This summer “America’s Got Talent” returned for its 17th season with Terry Crews and stars Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel all taking their places as host and judges once again. As in the past, this season’s champion will take home the $1 million cash prize and the chance to showcase their talent as a headlining act in Las Vegas. So far we’ve seen four installments of initial auditions: episode 1 on May 31, episode 2 on June 7, episode 3 on June 14, and episode 4 on June 21. The fifth installment of first round performances featuring 15 more acts aired on June 28.
In this first round, the judges and Terry each make one Golden Buzzer selection each, sending an act of their choice straight through to the live shows. Terry hand-picked saxophonist Avery Dixon, Howie gave his to singer Maddie, Simon went with vocalist Sara James, and Sofia threw her support behind dance group Mayyas. Heidi is the only judge with a Golden Buzzer left to press — did she send anyone straight through to the finale? Check out our “America’s Got Talent” season 17 episode 5 recap below to find out:
8:04 p.m. – Kicking off the night was the audition of French magician Nicolas Ribs who was talked into trying out by his daughter, also on stage as his interpreter. In his presentation, Nicolas used a digital screen to aid in his quick disappearing tricks using balls, cards and figurines. Howie said he made a great decision to leave his career behind and go fully into magic, Simon called it “very unique,” and then Sofia and Heidi joined them in putting together four Yes to send him through to the next round.
8:13 p.m. – Keegan the Bicycle Comedian told the judges that after 10 years in stand up comedy he believes he has something new to show. At the beginning of his set he stated that he only does jokes about bicycles, but after two jokes he already earned red X buzzers from Sofia and Simon. His third joke earned Heidi’s buzzer and then his fourth got the fatal fourth from Howie. By that time there was no hope for him to get a single vote to advance.
8:15 p.m. – Keegan set the stage for Mr. Pants, a comedian that performs as a character of, you guessed it, pants. His set used a lot of puns, including mentions of “genes,” a “Banana Republic,” waste/waist, and suits. This time the schtick hit a funny note with the judges — Howie called him “hysterical,” Heidi told him that he made them all laugh which is what they’re supposed to do, Sofia said it was “so simple but so funny,” and Simon capped off the positive critiques by saying he went from annoying to “silly funny.” It was an enthusiastic set of four Yes votes for Mr. Pants to advance.
8:25 p.m. – 17 year old songwriter Mia Morris took a break from high school to show off her talents as a multi-instrumentalist and one woman band. She explained that she accomplishes this by way of a “loop pedal,” which she uses to record herself doing each part of the band and then cycling it on loop to create a full band. The effect was that she began on the guitar then made a backing track and then sang her song while ending on the drums. Howie said it was “so cool” and called her a star, a sentiment echoed by both Heidi and Sofia. Simon said that “at times it was a bit of a mess,” earning a handful of boos, even though he acknowledged that it shouldn’t have been perfect and that’s why he liked it so much. In saying that this year is “all about originality,” Simon joined the other three judges for a full set of four Yes votes.
8:36 p.m. – Willem Roelants told the judges he’s been a musician for 15 years, but that got a little confusing when his audition started off with him popping balloons to the score of classical music. Ultimately there was no trick to the act and so he got a quick set of four red X buzzers and was sent off the stage with No votes.
8:37 p.m. – Cuban danger act Chiko faired much better with his balancing skill. In his audition, Chiko used hand stilts to raise himself as high as the judges’ buzzers in an incredible final trick where he did a handstand above crossed knives below his face. The judges called it “amazing” and “fantastic,” especially after he said it’s only the second time he’s ever done it. Heidi said it left her wanting more and so she and the other judges gave him the Yes votes to perform again in the next round.
8:48 p.m. – Vocal duo Abbie and Ellie Smith were stopped in the middle of their song by Simon who called it “stodgy.” He explained that it wasn’t memorable, leading the vote to say No to them. Next, Simon told entertainer Marcus Terell that his group’s song “wasn’t very good” and so Howie and Simon’s red X buzzers held up as No votes. Those rejections left Connor Johnson nervous ahead of his performance and so when Simon stopped him, too, calling it “a bit boring,” Connor was set for rejection as well. Luckily Simon let him go with a second choice song, a cover of “Latch” that had the crowd roaring with applause. The judges loved his “beautiful voice” and noticed how much of a crush members of the audience had on him. Simon called it a “really good audition,” but cautioned him to continue to go out of his comfort zone in future rounds.
9:01 p.m. – The Japanese group of MPLUSPLUS put together an audition using ribbons and LED lights, noting that this was their first show as a team together. They were called “very Vegas” and “very original” by Simon, noted for their uniformity and delicate performance by Sofia, and likened to jellyfish by Heidi. Simon said that it’s acts like them that will make the show exciting, leading the panel in four Yes votes to send them through.
9:11 p.m. – The Dremeka Choir was not the “dream machine” choir the judges were expecting. Instead they built a chorus of nightmarish vocal tricks as a metal choir, culminating in a horror take on “Toxic.” Ahead of critiques, Heidi had hit her red X buzzer, but then Simon said it was like demons in a choir and “fantastically creepy,” Sofia called it “spectacular and creative,” and Howie thought they were “opening the eyes and ears of America.” Heidi stood her ground and said she doesn’t think anyone is going to buy a ticket to see them, but the other three gave them Yes votes and so they advanced on the strength of a majority opinion.
9:21 p.m. – With her original song “Daydream,” Lily Meola explained how the lyrics have transformed through happy and dark times in her life, including her mom’s death from cancer. Her performance earned a standing ovation from the judges with Howie remarking on her “beautiful voice” and the felt emotion of her voice. Sofia called it special because of the way she was feeling the lyrics and Simon said there’s something special about her. Heidi closed it up by stating that though she planned to giver her Golden Buzzer to someone other than a singer, she was left speechless and had to hit it for her!
9:34 p.m. – The next stand up comedian to take the stage was Jordan Conley. As the son of military parents, Jordan’s set was a rumination on what it’s like growing up in that environment and how he didn’t fit into their expectations of him. Like Lily, Jordan got a standing ovation — Sofia said he has a whole future ahead of him, Simon called him “naturally funny” and “super super talented,” and Heidi said that his quickness was interesting because she was able to follow along. Howie said that he’s on par with comedy stars like Kevin Hart because his act has no separation between who he is as a person. Amidst the cheers of the crowd, the judges gave him all their Yes votes for a ticket to the next round.
9:45 p.m. – Representing Yonkers, New York, opera singer Merissa Beddows broke the mold by having Heidi choose from celebrity name options to have her sing “Over the Rainbow” in impressions of them. Her impressions included Ariana Grande, a grandma, Stevie Nicks, Celine Dion, Snow White and Siri. Merissa earned the third ovation in a row, loved by the judges for the originality of showing her impression skills through great singing. Simon suggested losing the box to select her impressions because it slowed down the act, but that didn’t stop him from giving one of the total four Yes votes for her to sing again in the next round.
9:53 p.m. – Determined they can “win this entire show,” German magicians Siegfried and Joy took the stage for the final audition of the night. Pretty quickly into their act it became apparent that they are more of a comedy act than a magic act, and it was questionably good until the crowd erupted at the surprise of Jordan Conley assisting in one of their reappearing acts. Heidi said they made her proud to be German, Howie said that they were another addition to a “comedy is king” year, and Sofia called them “brilliant” and “creative.” Simon was confused, differing from the other judges because he found them annoying. Still, it only took the three votes of everyone else to send them through to the next round.
Lily Meola was Heidi’s favorite act, but which is YOUR favorite so far this season and do you think they can take home the $1 million prize? Sound off on the upcoming season in the comments below and with other fans in our reality TV forum. Also be sure to make your predictions to influence our reality TV racetrack odds.