On May 31st, “America’s Got Talent” returned with a spectacular two-hour premiere episode of its 17th season. Host Terry Crews welcomed series judges Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel back to the dais with performances from the first set of performance artists. But who were the best acts from the season opener? And did any move forward that shouldn’t have? Below we rank the 10 acts who advanced from worst to best.
You may remember last season’s winner, Dustin Tavella, the third magic act to take the title. He was preceded by Brandon Leake on season 15, the show’s first-ever spoken word poet to make the main stage. A majority of the winners have been singing acts — there have been seven overall, if we’re not including Darci Lynne who is a ventriloquist but also sings. Did any of Tuesday’s acts have what it takes to win the million dollars this year?
SEE ‘AGT’ deaths: Remembering the contestants we’ve lost on ‘America’s Got Talent’ including Nightbirde, Neal E. Boyd … [PHOTOS]
Season 17 Episode 1 rankings:
10. Ben Lapidus: What in the world did we witness?! Comedy and music have worked for “Weird Al” Yankovic but Ben Lapidus is not nearly as funny. The song will get stuck in your head and the crowd loved it, which made the judges take back their initial rejections, except for Howie. I agree with Howie as did the majority of social media. That made me feel a bit better, but I still went to bed with the song in my head. #BigParma. Is this the new “Pants on The Ground”? How does this happen to Simon not once but twice in his judging career?!
9. Amazing Veranica & Her Incredible Friends: Veranica loves her numerous pets and the amount she has is amazing. Her act with her canine friends is adorable, a fact that I cannot deny. Some of the tricks were something that we have yet to see in any animal act, while others were pretty routine. A dog doing quick change was the highlight for me. I am not usually a fan of animal acts, but I actually liked this particular one. Definitely curious to see what else they can do next time. Social media loved this act.
8. Shu Takada: No offense to any yo-yo fans but I typically am not a fan of these acts…until Tuesday when Shu Takada had his own twist on it. We got yo-yo tricks and incredible agility. In short, not boring whatsoever. I am definitely curious to see what else he is able to do with my least favorite toy of all time. Social media had a bit of a mixed reaction, which surprised me.
7. Lee Collinson: Lee Collinson sounded better than he did on “Little Mix The Search.” Yes, he originally competed on a show that was centered on a group that won the eighth season of “The X Factor UK,” which did not feature Simon as judge, looking for an opening act. Am I dubious that he did not recognize Lee? Yes! Did it really matter? Not really, since his voice is incredible. Social media had a largely positive reaction to his audition with some being equally as dubious about his reality television competition past, but with a voice like that he should win them over eventually.
6. Mike E. Winfield: Comedians on this show are hit or miss for me, but it is very interesting to see what the voters will be drawn to or not. Mike reminded me a lot of Bernie Mac and Eddie Murphy since he owned the stage like they do, but with material that reminded me of Alonzo Bodden. Reaction on social media was predominantly positive so the viewers agreed with the judges. Definitely an act that we should watch out for down the road.
5. XOMG Pop: I recognized XOMG Pop immediately because of their connection to JoJo Siwa and the endless commercials for “Siwas Dance Pop Revolution.” Already recognizable with a fan base of young voters, this group has a huge advantage already. The “Dancing With the Stars” runner-up and Nickelodeon icon briefly made an appearance on stage after the group received praise (as well as a yes) from all four judges, so it will be interesting to see how much of a dance mom she is going to be during their journey. Social media was mixed on this act with younger viewers loving it and older ones out of breath watching it. They might be ones to watch out for?
4. The Pack Drumline: An act that started with meager beginnings and the hope to keep at risk youth on the right path surprised me the most on Tuesday. Kicking off the auditions with energy and swagger, The Pack Drumline are more than just a drumline group. They can drum, dance, and have the entertainment quality of Blue Man Group meets Bruno Mars. Plus any act that includes drumming while upside down has my attention since I have never seen that before. An easy yes from the judges and viewers alike since social media loved this act as well.
3. Avery Dixon: Avery Dixon was a huge surprise on Tuesday. Not only is he a genuinely nice person, but he is extremely talented at playing the saxophone. The judges and audience loved him, as did I, but Terry might be his biggest fan. He enthusiastically hit that golden buzzer and the rest is AGT history. Off to the live rounds you go, young man! Social media loved him as well and he might be one to beat this season. Last but certainly not least, let’s end bullying guys!
2. Celia Munoz: Ventriloquists are a staple of AGT. Some amazing ones have won their respective seasons and become Vegas superstars or, in the case of Darci Lynne, an actress and Nickelodeon regular. Anyone with that skill who goes on the stage needs to be incredible. Celia was indeed unique in her approach and showed no sign of nervousness. Was I expecting a dummy? Yes, but if this is what she does without one, I do not need one with her. Social media loved it, but some remained a bit skeptical on her chances of winning in the end. I thought it was perfectly quirky and I loved every second of this performance.
1. Mervant Vera: As a combination of magician and rapper, Mervant Vera has created a lane all his own and clearly wants to be the fourth magician to win this show. If he keeps creating performances like this, that may just happen. How a golden buzzer was not pressed after this is beyond me. I also love how he wants a magic musical in the vein of “Hamilton,” so bonus points for that as well. Easily my favorite of the night. The reaction on social media was largely positive with some viewing the sleight of hand magic as not being “spectacular.” Mervant was also visibly nervous, so those viewers need to keep that in mind.