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New judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough join returning host Terry Crews and mainstays Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel for the all-new "AGT."

After the success of "The Champions" edition and its host Terry Crews, "America's Got Talent" was ready to unveil its all-new, all-different look for its regular season.

It was a clean sweep of the ladies, with Tyra Banks joining judges Mel B and Heidi Klum in bidding the show farewell. Crews is sticking around as emcee, while Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel will now flank Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough behind the judges table.

Union brings a unique perspective to the "Got Talent" stage as an actress first and foremost, giving her a different eye than her fellow judges. And we expect the dance critique to get more intense with the inclusion of Hough, who -- like her brother and "World of Dance" judge Derek -- is a world-class dancer in her own right.

The new season kicked off with plenty of amazing talent, too, with a magician seeking to be the heir apparent to current champ Shin Lim, a strong voice in female comedy, an amazingly gifted teen singer-songwriter, and a blind autistic young man that has to be seen to be believed.

Plus, which act did Simon Cowell rush the stage to kiss? Which one finally convinced Julianne Hough that the buzzer is her friend? And which one earned the first golden buzzer of the season, and who pressed it?

Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I've spent the last seventeen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.

Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe. And just for fun, I'm gonna rank them from worst to first to see who emerges as my winner each week.


(comic dancer) Not sure what this was supposed to be, but it showed us how reluctant Julianne is to hit her buzzer. No worries, because before Monkey stripped down to nothing, Simon hit it for her. And it was a mercy killing. Even still, Julianne tried to be hopeful. Howie nailed it on the end that this was her newbie status talking.

Judges: N, N, N, N

Andy Pigkens

(comedian) That descriptor is used very loosely, as we didn't see much of this act. What we did see was a man with a bizarre pig not-quite-a-puppet and an easel. He then made a comment about not dropping posters as he dropped his. Get it? That's comedy gold, y'al! But hey, it was enough to convince Julianne to finally hit her buzzer and put everyone out of their misery ... including Andy.

Judges: N, N, N, N


(singers) So this foursome sings but everything is the word "meow"? Kinda makes you wonder what the plan is when some of these acts sign up. We know some are about being so bad they might get on TV, and some are orchestrated stunts, but how many are people who really think they've got something? By this point, Julianne was all about the "X" and even hit Simon's with her heel.

Judges: N, N, N, Y

The Human Fuse

(daredevil) The stunt itself was pretty cool and dangerous, but the reality television melodrama was utterly preposterous. This was basically two segments to set up as much drama as possible and in the end, he was okay. It was a neat trick, and certainly a dangerous one, but how compelling is that overall? Plus, is it a good idea to tell potential voters down the road that your plan should you win is to quit performing? Not so sure.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Greg Morton

(impressionist) Greg just gave us a madcap romp through the "Star Wars" franchise, sticking mostly with the original trilogy. If this is just the tip of his voice capabilities, he might have something because it was more than characters, he gave great sound effects as well. It might have been fun to have a story like a one-man radio serial, but it's understandable his time was limited. If he can go beyond "Star Wars," though, his act could be really fun as he's very engaging, energetic and likeable, scoring a standing ovation from everyone.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Patrizio Ratto

(pianist-dancer) Patrizzio had a surprise in store, setting everyone up for some classical piano, which he had, and then turning it into street dancing to a club-remix of Beethoven's "Fur Elise." It took him a bit to get into the groove of his dancing with elements of locking and robot. Once he got in there, there was some great musicality and creative expression. It's an interesting hybrid that could be refined into something really special.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Jackie Fabulous

(comedian) Jackie has a natural delivery style and it's probably a good sign that this felt like a very short set. Some of her jokes pushed the boundaries toward fat-shaming, which could be triggering for some, but she definitely knows how to write a joke and perhaps more importantly how to present one. She's not the best stand-up comic they've had on the show, but she's a solid performer. She got Simon so excited he had to run up and kiss her before saying yes.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y


(dancers) Interestingly, another dance crew from Mumbai just won "World of Dance." But could V.Unbeatable beat The Kings? It was actually a very similar visual style and approach to the Kings, but done with a wider age range and not quite as solid at hiding the setups of the stunts behind the formation dancing. It is a compelling style of dance to watch, though the formation dancing felt a little rudimentary and the stunts a bit repetitive ... though the bamboo was a nice touch. It also wasn't quite as clean as it should have been, but the energy was outstanding, commitment complete and they have the foundation for a great dance crew.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y


(singer) This was a fun act from top to bottom, including two self-created curtain calls. Gingzilla is a singular glamazon that not only brings a fabulous and unique style to the stage, but that voice! It came out of nowhere, and really brought out the passion of Paul Anka's, "She's a Lady." And then for the curtain calls, Ging vamped it up into more of a funky sound, but it was pure entertainment throughout. Is that the best voice ever? No. Is it one helluva memorable act? Absolutely.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Kodi Lee

(magician) Kodi is blind and autistic and excitable and was more than ready to show what he could do. But that kinetic energy he displayed before he hit the piano was in stark contrast to the soulful and powerful musician he morphed into when he began to play. It was a stunning transformation, and a shocking reveal just how talented he is both as a pianist and a vocalist. He definitely lacks polish as a singer, but the natural gift is definitely there and it's really something special. It was so powerful for Gabrielle that she gave Kodi her golden buzzer.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Sophie Pecora

(singer) What a unique cadence and delivery Sophie gave on a very catchy and powerful song about how real and devastating bullying can be. What made it such a tour de force was how real it was. She didn't present bullying stereotypes, but rather details like the fear of being tricked by kindness. It's something that lingers in the heart for so long, and it's so perfect she wrote and performed it at 15-years old, because this is life for her and her peers and so many other people struggling.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Eric Chien

(magician) It's hard to follow two-time winner Shin Lim as a magician on "AGT." He's the reigning champ of both the parent show and "Champions," so there's no pressure, right? Eric was nervous going in, but once he settled into his routine, it was absolutely mesmerizing and every bit as compelling and amazing and magical as anything Shin did ... his vest changed twice!. All kinds of awesome illusions on a simple table with very few props. That he moves slightly beyond just cards opens up even more how he might blow him away. Here's hoping already he makes the finals if only so we can see what he and Shin could perform together.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

"America's Got Talent" continues next Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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