“America’s Got Talent” season 16 continues on June 8 with another two-hour episode showcasing the best (and worst) auditions. In this phase of “AGT,” an act needs at least three of the four judges (Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara ) to give them a “yes” vote to advance to the next round. If two or more judges buzz the act, it is immediately eliminated.
Each judge, along with host Terry Crews, has one chance to hit the “golden buzzer” and send an act straight through to the live performances. Howie was inspired to press his golden buzzer on the season 16 premiere by the performance of the Northwell Nurse Choir, a group of 18 nurses workers out of New York City that worked on the front line through the pandemic. As a choir their mission is to “shoot out some joy and love” to help people “find their resilience.” For their audition they sang a mash-up of “Lean on Me” and “Stand by Me” that included singing, beat-boxing and lite rap elements.
The format is the same this year as last, with “America’s Got Talent” airing initially just on Tuesdays with these 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 16 Episode 2 in our minute-by-minute blog.
8:02 p.m. – Before getting to any of the auditions tonight, Simon revealed that this year AGT will be opening their own show in Vegas at the Luxor Hotel & Casino, in addition to the personal show that the winner will be rewarded with.
8:03 p.m. – The first act hoping to earn their spot in Vegas was Beyond Belief Dance, a group of young girls taught by the legendary “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Alyssa Edwards (referred to out of drag as Justin). For their audition they performed the empowering anthem “Nails, Hips, Hair, Heels” by Todrick Hall, showcasing their acrobatics, flexibility and drive. Sofia called it an “out of this world” performance, Howie called them “fierce” and Heidi, a “stickler for detail,” called it perfect. There was no question, the girls earned their four yes votes to move on to the next round.
8:11 p.m. – Next up was the UniCircle Flow from Japan, the answer to Simon’s desire to see something “new” this season. The four performers, representing the 12 total in the group, achieved the same thing that ballroom dancers do, but on unicycles. They danced to uptempo music in dresses and included spins, jumps and other impressive moves that defied what you’d expect. Sofia called it an exciting performance while Howie pointed out that they were bringing “beautiful dance” to the unicycle where they usually see jugglers and comedians on them. Simon called it one of the most unique acts they’ve seen across the seasons, giving them a “100% yes” vote on their way to four total.
8:20 p.m. – Taking the stage next was two boy band groups: Korean Soul and Larger Than Life. Both groups formed out of a shared desire to be in a boy band and to become famous from it. Larger Than Life performed first, a mash-up of “Larger Than Life” by Backstreet Boys and “Tearin’ Up My Heart” by NSYNC. After a pitchy first verse and an out-of-sync choreo break, the guys had already earned X buzzes from Simon and Heidi. By the end they’d received a third X from Howie and Simon asking “Was that serious?” Needless to say, they did not make the cut.
8:32 p.m. – After the bomb that was the other boy band, Korean Soul entered the stage nervous for their own reception. Right off the bat it was clear they were in a different league — choosing the ballad “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo to show off their pitch-perfect voices and strength at harmonizing. Aside from Simon, it was a standing O from the judges. Howie told them that they “check a lot of the boxes” that they need to check in order to become pop stars and Heidi called them “silky smooth.” Thought Simon didn’t stand for them, he did say that it’s one of the best auditions they’d had all day and so with strong opinions all around it was a clear yes for them to advance.
8:43 p.m. – Matt Johnson was the first danger act to audition this season, labeling himself an escape artist. Tonight he reattempted the same act that he hanged and drowned himself doing just last year. On stage with him was what can only be considered a medieval contraption that required him to unleash himself from a straight-jacket before being hanged, drowned and cut in two by rotating saws aimed to drop at this face. Luckily, this time he managed to escape, saving himself from another trip to the ER. Simon was impressed by Matt’s willingness to put himself in that position and Howie said he was speechless after hearing Matt speak about the contraption and then seeing him escape it. Nervously, the whole panel said yes, wanting to see what he’d achieve next time.
8:55 p.m. – Unlike previous magic acts in series history, JONIO and Preston Lyford received such lukewarm responses from the judges that their auditions weren’t feature in full. Instead, it was Patrick Kun that lived up to the legacy of Shin Lim and Mat Franco. After describing a childhood where he had to hide his interest in magic from his parents as a child, Patrick delivered a shocking card tick involving disappearance and reappearance of the chosen cards. Simon defended his presentation, giving him third yes after those from Heidi and Sofia, advancing him to the next round.
9:08 p.m. – Entertainer Johnny Showcase was up next, bringing his family out with him as supportive figures in his audition. After an awkward intro where he praised Paula Abdul, Johnny and his “spiritual advisors” (backup singers and dancers) spoofed the sexually heightened soul songs of the 70s. For some reason, the judges found a way to enjoy the act — Simon called it “brilliant” and one of his favorites, Sofia pointed out that they’re better as performers than talkers, and Howie said that their key is moving the audience into wanting to sing along. On the strength of entertainment value alone, the group advanced with four solid yes votes.
9:19 p.m. – Hoping to leave their own mark as a family, The Curtis Family C-Notes came to the stage representing the “golden age of music” from the 50s and 60s. As a full instrumental and vocal band, the seven members of the family impressed the panel with not only their styling but also with how well their voices represented the age that they took their inspiration from. This time Howie was the only judge to not get on his feet for the ovation, but he still supported their performance by calling them “superstars.” Heidi was relieved that they sounded as good as they looked and Sofia considered it perfect. Simon loved that in this family band every member looked like they were having a good time and so he led the march toward a straight yes vote across the panel to send them to the next round.
9:32 p.m. – Danny Dechi‘s odd talent of placing music by beating his cheek with a pencil did not impress anyone, earning him a rarely shown four X elimination. He was followed by circus artists Les Beaux Freres, vowing to present a “little surprise.” That surprise was nude dancing, save only one bath towel each that they strategically choreographed to always cover their front and back private parts. After laughing their own butts off, the judges all rose (finally) to applaud the duo for their funny and creative performance. Heidi called it her “cup of tea” and though Simon isn’t sure where they can next in the competition, it was a resounding yes from the judges to see them again in the next round.
9:43 p.m. – 41 year old stand up comedian Gina Brillon was nervous to audition, feeling the weight of her dual life as a working women who also wanted to make comedy work as a career. In her set she focused on her interracial marriage and how her South Bronx upbringing creates both conflict and love in their relationship. That conversation gave way to her commentary on being an identical twin. Her ability to draw from her real life and turn it into comedy left Simon feeling like she was simply having a conversation with them and Sofia said that she laughed at each and every joke. After calling her the perfect addition to the 16th season, Howie gave Gina her fourth yes to move on to the next round.
9:52 p.m. – Singer Nightbirde performed an original song tonight called “It’s Okay,” lyrically about the last year of her life. In the song she offered support to herself and others struggling, as she does with cancer, that comes from within. Howie called her “authentic” and Sofia called it “powerful and heartfelt.” Simon said her voice is “absolutely stunning” and agreeing with Howie’s comment on authenticity. Deciding not to give Nightbirde a yes, Simon did more and hit the golden buzzer to send her straight through to the live shows!