At Sunday's top 10 performance of Suburban Chicago's Got Talent at Schaumburg's Prairie Center for the Arts, host Rob Pileckis repeatedly stated how hard it's going to be for the judges to pick a winner.
"This could be anybody's contest," said returning judge and Daily Herald reporter Barbara Vitello in some back-and-forth banter with Pileckis. She added that in past years, some finalists won the summerlong talent competition when they pulled out all the stops at the finale performance at the Taste of Arlington Heights.
Location: Taste of Arlington Heights at Harmony Park, Vail Avenue and Campbell Street, Arlington Heights; events.dailyherald.com
Showtime: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5
No admission charge
The top 10 show featured a mix of covers of well-known hits, original songs and a number of creatively unexpected mashups.
The duo Tom and Olivia of Aurora opened the show with their own arrangement of the folk standard "House of the Rising Sun." Even though other acts performed the song previously in the six-year-old competition, Vitello was most impressed with Tom and Olivia's soulful take.
Once again, contestants Marina Alyse of Lake in the Hills and Cassandra Henwood of Elgin braved tough comparisons by respectively singing Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" and Adele's "Rolling in the Deep."
On the original song front, LoneSome Cliff of Chicago shared an ache-filled ballad called "Heart of it All," while Lorenzo Esposito of Lisle sang a winding narrative about a hard-luck musician in "Marlene Tambourine."
Filling in for regular judge Ron Onesti, guest judge Michael Pirovano was impressed by 14-year-old singer-songwriter Adem Dalipi of Belvidere. Dalipi performed his original song "Darlin'" and also announced that it's available on iTunes and Spotify.
"It's so freaking good," Pirovano said, "My comment sheet is just a bunch of shocked expletives."
Garrett Ryan of West Dundee had some fun layering in bits of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys into his own song "This Love," while Kayla Seeber of Poplar Grove found a way to mashup Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" with The Chainsmokers' "Closer."
Judges Joe Keefe of the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights and talent agent Paige Ehlman also lavished lots of praise for the high-energy work of the hip-hop troupe The Dynasty from Naperville and solo Berwyn drummer Adrian Guzik, who pounded out a 1980s metal mashup.
"There's so much dedication and passion and hard work," Ehlman said to members of The Dynasty after another precision routine. "If only I could bottle your energy."
For the final round of Fan Favorite voting, videos of Sunday's performances will be posted online from midnight Tuesday through noon on Friday at dailyherald.com. The Fan Favorite with the most cumulative votes wins an award package featuring gift cards from local restaurants, theaters and attractions valued at more than $500.
But the grand prize is a STARter Kit valued at $5,000. It includes an opportunity to open for a national headlining act at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, career mentoring by Onesti Entertainment, and professional video and still photo shoots of a live performance.
Suburban Chicago's Got Talent is co-sponsored by the Daily Herald, Onesti Entertainment, the Prairie Center for the Arts, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, Salon Lorrene, Zeigler Automotive Group and Amita Health.