We’re just two weeks away from the start of the finals of season 13 of “America’s Got Talent.” Twenty-two acts have made it through the gruelling live quarterfinals and are vying for the 10 spots in the two-night final that starts on September 18. Eleven of these hopefuls are performing on the first semifinal on September 4.
As with the quarterfinals, the four judges are no longer in charge during the semifinals. Three of the five acts that make it through will do so based on the votes of viewers. The fourth will win the Dunkin’ Save, a sudden death showdown for audience votes on the result show. And the fifth will be the judges’ choice.
Five of the acts on Tuesday’s show had earned the coveted Golden Buzzer at their auditions, which allowed them to go straight through to the live shows. Among these are three singers: Michael Ketterer who won over Simon Cowell; Amanda Mena who had Mel B singing her praises; and Makayla Phillips who had Heidi Klum cheering. Also on hand will be acrobatic dancers Zurcaroh who had host Tyra Banks jumping for joy and children’s choir Voices of Hope who had guest judge Ken Jeong joining in a chorus of cheers.
Below, read our recap of how they and the other six acts did on Tuesday’s live show, which is episode 17 of season 13. Who impressed you the most and who was the biggest disappointment? Be sure to sound off with your thoughts down in the comments section.
8:02 p.m. – It’s the first semifinals of the night and we’re seeing everyone perform live for the second time this season! I can’t wait to see how the acts have upped their game this time around and if they’ve corrected any of the mistakes from the quarterfinals. Let’s goooooo!
8:03 p.m. – The first act to take the stage was Mel’s golden buzzer act, singer Amanda Mena. Tonight she sang a soulful rendition of the Pharrell Williams hit “Happy.” I loved how smooth her voice was in the lower register and how the production of the entire performance felt ready for an awards show stage. In critiques, Heidi noted how it was a brave choice and it was her best performance of the season. Simon also thought she showed more confidence this time around and is certain that she’s making a good start to what could be a solid pop career for her.
8:14 p.m. – With another heels routine, Junior New System from The Philippines hoped to step up their game this time with stunts and a routine that they’d never done before. The performance was to a medley of song by pop stars and began with the guys in a nook below the stage with only their heels showing to the audience. From there they rose to the stage for multiple set pieces of flips and tricks before kicking off the heels and ending the routine barefoot for more tricks. The judges erupted into a standing ovation immediately and were stunned by the explosiveness of the routine.
8:24 p.m. – For their second live performance this season Us the Duo sang another original song. This week the song was more upbeat than what they’ve done in the past, allowing us to see a new facet of what kind of album they will make after the show. Tonight Simon and Heidi didn’t like the song (he even called it “background noise”) while Howie pointed out that they were at a disadvantage coming after the high energy of the guys dancing and it could hurt them in the voting.
8:34 p.m. – Next was the Voices of Hope children’s choir with their rendition of “Defying Gravity.” Once again the performance featured a handful of solo moments from their choir leads with the larger choir handling backup vocals and the choruses. The thing about the choir that Howie loved is that they are uplifting in both their song choices and production and he thinks it is what we need in the world right now. The one bit of criticism came from Mel who thought some of the timing was off during the song, but the other judges disagreed with her (I actually agreed!). That being said, Simon doesn’t think it matters because their choir is the type of act he likes to see succeed.
8:45 p.m. – Magician Shin Lim used both Heidi and Tyra as assistants for his card trick tonight. In the trick he had Heidi write her name on a random card in a deck which he then used in a series of slight of hand movements to produce the card out of his mouth! He then had Tyra write his name on a card for another series of disappearing and reappearing tricks. From their up close position Tyra and Heidi were flabbergasted by the magic, but even Mel, Simon and Howie were blown away. Simon called the act “sensational,” noting that this time his presentation was better than he’s been before and that it made his overall act much better.
8:59 p.m. – Makayla Phillips, Heidi’s golden buzzer act, was the next to take the stage after earning the judges’ save in her quarterfinals round. Tonight she sang the Jessie J song “Who You Are” and though it started off weak she brought it around for some really good moments during the choruses later on. Simon called her song choice smart, but thought the arrangement was overproduced at the end and her voice was lost. Howie warned that perhaps this week she didn’t “blow the roof off” which earned a round of boos from the other judges and much of the audience.
9:10 p.m. – The judges’ wild card act choice this round is Front Pictures whose goal tonight was to recreate the feeling of stepping out into space and the sense of wonder that comes with that. To achieve that, their brand of immersive storytelling used the concept of an astronaut floating in the stars among moving constellations that reflected animals and other objects. Simon was not impressed and hit his red X, but Mel was enthralled, getting to her feet a the end for a single ovation. Howie clarified that technically what they do is amazing, but he didn’t seem that taken by their act tonight. Simon’s problem was that the images were sea animals, but they were supposed to be in space and so overall it was all too confusing for him, but Mel found it breathtaking and clever.
9:21 p.m. – After redeeming themselves with the blindfold drop they failed to properly execute the first time, the daring trapeze act Duo Transcend came to the semifinals refusing still to play it safe and determined to step out of their comfort zone. Tonight’s performance included a lot of spinning and twirl tricks that made it feel fresh from what they’ve done before, but the kicker was that midway they both jumped off the trapeze bar and amidst a ring of fire transformed their act into a roller skate spinning performance! Simon gave them a huge compliment by saying that they followed through on the judges’ call for acts to “step up for the semifinals.” I agree–they really brought something new and made their already dangerous act feel even more dangerous!
9:32 p.m. – Samuel J. Comroe returned to the stage tonight with another comedy set. This time the focus of his jokes was back on his Tourettes with a few moments of supposed improv where he addressed the mood of the live audience (half was into it and the other half wasn’t). Mel called it her favorite performance of the night, but Heidi still struggled connecting to his brand of comedy and wished that she had laughed as much as Mel. Simon and Howie both though he nailed it though and is more than deserving of reaching the finals.
9:43 p.m. – Simon’s golden buzzer act Michael Ketterer (he also made Simon cry!) was the next to perform with a rendition of “When I Look at You” by Miley Cyrus. The song was another sentimental and inspirational one that with the piano accompaniment and his gritty soft rock vocal really created a great moment that touched Mel this week. In his critique, Simon asked Garth Brooks to please write a song for Michael to sing during the finals because he feels like he’s deserving of a great song. Would love to see that happen!
9:54 p.m. – Last to perform tonight was Tyra’s golden buzzer Zurcaroh. Tonight the inspiration for their performance was ancient civilizations with Egyptian-Roman costumes and an Olympus-like set design. The act itself featured towers and flips in the center of the stage while the main company danced in sync around the tricks. Once again the judging panel was completely stunned calling it a “grand spectacle” and Simon complimented the group’s leader on his ability to put such a sensational act together in a short period of time.
10:00 p.m. – Tune in tomorrow night for the results where only five of tonight’s acts will advance to the finals. But before you cast your own vote, let us know down in the comments who your faves were and who you think deserves to be the new AGT million dollar act!