beyond his years. Mel B. said his voice was killer and praised his grace, confidence and competence. Howie said, "Not only does his music fill my ears and my head, it feels my heart." Riffing off the fact he was wearing suspenders like Larry King, he called him Little King. Howard said he was "feeling Quintavious all over this place." Heidi liked that he sings because he feels he has to, calling him a true entertainer.
• Magician Mat Franco did a close-up magic trick involving cups and balls and a poem he'd written about the judges, like he had in the audition using cards. He was very quick, and it was fun. Howie told him he has "an amazing set of balls." He said that America loves him. Howard said that Mat had a harder time than the singers because he had to do a new spin on something he'd already done. He called him a true pro. Heidi said that "you dazzled us with your rhymes, with your quick hands. Everything about you is magic." Mel B. called his act "slick" and "seamless."
• For her reprise performance, Emily West sang "Chandelier" by Sia, which was as strong as ever, and she wore an amazing red dress that covered nearly the entire stage. Howard called it a moving performance. He said her performances are always worthwhile. Heidi had never heard the song before, but she made her love it. Mel B. preferred it the first time around. Howie called it a winning performance, calling her a beautiful talent.
• Miguel Dakota sang the White Stripes song "7 Nation Army" again, which was very similar to the first time he sang it. Heidi loved it. Mel B. called him current but didn't know if America would vote for him. Howie said that "as a fellow heartthrob" America would vote for him. Howard liked it but didn't think it was enough to win.
• Sons of Serendip reprised "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane, and it was gorgeous. Mel B. said America loves them and they've been very consistent. Howie said if you're voting strictly on talent, they're the most talented. Howard said, "If you don't win, I think it's an image problem." He thought they had raw talent but they were a little retro in terms of their image. Heidi praised their sincerity and consistency.
• Acro Army redid the routine with the performers flying through the air during their stunts. Howie said what they do is a sport that should be in the Olympics, and he'd give them a gold medal. Howard said week after week, they've kept going, and they deserved to win. If they don't win, he said it might be because "television is limited." Heidi said she really thought they might win, because they deserve a show in Vegas. Mel B. said they have everything that "America's Got Talent" is all about, and gushed that she would pay money to see their show "in a heartbeat."
• In his never-before-seen act, Mat Franco used a human set of cards, with people on stage as playing cards. Howard was tasked with organizing the cards from a regular playing deck, while Mel B. organized the human cards. They were supposed to separate them into black and red, but as it turned out, there was a little fudging in the results: the cards were separated in two groups within each side. At any rate, it was entertaining. Howard said there was such an incredible season that "we have multiple winners." Mel B. said that "you make magic become magic." Heidi loved how versatile he is: great at close-up magic but also large-scale tricks. Howie said he's very proud of him, calling him the "new David Copperfield, the new David Blaine."
• Sons of Serendip performed "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence. It was simply mesmerizing, a lovely, multidimensional performance. All the judges gave them a standing ovation, bringing the lead singer to tears. Both Mel B. and Heidi said they wanted to buy their album. Howie said he was grateful for their talent and thanked them for doing what they do. Howard called them super talents and said they deserve to have America as cheerleaders.
• For his second performance, Quintavious Johnson chose to do "Let It Be" by the Beatles, promising to "take it to church." Wearing a tuxedo with black bowtie, he showed that he is already a masterful singer with a knowledge of phrasing. He also received a standing ovation from the judges. Mel B. said he'd taken them on an emotional journey. She called him a true superstar. Howie called it "another star performance" and said that "America can't let it be; they have to vote." Howard said some performers much older than him could match his coolness and that if Paul McCartney was watching, he'd be very pleased. Heidi said it's been a joy watching him blossom on the stage, and that he was "a true phenomenon.
• Next was Miguel Dakota, singing an acoustic version of Michael Jackson's hit, "Billie Jean." This is the same version of the song that Chris Cornell recorded, and it's been sung on other singing competition shows, as well. Heidi thought he'd come full circle, returning to just him and a guitar. Mel B. thought it was a risk performing the song like that, but she likes a risk taker. Howard thought it was his best performance. He said he's best performing with his guitar. Howie thought he'd hit 100 percent on the charisma factor and that America would have a tough decision.
• For their final time on the stage, Acro Army pulled out all the stops, involving silks, flying tosses and catches, tumbling, dance moves, and ending with a four-tier human pyramid, with the young acrobat at the very top falling from the top to be caught by other performers. Mel B. said they were thrilling and amazing. She praised their dedication and said it was "seriously on fire!" Heidi thought they'd topped themselves to produce a jaw-dropping performance. Howard joked that Nick should hand them his fancy shoes. He called them unbelievable and had peaked at the right moment. Howie was amazed that they'd managed to top themselves yet again.
• Finally, finishing the night, Emily West sang "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," hitting all the hit notes. She was helped with stagecraft, such as smoke and rain effects, although the vocals seemed a bit old-fashioned. Heidi said she knew that she's had ups and downs in her career but was happy she hadn't given up and wished her luck. Mel B. called it "off the chain" and added, "If that can't win you a million bucks, I don't know what can." Howie thought it was a risk well taken and that the song would pay off. Howard said other people in the competition are good, but she had both charisma and talent. He called her the greatest.
Thanks again to everyone who kept reading even when Yahoo! shut down, especially rosiedlotrfan. I've truly enjoyed our conversations!