The only way we can really explain it is that America absolutely went with some of the night's strongest acts, advancing them to next week's semi-finals, but we totally didn't think they would. So we're both happy and confused at the same time.
This week brought some familiar "AGT* faces like violinist Brian King Joseph, Sandou Trio Russian Bar, and shadow dancers The Silhouettes. They were joined by a kid comedian from Australia, a former kid singer from Britain and winners from Africa and Romania that have to be seen to be believed.
There was a wholly unique dog act, as well as a young hip-hop duo, while Voices of Service returned to inspire and move everyone. But could they move on against the stiffest competition they've ever faced on this stage?
It was a wild night of unpredictability ... and believe you we tried. Alesha Dixon had the golden buzzer and we can't fault her use of it, though that wasn't the strongest act of the night. So what was? Read on!
(dancer) The first openly gay contestant on "Romania's Got Talent," Emil won it all in 2018. But was it a symbolic vote or has he got the goods? Well, he might go over well in an intimate club setting as he's clearly having fun but there were no stellar dance moves and nothing really all that groundbreaking or amazing about anything that he did. It was just not at all what the level of this show demands. The biggest feat is how confidently he can walk in heels (and he slays in them).
Bars & Melody
(rapper & singer) Back in 2014, this duo scored Simon's first-ever golden buzzer on "Britain's Got Talent" on their way to a third-place finish ... at only 13 and 15 years old. They've had major success across the pond, but are yet to crack America in a big way. While the song might have potential, the performance was a bit flat. They were off their timing and "Bars" mumbled his way through his part, botching the start pretty badly. It was clear their nerves were overwhelming them and that carried through into the routine. This just wasn't their moment to shine.
Christian & Percy
(hand-balancing dog act) Christian made it into the "AGT" finals back in 2014 with Scooby, who has since retired. Unfortunately, he fell just short when he ditched the dog in that finals, so he came back to get it right. It was definitely the right call to keep Percy involved, because this would have just been an okay balancing act otherwise. Percy able to stay on top of him throughout and even doing his own balancing in the finale made it that much more adorable, though we're not sure it's enough to dominate on this stage, if we're honest.
(comedian) This tiny seven-year-old came from "Australia's Got Talent" with an incredible stage presence. A semi-finalist there in 2019, JJ opted to roast the panel and Terry Crews with his time here. It was more cute than funny, but he does have an incredible likability about him. He could well grow into a fine comedian, but we'd have loved to see a different kind of material from him here as it's hard to judge how he would carry on in the competition.
Brian King Joseph
(violinist) Brian had to settle for a third place finish on "AGT' in 2018, and the biggest thing he got out of it was health insurance to better battle his neuropathy. He brought an original song and laid it all out on that stage. This was an incredibly high energy performance from start to finish, and a very modern and cool song as well. Brian is a real talent on his instrument, he knows how to rock-and-roll on a violin and he knows how to present a crowd-pleaser.
(shadow dancers) Back in 2011, The Silhouettes were the first to bring this format on the "AGT" stage back in 2011, falling just short of winning the whole thing. Once again, they proved that simplicity can still be the key as they didn't go all out to perfectly mimic different shapes but rather chose to tell a story of love between a dog and its master. It was surprisingly moving and beautiful. Alesha loved it so much they got her golden buzzer.
(singers) After soaring into the Top 5 over the summer, these servicemen and -woman came back to win. Once again, they slowly pull you in with their incredible harmonies, powerful vocals and a raw emotional authenticity that can't be faked. These guys are the real deal, and Sgt. Maj. Christal Rheams is a voice to be reckoned with on any day, but she was absolutely sensational tonight. They've got a real shot at a good run again.
Sandou Trio Russian Bar
(balance act) Back in 2011, this unique act made it into the semi-finals and then did something really terrible by upending the act for some bizarre upside-down piano performance. Thankfully, they were back to the classics here, There's just something wild and crazy about what they do, and the fact that she went blindfolded was just incredible to watch, even as it shined a spotlight on how pivotal her husband and brother are in being in the right place with that bar. It's dangerous, it's exciting. Sure, it might seem a little limited overall but it's still an absolute spectacle and they are masters at it.
(singer) At six years old, Connie Talbot was runner up on the first-ever season of "Britain's Got Talent" back in 2007. Now 19, she brought an original to a new stage to show that her talent grew up with her. Honestly, at this point she's an entirely different artist so there was no comparing to what she did then. She was an adorable ingenue at six. At 19, she's a real artist and a force to be reckoned with. That was an incredibly wrought performance, with power and just a hint of grit. Connie should be on the cusp of a real career in America with that.
(dancer) A totally unique talent, Strauss won "Africa's Got Talent" back in 2017 with his bone-breaking, contortionist-level dancing. We've seen contortion before, but not with this much range and variety to it. Usually, they can twist one or two parts to crazy degrees, but Strauss seems to be able to dislocate and liquify his joints at will. It's mesmerizing, a little uncomfortable and like nothing we've seen before.
This was a tough night to predict, as the judges said, because it was really tight at the top and it's really going to depend on how much this audience was drawn to more unique acts like Sandau Trio and Strauss Serpent.
There's no denying their talent, but they're definitely not everyone's cup of tea. The same could be said for Connie Talbot, who was really great on the night but might have just been too ordinary.
Our rankings have Connie advancing with Strauss and Voices of Service, but contortion doesn't generally do as well in America. Plus, we can't rule out Brian King Joseph, a fan favorite, or America's obsession with talented kids, which could carry JJ through.
Should he go through? Probably not. Will he? Honestly, we think he will, along with Voices of Service (because patriotism), with the third choice a bit of a wild card. We'll just go the safe route and say they give it to Connie, though with the judges behind the third spot, it's even harder to predict.
Of course, The Silhouettes already secured their spot in the finals thanks to Alesha's golden buzzer, leaving three slots moving on to next week's semi-finals.
Emil Rengle, Voices of Service and Strauss Serpent were brought up first, and we really thought that meant America couldn't handle all that creepy contortionism. But they proved us wrong, as Strauss Serpent snagged that first spot.
Next up were Bars & Melody, Connie Talbot and Sandou Trio Russian Bar. After seeing Strauss go through, could Sandou get the upset over Connie? They sure did, as the superfans rejected singers altogether here and Sandou Trio Russian Bar carry on their redemption arc.
That left Brian King Joseph, JJ Pantano and Christian & Percy, with the judges deciding their fates. All are favorites, with Christian having the dog edge, JJ being a cute kid and Brian being adored by the panel for years.
It was truly anyone's game at this point; a testament to the night. Howie voted for JJ's comedy, while Alesha threw her support behind Brian King Joseph's violin. Heidi went with Christian & Percy, which really gave him a huge edge. Simon loves dogs!
And yet, that's not the direction he went at all. JJ Pantano scored that last spot, which is a huge shocker. At least we'll get to see what else he can do, because he can't possibly roast the panel again. Hopefully, his comedy runs deeper.
The weirdly good news is that two of our top three acts on the night made it, and the third was one of our predictions. We're gonna call that a win, even if it isn't, really.
The semi-finals kick off next week on "America's Got Talent: The Champions" every Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.