Three and a half months after the first audition episode of “America’s Got Talent” aired on NBC, we’ve finally gotten to the two-night final. On September 18 the 10 finalists will take to the stage for one last time. Each is hoping to win over America with their performances on Tuesday’s live show, which is episode 21 of season 13.
Among the 10 acts still in the competition are three that were singled out for special treatment at their auditions. They earned the coveted Golden Buzzer, which sent them straight through to the live shows. Judges Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell both buzzed singers — 13-year-old English songbird Courtney Hadwin and father of six Michael Ketterer respectively — while host Tyra Banks was bowled over by dance troupe Zurcaroh.
The other seven acts still in the running for the $1 million grand prize and a chance to headline at a Las Vegas casino are: stand-up comedians Vicki Barbolak and Samuel J. Comroe; singers Daniel Emmet and Glennis Grace; trapeze artists Duo Transcend; electric violinist Brian King Joseph; and magician Shin Lim.
Which acts did the “AGT” judges — Simon, Howie, Heidi Klum and Mel B — honor with standing ovations, and which kept them in their seats? Did any earn that dreaded red “X”? Below, check out our minute-by-minute recap and then sound off in the comments section about the reality TV show’s best and worst moments.
8:00 p.m. – Let’s get this final going! Will they save Courtney for the end and give the clear favorite this season prime positioning to win? Can Shim Lim shock everyone with even more outstanding trickery? Can Zurcaroh prove they deserve a contract in Vegas? Or will someone else come out of nowhere and steal the show? Time to find out!
8:15 p.m. – Electric violinist Brian King Joseph will kick off the finals, defying the pain of his progressing peripheral neuropathy, for a chance at $1 million. With a bright light shining behind him and dressed in white, Brian appears to be emerging from the heavens as he jams out to “Heartless” by Kanye West. Soon flames appear behind him as he turns things up a notch and lifts the judges to their feet! It was another spectacular performance from the showman who is oozing with star power.
8:20 p.m. – Howie can’t believe they opened the show with someone he considers a closer. Well, the answer is production doesn’t want him to win, Howie. At least that’s my take. Mel B calls him the best violinist performer of all time. Heidi says he “fiddled himself” into the finale and she has her fingers and toes crossed for him. Simon applauds his effort and says it was even better than last week. He hopes the show will change his life. Brian finished his night pleading for Kanye to take him on tour. Come on Kanye!
8:27 p.m. – The second act tonight is opera singer Daniel Emmett. His entire journey has been a total cluster…uh, challenge. He had to audition with two songs, was cut, came back as a wildcard and clobbered his way into the finals with two Duncan saves. But the resilient vocalist hopes to bring it home, belting out “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. Apparently it’s rule of thumb to translate any pop song to Italian to make it opera. Daniel sounds great and he always has. He’s a pure, genuine singer that won’t win but the man can SING.
8:30 p.m. – Mel B loves the way Daniel stretches out the notes and sings in Italian. Heidi calls him an “unstoppable fighter” and tells him she is one if her favorites. Simon said he needed that performance, not only for the show, but for himself. It was powerful and “way better than last week, apart from the jacket.” Howie says Daniel has fought and deserved to be here. Then he gave him a classic backhanded compliment by saying “It’s tough to follow Brian but….it’s up to America.” Translation: You have no chance, thanks for playing.
8:37 p.m. – Trailer Nasty herself, comedian Vicki Barbolak is the third act to perform. She knows a comedian has never won, but she’s determined to try. After vowing to never leave the trailer park, Vicki rides onto the stage on a golf cart. She then states, “I thought the final was going to be a swimsuit competition,” before ripping off her dress and standing in a bathing suit on stage. Good for her! I love it. She’s going for it. She did her usual schtik of self-degrading jokes about her looks, but it’s what people love about her. Vicki then moved on to a hilarious bit about a restaurant she wants to open called “Peckers.” She had the audience laughing and didn’t appear to be nervous at all. It was probably her best set of the season. All the judges were on their feet!
8:40 p.m. – Heidi loves everything about Vicki and thinks she is hilarious. Simon says Vicki is brilliant and she deserves a reality show as an alternative to “Keeping Up the Kardashians.” Mel B loves how she was edgy, but twisted it enough to be family friendly. Howie called it her best act yet.
8:50 p.m. – Up next is Dutch singer Glennis Grace, who makes it clear that being a mother is her top priority. She’s thrilled her son will be in the audience tonight and hopes to win for him. Looking ravishing in a short black and white skirt, Glennis’ voice soars as she sings “Run” by Snow Patrol. Her vocals are so effortlessly powerful, she blows me away each time she sings. This is by far her best performance of the season and I love that she’s owning a song I’ve never heard before. It was dramatic, passionate, rafter-shaking perfection. Bravo Glennis! Wow! The judges are all on their feet.
8:53 p.m. – Simon called it “absolutely sensational” and said if he was one of the producers of the upcoming Broadway musical of “The Greatest Showman” he would be calling her right away. Howie thought it was beautiful. Mel B said she has an undeniable, perfect voice but wants more “soul.” Rich words coming from Mel B. Heidi says Glennis is “flawless” and “the real deal.”
9:00 p.m. – Tyra’s golden buzzer act, the acrobatic group Zurcaroh is up next. They have an inspiring leader and the group hopes to make his dreams come true as well as theirs. It looks like a jungle on stage with tribal music playing and I’m getting vibes of “The Lion King” musical. The way they toss these little girls through the air is astounding. I can’t believe some guy just tossed these people together and turned them into something so mesmerizing. They look like they’ve been a professional Vegas act for years. Absolutely incredible! Everyone is on their feet.
9:03 p.m. – The crowd is so loud that they’ve completely drowned Howie out and I couldn’t hear a word he said. It was great. Mel B has a feeling that they could win the whole show. Heidi called it “jaw-dropping” and believes the children are the icing on the cake. They are ready for Vegas! Simon called it “sensational.”
9:13 p.m. – Next up is comedian Samuel J. Comroe. Prior to taking the stage, we heard the heartbreaking story of how Samuel lost his mother. He hopes his inspiring journey leads his daughter to follow her dreams. I love the swagger this guy has on stage, but I have to be honest, he’s never made me laugh. He seems like a fantastic person and a true inspiration but comedy is subjective. The audience seems to be laughing, but in the battle of comedians, I think Vicki had the better crowd response. The judges were all on their feet though!
9:15 p.m. – Mel B is smiling from ear to ear and loves his delivery. Heidi says Samuel won her over tonight and it was his best performance. Simon says the audience loves him and Simon respects him for giving himself a shot. Howie loves Samuel and thinks he brought his “A” game.
9:23 p.m. – Howie’s golden buzzer Courtney Hadwin is up next. Let’s face it, this girl has become an absolute phenomenon. Her idols are James Brown, Otis Redding and Janis Joplin, but she hopes to make a name for herself. Tonight she’s singing “River Deep, Mountain High” by Tina Turner. She started off slowly, which was nice to hear since we don’t always get to hear that side of her voice. She quickly kicked into high gear though, belting it out and dancing around. Was she pitch perfect? No. Does anyone care? Not at all! It’s all about the passion from this girl and she gave another powerhouse performance.
9:25 p.m. – Howie says we are watching a superstar in the making and Courtney is on fire. Mel B says Courtney killed it this week and performs like a “free bird.” Heidi reminds everyone that teenagers have been winning “AGT” lately and Courtney could be next. Simon says every time Courtney performs, people remember. She’s going to teach a new generation what rock ‘n roll is all about.
9:35 p.m. – We found out tonight that Shin Lim‘s first passion was actually classical piano. After a bout with carpal tunnel syndrome, Shin gave up piano to focus on magic. He believes he made the right choice and is determined to show America he deserves to win. Shin then began his act playing the piano in front of a haunting a backdrop. He then spoke about his carpel tunnel in his act before launching into his mesmerizing tricks. He ignited his sheet music to reveal a deck of cards and then walked over to his favorite assistant, Tyra. I’m baffled by what this guy can do at such close range. And I love how he dramatically runs his fingers through his hair and gazes into the camera. He’s a superstar in the making and I predict he’ll be headlining in Vegas whether he wins this season or not. Where are all these 9 of Hearts coming from? How does he do this stuff? Howie was on his feet before the act ended and soon the other judges followed. This guy could win!
9:38 p.m. – Simon called it an amazing act and said he’d never seen it before in his life. Simon thinks Shin could win the competition. Howie agreed with Simon and says it is a $1 million act and worth his own show in Las Vegas. Mel B says Shin proves magic exists. Heidi says nothing will make her happier than if he gets that $1 million tomorrow.
9:50 p.m. – Up next is the very dangerous, very sexy Duo Transcend. They haven’t been perfect from round to round, but improve with each performance. They’re ready to take their biggest risk yet and take a leap of faith tonight. They kick things off on the trapeze, surrounded by fog and intense drummers. Of course, he tosses on a blindfold again, just like he did when he dropped her once before! I can feel the intensity, but I think their last routine was better. Added props for the ending, where she held HIM on the trapeze and dropped him to the mat (on purpose).
9:52 p.m. – Heidi loves how sexy they are and was thrilled how she “dropped his booty” this week. Simon has so much respect for what the do on live TV and says they made the show special. Howie loved the production and believes every act seems like a winning act tonight. Mel B says they make things look easy and seamless. It was by far their best performance.
9:58 p.m. – The final act of the night is singer, Michael Ketterer. In his intro package, family members of former patients left him messages of how inspiring he is. Every time this guy appears the tears can’t help but well up! Tonight he’s giving his rock’n roll twist on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Who would have predicted Michael would be belting out a haunting version of a Diana Ross classic? Michael is full of charisma, but vocally he has a tendency to drift. That said, could he be any more likable? The judges are on their feet and Simon is pumping up the crowd.
9:59 p.m. – Heidi could hear his nerves tonight, but he’s a man with a lot of heart and it could be the winning combination. Mel B said it was a “brave” performance and isn’t sure if it worked. Simon called it the best final he’s ever been on and the talent has been amazing, but Simon hopes Michael’s family gets the $1 million.
10:00 p.m. – Wow! What a spectacular finale! The talent was great from start to finish. I’m going to go out on a “Lim” and say Shin might take the title this year! But Courtney was great and has been the front-runner all season. And how great was Zurcaroh? Could Michael tug on the heartstrings any harder? And all of that almost made me forget how spectacular Brian and Glennis were earlier in the show! Everyone was great. Who are you rooting for?