“America’s Got Talent” entered the final phase of its unconventional season 15 on Tuesday with the first live show of the summer. In this quarter-finals round, which will consist of four episodes, 11 acts per night will perform for the judges. On the August 11 live show, judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara was Kelly Clarkson who stepped in for Simon Cowell, who is recovering from surgery for a broken back.
The night’s line-up was led off by Sofia’s Golden Buzzer, Roberta Battaglia the child singer with the grown-up voice. Two other singers — Archie Williams and Shaquira McGrath — contend as do daredevil duo Bello & Annaliese Nock, salsa dancers Simon and Maria, animal tricks act Pork Chop Revue, ukulelist Feng E, sword swallower Brett Loudermilk, entertainers Double Dragon, contortionist FrenchieBabyy, and stand-up comedian Michael Yo.
Below, follow along as we recap all the action on “America’s Got Talent” Season 15 Episode 11 in our minute-by-minute blog.
8:02 p.m. – As you can see, we made it back to the AGT stage for the live shows and creatively the show found a way to bring the audience into the fold as well, with fans watching from home on screens all over the auditorium. In addition, Terry Crews made it clear that some of the acts would be performing remotely from places around the world, some from the studio lot outside and some live on stage. The judges, including guest Kelly Clarkson, are all posted at their dais from a safe distance apart.
8:04 p.m. – Of the 11 acts that will perform tonight, only five will advance which we’ll find out tomorrow on the results show.
8:05 p.m. – First up tonight was Pork Chop Revue. They managed to recreate a barnyard feel for their set and we watched the pigs swerve through barrels and traverse seesaws. Unfortunately one of the pigs needed a second attempt at jumping over the hurdles, but overall they were well-trained and ready to complete the tricks asked of them.
8:13 p.m. – Howie called them a “lethargic dog act” for being slow and questioned Terry’s comment that they were “stunning.” Sofia and Kelly were more complimentary of the performance, especially Kelly who hadn’t seen them before and so she got to enjoy it without comparison.
8:15 p.m. – Performing via satellite from Vietnam was Feng E, the young ukulelist. The stage that he got to create and perform from was incredible, lit up in bright lights and offset by the traditional Vietnamese architecture surrounding him. I think it played really well in his favor because it showed how a true concert of his might go.
8:20 p.m. – Howie loved the performance, calling Feng E “the Hendrix of the ukulele” and saying the sound and look were both great. Heidi loves his vibe and said she wishes she could be half as cool as him. But the best critique was from Sofia, who said she hates the ukulele and somehow he makes it sound incredible. Kelly, a great performer herself, gave the high praise of saying that he could hold a crowd’s attention for an entire concert.
8:27 p.m. – Next up was singer Shaquira McGrath with her version of “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts. Unlike the previous two performers, Shaquira got to sing from the stage live in front of the judges. Understandably her set was pretty bare bones, but she didn’t need the flare because her voice was the entire presentation.
8:30 p.m. – Heidi and Sofia were both on their feet cheering for Shaquira as she finished the song and called it “breathtaking” in their enthusiastic responses. Kelly liked her voice and said what works for her is that it straddles the line between country and R&B, but Howie still thinks that her first performance was her best of the three she’s given.
8:37 p.m. – Young contestants Simon and Maria got a tour of the Universal Studios lot and park ahead of their performance. They then performed their newest salsa routine from inside one of the diners on the lot, which was a creative way to show off their talent. Having the larger area to perform and to work with the camera tricks along the way is a huge bonus for dancers like them and they totally played into it like professionals.
8:45 p.m. – Kelly and Howie both thought that they used the lot to their advantage and that they keep getting better with every routine. Heidi echoed Kelly in noticing that while they are great with their feet, they also know how to perform with their faces and that it’s a huge bonus to their talent.
8:46 p.m. – Next up was FrenchieBabyy with his latest contortionist routine. While he didn’t get to perform from the studio lot, production really did give him an awesome backdrop of neon lights and a deconstructed amusement park vibe to highlight his talent. For contortion, with the music and imagery together the energy was elevated from what we usually see and I loved that a lot.
8:50 p.m. – Heidi admitted that it’s a talent that is always hard to watch, but that he makes it really compelling so that she can’t look away. Both Sofia and Kelly commented about how much the stage added to the performance and then Howie predicted that he’s going to be one of the five to advance.
8:56 p.m. – For the next performance the judges came out to the lot themselves in order to see Bello & Annaliese Nock and their “Wheel of Death.” In the act only Annaliese was able to perform because Bello was sick. She performed tricks from within one of the two wheels on opposite sides of the larger wheel, and at times on the outside of it while at the top of its height. The biggest trick was when she walked on top of her wheel (on fire) while blindfolded, even after tripping while trying to jump rope without a blindfold!
9:07 p.m. – Although Kelly wasn’t on set to see the taping of their performance, she thought it was both awesome and terrifying. Heidi applauded them for always being spectacular and Sofia questioned how a father can stand to watch his child put her life in so much danger.
9:10 p.m. – Next up was the only Golden Buzzer act of the evening, Roberta Battaglia. Tonight she sang “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. Although she looked nervous in the camera close-ups, her voice was immaculate and full of power. Sofia was ecstatic about her performance and Kelly was obviously blown away, saying that even if she was 27 her voice and tone would be amazing. Howie said that he thinks she has a chance at winning the whole season.
9:15 p.m. – In Michael Yo‘s pre-performance package he opened up about his battle with COVID after his first audition. Thankfully he was able to fight it off in the hospital and return to his family healthy and alive.
9:21 p.m. – For his set tonight, Michael focused on the birth of his new son and the difference between how women (the strong ones) and men (the useless ones) handle it. It’s always hard to gauge whether a set is working or not when there’s no audience to react, but Kelly was supportive of Michael and thought he did a great job. Howie acknowledged that comedy is always hard on the show and that with the virtual audience it’s even harder. Sofia told him that this was a better set than his previous one, which Michael loved to hear.
9:30 p.m. – The sisters of Double Dragon performed from the Western town set on the lot, showing off their powerful vocals with a rendition of “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande, including some remixed Spanish lyrics and then a bit of “Taki Taki” as well. They made the most of their set and costumes, but overall it came across as just a very simple music video rather than something as humorously entertaining as what they were able to achieve in their first audition.
9:39 p.m. – Howie qualified that he’s judging them on their personalities rather than their singing voices and that he could see them successful as a sitcom. Sofia backed Howie up by saying that they need a reality show because they’re so full of life and entertaining.
9:41 p.m. – Next up was Sofia’s worst nightmare, sword swallower Brett Loudermilk. Thankfully tonight he was able to convince Heidi to be his on-stage assistant. First they went through with a card “stunt,” but that wasn’t enough so Brett asked Sofia to come on stage again as a chance of “redemption,” allowing her to shoot a crossbow at his face. Once again the process of getting to his trick was very awkward, but in the end he was able to pull Heidi’s signed card out of his throat using the busted crossbow that Sofia tried to shoot at him.
9:48 p.m. – Howie said he looked like he was in more control this time and that he did a good job raising the stakes this time. Kelly was rightfully completely confused and also in awe of how he achieved the trick of getting the card down his throat. All Sofia wanted to know is what is his show going to be without her. Good question actually.
9:54 p.m. – The final act of the night was singer Archie Williams. Tonight he chose the emotional Stevie Wonder ballad “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” sending instant tears across the room to Heidi and the other judges. His reserved nature and controlled voice works so well for his song selections and tonight was no different. Heidi thanked Archie for his song and for being on the show at this time in the world. Kelly made the point that his voice stands on its own as a storyteller and that his personal journey shouldn’t overshadow that. Howie said that he’s more deserving than anyone to go through as one of the five. We’ll find out tomorrow night!