We’re just one week away from the start of the semifinals on season 13 of “America’s Got Talent.” Fourteen acts have secured a place has finally gotten to the live portion of the competition. Another dozen are performing on the last of the three quarterfinals on Tuesday, August 28. Only seven will make the cut and still be in with a chance to win the $1 million grand prize and an opportunity to headline at a Las Vegas casino showroom.
Two of these dozen hopefuls for the season 13 championship earned the coveted Golden Buzzer at their auditions, which allowed them to bypass the judge cuts phase and prepare for the live shows. They are singer Michael Ketterer who won over Simon Cowell and acrobatic dancers Zurcaroh who had host Tyra Banks jumping for joy and the buzzer. Another, opera singer Daniel Emmet, didn’t make it through judge cuts but was thrown a lifeline by producers who made him the Wild Card.
The four judges — Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Mel B — are no longer in charge. Six of the seven acts that make it through will do so based on the votes of viewers. Only the lucky seventh will be the judges’ choice.
Below, read our recap of how they and the other nine acts did on Tuesday’s live show, which is episode 15 of season 13. Who impressed you the most and who was the biggest disappointment? Be sure to sound off with your thoughts down in the comments section.
8:03 p.m. – Kicking off this third night of performances was The Future Kingz, the all-male and varying in ages dance crew who created a family dynamic among themselves. Their routine took inspiration from the music of Kanye West and other hip hop artists and featured mostly break dancing. Simon called their dance a “very cool commercial,” but focused more on how pleasant they are as humans. Mel, too, was impressed by their energy and unity, but pulled back a bit by admitting that she wasn’t as into some of their choreography tonight.
8:12 p.m. – Musician couple Us the Duo were up next to present an original song about the new child they’re expecting. The song had a twee folk beat that Simon and Mel both loved and although Heidi also loved it she did call it a bit “schmaltzy” which honestly sounds like a criticism, but probably wasn’t. It definitely seems like the entire panel is a fan of their act and will do their best to save them should they not be voted through.
8:22 p.m. – Tonight’s wild card act was Daniel Emmet who was brought back to regale us with his operatic voice. If you’ll remember, he was given another second chance during his initial audition when Simon asked him to learn and then sing a new song instead of the one he had already chosen. Supported by the dramatics of a full stage (and fire!), Daniel’s powerful voice was finally in the appropriate setting and I think that’ll help voters understand his vision as an artist. Heidi loved his performance so much that she said she’d use a golden buzzer for him if she had one. Similarly, Simon tried taking credit for the decision to bring him back, but the rest of the panel wasn’t having it (they all want credit, too).
8:32 p.m. – Brian King Joseph, the violinist suffering from a nerve disease, took the stage for a super moody solo right in front of the judges panel before backing up to the main stage where he was accompanied by four dancers whose bendy and contortionist moves created a fantastic backdrop for him. During their critiques it was clear that all the judges are completely enamored by Brian’s positivity and are pulling for him.
8:42 p.m. – After using Howie and Heidi in previous rounds, which judge did Aaron Crow ask to assist him in his thrilling and dangerous act tonight? Somehow Mel and Simon got off easy because it was Howie that took the stage again! But Howie was not in any danger himself because the act consisted of a knife being hidden in one of four boxes and then switched around in a variety of ways with Howie selecting a box one-by-one as Aaron smashed each choice with just his hand. After two successful smashes, Aaron pulled a fast one on Simon and beckoned him to the stage to smash one of the final boxes. Amazingly the box that Howie asked Simon to smash was the one with the knife in it, but Aaron, knowing he selected wrong, stopped him from smashing it and smashed the other instead! Ultimately, as non-participants, both Mel and Heidi thought the performance was slow and drawn-out while both the guys who had been on stage thought it was amazing. I have to say I side with the girls on this one–way too long!
8:56 p.m. – Twenty year old Joseph O’Brien took up the piano tonight with an original song about a girl that he has a crush on back home who Mel and Tyra encouraged him to name (he did!). Again, Heidi found it to be “sweet,” like she did with Us the Duo, but it was much more apparent this time that she wasn’t fully on board with it. Simon and Howie both agreed with Heidi, expressing their concern that it might not have been strong enough for him to get the votes to go through.
9:06 p.m. – International superstar Hans was next, hoping to give America “the most spectacular thing they’ve ever seen.” In his pre-performance package he conceded that he isn’t the best singer or the best dancer, but knows “how to put on a show.” And tonight he did exactly that–he enlisted a troupe of professional dancers to back him up in an electric and unique performance of “Spice Up Your Life” by The Spice Girls. Heidi likened Hans to the child of Mel and Elton John and, honestly, that is spot on. She joined the other three judges in a standing ovation and Howie even called it his favorite act of the night.
9:16 p.m. – UDI Dance continued their unique way of storytelling by recreating a video game live on stage using black lights and synchronized choreo in the dark space of the stage. You could tell immediately after the performance ended that the judges weren’t as in love with it as they had been in previous rounds. Sure enough, Simon, Heidi and Mel all had reservations about the quality and execution tonight. Howie, though a bit hesitant, was the only one that liked it.
9:27 p.m. – Singer Christina Wells served up a gutsy rendition of “I Am Changing,” a bold choice simply for the amount of power it takes to pull it off. It was well worth the risk though–she gave everything she had inside and delivered a deeply passionate performance. And I have to say, I love that she chose that song from “Dreamgirls” rather than the more typical choice of “And I Am Telling You.” Both the studio audience and the panel were on board with her choice with Heidi acknowledging that she finally found her confidence and Simon lovingly referring to her as a true diva.
9:38 p.m. – With over 320 million views, Zurcaroh came to the stage tonight with the most viewed audition in AGT history. The acrobatic troupe used their skills tonight to tell the story of the Garden of Eden featuring incredible flips by their young female members and breathtaking group choreography. What the judges loved most about the act was their clear and concise storytelling, but Heidi also found their makeup, staging and costumes “Vegas ready.” Simon and Howie both agreed that it was one of the best live performances they’ve ever seen on the show. Yup!
9:44 p.m. – After his first two auditions, Simon was not sold on the value of Rob Lake‘s magic act, mostly due to a lack of personality in the performance. With that in mind, Rob used high energy music and dramatic looking stage movements to inject life into the act. Unfortunately that all just came off incredibly cheesy and the magic itself was pretty low stakes and unimpressive. The culmination of the act was Rob on a motorcycle in a cage being raised on stage and then disappearing and reappearing mid-audience moments later. This time Simon did find the act a bit corny, but at least said that it was an improvement for him.
9:54 p.m. – The final performance of the night was Simon’s golden buzzer act, singer Michael Ketterer, who covered “Us” by James Bay. His performance was emotionally-driven and earned an adoring standing ovation from the panel. Asked to speak first, Simon was basically speechless, overcome with the emotion of Michael’s story as an adoptive father. Mel had a better time with her words, calling him a captivating voice to the agreement of everyone else.
10:00 p.m. – As with the two previous quarterfinals, voting on these 12 acts is live until 7 am ET on Wednesday. Later that night, only seven acts will advance to the semis–five voted through by the overnight audience, one earning the Dunkin Save through live Twitter votes and the last saved by the judges. Vote, vote, vote! And then tell us in the comments who your personal faves are!