“America’s Got Talent” kicked off season 15 on May 26 with a two-hour premiere. Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel are back as judges this season. They are joined by Heidi Klum, who returns to the panel after a one-year break, and newcomer Sofia Vergara. Terry Crews once again brings his trademark enthusiasm to his hosting duties.
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 15 Episode 1 in our updating live blog.
8:01 p.m. – Welcome back for another season of the most talented show on television! In case you were wondering, producers let us know via a title card that these episodes were taped live “17 days before the stay at home order” was issued. I’m curious to see how they’ll make the live shows work later on, but let’s not worry about that yet — we have some singing, dancing, comedy, magic and daredeviling to watch!
8:05 p.m. – The first audition was from Pork Chop Revue, a performing pigs & hogs act featuring 4 year old Mack, a big hog, and Louie, a much smaller but more mischievous pig, as well as two others and their two human trainers/family members. In the act the pigs unrolled red carpets for themselves, followed directives to travel over and under hurdles and even push a piglet along in a baby stroller. Both Sofia and Howie were taken by the act for showing that pigs can do what dogs on the show can do and they both wanted to see more. But no one was more enthusiastic in their approval of the act than Heidi who even went on stage to give the biggest pig a kiss right on the lips! After that it was an obvious unanimous YES to send them through to the next round.
8:14 p.m. – Next to show off their talent was our first international act of the season, Bad Salsa from India. It was a little unclear at first whether their dancing would in fact be intentionally “bad,” but once we understood it to be an acronym all fears were alleviated. They were in fact actually very good. By incorporating the fast footwork and the difficult flips typical of traditional Indian dance techniques they managed to make salsa, a Latin dance, feel fresh as well as “dangerous” as Howie put it. All four judges were in love with them, gifting them another unanimous vote of YES for another performance in the next round.
8:25 p.m. – Post-commerical break we were treated to a dancing whoopee cushion that the judges also unanimously agreed on. Thankfully that decision was a resounding NO with the four buzzers overshadowing the talentless fart sounds. The next act, Broken Roots, washed out that sound by taking the stage next for a duet of guitar playing and singing for their first time in front of an audience together! Amazingly they did very well and earned a YES from each judge, both for their talent and in honor of their touching stories as law enforcement officers and new friends.
8:38 p.m. – The next performer grew up knowing that he loved the sound of banging on things and was able to envision a career in it after being a part of a drumline in high school. After years of trying to make a career of drumming through street performances and a terrible accident, Malik DOPE Drummer arrived at the AGT stage. The audience was nothing but hype following Malik’s electric performance that was expert level drumming to hip hop music, but also included dancing to make the act much more engaging. Simon put it best in his critique, telling Malik that the show has not only had an act like his before, but certainly one not as good. With that kind of praise it was a clear YES to the next round!
8:49 p.m. – Ryan Tricks, the first magic act of the season, was up next and included the “bromance” of Simon and Howie in his performance. Ryan actually wanted to test out their connection in his act by challenging how linked they are mentally. Through the act he showed us how they could individually select the same card from a deck, tap into each other’s energy to clock independent movement and even have Howie correctly identify an object placed into Simon’s palm without any clues as to what it is. Once again the judges all agreed and we got our fifth act sent through to the next round.
8:58 p.m. – When prompted by Simon it was hard for Archie Williams to tell his personal story since he was recently released from a 37 year stay in prison after DNA evidence cleared him of the crime he was wrongfully convicted of. He told us that he got through those decades by “not letting his mind go to prison” and through prayer and singing. He also watched the show from prison and envisioned himself performing on the stage. Tonight he a solemn version of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” that had many in the audience crying. While not the most proficient vocal we’ve ever heard on the show it was by far one of the most emotionally powerful and resonant ones. I’m pretty sure I even caught a glimpse of Big Brother winner Kaycee Clark in the audience, cheering on Howie as he told Archie that the love the audience is giving him from that performance is a small gift back to him for the life that was stolen from him by being sent to prison. If anyone was deserving of breaking the stream of four unanimous YES votes then it was Archie earning the 3,500 unanimous YES votes from the entire audience (and the judges’ four).
9:12 p.m. – Dan Nowman‘s original song “Funky Space” was an attempt to “bring people together,” but it only pushed him apart from the judges who one by one buzzed him off stage with their X. After his failure we were treated to a roller skating performance from fivesome Old School Skaters that proved even less popular with the panel! Performance artist Michael Goldenberg fared no better with his melodramatic and horrific sock puppet show.
9:23 p.m. – After three flops and a break from Simon, Peruvian twins Double Dragon were nervous to show the judges their singing and dancing routine. Though they could use a little polishing on the choreography and harmonizing, they were surprisingly good (even Simon thought so!). Everyone in the room truly loved their powerful voices and Simon even loved that they were genuinely surprised by the overwhelming response to their performance. So it’s a full blown YES to the next round!
9:31 p.m. – Impressionist Vincent Marcus built his brand on the social app Vine before coming to AGT so this audition was his first time performing in front of a large and live audience. In his repertoire of voices and impressions were rappers Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Pitbull, Jay-Z and Wonder Mike. His performance brought huge smiles to everyone, prompting Heidi to ask him if actual feedback is better than just “likes.” Ha! That’s deep shade to every “influencer” out there. The best praise in his sea of YES votes was from Simon who told him he has true star quality.
9:40 p.m. – Next up was Spanish dancer Muy Moi Show. I mean, I guess “dancer” is the right term since that’s what he called himself… but dancing that included limb-bending, fire-swallowing, sword-nosepicking and… face-into-cleaver-smashing? Basically just a bunch of stuff you want to close your eyes during! Once again, and despite the groans, it was a four-judge YES to the next round!
9:51 p.m. – By the time we were ready to see the final act of the night, the judges still hadn’t doled out the gift of the golden buzzer, but it was clear based on the staging that we’d be seeing a choir. That choir was a fully philanthropic one called Voices of Our City Choir, working to benefit, support and feature the homeless. Through their own song-writing workshop the group was able to sing an original song “Sounds of the Sidewalk” that told their story about striving for dignity. After supportive commentary from the judges about their mission statement as a group and their moving performance, Terry stormed the dais to stop all the talking and give the choir his golden buzzer! This makes it back to back seasons that Terry has given a choir his personal stamp of approval. And I approve of that!