Mill Valley singer-songwriter Tim Hockenberry found himself in the middle of a celebrity tiff on America’s Got Talent on NBC Tuesday night, but it didn't stop him from advancing closer to the show's $1 million prize one night later.
Hockenberry, 50, performed live Tuesday night at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. For the first time in his run on the show, he delved into, as he put it, "a song that was written in this century.” He picked pop starlet Katy Perry's "Part of Me," hoping to impress judges Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel and voters across the country and advance out the show’s Top 48 contestants to the semifinals.
He did so with mixed results, winning over Mandel and Osbourne.
“Your voice is haunting,” Mandel said. “I was concerned that you may do another Joe Cocker song and I didn’t want you to just be a Joe Cocker impersonator. But you are your own. You, sir, are Tim Hockenberry, a possible winner of this year’s America’s Got Talent. You are phenomenal.”
But Stern, who previously called Hockenberry “a breath of fresh air,” wasn’t as impressed.
“You’re my favorite singer in the competition, but for me, to be quite honest, I think you fell short,” he said. “I hope America puts you through, but this was a misstep – it was not your best performance.”
The judges were split on Hockenberry Tuesday night, but not as divided as they were earlier on Big Barry, a not-so-big singer who Mandel called an "incredible novelty act that people would come and see and pay for." Stern then ripped Mandel for allowing Big Barry to advance as far as he did over other more-deserving talent and told Barry, "You're not fun, you're not funny, and you're not talented … a big waste of time."
One night later, Hockenberry and contortionist dancer Turf were called to the stage at the same time and told that they both had been voted to advance to the semifinals.
"Let’s just say that my faith has been rocked a little bit – I really thought it was over for me,” Hockenberry said after hearing the news. “Thank you, America.”
For more on Tim Hockenberry's journey on America's Got Talent so far, . Regardless of how far Hockenberry advances, he'll be performing with Tal Morris and Vince Littleton at on July 21 at 8 p.m. Click here for tickets and more info.