The “America’s Got Talent” finale on Tuesday is the culmination of season 16, which kicked off way back on June 1. Over the course of 19 episodes of “AGT,” the hundreds of acts have been winnowed down by the four judges (Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara) and the public to just 10 finalists.
Taking to the stage one last time to perform for America’s votes are: comedian Josh Blue, comedian Gina Brillon, opera singer Victory Brinker, aerialist Aidan Bryant, singer Jimmie Herrod, quick-change artist Lea Kyle, chorale group Northwell Nurse Choir, singer Brooke Simpson, magician Dustin Tavella, and martial artists World Taekwondo Demo. Team.
Below, follow along as we recap “America’s Got Talent” Season 16 Episode 20 and give you our take on the September 14 finale performances in our live blog.
8:04 p.m. – The big night kicked off with Sofia’s Golden Buzzer, Jimmie Herrod. For his big finale song he chose the classic balled “What a Wonderful World.” As always, his rendition was entirely unique with his own brand of sweet vulnerability juxtaposed with a soaring voice. Sofia was obviously proud of him and she agreed with Howie who said that he has a way of making any and every song his own. Simon said that his near elimination in the previous round probably gave him the strength to come back tonight with such a powerful moment.
8:24 p.m. – As Terry mentioned, Lea Kyle could become the first quick-change artist to take the crown with her performance tonight. She did her best to raise the bar tonight with an art heist theme to her show that gave her aesthetic an edge different from the floralscape of the last round, but it did seem a bit shorter than we’re used to. Heidi remained supportive of her Golden Buzzer, calling this her best performance of the competition and stressing that seeing her live is even better than on television. Sofia liked that there was a story to this performance and Simon said it was a step up, but it was too short.
8:32 p.m. – Nine year old opera singer Victory Brinker was the first group Golden Buzzer recipient, but surprised everyone last week when she didn’t finish in the top three of the audience vote and required the judges’ majority vote in order to make it here tonight. Once again she delivered an elegant vocal, proving that her voice and confidence are matured well beyond her age. Simon said she was “in a different league” this time and that she has that special “X factor” that he looks for in a star. Sofia agreed with Simon that Victory does have a chance of winning the show, but said that perhaps her act isn’t right for Vegas. Howie acknowledged that she found her passion and has worked hard at achieving it which is what makes her a star.
8:43 p.m. – The first of two comedians competing to become the first winners in their genre was Gina Brillon. She got off to a slow start to her set, getting distracted by the applause from the audience, but managed to switch to jokes about her marriage in light of her wedding anniversary. Howie mentioned that Gina is an example of how “laughter is the best medicine” and Heidi called her a winner already. Sofia said that Gina is comfortable on stage and relatable and appreciated that her material comes from a woman’s point of view.
8:54 p.m. – For their final performance, World Taekwondo Demonstration Team utilized the entire space, including the judges dais, to full effect. The setup was two opposing groups battling each other on stage through back and forth showcases of trick moves and staged head-to-head combat, but finishing in a moment of solidarity and unity. Surround by thunderous applause from the audience, Howie called it the best performance of the night and declared he could watch them for two hours straight. Heidi backed him up by saying she can’t stop screaming and they’re the kind of exciting act that people want to see in Vegas. Simon called it “bloody brilliant” considering he was getting bored of them in previous rounds, and called them the ones to beat at this point.
9:06 p.m. – Season-long judge favorite Aidan Bryant came to the stage determined to deliver the best performance of his life. He upped the ante by swinging from the ribbon rather than just spinning within it, and accelerated his movement in every trick. By the end, a standing ovation was not enough for Simon who instead stood on the judges’ desk to applaud Aidan. He explained that he is the kind of exciting artist that belongs in Vegas and is the new one to beat. Heidi and Sofia both agreed and said that he has improved every round, but Howie diverged from the other three slightly by saying that while brilliant he still liked his previous performance better.
9:18 p.m. – For her final performance, singer Brooke Simpson returned with another thumping pop song to assert herself as an emerging artist. Her take on the Bishop Briggs song “White Flag” was the perfect match for her attitude, confidence and powerful vocals. Sofia said that she raises the bar with everyone performance and that this was her favorite of hers this season. Howie called it a “drop the mic” moment because she delivered upon everything he wanted from her. Heidi acknowledged her high notes and hopes that her career will rise as high as that.
9:28 p.m. – Next up was Dustin Tavella, always inspired in his magic by his family and the love he has for them and the world. In honor of his parents’ wedding anniversary he staged tonight’s act around a photo of them that he tore up into pieces from the start and then with just a shake put it back together. Dustin had everyone in the audience write an affirmation on a piece of paper and then throw them at the judges so that each of them could randomly select one of those messages. Terry chose to read Simon’s paper, which amazingly said the same thing as a paper that was inside a balloon already on stage. He ended by ripping apart the word “give” at the start of the chosen message and then turned it into many messages showering down from the rafters all of which said “give” as well. Simon seemed blown away, calling him amazing and referring to his strength as a storyteller. Sofia thinks he found his lane and applauds him for sticking to it because it has touched America. Howie thinks it was a performance that could make him a winner.
9:43 p.m. – Josh Blue was encouraged by Simon last week to be even “more naughty” this week because that’s what people love about his brand of comedy. His set tonight did not disappoint, centering his sarcastic wit through self-deprecating jokes and ending on a hilarious round of jokes about botox aimed smartly in Simon’s direction. Heidi recalled what Simon asked of Josh last time and said that his set tonight is what Simon deserved.
9:55 p.m. – The night ended with the Northwell Health Nurse Choir singing “Stand by You,” another inspirational performance to add to their already deep arsenal. The solo parts and harmonized choruses soared tonight to show the depth of their entire group. The judges gave them a standing ovation, cheering on the support they provide in their career and as vocalists on the show. Heidi thanked them for their talent and heroism and Simon said that they’ve been consistent all season and capped off a really strong finale for a strong season.
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