It was a night of great talent including a 10-year-old magician, inspirational vocalists, a professional regurgitator and a guy with tape on his face.
This was another great week of wild performances on "America's Got Talent: The Champions" with a results twist no one saw coming and at the same time, immediately irritated us.
As in previous weeks, we had multiple "Got Talent" winners, including "AGT" Season 8 champ Kenichi Ebina and German winner The Professional Regurgitator, as well as the reigning "Denmark's Got Talent" champions, the Moonlight Brothers.
It was a Season 10 rematch between winner ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and runner-up comedian Drew Lynch, while "Britain's Got Talent" runner-up Issy Simpson wanted to prove that kid magicians can blow your minds as well. And she totally did!
Simon Cowell got the Golden Buzzer, so you knew it was probably going to go to a singer unless any dog at all walked onto the stage. He had a plethora of choices, including The Texas Tenors, Kechi and Brian Justin Crum.
But it was host Terry Crews who got the most excited crowd reaction for his unexpected strip tease as part of one act's performance, earning himself a second Golden Buzzer on the night!
Terry Crews takes over for Tyra Banks as host, but that's not the only change. Instead of getting America involved, we are represented by a group of "super fans" from all 50 states. Each week, they choose one act to carry on and the judges choose the other with their golden buzzer (it's Simon Cowell's tonight). Ten enter, but only two move on.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe. Even though it's basically a crap shoot this year, I'm gonna rank them from worst to first to see who emerges as my winner each week.
(dancers) The reigning "Denmark's Got Talent" champions certainly brought the swagger of champions and they brought the energy. What was especially fun about it was how differently their dance style was to almost anything we see here in America. It was a little more wild than usually does well on these shows, but filled with so many fun tricks and such a sense of personality and fun you can see why Denmark fell in love with them. It was a memorable performance for sure.
(performance art) While he was as silly as he was on the 2016 season of "AGT," it just felt even more absurd and less like something special. There is a vaudeville element to what Tape Face does, but it felt largely unfinished here as he too obviously set up the record scratching/cutting board bit and we've just seen him do much more clever and memorable pantomime. Hitting the golden buzzer for Terry stripping was a bit funnier, but this just doesn't look like a million-dollar act here.
(singer) A 2017 "AGT" finalist, Kechi will always be remembered for her harrowing story of survival and recovery from severe burns, but it was her voice that shined brightest during her original run, and she was in fine form again tonight. As a performer, she's improved leaps and bounds, connecting visually with the audience and then her voice simply soared as the song carried on. It was a beautiful and heartfelt performance, if not as emotionally resonant as we've seen before from her. But we can absolutely see why Simon decided she was worthy of his golden buzzer, and we're certainly not mad about it.
(comedian) He came in second back in 2015 and the guy who beat him is here again tonight. Talk about pressure, but Drew came to win. The biggest problem with this set is that it was simply too short. Drew was just bringing us into his unique world with the Invisalign story and the it was over. It felt like we got two joke with some expansion. We're not sure if that was his allotted time or not, but his worldview is certainly fun enough we would have liked more.
(dancer) Back in 2013, it was the first seasons on "AGT" for both Heidi and Mel when Kenichi won it all. At 44 years old, he says he can't do what he could five years ago, so he had to make modifications to his act. And he really got creative in how he used the video board behind him, a mechanical dog and added a body split to his signature head drop. The dancing wasn't as dynamic as in the past, but he definitely still knows how to put on a show.
(ventriloquist) This 2015 "AGT" winner came to win again and brought something he believed had never been seen before in a ventriloquist act. What he brought was humming and beatboxing in tandem. All in all, it was a very fun set and the opening bit without the puppet where he talked about pretending to be a smart elevator was just brilliant. The pre-beatbox banter might have gone on a little too long, but it was a lot of fun and he proved why he won his season.
The Professional Regurgitator
(self-explanatory) Heidi Klum's all-time favorite act (which says a lot), Stevie Starr has been on so many "Got Talent" shows since 2010 he's practically made a career out of it. His is one of the most unusual acts, but it does very well. He's finished 4th in America and France and actually won in Germany. And in all honesty, what is this act? It's truly mesmerizing to watch and though we've no idea how he does it (we're guessing some sort of sleight of hand), he makes it very engaging. Simon buzzing while he's swallowing a blade, though? Not cool, man!
The Texas Tenors
(vocalists) This vocal trio made it into the top four a decade ago on Season 4 of "AGT," but were excited to perform for Simon Cowell for the first time. And wow have they improved in ten years. They were always vocally impressive, but this was so polished and so professional, the audience and judges could do nothing but stand up and applaud. "Unchained Melody" is a helluva song, but they were fearless in interpreting it through their classical filter and created a true aural gem.
(magician) A "Britain's Got Talent' runner-up in 2017, this ten-year-old magician came out seeking redemption. We adored her Hermione Granger approach to magic, a combination of bossiness, sass, confidence and brilliance. She has such a charming delivery we could watch her perform tricks for hours, and to top it off the tricks themselves were so cheeky and clever. The "heavy" box was just an aside, but still so effective. She puts on a very smart set.
Brian Justin Crum
(singer) A fourth place finisher on "AGT" in 2016, this was like a whole new performer this time around. From the first note, Brian came to win this whole damned thing and you couldn't help but stand up and take notice. It was a powerful performance from beginning to end, adding a whole new layer of passion to Elton John's classic "Your Song." Seriously, that was truly something magical and leaps and bounds over every other performance he's done on this series.
While Kechi was already celebrating it was make or break time for the other nine acts. And on a night packed with such a different array of talent and so many performers who really brought their best, it was anybody's guess who might get the "50 States" vote.
As always, Terry started off by singling out America's Top 3, except in this case the voting was so tight it became a Top 4. First out of the gate was Brian Justin Crum, because he was just that good. He was quickly joined by Paul Zerdin and the tied acts: Tape Face and Drew Lynch.
3rd Place: Tape Face & Drew Lynch (but wasn't this kind of obvious because of how the tie was set up? Come on, "AGT," this was just odd and rather pointless)
2nd Place: Paul Zerdin
1st Place: Brian Justin Crum
So that's two more singers as America is proving that they like to keep it simple. Is this "American Idol's" fault? The show was the first of this kind and such a juggernaut that we've been all about singers ever since.
Brian and Kechi join danger act Deadly Games, comedian Preacher Lawson and a litany of singers including Susan Boyle, Angelica Hale, Cristina Ramos and Paul Potts. That's six out of eight acts singers already, so no matter what happens next week, the finals will be at least 60 percent singers.
We're not knocking these choices, necessarily, because we totally fell under Brian's spell, too. It's just a shame that the more diverse acts really struggle to stand out against a standout vocalist. Maybe that's the challenge of a everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink format like this.
Either way, the final ten "Champions" acts hit the stage next week before we move on to the next round.
"America's Got Talent: The Champions" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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