Boy Shakira made it through.
Boy Shakira is in the finals of NBC's reality contest "America's Got Talent."
That should be enough to make viewers cry "foul" and wipe the slate clean to make way for a new round of would-be $1 million prize winners to take their shot. But it isn't, and barring any breaking news announcements between now and Tuesday night, Boy Shakira is in the finals of "America's Got Talent" and is now in the running to become the summertime Sanjaya.
The popular reality showcase spent the past two nights winnowing its final 70 acts down to 35, then 20 who will compete to win the hearts and touch-tone keypads of Americans in hopes of claiming the $1 million prize. Viewers will start voting after Tuesday's performance show.
What was most shocking about the inclusion of Boy Shakira and Bollywood-style dancer Kashif Memon, among a couple of others, was that they took spots that might have otherwise gone to more deserving acts, including the Redneck Tenors and Cocoa Brown — the only remaining stand-up comic until she was ousted Wednesday night (if only NBC had another show for aspiring comics!).
The 20 finalists include 12 musical or singing acts (if you count an impressionist ventriloquist in that category) and eight "variety" acts that include some truly talented dancers, stilt performers, a magician and whatever it is that Boy Shakira and Kashif Memon are meant to be doing.
If the show's single-season history is any indication, America has a soft spot for young singers. Here's a look at the finalists, with their odds for winning:
Julienne Irwin: The 14-year-old country singer from Maryland uneasily occupies the spot held by last year's champion, then-11-year-old Bianca Ryan, as the cute girl with a strong voice. If America is looking for anything in the neighborhood of a repeat, she has a shot to make some noise. 10 to 1.
Manuel Romero: The sweet-voiced 18-year-old will win the ladies over with his good looks, and his voice might keep him in the game for a while. 12 to 1.
Jennifer Aniston on the 'Call Me Crazy' red carpet, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka carry their twins around NY, Even Rachel Wood shows off her baby bump, and more.
trueH6falsetrue1Robert Hatcher: The singing sewage serviceman from Cincinnati will win viewers' hearts, but will he come up smelling like a rose? 15 to 1.
The Glamazons: There's something about these so-called "plus-sized Pussycat Dolls" that steers them clear of being mocked. These are legitimate contenders with real talent, and if they empower some women on the way, then that's just fine. 15 to 1.
Cas Haley: How can you not like this guy? A 26-year-old "stay-at-home dad"? It helps that he has a nice little groove going with his bluesy guitar and vocal performance. Cas already has a big following in the online message boards and could stick around for a while. 15 to 1.
Jason Pritchett: The country vote could get split between this 24-year-old Randy Travis and Tim McGraw blend, but if you saw him in that Carnival Cruise uniform on Wednesday night you'd have to be utterly soulless to let him spend another day on the high seas. 18 to 1.
Kevin James: If magic is your thing, it's hard to ignore this veteran's illusion at the Las Vegas callbacks when he cut an assistant in half, in plain view, and the assistant's top and bottom halves kept moving around until James "stapled" him back together. He's definitely the most impressive of the non-musical acts. 20 to 1.
Calypso Tumblers: This group's act is well choreographed and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. 22 to 1.
The Duttons: This "all in the family" routine is certainly memorable, if only for the sheer number of performers on stage at any given time.
But has the time passed for a group like The Duttons? 25 to 1.
Southern Girl: This three-piece vocal act is a joy to listen to, but viewers might be thinking they've seen it before unless they do something to truly stand out from the crowd. 30 to 1.
Johnny Come Lately: If Simon Cowell were actually a judge on this show, he might say you could find this act at any Johnny Rockets on a Friday night. This group is fortunate to have made it this far, especially with a not-so-great performance at the Vegas callbacks. 35 to 1.
Butterscotch: This 21-year-old girl has some real talent, and beat boxing is apparently all the rage again, but her stage persona is nowhere near ready for a serious run at a victory here. 40 to 1.
The Fault Line: Speaking of beat-boxing, these vocal rockers will have to do something unique to prove they're more than Blake Lewis times four. 40 to 1.
Sideswipe: This "extreme martial arts" group should take judge Sharon Osbourne's words to heart as they move forward through the competition. There's a difference between entertaining and just jumping around. 50 to 1.
Popovich's Pet Theater: There's something totally odd and fun about this clown-like figure with trained animals who keeps a scantily clad assistant nearby just for kicks. But the act is probably too niche to catch on. 60 to 1.
Terry Fator: This act is impressive, without a doubt. Fator has some vocal skills, and to convey them through ventriloquist dolls adds some fun to the mix. But this is no million-dollar act. 70 to 1.
Second Story Guys: These stilt performers are impressive, to be sure, but how long can you watch guys on stilts doing things you didn't think people could do on stilts? I'm guessing not long. 75 to 1.
Johnny Lonestar: Maybe the problem with this show is the $1 million prize. Sure, lasso and whip swinging are something of a lost art, but is it worth $1 million? Maybe it's worth a special halftime performance at a Dallas Cowboys' game, but not $1 million. 100 to 1.
Kashif Memon: I get the Bollywood thing going on here, but doesn't that call for more of a wardrobe selection than jeans and a T-shirt?
Something about the lack of a costume just makes Kashif look like a dude dancing – and not very well. 200 to 1.
Boy Shakira: OK, seriously? Let's call this wishful thinking: 1,000,000 to 1.
Victor Balta is a writer in Philadelphia.