“America’s Got Talent” kicks off its live shows on Tuesday (Aug. 15). Will one of the nine golden buzzer acts win season 12 of this NBC summer hit show? This ticket to the live shows was introduced two years ago and the winner of each of those seasons had first been singled out by one of the judges. In Season 10, guest judge Marlon Wayans pressed the Golden Buzzer for ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, who went on to win. And last year, Howie Mandel hit it for 12-year-old singer/songwriter Grace VanderWaal, who likewise prevailed.
With all four of the judges — Mel B, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel — plus new host Tyra Banks and the quartet of guest judges (Chris Hardwick , DJ Khaled, Laverne Cox and Seal) weighing in with their top picks, we are now up to nine acts with special status.
Which of these nine do you think is likeliest to win the show? Below, we recap each performance and include a link to their respective audition videos. After watching all nine acts perform, weigh in with your pick for the winner in our poll and sound off in the comments section.
During the premiere episode on May 30, Mel B was won over by Darci Lynne Farmer, a winsome pre-teen from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Farmer, 12, looked like a seasoned pro as she sang a duet of “Summertime” with her puppet Petunia. Watch Farmer’s audition video.
We saw the curmudgeonly Cowell crack when deaf singer Mandy Harvey performed on the June 6 episode. The 29-year-old singer-songwriter from St. Cloud, Florida performed a heartfelt rendition of her original tune “Try.” Watch Harvey’s audition video.
Mandel was next to press the Golden Buzzer when Christian Guardino came before the panel on June 13 and told his story. Blind since almost birth, he regained his sight four years ago and now, at 16, he is ready to show the world that he can sing. This native of Patchogue, New York dazzled with “Who’s Lovin’ You. Watch Guardino’s audition video.
Banks may be new to hosting the show but she looked like an old pro when she sent Light Balance through on June 20. She was impressed with this dance group from the Ukraine, which made their audition stand out by the use of neon lights attached to their costumes. Watch Light Balance’s audition video.
Klum had her heart broken by Angelina Green, who told the panel on July 11 of being abandoned by her father and supported by her mother who was watching in the wings. She then did a powerful version of The Pretenders‘ classic “I’ll Stand By You.” Watch Green’s audition video.
Likewise, Hardwick was visibly moved on July 18 when he learned Angelica Hale was only four years old when she needed a kidney transplant and her mother donated one of hers. Five years on, this talented tyke says she wants to be the next Whitney Houston, and certainly showed her potential with her raw delivery of “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. Watch Hale’s audition video
Khaled was captivated by Chase Goehring, who performed another original song, “A Capella,” a mixed genre track of guitar-backed singing-songwriting and soft rap verses. Khaled was acutely focused on Chase and rose to his feet to applaud before hitting the buzzer. Watch Goehring’s audition video
Cox was captivated by another nine-year-old singer, Celine Tam, who performed her namesake Celine Dion‘s power ballad “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You.” Watch Tam’s audition video
Seal praised singer Johnny Manuel‘s tenacity as he was made to perform Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” both with and without musical accompaniment. Watch Manuel’s audition video
Who do you think deserves to win Season 12 of “America’s Got Talent”? Vote in our poll below and then sound off in the comments section.