Season 16 of “America’s Got Talent” starts on June 8 with a two-hour broadcast including the finest (and worst) auditions. To proceed to the next round of “AGT,” an act needs to receive a “yes” vote from at least three of the four judges (Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara). The act is automatically eliminated if two or more judges buzz it.
Each judge, as well as host Terry Crews, has one chance to press the “golden buzzer” and send an act straight to the live shows. The Northwell Nurse Choir, a group of 18 New York City nurses who worked on the front lines during the epidemic, encouraged Howie to hit his golden buzzer during the season 16 premiere, inspiring him to press his golden buzzer. Their goal as a choir is to help people “discover their resilience” by “shooting out some joy and love.” They performed a mash-up of “Lean on Me” and “Stand by Me” for their audition, which includes singing, beat-boxing, and lite rap.
This year’s structure is the same as previous year’s, with “America’s Got Talent” premiering on Tuesdays only for the first six weeks, with the auditions taking place across the country. After that, starting in July, there will be four weeks of Judge Cuts, followed by a series of live performances and results episodes.
Weekly Recap, Episode 2 – America’s Got Talent
Follow along in our minute-by-minute blog as we recount all of the action from Season 16 Episode 2 of “America’s Got Talent.”
— At 8:02 p.m. Before beginning tonight’s auditions, Simon announced that, in addition to the personal show that the winner will be awarded, AGT will be opening its own show at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Vegas this year.
— At 8:03 p.m. Beyond Belief Dance, a troupe of young girls instructed by famed “RuPaul’s Drag Race” veteran Alyssa Edwards, was the first action seeking to earn a slot in Vegas (referred to out of drag as Justin). They showcased their acrobatics, flexibility, and passion by performing Todrick Hall’s uplifting anthem “Nails, Hips, Hair, Heels” at their audition. Sofia described the performance as “out of this world,” Howie described them as “fierce,” and Heidi, who is a “stickler for detail,” described it as “perfect.” There was no doubt in my mind that the girls deserved to advance to the next round because they received four yes votes.
— At 8:11 p.m. The UniCircle Flow from Japan appeared next, fulfilling Simon’s wish for something “different” this season. The four performers, who made up the group of 12, did what ballroom dancers do on unicycles. They performed spins, jumps, and other amazing moves to upbeat music in gowns that defied expectations. Sofia described the performance as “energetic,” while Howie noted that they were bringing “beautiful dancing” to the unicycle, which is normally reserved for jugglers and comedians. Simon dubbed it “one of the most distinctive acts they’ve seen across the seasons,” voting “100% yes” on their way to four total.
— At 8:20 p.m. Korean Soul and Larger Than Life were the next two boy bands to take the stage. Both organisations arose from a common goal to be a member of a boy band and achieve fame as a result of it. The band Larger Than Life took the stage first, performing a mashup of Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life” and NSYNC’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” The boys had already had X buzzes from Simon and Heidi after a pitchy first verse and an out-of-sync choreo break. “Was that serious?” Simon said as they received a third X from Howie. They didn’t make the cut, of course.
8:32 p.m. — Korean Soul took the stage nervously after the bomb that was the other boy band. It was evident from an away that they belonged in a different league, as they chose K-Ci & JoJo’s song “All My Life” to demonstrate their pitch-perfect voices and harmonising prowess. The judges, with the exception of Simon, all gave a standing O. Heidi described them as “silky smooth,” while Howie said they “tick a lot of the boxes” needed to become pop stars. Though Simon didn’t vote for them, he did add that it was one of the best auditions they’d seen all day, and with such strong feelings on both sides, it was a simple yes for them to progress.
— At 8:43 p.m. Matt Johnson, a self-described “escape artist,” was the first danger act to audition this season. He attempted the same deed last year that he hung and drowned himself. On stage with him was what could only be described as a mediaeval device that needed him to break free from a straight-jacket before being hanged, drowned, and sawed in half by rotating saws aimed at his face. Fortunately, he was able to flee this time, avoiding a trip to the emergency room. Howie said he was speechless after hearing Matt speak about the contraption and then witnessing him escape it, and Simon was pleased by Matt’s bravery to put himself in that position. The entire panel nodded nervously, eager to see what he could accomplish the next time.
— At 8:55 p.m. JONIO and Preston Lyford’s tryouts were cut short because of the judges’ lacklustre reception, unlike prior magic acts in the series’ history. Patrick Kun, on the other hand, carried on Shin Lim’s and Mat Franco’s traditions. Patrick gave a dramatic card tick involving the disappearance and reappearance of the chosen cards after narrating a childhood where he had to hide his passion for magic from his parents as a child. Simon defended his presentation, and after Heidi and Sofia’s yeses, Simon advanced to the next round.
9:08 p.m. — The next performer was entertainer Johnny Showcase, who brought his family out to support him during his audition. Following an embarrassing introduction in which he lauded Paula Abdul, Johnny and his “spiritual counsellors” (backup singers and dancers) parodied sexually heightened soul tunes from the 1970s. The judges seemed to appreciate the act for some reason – Simon called it “amazing” and one of his favourites, Sofia pointed out that they’re better performers than talkers, and Howie stated that their key is getting the crowd to want to sing along. The ensemble received four firm yes votes solely on the basis of their entertaining value.
— At 9:19 p.m. The Curtis Family C-Notes took the stage to represent the “golden age of music” of the 1950s and 1960s, hoping to make their own mark as a family. The seven members of the family wowed the jury not only with their style but also with how beautifully their voices reflected the era from which they drew inspiration. Howie was the only judge who did not stand for the standing ovation this time, although he nonetheless praised them as “superstars” for their performance. Heidi was relieved to hear that they sounded as nice as they looked, and Sofia thought it was ideal. Simon admired how everyone in this family band appeared to be having a wonderful time, so he led the charge for a unanimous yes vote from the panel to advance them to the next round.
9:32 p.m. — Danny Dechi’s strange gift of placing music by pounding his cheek with a pencil failed to impress, earning him a seldom seen four X elimination. Les Beaux Freres, a circus group, trailed him, promising a “surprise.” That surprise was naked dancing, with the exception of one bath towel apiece, which they choreographed to cover their front and back private parts at all times. After eventually rising to thank the duo for their amusing and imaginative performance, the judges all laughed their heads off. Heidi described it as her “cup of tea,” and while Simon is unsure where they will go next in the competition, the judges unanimously agreed that they should return in the next round.
9:43 p.m. — Gina Brillon, a 41-year-old stand-up comic, was worried before her audition, feeling the weight of her dual life as a working woman who also wanted to pursue comedy as a profession. Her set was about her multiracial marriage and how her upbringing in the South Bronx contributes to both conflict and love in her relationship. Her remarks on having an identical twin followed that chat. Sofia stated she smiled at every joke because she was able to pull from her own life and convert it into comedy. Howie granted Gina her fourth yes to advance to the next round after calling her the “ideal addition to the 16th season.”