The Top 10 finalists hit the stage for more exciting duets with Leona Lewis, Lang Lang, Kygo, Macklemore, Ozuna and Julianne Hough debuts her new single.
Ten acts entered but only could emerge as the Season 14 winner of "America's Got Talent." Who would it be?
After one of the strongest finales in show history, it was anyone's game to win. Or was it just Kodi Lee's game to win and everyone else was battling for how they would rank behind him?
He was the clear favorite to win throughout the season and he didn't disappoint in Tuesday night's performance finale. But he wasn't the only one who brought it.
You know what, let's just get on with it and see what happened!
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 sixteen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
Ndlovu Youth Choir & Detroit Youth Choir (w/ Kygo & Macklemore)
This was a fun way to spotlight the choirs in the competition, and what a thrill it must have been for DYC to perform with Macklemore what has effectively become their signature sound. It also got us wondering, why is it that good choral music can't be contemporary and popular mainstream music? Both of these young groups have the right attitude and with polish and creative management could really bring a fresh and different -- yet classic sound -- to the airwaves.
Tyler Butler-Figueroa & Light Balance Kids (w/ Brian King Joseph)
This would have been much cooler if Tyler and Brian had performed together and then provided accompaniment on the same track as LBK came onto the stage. There was just no connection between the back-to-back performances. The violins were a little off key at one point, but overall they brought a lot of cool energy to their performance. LBK, on the other hand, really didn't do much that exciting at all.
Emanne Beasha (w/ Lang Lang)
Emanne took on a timeless classic that was utterly transfixing and beautiful. It was remarkable that in the opening moments she actually sounded like an 11-year-old girl, but only briefly. Her voice is usually so rich and polished, you'd never know how young she was. She's still going to have quite a career ahead of her. As for Lang Lang, what can we say that everyone doesn't already know; he's one of the best.
Ryan Niemiller (w/ Chris Jericho)
Rather than do anything live on the show, Ryan got to meet one of his wrestling heroes for a fun skit where he learned the ropes, and how to come off the ropes, from one of the best to ever take on the squared circle. "Never turn your back on the Cripple Threat!" He is very natural and funny on camera, so maybe Gabrielle should cast him in something ... just maybe a bit of a makeover.
Benicio Bryant (w/ Ozuna)
This was a whole new side of Benicio and it was so great to see. He was full of energy and literally and figuratively let his hair down for a great performance. Benicio really brings it with stage presence and everything on uptempo tracks and without the stress of the competition looming over him. Who knew?
Cher & Simon Cowell's Random Thoughts
In which we learn that Simon Cowell thinks Pong is a new video game, hasn't had a cell phone in two years and communicates via pigeon ... or does he? We could write a book on the things he's oblivious about. But a cute bit.
Julianne Hough & V.Unbeatable
This was a catchy little bop, but we were more impressed with Julianne fully immersing herself in the V.Unbeatable experience ... though we would have loved her to do an actual throw. An incredible dancer already, Julianne had been keeping her vocal side under wraps for the past ten years. Now it's more clear than ever why she was an effective and compassionate judge, as she's got quite a roster of talent under her blue tape? Ribbon? That was a look.
Lilly Sing's Top 5 Worst Auditions
NBC's newest late-night host helped us remember some of the best worst auditions of the season, counting them down. And if you can't guess who she had at number one (though an argument could have been made for numbers one and two), you don't remember the auditions.
Voices of Service (w/ Billy Ray Cyrus)
Billy Ray didn't really seem to have his heart in this performance, which created a different texture to the overall piece as VoH continued to deliver the same level of passion and commitment they always do. This is a great song for their repertoire and we're so glad they're getting to spread their important message on such a big stage.
Simon Cowell's American Dream
That was weirdly sincere.
Cher is timeless. Cher is a goddess. Cher is perfection. Cher sounds amazing, she looks great and she knows how to bring the energy, even if she isn't doing a whole lot physically herself. She simply surrounds herself with disco-inspired dancers who bring all the enthusiasm!
Kodi Lee (w/ Leona Lewis)
That was gorgeous, a stunning duet between two amazing voices. Kodi just keeps bringing it every single time he hits the stage, and he had absolutely no problem sharing the stage and creating beautiful harmonies with Leona. Another masterful step on his journey to stardom, no matter what happens here.
Terry kicked things off by devastating five acts at once ... two by two. First, it was Voices of Service up against Benicio Bryant, which did not bode well for the young singer. America agreed with our rankings, as we had Voices of Service in our Top 5.
Next up, it was Ryan Niemiller and Emanne Beasha. We had both of them in our Top 5, but weren't confident America was going to embrace opera over some of the other acts. And they didn't, as Ryan Niemiller kept comedy strong on "AGT" by joining the top half of the competition.
V.Unbeatable squared off against Ndlovu Youth Choir next. We had NYC in our Top 5, but the judges and America seem to have been loving V.Unbeatable way more than us throughout this competition. Maybe they didn't see The Kings on "World of Dance." Regardless, it was V.Unbeatable who advanced and we're down two of our Top 5 acts.
As soon as Light Balance Kids heard they had to go up and stand next to Kodi Lee, you could see the look on their faces. The audience even knew it, chanting Kodi Lee as Terry sent him into the Top 5. America got this one right.
Finally, it was down to Tyler Butler-Figueroa and the Detroit Youth Choir. This one felt like a bit of a toss-up, but we imagined Tyler's heartwarming story might give him the edge here. But it didn't, as Detroit Youth Choir managed to overcome the odds and represent both Detroit and choral music.
5th Place: We're pretty sure Voices of Service are more than happy with this result as they were so much more about getting their message out than winning the show. And this larger profile will allow them to continue to do their good work for veterans and everyone in and around the military community.
4th Place: If we're being totally honest, V.Unbeatable just didn't resonate with us as much as they did America, and they were clearly devastated by this result. But 4th place is nothing to sneeze at, and this was a great opportunity to showcase their unique hybrid of acrobatics and dance. It's up to them to capitalize as quickly as possible before audiences move on to whatever the next big thing is.
3rd Place: We really thought Ryan Niemiller might get runner-up when we got to this point, but he has every right to be thrilled with third place. With Gabrielle's offer -- was it sincere? -- and what he's proven to the world, his stand-up career is going to skyrocket from here. And if he can take that next step onto the screen, the sky's the limit. And it's just because he is that good.
2nd Place: This one is absolutely shocking to us, and you know the Detroit Youth Choir are going to return as hometown heroes. They represented their community with strength and pride and grace and really helped to try and change perceptions about Detroit. Plus, that's gotta look pretty good on a college resume, right?
1st Place: From the moment he first opened his mouth to sing in the season premiere, there was almost no doubt that Kodi Lee was going to win this season. On the one hand, you almost feel bad for everyone else who compete this season. On the other, Kodi is a brilliant vocalist and performer no matter what challenges he may face in his daily life.
Adding those challenges in, he's an unbelievable spirit and gift to the world. What an advocate for autism. What a remarkable young man. What an exciting and interesting career he's going to have. We genuinely can't wait to see what he does next.
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