America's Got Talent Recap

America's Got Talent Premiere: Grade Simon Cowell's Debut — Plus: Who Got the First Golden Buzzer of Season 11?

Watching Simon Cowell on Tuesday’s America’s Got Talent premiere was a lot like watching the Grinch — after his heart grew three sizes.

Once revered as the meanest man on television, Cowell still resembles the American Idol judge we loved to hate — he remains hopelessly devoted to black T-shirts and exposed chest hair — but there’s a certain softness to him now. The man who once told an Idol contestant that she sounded like “Dolly Parton on helium” told a man that his act, which mostly revolved around lip-syncing oven mitts, was “brilliant.”

And, frankly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even in its most absurd moments, AGT has always felt like a safe space, making this softer Cowell the perfect replacement for Howard Stern. Had I been present for Cowell’s meager backstage welcome party — I get that Dunkin Donuts is the show’s sponsor, but who drinks orange juice out of a coffee cup?! — I would have gladly raised a (styrofoam) glass.

Now that we’ve gotten the pleasantries out of the way, let’s relive some of the season premiere’s most discuss-able auditions:

* Nathan Bockstahler, a 6-year-old comedian who already knows what he would do with the prize money: “Instead of 1 million dollars, I would like 1 million LEGOs.” He’s probably not going to win — guys, he’s six — but he made for an entertaining first act. (Also, I doubt he gave the producers permission to use Justin Bieber’s “Baby” as his entrance music. Rude!)

* Jose Fuentes, 58, danced with his dog Carrie; as he explained, his late wife never wanted to dance with him, so he got the next best thing. It was cute, but not quite Nathan-level cute, which explains why Fuentes earned the first “no” of the night from Heidi Klum. (To be fair, though, it took Klum a minute before she even realized: “Oh, that’s why the dog is wearing a dress!”)

* The Clairvoyants, a team of psych-ish lovers who were able to tell the shade of Klum’s lipstick, the expiration date on Howie Mandel’s eyedrops and the provider of an audience member’s cell phone without looking at any of them. Cowell accused them of being witches, while Mel. B called the duo’s powers “alien-like.” (Personally, I’m not ready to rule them out as real-life X-Men.)

* Linkin’ Bridge, a Kentucky-based musical quartet provided the Susan Boyle moment of the night, eliciting stunned expressions from all four judges with their harmonious performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It’s a good thing Cowell liked the song, because the group’s tears of joy were heart-wrenching enough; I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if they got a “no.”

The Spice Gurlz, an all-drag Spice Girls lip sync cover band, received the first rejection of the season. Though Cowell and Mel B gave the group a “yes,” their efforts weren’t enough to combat Klum and Mandel’s “no”s. (Nor should they have been. Even RuPaul would have told those boys to “sashay away.”)

* Hara, a visual artist/magician from a small village in Japan, put on a pretty impressive performance. It was a lot like what Beyoncé did at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards… with magic! (In other words, shut up and take my money!)

* Tape Man, a personal favorite of mine for reasons I’ll work out in therapy, did a lot of weird stuff — including a duet of “Endless Love,” sung by oven mitts — and I loved every damn minute of it. “It was simple, but clever,” Cowell remarked. “Unique, funny, brilliant.” (Could Tape Man be Season 11’s dark horse?)

* Laura Bretan, a 13-year-old opera singer, is gunning to be the next Jackie Evancho. And with those pipes, she stands a pretty good shot! Is it any wonder Mel B gave her the first Golden Buzzer of the season?

Time to weigh in: Which season premiere act was your favorite? Did the right person get Mel B’s Golden Buzzer? And do you agree that Cowell is a perfect fit? Grade his debut below, then drop a comment with all of your thoughts below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Daya says:

    I’m already in love with Thommy and Amelie. Between them and Nathan, it was a rousing start to the season.

  2. KayCeeCee says:

    The show was hilarious. I am glad that the show came back with so many fun/funny acts. I was thoroughly entertained.

  3. wrstlgirl says:

    I love Simon and Tape Man was my favorite!! I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes, lol.

    • Brian Lanz says:

      For me also, Taped guy stole the show. Best act in the premiere.

      Why was Heidi being such a scrooge half of the night?

  4. AngelWasHere says:

    It was very funny and entertaining tonight. My favorite was Tape Face(..err or man) since he surprised me. All I could do was laugh and say WTF?! It was weirdly clever. Stupid, but clever. I’ll be in therapy right next to you I guess.

  5. sktaylortrash says:

    Tape Man was spectacular

  6. Sally McLinn says:

    The 13 yr old opera singer didn’t deserve the gold ticket, but this is TV….something dramatic had to happen.
    I thought the Japanese magician was fantastic. Each act needs at least two appearances before they get a gold ticket.

  7. TvPeong says:

    I was so impressed with Laura Bretan (the 13 year old opera singer) so I looked her up, and saw that she did a similar act on Romania’s Got Talent.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for pointing that out. I had looked up The Clairvoyants and they were on Austria’s Got Talent. Steve the Regurgitator was on like 6 Got Talent’s before his AGT appearance last year. I’ve come to accept it is what it is at this point.

      • I cannot stand the guys who stick sharp objects up their nose etc. Whenever those people come on, I turn the TV onto the Cartoon Network. At least, over there, I won’t see someone stick scissors up their nose.

  8. ONE D FAN says:

    Simon is an ass. He should leave Louis alone. The day it happens ,I ‘ll be so freaking happy

  9. Klare says:

    He’s terrible . Can he finally leave Louis and the rest of 1D alone ?

  10. James says:

    Simon is 100% annoying. Can’t you all see through his s***? Works everyone he knows down to the bone and tskes credit for everything, especially those 1D boys. No break in 5 years?

    Yeah right, everything he does is awful, in no eay are we gonna boost his already high ego.

  11. Richard Rabinovitch says:

    I am not use to Simon being so mellow.

    • Cathy says:

      I don’t normally watch these shows, but decided to this morning, and was pleasantly surprised. It was weird, but I like him like that.

  12. ChrissieK says:

    Well I did not expect all the Simon hating…very rude of you people. Simon on AGT is just like Simon on BGT and I like him like that! Tape Man was outstanding! Watched him twice you can be sure. I feel the Japanese “magician” to be more of an illusionist and he was wonderful! I suppose when you have a talent, like the 13 year old opera singer, you will be on more than one talent show somewhere in the world. I think she is a tad freaky. Gonna love this season! Welcome back Simon!

    • mary says:

      Simon was completely mellow compared to how he used to be(& how many other judges are). Don’t understand the hate either

  13. Joey Padron says:

    Season premiere was good, fun, and funny. Simon did good in his first episode as new judge.

  14. Greg says:


  15. Bruce Jerome says:

    I liked most of the show, but there was an act with the guy with the meat hook. it was so gross that I kept on waiting for them to buzz the act off stage. Much to my surprise only Heidi used the buzzer, the rest of them liked it.I don’t know if I will watch the next show if they allow something like that again.

  16. sunshine says:

    This is our favorite summer show but I always hope for more acts and less judges time. They give more and more facetime to the judges and I really don’t care about them as much as they think I might. They are not A Listers except in their own minds. I want more acts to be shown!

    • John Sellers says:

      i can agree with you to a certain degree howie mel and heidi are not a listers but simon on the other hand is massive he makes more than some of the biggest movie stars on the planet

  17. connie says:

    He tells it like it is instead of pussy footing around. These contestants need to know the truth about their performances.

  18. Georgia says:

    It was so good to Simon back on a show here in the USA. I enjoyed it so much.

  19. Marina says:

    I LOVED Hara, the visual artist. It was very clever — the combination of live performance and recorded images was brilliant! A definite contender, ready-made for Vegas!

  20. D Marie Isabella says:

    Not anymore Simon!

  21. Tara says:

    Simon is too ugly to be on TV. He is the worst.

  22. Bonnie W says:

    We loved it! My face hurts from smiling for two hours (less the meat hook guy). Pure entertainment. I can’t understand the negative grades.

  23. mary says:

    Tape man made me laugh the entire time. it will be interesting to see what else he can do.

  24. jenna says:

    Loved the contestants, but Simon was as annoying as always.

  25. EJ says:

    Simon had a disingenuous air about him. The show was a million times better with Howie and Howard as bookends to Mel and Heidi. Howie is, by far, the best judge on the panel and Simon should retire and collect a pay check.

  26. AngelWasHere says:

    What’s with the fail grade? Bunch of butthurt people mad at Simon?

    • Rachel says:

      It’s literally a ton of One Direction fans who think that Simon Cowell is forcing two of the boys in the band to hide their gay relationship and make out with hot girls in public against their will.

      I promise most 1D fans do not actually think that, myself being one of them, however this poll was posted on a blog so the crazies who think that could come and vote F. Before the poll was posted on that blog, “A” was solidly winning.

  27. Cheyanne Lemmer says:

    Laura Bretan, she has undeniable talent yes! But she won’t be the “next” Jackie Evancho because there’s only place for one Jackie and that is Jackie Evancho herself! The way Jackie sings is with passion and fluidity… Sorry I’m not undermining the girl but I will love only ONE Classical artist and that’s Jackie Evancho! 💕

  28. Kathleen Celso says:

    I love all the acts , it takes a lot of courage to go on in front 10 million people, I like the spice gurls, mainly because one of them is my son, which I’m very proud , so they didn’t make through, they have plenty of opportunities to do their shows, it was a great experience!!!

  29. Myself says:

    I really dont understand the hate for Simon. I love him, i’ve always loved him. Yes he is a gross man, and bad, maybe sad, and quite annoying… but he is hell entertaining. I just live him. Gimme some Simon in every contest show pleaseeee!!! Dont care if he is the worst, loooooooooove him!!!

  30. Maureen Curran-Dorsano says:

    Can someone explain to me why some acts have been on twice already – Hara, the Edgar Family Band, Sofi Dossi, to name a few? And Sofi got the Golden Buzzer on her second appearance, which wasn’t even her audition.