‘America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ recap of January 27 episode [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Episode four of season two of “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” featured the last 10 acts drawn from around the world. Among those that took the stage on the fourth episode that aired on January 27 were 2017 “Africa’s Got Talent” winner, the contortionist Strauss Serpent, and 2018 “Romania’s Got Talent” winner, the dancer Emil Rengle.

Representing last season’s “AGT” was vocal group Voices of Service. Also representing from that home-grwon version of the global franchise were season 2 acrobat Christian Stoinev and his dog Percy, 2017 finalist violinist Brian King Joseph, 2011 finalists dance group Silhouettes and semi-finalist acrobats Sandou Trio Russian Bar.

Representing “Britain’s Got Talent” were 2007 finalist singer Connie Talbot and 2014 finalists rappers Bars and Melody. And rounding out the roster was 2019 “Australia’s Got Talent” semi-finalist comedian JJ Pantano.

SEE ‘America’s Got Talent’ winners: Where are they now updates for first 13 ‘AGT’ champions [PHOTOS]

While Terry Crews has returned to host, there has been a shake-up of the judges. Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel are still on the panel but the other two judges from last season’s “AGT” — Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union — are gone. In their place are long-time “America’s Got Talent” judge Heidi Klum and Simon’s pal from “Britain’s Got Talent” Alesha Dixon.

As with the regular edition of “AGT”, in “The Champions” each judge gets a Golden Buzzer that will send one act straight through to the final. Three other acts will get put through each week. Two will be chosen by a group of super-fans that NBC gathered from all 50 states and one will be a judges save.

Read our minute-by-minute recap below to find out which four acts from Monday’s episode moved on in the competition.

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8:03 p.m. – For tonight’s fourth preliminary round Alesha was in charge of the Golden Buzzer giving her the sole responsibility of choosing one of the acts to advance straight to the finale.

8:04 p.m. – The first act to attempt to win over Alesha was Christian Stoinev and his new dog Percy.  Christian was on season 2 of “AGT” with his dog Scooby who has since retired at the age of 16. Despite losing then Christian was able to build his own show currently running at The Cosmopolitan in Vegas where Percy performs alongside him. What’s cool about their act is that Christian has his own talent of balancing and strength moves, but incorporating Percy into his handstands and balancing acts makes it doubly entertaining. I loved seeing Percy join in on Christian’s tricks and matching them! Heidi agreed, calling the act “perfect,” and it was clear that Howie and Heidi both recalled him positively and believe he’s improved since his last appearance.

8:13 p.m. – The vocal group Voices of Service that broke out in last season’s “AGT” and made the top 5 returned to continue their message of hope to veterans who struggle with the lasting effects of their service in the military. Now, I remember how great the group was last season, but they were absolutely stunning tonight. They gave each of the four members a moment to shine on their own, but the meat of their vocals is always in their harmonies and tonight they were gooorrrrrrgeous. The judges were clearly floored by their performance and they loved the song and its message. Simon said he was emotional and called it a “massive step up” from last season.

8:24 p.m. – Next up was “Australia’s Got Talent’s” 7-year old comedian JJ Pantano who arrived in America for the first time two days prior. His audition was perfectly executed, beginning with music and a set that made everyone believe he was up their to sing, but then his actual act rolled in and it became quite clear that he’s a professional roaster. He lit up each of the judges and Terry (!!!) with brutal jokes. To the judges it was clear that he has a “star glow” about him and that he’s an expert performer that is instantly lovable. By the cheers of the audience it’s clear that he won over everyone in the room.

8:34 p.m.Emil Rengle‘s message is self-acceptance, something he struggled with before he found himself in America and returned to and competed on “Romania’s Got Talent” to change perceptions there. His high-heel dancing was controversial there, but it didn’t stop him from winning! He strutted on to the stage tonight in a full red latex bodysuit and then performed with two back-up dancers to Billie Eilish‘s “Bad Guy.” It was a crisp and exciting routine, but both Simon and Howie hit their red X buttons, defending their moves by calling it not good enough for “Champions.” Alesha countered that by saying that maybe it’s just that men don’t understand how tough it is to dance in heels.

8:43 p.m. – Howie was particularly excited to see The Silhouettes return, recalling that they were the first “shadow dancing” groups to appear on the show, something we see a lot of now. Their second place finish increased their exposure enough to travel the world with their act, but they’re still hungry to get that AGT championship except with only one  returning member from the previous outing. Let me tell you, there wasn’t a single dry eye in the audience after that very touching story of a girl and her pet dog. Their ability to create the silhouette of a dog using three dancers was pretty incredible! Alesha was particularly moved by it and determined that she just had to see them again so she hit her Golden Buzzer!

8:56 p.m. – Violinist Brian King Joseph last appeared on “AGT” in 2017 where Simon told him he had “star power.” Tonight he decided to perform an original song in order to show the judges something new and make it clear why he even came back. We know Howie isn’t always the biggest fan of originals, but with this performance he was sold. The judges see his act as high energy and a complete package, but Simon was a little reserved because he thinks there’s still something Joseph could show that would change the game and take him to the next level.

9:05 p.m.Connie Talbot was on “Britain’s Got Talent” over 10 years ago as a 6 year old singer on the first British series who later became the youngest artist to ever achieve a gold record in the U.K. Now, with school finished and 19 years old, she was determined to show a new side of herself the world hasn’t seen. Tonight she played the piano and presented an original ballad that earned a standing ovation from the panel and the crowd. Heidi thought the song was beautiful and would make a really great first dance song at a wedding. Simon, who says he’s always rooted for her chances at making it in America, thinks she chose a brilliant song and nailed her performance.

9:14 p.m. – Acrobatic act Sandou Trio Russian Bar had a rough time following their season 6 performance because the risk they took in their semifinal performance didn’t pay off and caused them a fair amount of personal embarrassment. After the initial impact they developed a strong career for themselves, including this return at their chance of redemption. They called their act tonight one of the most dangerous ones they’ve ever done which meant that she’d blindfold herself for one of their Russian bar flips.

9:24 p.m. – The danger of that act was palpable when we saw her almost lose her balance on the landing only to make the best recovery and stick her landing. Howie found the performance thrilling and Heidi noted the “powerful mom” aspect of their act and how she loves seeing women on the stage doing their thing.

9:28 p.m.Bars and Melody followed in order to prove that earning Simon’s first ever Golden Buzzer on “Britain’s Got Talent” wouldn’t remain their biggest moment on the series. They began their rap-sung performance tonight on a small stage at the judges’ table before transitioning to the main stage in an act that seemed to win over the audience, but not Howie who hit his red X button. Howie said it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before and was really only good enough for YouTube. Alesha and Heidi thought the guys came off quite nervous and Simon agreed.

9:40 p.m. – The last act of the night was “Africa’s Got Talent” 2017 champion Strauss Serpent who Heidi immediately recognized as someone she’s seen on YouTube and is “extremely talented.” His journey to America for the series was to represent the youth of Africa and to continue to provide for his family. Aptly named because of his snake-like contortions, Strauss was one of the most cringe-worthy acts I’ve ever seen on the show, but… in the best way! Seriously, palms sweating from that performance. The judges were also on board, calling him amazing despite it being “painful to watch” according to Alesha.

9:52 p.m. – Because The Silhouettes were already advancing, 9 acts remained on stage to hear the results of the superfan vote. The two acts to move on to the semifinals based on that vote were: Strauss Serpent and Sandou Trio Russian Bar! Shockingly, among those eliminated were Voices of Service and Connie Talbot. How?!

9:56 p.m. – The three acts left to earn the judges’ save were the 3rd, 4th and 5th place finishers in the fan vote: Brian King Joseph, JJ Pantano and Christian & Percy. Howie’s vote went for “cuteness and comedy” to JJ. Alesha picked Brian. Heidi went with her gut feeling for Christian. That was a vote to each, leaving the decision up to Simon. And he chose JJ Pantano!

10:00 p.m. – Okay I am really surprised by that result. Can you believe the superfans voted for two great singing performances so low?! Let me know what you think in the comments.

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