For the final week of auditions this America’s Got Talent season, the production (like many other talent shows in the COVID age) was forced to adapt to unforeseeable, unprecedented circumstances and screen the remaining contestants remotely. Tuesday’s hopefuls — which the judges watched from the comfort of their respective homes, with Simon Cowell and Heidi Klum in coincidentally matching pajamas — included a living-room daredevil who could stop airborne arrows with his bare hands, a dancing grandpa, and an opera singer on horseback. But it was another animal act, Chris & Syd, that provided the feel-good entertainment that the nation surely could use right about now.
Talk about a cattle-call audition! Chris Peterson is an aspiring country crooner from Cedar City, Utah, whose lovable but lazy cow dog, Syd, seems destined for fame beyond the farm. When Chris & Syd teamed up for an interspecies pickup-truck duet of Syd’s favorite song, Chris LeDoux’s “Look at You Girl,” the pitchy pooch’s moonstruck-wolf-like baying provided the perfect comic/harmonic foil to Chris’s twangy baritone. In fact, Syd was so completely the star of the show that Simon accidentally referred to Chris as “Syd.”
All four regular judges seemed to appreciate the adorable performance, as did the night’s “guest judge” of sorts: Simon’s Yorkshire terrier, Squiddly. (His other lapdog, Daisy, and Heidi’s dog Chippu cast the two dissenting votes by default, as they disinterestedly wandered off mid-performance.)
“Your dog was actually singing along with you! I mean, that’s unbelievable. And Squiddly was tapping her head as it went along,” Simon marveled.
“Do you think the dog is actually singing along with him, or telling him to stop?” fellow judge Howie Mandel pondered with a smirk.
Simon seemed convinced it was the former, and even called this performance “genius.” And considering that he got his start in the music business playing a singing pooch named Wonderdog, he ought to know:
Chris & Syd, who eventually received “five yeses” including Squiddly, actually went viral with this LeDoux love duet last year, and Peterson’s YouTube channel doesn’t feature any other canine collaborations — so it’s possible that they’re a one-trick pony. But on the subject of ponies, Peterson says if he wins this AGT season’s million-dollar prize, he’ll put it towards founding his own equine therapy business. Surely Erin McCarthy, the above-mentioned horse-riding opera singer who also galloped to the next round via her remote audition, would appreciate that.
America’s Got Talent Season 15’s regular auditions were suspended after nine days due to coronavirus concerns, but Tuesday’s episode did feature some of the final auditions that took place (without a live audience) on that ninth afternoon at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium – including a last act that was tough to top, Sheldon Riley. The fabulously feathered, Orville Peck-masked wizard from Oz might be familiar to internationally savvy reality fans, as he has appeared on The X Factor Australia and two seasons of The Voice Australia — and on one of those Voice seasons, he even made all the way to the third place under the tutelage of his equally fabulous and clearly qualified coach, Boy George.
We will see how far Sheldon, Chris & Syd, Erin and her horse, and the rest of this season’s AGT crop fare when they continue to adjust to the new abnormal in two weeks, during the Judges’ Cuts round. Those socially distanced episodes, shot in mid-June shortly after the California state government allowed media productions to resume, took place at an outdoor venue in Simi Valley with new safety protocols in place — including the implementation of videoconferencing and isolation pods. Apparently the dog days are not over, so to speak, but the AGT show must go on. See you then.
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