‘America’s Got Talent’ episode 7 recap: Simon calls an act ‘one of the worst’ ever [LIVE BLOG]

This summer, “America’s Got Talent” returned for its 17th season with Terry Crews resuming his hosting duties and Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofía Vergara once again making up the judges panel. As in the past, this year’s champion will take home a $1 million cash prize and be able to showcase their talent as a headlining act in Las Vegas. The first five audition installments aired between May 31 and June 28 and were followed by the “Simon’s Favorite Golden Buzzers” special on July 5. The July 12 episode featured a sixth set of 15 first round acts all vying for quarter-final placements.

In the preliminary round, the judges and Terry are each allowed one use of the Golden Buzzer, which sends an act of their choice straight through to the live shows. This season, Terry picked saxophonist Avery Dixon, Howie chose singer Maddie, Simon went with vocalist Sara James, Sofía threw her support behind dance group Mayyas, and Heidi gave the honor to songstress Lily Meola.

With the coveted buzzer out of play, the newest group of auditioners really had to bring their A-game. The medical absence of Howie did, however, give each of them an advantage, since their advancement depended on two “yes” votes rather than the usual three. To find out how many of these acts are now in the running for inclusion in the quarter-finals, check out our “America’s Got Talent” season 17 episode 7 recap below.

8:02 p.m. – First up were J-pop boyband Travis Japan, the seven members of which range in age from 23 to 27. The group’s origins date back a full decade, with the current lineup having remained intact since 2017. Their performance of their song “Hollywood” served as an impressive showcase of their well-trained voices and meticulous choreography. Although Simon didn’t care for the song itself, he admitted “the energy was through the roof [and] the audience loved [the band].” Before they were given a full stamp of approval, Sofía expressed a particularly special bit of praise, saying their performance “felt like Vegas.”

8:14 p.m. – The judges were much less impressed with “Dino Don” Lessem, a 70-year-old dinosaur expert from Philadelphia. He promised “the greatest of all animal acts,” but instead presented a strange song-and-dance number involving showgirls and people wearing large, distractingly unrealistic raptor costumes. Simon quipped, “I love dinosaurs, but that was one of the worst acts we’ve ever had.” Although he got three “no” votes, Don was able to complete his routine without getting a single red buzzer.

8:16 p.m. – Next, the stage was desecrated by an auditioner simply known as Parrot Man, whose tiresome and somewhat unsettling act involved him repeatedly shouting, “How’re you guys doing tonight?.” The judges tried to discern some sort of point to the man in the cheap, rubber parrot mask’s performance, but once it became clear they were being trolled, they all swiftly smacked their buzzers.

8:17 p.m.Shenay Kloss brought the episode back up from its low point, but only slightly. The 28-year-old San Diegan’s announcement that her act involved “an animal that has never been on the show” elicited an exasperated expression from Sofía that quickly turned into one of terror when Shenay released her three “trained” cockroaches. Simon ignored Sofía’s squirming and insisted on seeing the entire miniature circus-like performance. He gave Shenay a “yes” vote, saying, “I love people who love odd animals.” His co-judges stuck to their buzzes and voted “no,” with Heidi suggesting Kloss “practice more and come back” and Sofía simply saying, “You’re great, but I can’t do cockroaches.”

8:25 p.m. – 32-year-old gospel singer and vocal coach Ben Waites brought Sofía to tears and all three judges to their feet with his rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” The Nashvillian, whose arthrogryposis confines him to a wheelchair, said he feels the song “is able to speak to people no matter their age, their race, [or] their background [and is] able to communicate a message of hope.” Simon was a bit critical of Ben’s vocal control, but assured him that “there’s no such thing as a perfect audition” and gave him one of three “yes” votes. Sofía called his performance “special” and “different” and told him, in anticipation of his next one, that she “can’t wait to cry again.”

8:35 p.m. – We next saw a shortened version of a routine from comedic acrobatic pair Duo Forza. Spaniards Jose and Lian, who have spent the last five years honing their body balancing skills, won the approval of all three judges.

8:36 p.m. – Simon, Heidi, and Sofía were further impressed by the Argentinian gymnasts Flora and Nico, who perform together as Duo Rings. The married couple’s aerial routine set to a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” fascinated the judges, with the women continually marveling at Flora’s display of physical strength. Heidi praised what she saw as “mesmerizing [and] so elegant,” while Simon said, “This felt different from this kind of act I’ve seen before.” The pair moved on with three “yes” votes.

8:47 p.m. – Next up were Acapop! KIDS, a nine-member group of 12 to 17-year-old singers who were brought together four years ago by some of the folks behind Pentatonix. Their song choice, “My Turn,” was written by deceased member Nolan Gibbons, to whom they dedicated their impassioned performance. They easily won “yes” votes across the board, with Simon calling their act “absolutely brilliant” and Sofía saying, “I am very happy you guys made it to AGT because we needed you.”

8:58 p.m. – Longtime Brazilian friends Henry and Klauss introduced themselves as “brothers of soul,” clarifying that their act requires them to be “mentally and spiritually connected to each other.” The escapologists then carried out their performance, which involved them being handcuffed together and each trapped in a barrel rigged with explosives set to go off in 90 seconds. Tiny cameras gave the audience views of the men’s faces as they worked to uncuff themselves with a hairclip, which they seemingly failed to do in time. Mere seconds after the explosives went off, the duo (disguised as cameramen) were standing right next to Simon, and the prestige portion of their trick was thus realized. They got three enthusiastic “yes” votes, with Heidi saying, “I loved trying to figure it out, and I can’t.”

9:07 p.m. – The excitement in the room faded when Erica Glenn took the stage and launched into a self-written Broadway-style song about Simon. As cheesy as it was, the number had at least some degree of production value, as evidenced by the admittedly decent lyrics and the backup dancers’ Vegas-appropriate costumes. Simon was flattered, but his fellow judges could not help but hit their buzzers. Sofía called the song “completely wrong” for the show, while Heidi said, “I don’t think we really need a Simon Cowell musical.”

9:09 p.m. – Sofía was goaded into joining the next contestant, Adam Winrich, on stage as his volunteer with only the vague knowledge that his act involved whips and toilet paper. The 40-year-old Wisconsinite, who was dressed in full cowboy attire, first rapidly cracked two whips around the judge as she stood stone still. A lull in the action elicited a buzz from Simon, but Adam carried on by using his whip to slice off TP squares as Sofía swung a roll attached to a whip above her head. He then handed her his “toilet paper cannon” (constructed from a leaf blower) and cut up another roll as it quickly blew his way. A confused Simon settled on a “no” vote, but Adam got the support he needed from Heidi and his reluctant assistant.

9:19 p.m. – Sofía had a ball interacting with the next hopefuls, Stefanny and Yeeremy, who hail from her home country of Colombia. With the help of their English interpreter, the pair of dancers promised “a lot of passion [and] flavor” in their performance, and they did not disappoint. Their two-part routine was set to Bishop Briggs’s “The Way I Do” and Ray Barretto’s “La Pelota” and incorporated a thrilling midpoint costume and tempo change. All three judges approved their advancement, with Simon complimenting their “personality, showmanship, expertise, [and] originality.”

9:29 p.m. – 26-year-old violinist Alex Rivers returned to the stage one day after having been sent away by Simon and told to come back with a song that better demonstrated his talent. The bubbly Vegas strip busker used his illuminated instrument to cover Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” (having previously chosen her “Break My Heart”), which Simon confirmed was “a good track.” His resilience paid off in the form of three “yes” votes, with Heidi complimenting him as “a great artist [with] a lot of talent.”

9:40 p.m. – Next up were Albanian siblings Arnold and Arthur, who perform acrobatics as the Balla Brothers. Heidi and Simon noticed their rolla bolla materials and formed expectations of what they were about to see, but even they were impressed by the brothers’ perilous balancing act. Sofía called them “amazing,” saying, “I could watch you guys for a long, long time.” Simon expressed a desire to see materials more dangerous than tennis balls added to the juggling portion of the act, but also said, “It’s always good to see something we haven’t seen before.” The judges unanimously voted to send the duo through.

9:52 p.m. – Tonight’s final contestant was Wyn Starks, a 39-year-old Minnesotan now pursuing a full-time music career in Nashville. He performed his original song, “Who I Am,” in honor of his departed twin brother, who he referred to as “one of [his] biggest supporters.” His astounding, expertly controlled high-register voice lit up the auditorium and handily won him the support of every judge. Sofía told him, “I love all the feeling that you gave to your song,” while Simon said, “We meet the most incredible people on this show, and now we’ve met you… I think this could be a life-changing moment for you.”

Which season 17 act is YOUR favorite so far? Do you think they can snag the $1 million prize? Sound off 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.

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