“America’s Got Talent” kicked off season 14 on May 28 with a two-hour premiere. While Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel are back as judges this season, they are joined by two new women on the panel as Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union replace Heidi Klum and Mel B. And there is a new host as Terry Crews , who presided over the winter hit “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” takes over from Tyra Banks.
In the audition phase of “AGT,” an act needs at least three of the four judges to give them a “yes” vote to advance to the next round. If two or more judges buzz the act, they are immediately eliminated. Each judge and Crews has one chance to hit the “golden buzzer” and send an act straight through to the live performances.
The format will be the same this year as last, with “America’s Got Talent” 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, follow along as we recap all the action on “America’s Got Talent” Season 14 Episode 1 in our updating live blog.
8:02 p.m. – It’s an all new season and with three new personalities on the panel and stage we’re in for something different this time around. Gabrielle and Julianne are at the judges’ table for the first time ever and Terry is on stage for his second season at the series. Meanwhile, Howie is back for his 10th year! Let’s get it started!
8:04 p.m. – The first act of the season was 60 year old voice specialist and comic Greg Morton. His performance was a medley of “Star Wars” voices/noises–everything from Darth Vader to the sound of spaceships zooming by and of course Chewbaca. When he got a standing ovation from the panel he became slightly emotional. Gabrielle gushed over him and Howie wondered why he hadn’t heard his name before because he should already be in Vegas with his own act. After Simon weighed in, all four judges gave Greg a YES, sending him on to the next round unanimously.
8:12 p.m. – Next up was magician Eric Chien from Texas who had to give up magic when he was recalled to Taiwan to serve in the military. He came to AGT shortly after beginning to practice magic again (only 6 months!) with the hopes that he could bring it back into his life full time. In his act he set a red deck of cards on a table and then divided the table with tape that throughout the course of the trick proved to change the cards from red to blue when on a certain side. He also managed to make cards seemingly disappear, slice in half and his own vest turn from black to half red and half blue according to the tape. At the end of the act he turned the cards into coins and then back into cards before the tape disappeared and his vest switched back to black. Though at the start of his act he was hesitant to tell Simon that he’s better than current champion Shin Lim, Eric ended up impressing the entire panel and earned a YES from each of them to move on to the next round. In fact, Simon actually liked that Eric is humble and called him one of the best magicians they’ve ever had on the show.
8:25 p.m. – Singer-songwriter Sophie Pecora was up next to perform an original song called “7th Grade” written by her about school bullying. The 15 year old took the stage with her acoustic guitar and wowed the judges with her rap-sung performance. The verses of her song were presented in rap format, something Howie found to be unique and relatable at the same time. In fact, Gabrielle even said that the song spoke to her as a 47 year old and Julianne also thought it resonated really well. Once again it was a unanimous decision to send Sophie through to the next round.
8:36 p.m. – After sending the first three acts through, the judges were presented with professional dancer Monkey who arrived in ballet slippers, a yellow tutu and monkey ears. Simon, Howie and Gabrielle all Xd him immediately, but Julianne was too nice to hit her X so Simon hit it for her instead. That didn’t stop sweetheart Julianne from sending him off with words of encouragement though! He was followed by a series of acts that also received four Xs, and in all instances Julianne was the last to buzz them off the stage. Later she got used to the X and found the courage to not only hit her own, but also Simon’s when singing group Purgatory failed to impress!
8:47 p.m. – Classical pianist Patrizio Ratto came to AGT from Italy for his chance at the million dollars. Prior to his performance Simon was not thrilled at the prospect of a pianist and neither were the audience members who started yawning once he began playing. But that all changed when he stepped away from the piano to dance to a remix of the piano music. By the end not only was the entire audience on their feet, but so were the judges. In the end they all gave him the YES he needed to move on to the next round and Simon capped it off by saying he’ll always remember his act.
8:58 p.m. – The next act to take the stage was much-buzzed about V.Unbeatable from Mumbai, India, a dance group of 28 dancers of all different ages. In their performance they employed traditional Indian dance moves and mixed them with thrilling acrobatics, tumbling and towering tricks that made the judges yelp with surprise. After gushing from all the judges, Gabrielle called for what she declared an “easy vote” all at once. It was YES!
9:10 p.m. – Stand up comic Jackie Fabulous was already making the judges laugh before she settled in to her actual set. She began with a joke about her Jamaican mother and transitioned into a variety of topics including social media and her own divorce. Gabrielle loved her, saying that she excelled at making the audience think and laugh, exactly what comedians are supposed to do. It was an easy YES from all of the judges and so we’ll be seeing Jackie again in the next round.
9:21 p.m. – Australian bearded drag queen Gingzilla was up next, planning to make it big enough to get a doll in Japan and invited to party on a yacht–but also to win AGT. For her act she sang the Tom Jones hit “She’s a Lady.” While her deep vocal was solid, it was more about the entertainment value which mixed the singing with comedy and overall charisma. Howie made the bold statement of telling her she could go really far in the competition and Julianne thinks Vegas is meant for her. Simon and Gabrielle joined the chorus and combined for a unanimous YES vote from the panel.
9:33 p.m. – The first danger act of the season was The Human Fuse, a thrill-seeking daredevil who showed up to his audition already injured and whose wife performs (begrudgingly) as his assistant. For the audition he built a large crossbow to shoot himself across the studio lot 110 feet… while… on… fire…
9:42 p.m. – He managed to hit his targeted landing pad with a somersault in the air and still on fire, but completely safe and uninjured! Back inside the judges gave him credit for managing to wow the audience and for defying age standards in his work. Simon’s only challenge to him, as he always does with danger acts, was about what his next act would be that could top what he did tonight. Despite that hesitation he got a YES from each judge and will have to prove to Simon that he can top it in the next round.
9:52 p.m. – The final act of the premiere was singer and pianist Kodi Lee. On stage with his mother who told the story of how although he’s blind and autistic, Kodi reacted to and learned music very early on in his life to positive results, ultimately saving his life. For his audition, he played the piano and sang Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You,” bringing tears to Julianne, Gabrielle and Howie’s eyes and earning a raving ovation from everyone in the room. Simon called the performance “extraordinary,” but it was Gabrielle who, as a new mom herself, paid it forward to Kodi’s mom by honoring her work as a mother as well as Kodi’s talent with her Golden Buzzer! That means Kodi will go straight to the live shows!
10:00 p.m. – So what did you think of the new judges? Do we miss Heidi and Mel or are Gabrielle and Julianne welcomed additions to the team? More importantly, what did you think of tonight’s acts? Leave your enthusiastic comments below!