Murtz On The Scene: Canada’s Got Talent – Semifinals Week 1 – Performance Episode Review

TORONTO- Canadians have been searching for a new reality-competition series to call their own and they have found it in Canada’s Got Talent.

While the American version of the series will get a much-needed facelift with Howard Stern replacing Piers Morgan this summer, the affectionately dubbed CGT has found a voice (and I don’t mean the Xtina Aguilera version) of its own. With absolutely no homegrown competition in the genre since the end of Canadian Idol and So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Canada’s Got Talent has a virtually untapped and reality-starved audience to play to. CBC’s Cover Me Canada ended last year as well, meaning the proverbial floor (for now) belongs solely to Canada’s Got Talent. As a result, the level of talent doesn’t really matter because the show could be deemed a success upon its inception simply because there is nothing else to challenge it. As a result, the overwhelming talent that has already been found across the country has renewed my faith in the talent-show concept. More importantly, this country hasn’t seen another show that allows different acts with no age restrictions to compete against each other in the way that this one does. For the time being, this is our X Factor, with frisbee-catching dogs, fire-breathing beautiful women and teeny bopper dance crews.

The first episode of the season took place from Showline Studios in Toronto. This was the same building that formerly housed the aforementioned So You Think You Can Dance Canada, so it was a bit eerie being back. You could almost still smell the ashes. There was a different look to the studio as well with chairs replacing the mosh put and the judges being placed directly in front of the stage rather than off to the side.

Upon my arrival, I was immediately struck by the presence of the buzzers and the X’s. Admittedly, despite my status as the world’s foremost reality television expert, America’s Got Talent was never one of my the shows I focused on so I wasn’t sure if the judged buzzed their own finalists. Wouldn’t that say that they made the wrong picks? Hmm. This was something that I was looking forward to seeing play out.

As we know, the judges are Stephan Moccio, Measha Brueggergosman (clearly producers weren’t thinking of journalists when picking the judges!) and Martin Short. The host is Dina Pugliese. While I am a big fan of the talent that has been collected during the audition phase of the program, I am still making my mind up about these guys.

Let’s get to Monday’s performers.


 

WUSHU BY STORM
– Wushu is a full-contact sport that originates from traditional martial arts
– This group features six martial artists who compete on behalf of Wushu Canada and the Canadian National Team
– In lay terms, they do high-flying play-acting with swords
– I thought the act was good, but there was definitely a lack of synchronization and congruency between the group’s members
– You can’t really compare a martial acts act to a dance crew because the dance crew doesn’t have to worry about getting speared with a weapon while they are performing (which is the case for Wushu By Storm)
– With that being said, I still feel like they were ‘off’ and that perhaps the pressure of not only performing for the first time in front of a live and national audience but also being first up might have affected their cohesion
– I recently reviewed Battle Royale as part of my preparation for Hunger Games and this act really reminded me of that movie
– If you have seen it, you will know what I mean
– I don’t believe this act will be saved by the judges or by viewer votes
– Martin Short described it as a “full action movie” and I agree but I just don’t think there will be a sequel

Commurtztial.


 

H.I.X.
– This hip hop trio from Montreal has a unique sound and used a couple of YouTube channels to show off their skill
– I loved this group’s initial audition which not only featured a sound that I haven’t heard before but its members also had a good look and feel
– I felt like they were good representatives of the country’s urban landscape
– With that being said, this performance bombed
– In an effort to elevate the act and make it resonate for the live show, H.I.X. attempt to add more of a show element to their musical performance and this was a severe detriment to their natural talent
– It was especially sad because I really was rooting for these guys
– I can’t even begin to describe the performance which looked like an attempt to recreate Back To The Future mixed with an actual trainwreck
– The screen behind them flashed 1980, 2000 and 2012
– If I had a time machine, I am not sure if those are the years that I would go back to (I was born in 1980, was 20 in 2000 and was watching a Canadian reality show in 2012)
– The performance was important though, if only for the fact that it answered my question about judges buzzing their own quarterfinalists (wait, are the performers we saw on Monday quarterfinalists, semifinalists, or none of the above?)
– Stephan buzzed them and at the end of the performance said that hw was bored 20 seconds into it
– Meesha said that they couldn’t see how all the elements fit together
– Martin said that he had trouble following the story and that the time travel story “wasn’t all that original”
– Maybe these judges aren’t so bad
– As a sidenote, it was quite hilarious to see the most non-urban audience I have ever seen attempt to clap and vibe with the performance

Commurtztial


 

PULP CITY INN
– This four-member rock band from Windsor Ontario can best be described as a cross between Green Day and the Cover Me Canada winners Whosarmy.
– They chose to sing an original song called “My Surrender”
– Good sound but nothing totally defining or memorable
– Acoustics sounded great in the building
– A major pro is how they willed the audience to its feet near the end of the performance making me question my earlier thought about whether they were memorable or not
– Played to both crowd and camera so they could be a darkhorse to sneak into the next round
– Meesha said that they came out guns blazing from the beginning
– Martin said that the lead vocalist, Justin Zuccato really stood out

Commurtztial


 

MARISSA PUFF
– My initial reaction was ‘finally’
– Fire Poi artist from Edmonton, AB
– You’re probably asking yourself what “poi” means so the translation is that she does really cool tricks with fire
– The actual translation is that poi is a style of performance art that involves swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns while dancing
– In her case, the weights are lit on fire
– Tell me, she already doesn’t have a t-shirt deal in the making with the “Puff The Magic Dragon” moniker (although I am sure she has heard that line a million times before)
– In my opinion, Marissa is the total package
– Stunning, an act unlike any other, gorgeous, fire tricks and beautiful
– During the audition phase of the program, I thought that she was a leading contender to win
– Forget about the CGT $100,000 prize, Marissa looked like a million bucks on Monday night
– She elevated her routine by using background fire dancers (presumably from her Vibe Tribe troupe from back home)
– I loved the performance and it was probably my favorite of the night
– The same judges that I complimented earlier were now completely wrong as both Stephan and Martin buzzed her
– Meesha also seemed surprised, particularly by Martin’s desire to end the routine early as she said that they have been calling her “Mrs. Short” but admitted that she didn’t think it had the steam to go all the way to the end
– The smell of gasoline in the theater was briefly intoxicating but in a good way

Commurtztial


 

CHRISTOPHER CHARLES
– This soulful singer from Hamilton combines playing a drum beat with his guitar playing
– Performed Bob Marley’s “Jammin”
– Loved the staging of the performance with a front porch displayed on the screen and then real porch steps where Charles was perched
– Loved the performance, the song choice completely suited his style and he seemed quite comfortable on stage
– Going into the show, I thought that he would be smoked by all the louder and more vibrant performances from the groups but he stuck to his own style and script and did well
– Although Martin said that he wasn’t ‘smitten with it as a song choice,’ I thought it was quite good

Commurtztial


 

FRESHH
– 7 member dance group from Vancouver
– The extra “h” in Freshh apparently stands for hip hop although I am sure it is also to protect them from any trademark infringement as well
– This group of choreographed teenage dancers stole the show
– The routine was set to a hard-pumping song that immediately had the crowd’s attention
– Synchronization was picture-perfect
– I have started watching old episodes of Randy Jackson’s Dance Crew and this performance could have easily worked on that show as well
– They will definitely move on, probably by Canada’s votes (fyi, on Tuesday’s episodes Canada will pick one performer to move on while the judges will pick the other)
– Stephan said that these guys could go all the way and I agree
– That being said, I still preferred Marissa (laugh if you must)

Commurtztial


JULIE LAFONTAINE
– Opera singer from Montreal, QC
– This talented singer put her career on hold to have a family and has now decided to pursue the career she always wanted
– Started off in a purple dress which immediately put her in my good books considering my affinity for the color
– There is no doubt Julie will move on because she is quite talented and as a result, it was hard for me to conjure up interest only because her talent is so superior that she should have honestly received a first week bye
– Didn’t disappoint
– Song choice was perfect and she capitalized on the great acoustics in Showline Studios which also helped Pulp City Inn’s performance
– Stephan brought up a good point in his critique when he said that groups like Freshh will have 7 times as many friends and family voting in because there are 7 members in the group so solo artists will really need the public’s support
– This was a very interesting point that I hadn’t considered on any of these mixed talent competitions before
– Meesha said that she had a voice lesson earlier in the day and didn’t sound as good as Julie
– High praise

So there you have it. The first live show is in the books. I was impressed by the overall production value of the show and the level of talent that performed. I thought the judges were way too hard on Marissa Puff but aside from that miscue had a great first night overall. I remember the first live American Idol show this year and it wasn’t great with the judges just praising everything including terrible performances that they had to explain the next night after realizing most viewers hated their first show and this was the total opposite. Aside from a couple of bombs, the talent was there and if the first episode is any indication of what’s to come, we are in for a hell of a ride.

On Friday April 6, I will have a special edition of The Murtz Show where I will be talking to Canadian Idol Eva Avila, So You Think You Can Dance Canada runner-up Melissa Mitro and hopefully someone from Canada’s Got Talent (ideally Marissa Puff) where we will discuss Canadian vs. American reality shows among other interesting topics.  To check it out, tune in HERE at 9:30 PM PST.

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