Eleven acts took the stage Tuesday for the first night of live semifinals on America’s Got Talent, with acts ranging from sensitive singers to dancing dogs — plus a lusty puppet with eyes (and hands) for Simon Cowell.
Singer Yoli Mayor kicked off the two-hour event with another “stripped-down” performance, this time of James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go.” It took a minute for the audience to warm up to Mayor’s depressing ballad of choice, but she had everyone — especially self-professed super fan Cowell — eating out of her hand by the time she wrapped. (As Howie Mandel put it, “Holy moly, Yoli!”)
Next up was Eric Jones, the competition’s last magician standing, who shared one of his “favorite pieces of magic” with the judges. (Side note: Jones accidentally referred to Klum as Mel B., to which I thought, “Now that would be a good trick.”) All four participants seemed as impressed as the audience with Jones’ coin-based routine, lavishing Jones with praise. Cowell specifically commended his improved delivery, adding that he’s “ready for the finals.”
DaNell Daymon and Greater Works kept the talent flowing with a gospel rendition of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” It was uneven in certain places, but an overall success, earning a “Jesus, take the wheel!” from Mel B. (And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get choked up when Daymon discussed his history of depression and suicidal thoughts.)
The night took a real dark turn when comedian Preacher Lawson dared to do the unthinkable… target Tyra Banks. And for her “giant forehead,” no less! Cowell told Lawson that he’s funny and likable enough to carry his own sitcom, a sentiment echoed by his fellow judges — but if I’m being honest, this act did very little for me.
Speaking of doing nothin’ for nobody, the judges had harsh words for Johnny Manuel, who dared to perform an original song this week. Klum and Cowell admired Manuel’s courage, but those compliments were drowned out by others’ harsh criticisms. “You might have made a mistake by doing an original,” Mandel said. “I don’t think it was that catchy.” Ouch.
Billy and Emily England — or as Klum calls them, “the definition of an amazing duo” — brought the energy back up with a Game of Thrones-inspired routine, which ended with Billy straight-up dropping his sister into a flaming abyss. High praise all around!
Following an emotional introduction video about her father’s illness, Evie Clair took her seat at a flower-covered piano, where she crooned out a tearjerking tribute. Shortly after, Sara and Hero brought the mood back up with an energetic routine set to “Walking on Sunshine,” which inspired an uncharacteristically giddy Cowell to proclaim, “America, we need these dogs in the finals!”
But no one got a more positive reaction from Cowell than Chase Goehring, whose original song about a friend with a history of damaging relationships elicited an L-bomb. “I pray that you make it to the finals,” he added. (Whoa there.)
Things got expectedly weird with the arrival of Darci Lynne‘s latest singing puppet, a brassy dame named Edna who wanted Cowell to know that he makes her… he makes her feel… he makes her feel like a natural woman. For what it’s worth, Cowell loved the act — and Edna.
Appropriately, Mike Yung ended the night with a performance of “Don’t Give Up on Me.” The judges assured him that they won’t — even if America does.
While the votes cast on TVLine don’t technically count, we’re curious to see which five acts you think should progress to the finals. Vote for your favorites below, then drop a comment with more of your thoughts.