"America's Got Talent" winners Darci Lynne and Brandon Leake prove why diversity is the key to this show's success, bringing ventriloquism and spoken word poetry to the next level yet again!
For the first time this season, “America’s Got Talent” expanded to two nights, as the Quarterfinals kicked off Tuesday -- and by Wednesday it was time for five contestants to get kicked off the show.
The first seven acts advancing to the Semifinals were revealed throughout the course of the hour-long show, which meant we needed some filler to eat up some of that precious time. That allowed for the return of a couple of “AGT” winners and an “AGT” hopeful.
Simon Cowell’s Golden Buzzer this year, Nightbirde, made headlines a week or so ago when she withdrew from the competition to focus on her health. A huge fan-favorite and inspiration contestant, the show gave her a segment tonight for a meaningful chat with Terry Crews and the judges.
The rest of the evening was filled out by “AGT” favorite Darci Lynne and the reigning champ, Brandon Leake. The ventriloquist never seems to pass up an opportunity to return to the show, and she proved again why she won this whole thing.
Brandon, meanwhile, put spoken-word poetry on the map in a whole new way, and this time around he brought along some friends to help him present it to America in a whole new way.
So which acts made it? Did our predictions come true or did you screw everything up and put through someone absolutely terrible like Sethward just to troll the whole show? Let’s find out together, shall we?
Since she dropped out of the competition to deal with her ongoing cancer battle, “AGT” fans were given the opportunity to check in with Nightbirde when Terry and the judges called her. While chatting, Terry shared that her original audition song “It’s Okay” had been viewed 200 million times now, which is absolutely incredible!
“It’s a song I wrote for myself in the middle of the night when I needed those words so bad,” Nightbirde said. “It’s beautiful to see the world welcome that song into their own dark night. I’m overwhelmed by it.” Simon got emotional sending well-wishes and prayers to her for a full recovery. The whole exchange was as beautiful and impactful as her audition appearance.
Brandon Leake (w/ Without Words Youth Poetry Collective)
The reigning champ was like nothing we’d ever seen or heard before on “AGT” or really any talent show like this. Brandon brought original spoken-word poetry to the masses and created powerful moment after powerful moment. He also deliverd a few hackneyed poems about “AGT” itself, but it was when he was telling his story through his lines that he really touched us all.
This time he was joined by a group of young people from his hometown of Stockton where he spoke aspirationally about following dreams through life’s challenges, through the circumstances that maybe you didn’t create but that define your existence nevertheless. It was beautifully written and performed by all present, culminating through unity and support into a manifesto of belief.
It’s still amazing every time Darci just belts out a song through her puppets. The 2017 winner’s ventriloquism appears to have gotten even stronger over the years (she was only 12 when she won), and her banter is getting a little more meaty and playful with her puppet friends before she inevitably breaks into song. The segue into the music wasn’t as good as we’ve seen, but we enjoyed Oscar opening up about his dating life before that happened. Her act appears to just be getting better and better from the snippets we’ve seen over the years.
To kick off the business portion of the show, Terry revealed that we’re back to the ridiculous “Instant Save” portion, where the sixth, seventh and eighth place finishers have to go backstage and sweat it out while America votes all over again to save one of them.
Then the judges will pick another, and it’s absolutely possible that the sixth-place finisher will not advance. Maybe they just don’t trust America -- and after a couple of decades following how America votes on shows like this, we kind of can’t blame them.
This week dropped Beyond Belief Dance Company into that group alongside Kabir Singh and Madilyn Bailey. We had them 5-7-9, so obviously America was feeling Kabir a little more than we were. That better not mean Gina Brillon gets the boot! We don’t want to have to fight somebody.
Next up was the reveal of America’s Top 5. We had Jimmie Herrod, 1aChord, Gina Brillon, Dustin Tavella and Madilyn Bailey in our Top 5, so there’s no way we’re going to get a clean sweep here as Madilyn is already backstage sweating it out for the Instant Save.
Terry kicked things off by pairing 1aChord and Gangstagrass together to hear their results, which felt like an absolute no-brainer. Gangstagrass is a great idea, and they’ve done some great music in their decade together, but Tuesday night wasn’t it. 1aChord was incredible, so of course they advanced.
Next up, it was The Canine Stars squaring off against Gina Brillon and Sethward. At this point, we decided that if Sethward advanced than America is just trolling the show and it’s proof that nothing is real anymore. For us, this was Gina’s all the way, as she was the most solid of the three acts. Thankfully, America got it right again and Gina Brillone moved on.
Peter Rosalita and Jimmie Herrod were paired together next, and this was another case where there was only one proper winner -- but we also know how much America loves kid singers. In other words, the most likely result was that both would advance. We had Peter ranked very low last night for his inconsistency, but it didn’t matter as the next two slots were indeed taken by both Peter Rosalita and Jimmie Herrod.
That left only Dustin Tavella and Matt Johnson to hear their results. Now, in our picks we had both of these acts making it, but we also had a feeling America would put Peter in and send Matt packing. Danger acts only go so far, and the judges were very cool on him Tuesday night. Dustin, meanwhile, was both touching and mind-blowing. While we expected this result, we’re still very happy that Dustin Tavella gets to bring his magical storytelling to the semifinals.
When we checked in on the live results halfway through the show, Kabir Singh was running away with this. America must be digging standup comedy this year, though we didn’t think his material was quite as strong as his overall personality and stage presence.
Were the latter two enough to beat out both Beyond Belief Dance Company and Madilyn Bailey? We think Madilyn hurt herself by just singing a traditional song, though we thought she did a great job on it. She was in her own lane before that, though, which is the problem.
As for the girls, we had them on the cusp of our own Top 7 rankings as we felt they delivered a much stronger performance and really owned every moment they were on that stage. Ultimately, though, America went with our lowest-ranked act as Kabir Singh secured that sixth spot.
That left just Madilyn Bailey and Beyond Belief Dance Company for the judges to choose from. Had Madilyn delivered another original song about her experiences being an online artist, or really anything unique that would have had her stand out for more than just her voice, she might have had this one.
As it stands, the judges had nothing but kind words for the girls after both of their performances. A vote for Madilyn would only make sense if she could guarantee she would return to original music and deliver that quirk factor again. Would they take that chance?
Heidi’s support went to Beyond Belief because she didn’t feel connected with Madilyn as an artist. Sofia was far kinder, saying she believed Madilyn would make it as a recording star, but that was her reason for also supporting the girls.
Howie complicated things by voting for Madilyn, while reminding her that she was so much better the very first time. Simon told Madilyn the same thing, that she should have gone with an original song, before picking her and sending it back to America.
That took us back to the original vote between the acts -- isn’t this how it should work anyway? -- and that was good news for Madilyn Bailey. Somehow, we have a feeling she’ll be offering up something more original and unique when she comes back in the Semifinals round.
While we didn’t go 7-for-7 in our predictions, we are pleased that our Top 5 acts all advanced, with Madilyn rounding out that result for us. We weren’t as impressed with Kabir or Peter this round, but loved them in the auditions. Maybe we’ll come around in the next round.
“America’s Got Talent” continues with 12 new acts next Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.