“America’s Got Talent” season 16 continues on June 29 with another audition episode showcasing the best (and worst) from the first stage of the competition. 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.
Last week, Sofia played a dirty trick on Jimmie Herrod by refusing to stand in ovation with the other judges after his burning-down-of-the-house rendition of “Tomorrow.” But after teasing that she didn’t “like” his performance, she admitted that she “loved” it and gave him her golden buzzer.
Before that, Terry demonstrated his support for World Taekwondo by throwing them his golden buzzer after their thrilling showcase of the martial art form. The large group was supposed to perform at the Summer Olympics in 2020, so Terry’s move to send them through to the live shows was a bittersweet gold medal moment of their own.
Previously, Simon sent songbird Nightbirde straight through to the live shows after she 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 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.
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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 5 in our minute-by-minute blog.
8:02 p.m. – Getting us started tonight was “chosen family” group Positive Impact Movement who met at “Muscle Beach” in Los Angeles. They perform in order to prove that you can injure yourself physically and make a comeback to old your form. In their audition the four guys used acrobatic tricks and gymnastic moves in tandem with barbell lifting. At times they were standing on each other’s shoulders and at others they were bouncing off one another’s hands into flips. Heidi, who doubted them ahead of their audition, was most impressed on the panel, highlighting the fact that they did tricks they’d never seen before. The other judges agreed that their creativity deserved a “yes” vote through to the next round.
8:10 p.m. – Hoping to capitalize on Simon’s love of dog acts was The Empower Pack team whose motivation is doing dog tricks that encourage people to follow their passions and feel empowered. Using a Harry Potter theme, those tricks included the standard ones like climbing on podiums, hopping on two legs and traveling around the stage on command. Howie and Simon did not find the act aspirational or inspiring at all, and their two “no” votes meant that they’d not move on.
8:14 p.m. – Alexandra Cote came to the stage next with her dogs and a dream to create a dog training center. Unlike the previous dog act, Alexandra kept a quick pace in the audition and showed a variety of tricks like jump roping and synchronized turns and jumps. This time the panel stood in ovation with Simon calling them his favorite dog act of the season so far. Overall they agreed that it was a smile-inducing audition that they didn’t want to stop. This time the vote was a unanimous “yes” to advance them to the next stage.
8:25 p.m. – Having performed together for 11 years, Gangstagrass arrived with a mission to spread “quintessential Americana music” around the country with a message of finding common ground. Using guitars, banjoes, fiddles and the like, the band bridged the gap between bluegrass and rap music. Howie was a huge fan of the message and performance and said it’s exactly what the country needs right now. Sofia expressed her excitement about how original they are and Simon predicted that they gave an audition to remember. With four “yes” votes, the guys would return in the next round to deliver another rousing performance.
8:36 p.m. – Heidi’s attempt at an ASMR session with the other judges wasn’t as soothing as she’d hoped, but compared to what Delicious Duane Douglas was preparing to deliver I think in hindsight it was comparable to a spa day. The professional wrestling fan auditioned with “no contact wrestling” which involved smack-talking the judges and pumping himself up in a way that left Howie confused enough to hit his X. As the digs at the judges continued they each hit their own X in succession as the audience booed Delicious off stage.
8:46 p.m. – The Moon City Masters brought back the vibe of 70s classic music with their guitar vocal, but Simon found it too boring for it to continue. After hitting his X he asked that they stop, but Heidi, a fan of twins, gave them a “yes.” Her vote of confidence couldn’t overcome the three “no” votes from everyone else though.
8:48 p.m. – The Sklar Brothers, also twins, were up next for a duo comedy set that centered around their place in the family as fathers. Their ability to bounce their banter off one another was a highlight and in some ways it mimicked the way a vocal group harmonizes their singing. Sofia said she never experienced any comedy so in synch like that, but Heidi was not as impressed. Ultimately, Heidi joined the other judges with a fourth “yes” vote because she heard that the audience enjoyed them and she wanted to go with that.
8:58 p.m. – Arriving on roller skates, Melodie Blaize asked Heidi to come to the stage in a pink tunic as a model for her live fashion design act that involved her turning on the skates and cutting the tunic into a more interesting garment. Simon hit his X during the audition, expressing his opinion of a “no” vote that both Howie and Sofia echoed.
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9:00 p.m. – Quick-change artist Lea Kyle followed Melodie in an attempt to show that fashion does have a place on the AGT stage. Using her own costume creations, Lea managed to switch her outfit in many different ways, sometimes without cover at all. By the end, Howie was jumping out of his seat in shock and Heidi was declaring that “it’s magic.” Howie pointed out that she delivered the best quick-change performance they’ve ever seen and called her presentation “beautiful.” Unsurprisingly, the panel’s excitement for Lea’s act seemed unanimous, but Heidi didn’t think that was enough–she thought Lea deserved to go straight to the live shows and hit the Golden Buzzer!
9:10 p.m. – Seattle-born and now living in Berlin, entertainer Thomas Evans was up next with a jumping rope act that Howie was not a fan of. He said that it’s the kind of thing he sees people doing all the time and refused to reverse his red X. Sofia said “it doesn’t matter” because the three “yes” votes from the rest of them meant that Howie would have to sit through another Thomas performance in the next round.
9:13 p.m. – Howie was also not impressed by aerial performer Lea Hinz who didn’t spin fast enough for him or Bob’s Dance Shop (four guys named Bob promoting self-love and self-expression) who remained to the self-expression of hitting his red X.
9:15 p.m. – Luckily singer Tory Vagasy turned things around for Howie with her version of the “Frozen” ballad “Into the Unknown.” Well, not actually. Declaring that he thinks she has a strong voice, but that he’s not a fan of musical theater, Howie once again dropped a “no” vote. The other judges agreed that in fact she’s deserving of being on Broadway with Simon noting that her greatest strength is knowing that she wants to end up on stage rather than just attempting to get a record contract. With the three “yes” votes, Tory would be seen again without Howie’s vote of confidence.
9:23 p.m. – Obsessed with “the idea of telling what’s in people’s minds,” Peter Antoniou auditioned for the judges as a psychic. He explained that his love for mind-reading began with a tarot deck he got at the age of nine and that building a career out of it in America has become his dream. To prove his talent he used a judge-themed dollhouse with trinkets inside five rooms and asked that Terry remove one thing from the house while Peter looked away. Instead of just noticing what Terry took, Peter played a recorded voice memo that explained he had taken a baseball bat and put it in his left pocket (correct). He also revealed that the back of the house also said that’s what Terry would do, just in case anyone was skeptic about the validity of the voice memo. For his second trick he had Sofia remove her engagement ring and give it to Simon while thinking of a private memory associated with her engagement that Peter could not know.
9:33 p.m. – Peter had all the judges leave the dais to join him in another room where there was 1,000 ring boxes. He asked Simon to “lose” the ring in one of the boxes while he and Sofia were turned around. Before retrieving the ring, Peter asked Sofia to think of the memory she had and he would use mind-reading to help him find the correct box. Claiming to use the connection from Sofia’s mind to the attachment of the ring, Peter did select the correct box and then took it one step further by describing the exact memory that Sofia had been thinking of. Back on stage, the judges called Peter “smooth and confident” as well as “fun and interactive.” Sofia made a point of saying that there’s no way Peter could have known the memory she thought of and so, across the board, the judges gave him “yes” votes to advance to the next round.
9:43 p.m. – Next up was Dokteuk Crew, a dance group from South Korea influenced by anime. With hard-hitting choreo and set pieces, the crew defied the judges’ expectations of how amazing a dance group could be. Howie called it his favorite dance of the season, Heidi liked that they began the performance with a bang, and Simon said that their personalities contribute to what was a “great, great audition.” It was an easy call for the entire panel to vote “yes” to seeing them again.
9:53 p.m. – The final audition of the night was Jayy, a 29 year old singer from the Dominican Republic who came to the show in honor of her parents who were murdered in front of her during a robbery at their family store. Her version of “Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings moved the judges emotionally, including Simon who looked lost in thought throughout the performance. After a standing ovation, Howie told Jayy that she is the legacy of her parents and that her voice is “so beautiful.” Simon said that her ability to sing that kind of song with all her memories is “genuinely extraordinary” and that she’s the reason that they make the show in the first place. Needless to say, the entire row of judges supported Jayy with a “yes” vote so that she could sing again in the next round.