“America’s Got Talent” season 16 continues on July 6 with the final 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, Heidi made her choice for quick-change artist Lea Kyle, the first in that discipline to ever receive the golden buzzer. Lea impressed Heidi and the rest of the judges by showing them aspects of the art that they’d never seen before and for doing it so seamlessly.
In the prior 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 6 in our minute-by-minute blog.
8:03 p.m. – The first act of the night was Twirl Act, a 30 year old birthday boy at the time of his audition. In the twirling he used three different batons, often juggling them with high tosses in the air and cartwheels to catch them. All of the judges stood for him at the end, with Heidi most impressed by the quick change he did in the middle of the performance and encouraged him to expand upon his already strong art form. Simon called the audition “stunning” and complimented his optimistic personality. Four “yes” votes signified that he’d get the opportunity to take Heidi up on her challenge in the next round.
8:11 p.m. – Bringing an original song using hate comments from her YouTube account as lyrics, singer Madilyn Bailey gave the judges another reason to applaud. Both Howie and Simon recognized Madilyn’s natural talent for singing and songwriting. Heidi said she was “torn” and not jumping out of her seat, but Sofia countered by providing something that was a 180 from how she was presenting herself. Heidi seemed prepared to say “no,” but Howie defended Madilyn and convinced Heidi to join the other three for a straight row of “yes” votes.
8:21 p.m. – Chapkidz, a dance group of 30 young people ages 12 to 18, was up next with their chance to improve upon the results of Chapkis Dance Family, their inspiration group who made it to the live shows on season 10. During their audition Howie and Heidi were already commenting on how “very good” the group is. Sofia liked that they seemed to be having a good time and said there were so many different places to look in the group. Howie mentioned that they performed as though they were already in the semifinal and Simon called them one of the best dance acts of the season. Easily, the group earned a “yes” vote from all four judges.
8:32 p.m. – Brooklyn performer Darrell Thorne took to the stage for a creative lip synch of the Elton John song “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” but once Simon realized that he wasn’t actually singing he hit his X. In the audition Darrell was using a mirrored headpiece to create the illusion of half man, half drag queen. Heidi thought it was “cool and different” and so her “yes” when combined with one from Sofia and another from Howie meant that Simon was overruled this time.
8:34 p.m. – Slinky artist Joshua Jacobs turned tricks with his slinky to earn himself three “yes” votes as well, followed by Roy and Judith who as advanced age dancers improved from the guys by getting four votes for themselves. Next, Donovan shocked the judges with a “unique” and “beautiful” Broadway-ready voice that Simon thought someone could notice and find a role for. With strong support because of the surprise factor, all the judges voted for Donovan to sing again in the next round.
8:43 p.m. – Wearing a superhero costume, The Stunner performed lite acrobatics and breakdancing as though fighting in a comedy action movie, but Simon and Howie called it “dreadful” and “unoriginal,” meaning that with a 2-2 vote he would not advance. He was followed by Alex Ostrovskyi who played horns over “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston while rolling around and wearing angel wings. The surprise of the audition was that he had built motors on the horns that allowed them to fly in circles around him. It wasn’t enough to keep Sofia and Heidi from hitting their X buttons, both of whom decided that the trumpet playing wasn’t good enough and that it wasn’t the kind of act they’d need to see again.
8:54 p.m. – Retired teacher Matt Mauser lost his wife in the same helicopter crash that took Kobe Bryant‘s life and so he came to AGT for the opportunity to support his family while also following his dream of being a career singer. His version of “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” was a heartfelt tribute to his wife that had the judges and him feeling all the emotions by the end. Howie pointed out that no matter what anyone does on the stage, that being able to move the audience is a powerful thing. Sofia and Heidi called it a special moment and thanked him for coming to the show. When asked by Simon what he would hope to come from the show, Matt said that he wants his children to see that grief won’t define them as a family and to help them chase their own dreams. Overall, it was an obvious choice for each of the judges to vote him through to the next round.
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9:08 p.m. – Comedian Chief told the judges that his audition was his first time ever performing, much to their surprise. Because he was wearing a Halloween mask and a red hoodie, the jokes were not hitting due in large part to the muffled sound. Sofia, Heidi and Simon all hit their X buttons with Howie following later to see Chief off the stage still mumbling. Luckily he was followed by clear-spoken Cam Bertrand who has 8 years of comedy under this belt. Despite being 27 years old, Cam’s set revolved around how often he’s mistaken for a much younger person, including a story about being denied a wine sale by a clerk with no question. Sofia noted that Heidi was howling with laughter throughout the set, but Howie considered the material one-note and advised him to diversify the subject matter next time. Simon liked that Cam is a hard worker at his craft and predicted that the audience will be fans of him as well, which we’ll see in the next round since the judges sent him through.
9:21 p.m. – Prior to her performance, a young Breez Carver explained that dancing helped her overcome her shyness and gain confidence. In her contemporary dance to Kelly Clarkson‘s “Piece by Piece,” Breez showed the strength and composure of a more experienced dancer. Sofia called it “perfection” and told her that she’s meant to be a dancer. Heidi said the audition gave her chills, Howie predicted she’ll do really well in the competition, and Simon mentioned the “glow” about her and led the panel in what became four straight “yes” votes to the next round.
9:31 p.m. – Promising strength, grace and uniqueness in their act, Vertical Flow used pole dancing in an elegant way that encouraged the judges to send them through to the next round. MJ followed by earning her own way to the next round with a multi-hoop spinning act. Femme Fatale also scored “yes” votes with their popping dance act that broken gender barriers and showed Sofia something she hadn’t seen enough of.
9:32 p.m. – Mother and daughter Gigi Deluxe & Devon auditioned with their danger act where Devon would be the “human target” for crossbow sharpshooter Gigi. After piercing three balloons of decreasing size held by Devon in her mouth, Gigi performed the final trick of tracing Devon’s body on a board with arrows. The parent-child dynamic certainly added an increased level of risk to an act we’ve seen before, but it was enough to energize the judges into sending them through to the next round with only Howie giving them a “no” vote and Simon urging them to put more production value into their next routine.
9:43 p.m. – Guapacharros came to the show as dancers and singers determined to show the world their dedication and provide better lives for their families. For their audition they mashed up different kinds of music while incorporating traditional Mexican dances and singing as well as a stripper lite routine when they tore their shirts off. Sofia and Heidi immediately declared that they were voting “yes” and Simon said that he really enjoyed the live singing at the beginning. Howie was more reserved, calling it “good” and joining the others to vote “yes.”
9:51 p.m. – The final audition came from enthusiastic 9 year old singer Victory Brinker who said that if she wins the million dollars she’ll buy Simon a rainbow shirt with glitter on it because he needs color in his clothes. While there have been many young singers on the show before, the surprise of Victory was her pitch perfect operatic voice. Howie called her voice “angelic,” Heidi said it’s “incredible,” and Sofia said it’s “powerful.” After commenting that she’s brave for coming to the show, Simon asked Terry to come to the judges’ panel with the offer of them doing something different for this audition. Simon warned Victory that they wouldn’t be giving her a “yes” because instead they’d all be hitting the Golden Buzzer together as a group to send her straight to the live shows as the sixth specially chosen act.