“America’s Got Talent” began its 12th season Tuesday night with the first contestant auditions. Judges Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel and Mel B are all back this season and welcomed Tyra Banks as the series’ new host. In the audition phase of the show, acts perform in front of the panel, needing at least three judges to give them a “yes” vote in order to advance to the next round. If at least two judges buzz the act with their “X” button then the act is eliminated. A rare hit of the “golden buzzer” from the panel sends an act straight through to the live performances.
The popular “AGT” format will stay the same this year, airing initially just on Tuesdays with the first six weeks devoted to the auditions that took place around the country. Then there will be four weeks of Judge Cuts beginning in July, followed by the series of live performance shows and results episodes.
Below, read our “America’s Got Talent” Season 12, Episode 1 recap of the first 11 acts in the order in which they were showcased on Tuesday’s episode:
Jokgu the Chicken: Heidi called this chicken playing “America the Beautiful” on the keyboard one of the craziest things she’s ever seen on the show, giving an excited yes along with all three of the other judges to advancing Joku to the next round.
Preacher Larson: Performing hours before his 26th birthday, Preacher gave a short stand-up comedy set that left Mel begging for more. Simon gave him time to do one more joke, an off-the-cuff joke about his grandma that won over the judges and all four judges, easily sending him to the next round.
Yoli Mayor: After just a few notes of “I Put a Spell on You,” Simon stopped this 21-year-old singer and asked her to sing something a little more youthful. Tyra joined her on stage, removing Yoli’s jeweled necklace, undoing her hair and having her kick off her heels. After her “Plan B” performance of “Make It Rain,” Yoli earned a standing ovation from the judges and a heartfelt approval of Simon who called her a “solid gold star.”
The Man of Mystery: Asking for two on-stage helpers, The Man brought volunteers Tyra and Howie on stage to tie him up so that he could escape while cloaked in a big red bag, but that took too long and The Man was buzzed by all four judges before he could make it out. When he revealed himself he had changed into women’s lingerie, a cute surprise that caused Simon and Mel to remove their Xs, but because Howie and Heidi kept theirs, The Man was still eliminated.
Junior and Emily Alibi: Coming from a troubled past, siblings Junior and Emily say that dance saved their lives. For their audition the performed a salsa dance with so many spins that the judges were left dizzy with affection for them. With four yeses the duo advanced to the next round.
Will Tsai: With a new magic show he created just for his audition, Will moved quarters around from underneath cards, sometimes with just the snap of his fingers, and then ended the trick by turning them into rose petals. The judges were stunned and emphatically moved him on to the next round with four yeses.
The Singing Trump: Instead of continuing his rather good impersonation of Trump, the audition was a mishmash of Bruno Mars songs and lots of scurrying across the stage. The X that Mel gave before the audition even began stuck for her, but wasn’t enough to overrule the other three who all gave their stamp of approval, advancing him to the next round.
Merrick Hanna: Inspired by his grandma, the 12-year-old danced in the style of what he called a “floppy robot” to a sentimental track that left the audience with nothing to say but “Aww.” Simon and Howie both thought it was a clever bit of storytelling, leading the charge to send Merrick through with four yeses.
Puddles: Following a miming of his answers to Mel’s questions, Puddles brought his “pity party” to the stage by singing Sia‘s “Chandelier” and left the audience anything but sad. Indeed, he earned a standing ovation that brought him to tears. The judges were equally impressed and unanimously welcomed him to the next round.
Demian Aditya: With fingers crossed, the audience and judges watched as Demian performed the dangerous act of escaping from shackles within two minutes before the 900 pounds of sand above him dropped and buried him alive. In a shocking twist, Demian seemingly got stuck in the neck shackle just before the sand collapsed and buried him, but two men rushed the stage to help him out, one of them breaking the glass with a hammer to empty the chamber before turning around and revealing himself as Demian. The act was too surprising for the judges to pass up, so they all agreed to send him through to the next round.
Darci Lynne Farmer: This 12-year-old ventriloquist capped off the night with a dynamic “wow” factor performance that saw her bunny puppet singing (rather well I should say) through her own barely moving mouth. Darci Lynne, only performing for two years, uses ventriloquism to break out of her shell as a naturally shy girl. Mel was especially moved by the performance, causing her to stop mid-critique and slam the golden buzzer for Darci Lynne.
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