“America’s Got Talent” is one week away from crowning a champion, an amazing feat considering Season 16 almost didn’t happen.
Simon Cowell revealed on the second and final round of semifinals on Tuesday that NBC “almost didn’t make the show this year because it was really tricky” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we hadn’t made the show,” Cowell told Northwell Nurse Choir, “then we wouldn’t have found you and my God, the world needs you right now.”
The group of 18 nurses who worked at the frontline during the pandemic in New York performed an emotional rendition of Andy Grammer’s “Don’t Give Up On Me” in their signature scrubs, which provided a striking visual to poignant lyrics: “I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up/ No not yet/ Even when I’m down to my last breath.”
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“I can’t separate your story from your talent,” Mandel said to his Golden Buzzer winners. “With that song, you just touched 10 million people and you are healing us… We need you in the finale.”
The final five spots in next week’s finale are up for grabs. And the competition is stacked. The group of 11 semifinalists includes three Golden Buzzer winners: Northwell Nurse Choir, Heidi Klum’s quick change artist Léa Kyle and 9-year-old opera singer Victory Brinker, the show’s first-ever group Golden Buzzer.
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Brinker performed a heavenly rendition of “Nessun Dorma,” earning a standing ovation from the judges and crowd. It was a no-brainer for Cowell: “Of course I’m on my feet. That song is like climbing the tallest mountain in the world and you conquered it. Not only are you talented, you are fearless and that’s what we need in the finale.”
Klum called her performance a “mic drop” act, literally. She instructed the young singer to drop the microphone on stage. Don’t worry, Klum said, “I’ll pay for it.”
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Kyle brought the heat to an enchanted rain forest at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre with more than a dozen outfit changes in just under two minutes during her best act yet.
“You proved again today that you really are the best quick change artist we’ve ever had,” Klum said. Sofía Vergara called her “perfection,” Mandel said she was a “showstopper” and Cowell said Kyle “will be a huge hit in Las Vegas.”
But the coveted Golden Buzzer status is no longer synonymous with frontrunners after two Golden Buzzer acts found themselves on the brink of elimination last week.
Cowell said Chapkidz, a group of dancers aged 12-18, had “the best performance of the night so far,” besting Golden Buzzer winners Kyle, Brinker and Northwell Nurse Choir.
“You are so talented, so amazing, you work so hard I absolutely love you,” Cowell told Chapkidz. Klum added, “I really think you danced your way into the finals.” (For what it’s worth, a dance group has never won “AGT.”)
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Despite getting off to a “shaky” start, singer Brooke Simpson delivered a powerful cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits.” Cowell said she’s “an amazing singer, an amazing person and you really, really deserve to be here next week, genuinely.”
Mandel added, “Indigenous people owned America and I think with this performance, you took it back.”
Vocal trio 1aChrod, composed of singers Julian Kennedy, Christoff Hairston and Tavis Cunningham, hit a high note on their spiritual rendition of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” and it’s safe to say they took the judges breath away.
“The vocals were insanely good,” Cowell applauded. Klum said the trio did “a better job than Sting did” on the classic rock song. “Sorry Sting,” she added.
It’s hard to believe the group only formed 7 months ago after meeting at a lunch table at UNC Greensboro in North Carolina. But they are more than singers. Kennedy revealed he has autism and Asperger’s syndrome and was “bullied because of how different I was,” but Hairston and Cunningham embraced him.
“I love the relationship you guys have,” Vergara said.
Comedian Josh Blue is also not letting his circumstances define him. The comedian, who has Cerebral palsy, earned rave reviews over his Paralympics-themed comedy sketch.
“I think we’ll see you next week and you have a chance to win that,” said Cowell. Mandel called it “the year of comedy” and “the year of Josh Blue”. It would become the first comedic act (that’s not a ventriloquist) to win “AGT”.
Not all of them were up to the opportunity, however. Comedian Kabir Singh received a red buzzer from Cowell in the middle of his sketch joking about his dating life, his Indian origins and his mother.
“I didn’t like today. I don’t know what happened to you, “Vergara said, while Cowell patted himself on the shoulder.” It didn’t go that well, who strangely made things better. “
The second and last group of semi-finalists was rounded off by singer Brooke Simpson, mentalist Peter Antoniou, unicycle dance group UniCircle Flow and acrobats Rialcris, who received a red “X” from Cowell.
“We saw the same storyline every time. Very slowly. I don’t see any improvement and I think it got boring after 30 seconds,” said Cowell. The rest of the judges disagreed. Vergara said, “I don’t care what Simon says. He knows a lot about music, but what does he know about balance. “
But it is not up to the judges to decide who will proceed. It’s America.
Fans can vote up to 10 times for each act at NBC.com/AGTvote and the America’s Got Talent app. The seven acts to reach the semifinals will be announced during Wednesday’s results show, which includes guest appearances from “AGT” alum Deadly Games and Duo Transcend (NBC, 8 EDT / PDT).