‘America’s Got Talent’: A Frontrunner Has Emerged

by | July 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM | America's Got Talent

Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. (NBC)

Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. (NBC)

Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. is looking more and more like the act to beat as season six of “America’s Got Talent” chugs closer and closer to awarding its $1 million grand prize.

The 36-year-old car washer from Logan, West Virginia blew the judges –- and a nationwide audience –- away (again) Tuesday night with his soulful interpretation of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon.”

“You have got the opportunity to go all the way,” judge Howie Mandel exclaimed during the two-hour live telecast.

Afterward the comic told XfinityTV: “The first time I saw him he knocked my socks off. I am a big Sinatra fan. And this guy has got that plus the added dichotomy of who he is.”

Watch His Performance:

Murphy -– who has been married since 1995 -– was inspired to sing, his family says, by watching a 1982 “Saturday Night Live” skit in which Joe Piscopo performed a parody of ‘Ole Blue Eyes.’

“He discovered he could sing by accident. He was just being silly one day. He’s always loved to make people laugh,” his older brother Anthony told The West Virginia Gazette.  “He’s been singing and dancing forever. I remember him winning a Michael Jackson talent show when we were kids.”

Murphy –- who was known to break into song while working as a server at Shoney’s restaurant in Dunbar, West Virginia –- has been number one all season long in the weekly power rankings at fansite AGTNews.com.

“Landau is a real turn-up,” judge Piers Morgan tells us.  “I heard his rehearsal. And it was awful. But at night when the pressure is on and the lights go dim, that is when he really lit up. That is when you see that this guy could win it all.”

ALSO LIKELY TO ADVANCE FROM TUESDAY NIGHT:

POPLYFE: This group of funky dressing teens (13 – 16) crushed it with their version of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.”  Lead singer Kehleni Parrish, 14, is quickly emerging as the star of the group.  But she reminded the judges: “We are not Kehlani and Poplyfe. We are Poplyfe.”

LYS AGNES: While Piers said “it didn’t knock me out,” her performance of “Habanera” from Carmen was a huge hit with Howie and Sharon. Lys is a big talent with a sad back story. She has just returned to singing after losing her fiancé in a car crash. Plus, opera singers always do well on this show.

SETH GRABEL: How he managed to escape a straight jacket, fall into a large drum and appear inside a tank of water 20 feet away is a complete mystery. But isn’t that kind of the point?

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