‘America’s Got Talent’ episode 19 recap: First semi-final includes performances from Golden Buzzer acts Brandon Leake and Roberta Battaglia [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

“America’s Got Talent” moved on to the semi-final phase of its unconventional season 15 on Tuesday with the another live show featuring performances in a variety of formats–on stage, outdoors on the Universal Studios lot and some from elsewhere via satellite recording. In this semi-finals round, which consists of two episodes, 11 acts per night will perform for the judges, including wild card selections brought back after elimination in a previous round. After each round of performances, three acts will advance to the finals based on the overnight audience vote, then the 4th, 5th and 6th vote-getters will compete live for the Dunkin’ Save which one will earn and another will be saved by the judges.

On the September 8 live show, Simon Cowell was still absent while recovering from surgery, leaving Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara on their own as the panel of judges. The line-up for this final night of semi-finals was led by two Golden Buzzer acts: spoken word artist Brandon Leake (Howie’s pick) and singer Roberta Battaglia (Sofia’s pick). Also in the group of 11 was Thomas Day, the singer who dropped out of the quarter-finals for personal reasons, and dance group Dance Town Family, who each come back to the semis as the two wild card picks. The group was rounded out by singers Archie Williams, Shaquira McGrath, and Broken Roots, drummer Malik Dope, twin sister entertainers Double Dragon, aerialist Alan Silva, and diabolo duo Spyros Bros.

SEE ‘America’s Got Talent’ judges rankings: All 13 judges ranked from worst to best

Below, follow along with our live blog as we recap all the action on “America’s Got Talent” Season 15 Episode 19 in our minute-by-minute blog.

SEE Where are the first 14 ‘America’s Got Talent’ winners now: Find out what happened to your favorites

8:03 p.m. – Kicking off the round was Double Dragon with a goal of giving the crowd a “fiesta” or party vibe. Once again they performed from the studio lot, using the film sets to great effect with a the perfect song choice, a remix of Lizzo‘s “Juice” and J Balvin‘s “Mi Gente.”

8:12 p.m. – Sofia was impressed by their energy despite how hard they worked with their dancing and live singing, and especially appreciated their dedication to singing in the Spanish language. Heidi noticed their diva-like confidence and ability to own whatever stage their performing from. Though Howie agreed with the other two, he said the “truth is” that they aren’t the best singers or dancers, but their personalities are their talent.

8:15 p.m. – Next was the first wild card of the night, Dance Town Family. Tonight they performed once again from the seaside rooftop with the checkerboard floor, but livened up the visual with pink costumes. Heidi, an outspoken fan of the group, spoke of their commitment to rehearsing such an elaborate routine. Sofia said that the choice to bring them back was a correct one and Howie felt like this performance was a step up for them which is all they could ask.

8:25 p.m. – Though they were a replacement act in the previous round, Broken Roots earned their spot in the semi-finals based on America’s vote. Tonight they followed up that pivotal performance with a cover of Blake Shelton‘s country rock jam “God’s Country.”

8:34 p.m. – Howie told the guys that he thinks they’re “doing it right” by checking the boxes for a group of their caliber. He also said that he’d bet that they’ll make the finals to which Heidi agreed and Sofia said she hopes so.

8:36 p.m. – Up next was one of the unlikeliest of semi-finalists, the Spyros Bros, who advanced after nearly ruining their chances with the judges with the danger of their previous performance. Tonight the judges were back on the lot to watch their act, but smartly farther away this time. In one trick one of the brothers blindfolded himself, but it resulted in a failed trick. There was another missed trick at the end that couldn’t be saved by sparklers on the diabolos.

8:45 p.m. – Sofia appreciated that they were trying to push themselves, but that perhaps they took too many risks this week and that’s why they struggled. Heidi thought the errors didn’t detract from how impressive their talent is and Howie thinks that they have a lot of love from the audience already.

8:48 p.m. – Prior to his performance, Thomas Day explained that he dropped out of the previous round because after his mom tested positive for COVID-19 he also tested positive. Luckily he was cleared of the virus through quarantine just in time to perform the Billie Eilish song “when the party’s over” tonight. Both Howie and Sofia gave him a standing ovation for the performance, but Heidi was reserved in her response noting that he’s up against a great group of other singers tonight. Howie said that he “paved a path” to the finals with that performance and Sofia thought the song choice was perfect for his voice.

8:58 p.m. – For Alan Silva’s next performance he returned to the outdoor set where his high flying act has proper air to breathe. Tonight he ditched the ribbons he’s used in every other act and instead flew through the air with much less pliable chains. For the final trick of the act, he lit the top of the chains on fire and then spun a the highest level of the apparatus by just his neck.

9:07 p.m. – Sofia and Heidi both loved the performance and thought the chains were immensely more dangerous and it made the act better, but Howie thought that it was just more of the same without stepping it up.

9:10 p.m. – Shaquira McGrath surprised by taking on the Fleetwood Mac classic rock song “The Chain.” Adding her own spin to the song allowed for her to create something new and exciting with a lot of passion and energy. Heidi thought she sang the roof off the place and Howie believed that she “owned it” while putting all of her nerves aside.

9:20 p.m. – The first of two Golden Buzzer acts to perform tonight was Brandon Leake. For tonight’s poem he centered the subject of growing up with an absent father. It was an incredibly personal performance that grew with a mix of emotions (hope, anger, forgiveness) as his representations of himself grew in age. This time all three judges stood for an ovation, clearly moved by his performance. Howie was speechless mostly, but pointed out that Brandon is a teacher that teaches everyone with his performances. Heidi called herself his biggest fan and Sofia said that she loves the subject matter he chooses to express and thanked him for sharing his talent.

9:33 p.m. – Malik Dope changed up his game this week by taking his performance outdoors to the studio lot and expanding his performance area to even more sets and types of drums.

9:41 p.m. – Howie was ecstatic in his praise of Malik, saying that he sees him as a Vegas show and Sofia thought this performance was more amazing than his previous one. Heidi agreed that he thinks as a showman and makes sure that he does more than just play the drums in order to make his act “extra special and extra entertaining.”

9:44 p.m. – Before tonight’s performance, Archie Williams revealed that during his first performance he had his phone on in his pocket so that his daughter, who he didn’t know existed until he was released from prison, could hear him sing. He dedicated tonight’s rendition of “Flying Without Wings” by Westlife to his daughter and was audibly choked up singing it in her honor. All three judges were on their feet for the performance as Archie’s daughter watched from the live cam among the audience. Heidi said that she goes into another place when he sings and that she hopes she gets to see him sing in the finale. Sofia called it a treat every time he comes to the stage and that what’s incredible is the connection he makes with the audience. Howie called his “imperfection perfection” and said this was a great night for him.

9:54 p.m. – The final performance of the night was Sofia’s Golden Buzzer act Roberta Battaglia. Tonight she delivered a strong cover of Pink‘s anthem “What About Us.” It resulted in another standing ovation from the judges with nothing but exclamations from all three judges. Sofia called it “spectacular,” Heidi said she has great poise and Howie told her that he’s proud of what she’s accomplished on the show for her age under the pressure.

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