‘America’s Got Talent’ recap: Cindy Chang wows the judges

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The ‘America’s Got Talent’ audition train made yet another stop … um, somewhere or other … as it slowly and deliberately chugged its way to Las Vegas, making way for a few more performers hoping to ride it to stardom.

Denied a lift to Sin City were teen singer-dancers Eric and Christlo, repeatedly dubbed ‘adorable’ by judge Sharon Osbourne as they were sent packing; Chris, the Boy With the Wire Hair, whose act was not only bizarre but clumsy to boot; Jenny Rocha and the Painted Ladies, who boinged around on bouncy-ball bottoms and prompted judge Howie Mandel to compare them with the Kardashians; and a meat cutter from Minneapolis who called himself Magic of Mystique and did the kind of tricks you find in those prepackaged toy-store magic kits. We also won’t be seeing more of pseudo-stripper Tomahawk Tassles (we’ve seen enough already, thank you very much) or the dance duo GTR (Girls That Rock).

So who was invited aboard?

Well, headed to Vegas was the Fatally Unique dance team, a financially challenged but unflaggingly optimistic group of middle school, high school and college kids, ages 13 to 22, from Rockville, Ill., whose costumes judge Piers Morgan said he ‘wouldn’t even cook a goose on’ but who could really cook things up on the dance floor.

Also waved through was 16-year-old yo-yo trickster Ian Jonathan, who proved that what goes up and down can also spin ‘round and ‘round -- not to mention body builder Tricky Jackson, who could pop his pecs with particular pep, and Taylor Davis, an 18-year-old guitar-playing singer who sounded good in the few seconds of his performance we saw him and whom the judges concluded had ‘star’ quality. And not to be forgotten: psychic magician Fantastic Fig, who wore his cat on his shoulder and did impressive card tricks and then confused everyone by dancing for no obvious reason. (Fig, a.k.a. Los Angeles personal-injury lawyer Paul F. Fegen, claimed that he had once worked with Jimi Hendrix, but my Web search couldn’t confirm that.)


But the episode’s two standout performances highlighted the inherent strangeness of a show in which established professional acts such as the Fearless Flores family compete with total newcomers like bubbly, painfully shy late bloomer Cindy Chang (a singer who is already prompting comparison to ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ breakout star Susan Boyle).

Personally, I find the professional-amateur mix a bit baffling and a little unfair to the amateurs. On the other hand, sharing the stage with the pros ups the newbies’ profile and exposure, and without a show like this, it’s hard to figure how an unemployed technical writer and self-dubbed ‘housewife’ like Chang would get an opportunity to wow a huge audience with her voice. So, I suppose, why quibble?

Anyhow, here’s Cindy Chang stunning the crowd:

And here are the Fearless Flores kids, ages 8 and 13, zooming around on motorcycles in their ‘Globe of Death.’

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-- Amy Reiter