'America's Got Talent': Singer Earns Golden Buzzer With Life-Affirming Original Song
By Zach Seemayer
Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
America's Got Talent returned to TV on Tuesday for the second night of auditions, and the competition continues to shine bigger and brighter than ever! ET is following along throughout the two-hour episode to break down all the best, biggest and most surprising moments.
Simon Cowell is back in his seat behind the judges' table after missing the second half of the last season due to injury, and is weighing in with his unique voice alongside returning judges Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara and Heidi Klum.
Meanwhile, a whole slew of new acts are risking life and limb for a shot at moving on to the next round of competition or maybe the coveted Golden Buzzer. Last week, in the season premiere, the Golden Buzzer went to a choir made up of frontline medical workers -- who knows what kind of inspiring act will earn it this evening?
The fun kicks off 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, and you can watch along with ET for a look at all the acts who gave it their best shot during week two of America's Got Talent.
Nightbird Brings the Tears and Gets the Golden Buzzer
This young songstress named Jane -- who sings under the name Nightbird -- hits the stage to sing an original tune called "It's Okay," which details the last year of her life.
As she explains before the performance, she's been dealing with cancer -- and she still is fighting it in several places in her body -- but says she thinks it's important for people to know that "we're so much more than the bad things that happen to us."
And her song is stunning. Just flat-out incredible. It's one of the rare original songs performed on this show that sounds like it could be a No.1 hit.
Her voice is incredible -- delicate but strong, and unique while still being deeply relatable. The songwriting is incredible as well, and it seems to be hitting home with the judges.
Sofia is wiping tears from her eyes as Nightbird croons her life-affirming tune, and Simon simply says "wow" after the number as all four judges (and every single person in the audience) gives a long standing ovation.
"That felt like the most authentic thing I've heard this season," Howie marvels. Heidi says it gave her chills and Simon says her voice is "stunning."
"You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy," the young songstress shares.
Simon, true to form, pulls a twist and says "I'm not going to give you a yes."
Then he pauses, before adding, "I'm going to give you something else," and slamming the Golden Buzzer.
"Everything about that was really special," Simon says, as he joins the singer on stage to give her a hug. "Thank you."
Bronx-Based Comic Slays
Gina is a comedian with a drive to impress, and she's got a lot of the personality that makes a successful comic.
Her jokes have a lot of sass and attitude -- stemming from her Bronx background -- and she doesn't shy away from some raunchy humor that also manages to be smart and clever.
The judges are in fits during her set -- and it's clear the show likes her as well because they actually show more then two jokes from her act.
She's getting choked up from the cheering of the crowd, and then the judges' praise elevates the emotions.
Howie is blown away and says she "checked every box that a comedian is supposed to check" and Sofia gives her a yes vote after calling the act "effortless."
The other judges follow her lead and Gina gets four yes votes, meaning we'll get to hear more of her great act in the weeks to come.
French Canadian Comic Nudists Are a Thing
It's almost impressive that you can make an entire daredevil stunt act on almost-but-not-quite flashing a theater full of people -- but these two French-Canadian comic performers manage to do just that.
The act is hilarious and simple, but very effective -- they hit the stage fully nude, except for some white towels around their waists. Then they dance while trying not to expose themselves.
The act is original and weird and is a hit with the audience and the judges.
Heidi says the act is her "cup of tea" and Sofia says it's "fantastic."
Simon says it's the perfect example of a great surprise act, and all the judges vote for them to move on after giving them a ton of praise.
Family Music Act Wows the Judges With Fun, Funky Performance
The Curtis Family C-Notes come out with some super fun energy and a big group of instruments and family flair,
One of the girls names all her instruments after celestial bodies in the universe while another asks Simon to name her guitar for her (he chooses "moon" as a name), and it's really fun.
Together they perform a super up-beat, funky tune that gets Simon on his feet cheering when it's done, as he tells the other judges, "I love them so much."
"You're a beautiful family," Howie says. "You inspire me."
The family can't stop crying tears of joy as the judges shower them with praise.
Simon says he's "so happy" they've come on the show an that he can feel there's "so much more to come" from them as a group.
They end up earning four enthusiastic yes votes, and the judges continue to share their love as the group exits.
Johnny Showcase Is... Johnny Showcase
So Johnny Showcase is a performer (?) evidently. He described himself as a cross between "Prince Harry and a minotaur." He has a spiritual advisor and two singer who, I guess, sing with him.
This is clearly a comedy act, but what is unclear is what the act actually is. He's got great comedic timing, but it's hard to tell what the joke is.
Simon is actively disinterested in whatever this whole thing is, and seems like he's just itching to buzz the guy.
However, when he starts singing, he's got a surprisingly good voice and it's clear that was a twist none of the judges were expecting at all.
The song is all about being "sensual but not sexual, because I'm married," and it's actually pretty funny and catchy. Could Johnny Showcase be a dark horse in the race as a musical comedian?
The whole shtick is a lot, but once he gets into the meat the of audition it all comes together in a fun way that is shockingly charming.
"You were so annoying, and then the act started and it was brilliant," Simon says. "It was one of my favorite acts thus far this year."
Sofia marveled at Johnny's transformation, and Howie says "there aren't even words" for how much he enjoyed the whole thing.
Despite all initial reservations, Johnny and his group get four yes votes and will be moving on to the next round!
Close-Up Card Magician Shows the Judges Real Magic
America's Got Talent has seen a lot of close-up magicians who try to wow the judges -- but this guy is something special.
It's hard to impress the judges because they've seen so any card artists show off their skills, however this magicians' skills are so smooth, it's really easy to believe he actually is a wizard.
Essentially he gets the judges to each sign an Ace of a different suit, then he materializes a sealed, factory-new deck of cards and inside are the signed aces.
When asked how he did it, the magician joked, "I sold my soul a long time ago."
Each of the judges are blown away, and he gets four yes votes across the board.
"It's one thing to watch magic, but it's different when it's happening in your own hand," Howie marvels. "That proves magic."
Escapologist Risks the Buzz Saw
This escapologist is putting his life on the line with an act that involves a metal rack and a buzz saw and it looks like a true death trap.
He explains before the act that he hasn't performed in over a year because he almost died during a stunt and it sort of threw him for a loop.
This act he's only done once during a dress rehearsal, and he's doing it to face his fears, apparently. It's also something that is freaking the judges out as well.
As for the act, he basically needs to escape a straight jacket while hanging upside down before a counterweight trips two circular saws that will swing down and cut him in half if he isn't out.
You know, that old chestnut.
He's breathing hard and seems legit scared before the stunt begins, and it also doesn't seem like he really understands how the whole thing works, but, here we are.
Obviously, since this is airing on TV and isn't live, we known he's not going to die, because it seems unlikely FCC standards would let them air a buzz-saw execution. But the tension is still very real.
He manages to get the straight jacket off with moments to spare and flings himself from the metal contraption just as the saw fly down and hit the rack.
Simon calls the act "brilliant," but admits there's always the chance for things to go wrong with acts like this.
Howie says he's speechless and has "never been more scared" by a stunt. However, he starts the voting with a yes, and all the judges follow suit. He's going to be putting his life on the line at least one more time before the season is done.
Korean Soul Are Shooting Their Shot
This K-pop group have been in the US for 10 days, and they are looking to AGT to be their big break.
It's hard to tell what kind of performance they are going to put on before they begin -- and Simon is clearly feeling trepidation -- but their smooth voices and undeniable charism is instantly disarming and charming.
They've got some real talent, and the feedback from the audience is instant and overwhelmingly positive.
The judges seem to be digging the act all the way through, and it earns them a standing ovation from everyone except Simon (who is always a harsher judge, but it makes his ovations more impactful).
"You guys check a lot of the boxes you need to check to make it," Howie says.
Heidi calls them silky smooth and compliments their fashion and styles, while Sofia calls the number "spectacular."
Simon surprises everyone when he says it was "probably one of the best auditions we've had all day," and calls their performance "perfect."
The group get all four yes votes and are one step closer to making their dreams of fame come true.
Larger Than Life Boy Band Doesn't Live Up to Their Name
This "boy" band is really a "man band" in that all the singers are in their 30s, but that isn't going to let that get in the way of their dreams.
The pair have a lot of high hopes -- but it's hard to tell if they are being set up as a joke or not. They are singing a mash-up of Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, and Simon isn't impressed.
It's hard to imagine being a boy band who comes out to impress Simon (considering it's his whole thing.) But they also aren't exactly good.
It's pretty clear they are being set up as a foil for a K-Pop group who is waiting in the wings to perform. Heidi buzzes them, and they get progressively worse. Sofia is the only one who has mercy and lets them finish.
"Was that serious?" Simon asks after the number, and they claim it was.
Heidi says she was rooting for them, but it just didn't sound good, and Sofia agrees. Although she says buzzing is "too drastic."
Simon advises them to "just stop," because "it's hard enough when your good, and when your terrible it's impossible."
They get no votes across the board.
Unicircle Flow Wows the Judges With Their Dance
This unicycle performance troupe, which hails from Japan, brings a magical blend of theatrical dancing and unicycle riding with a tango flair and flowing outfits. It's truly breathtaking.
Before the performance, Howie pokes fun at Simon's accident last year, asking if he gets scared seeing people on bikes, and Simon jokingly says, "Well, now that you mention it."
However, there's luckily no disaster for these dancers, and the judges are wowed by the act.
Howie marvels at how unicycles are usually used by clowns or acrobats, so bringing dance to the number is something truly new and exciting.
"Let me tell you, this is one of the most unique and amazing acts we've seen on America's Got Talent in years," Simon marvels. "I'm blown away."
The group get four yes votes and, apparently, when they perform the next time around, there will be 12 members instead of just four, so that should be truly epic.
Celebrating Texas Drag Performance
The first act of the night is a dance crew of young girls from a small town in Texas who put on a drag race-inspired group dance number.
A wonderfully glam drag star is their coach -- and stylists -- and it's a great, fun celebration of dance, inclusivity and just having fun.
The group is brimming with talent and charisma beyond their years and the judges love them.
Simon calls the crew "sensational" and asked the girls what they would do with the money, and one of the dancers explains that she has spina bifida and would use her share on medical bills.
It's an emotional moment that shows the strength and unity of the group as they come together to hug the tearful dancer.
Sofia says the performance was "out of this world" and Heidi says they couldn't have done a better audition. Needless to say, the girls get four yes votes and will be moving on to the next round.
Here Comes Some Good Old Fashioned Wackiness!
AGT is back for a whole new slate of auditions, and if this intro package is in any way representative of what we can expect, tonight is gonna be wild.
There's a danger act with a buzz saw, a bunch of physical, acrobatic performances, and the Golden Buzzer is allegedly going to come from Simon tonight, so that should be something neat.
Let's get this show on the road!
ET recently spoke with Cowell, Klum and Vergara ahead of the premiere, and the trio opened up about what makes this season of AGT something really special.
"I think, you know, coming out of that year we had, you know, this is one of those shows where how the contestants are is almost a reflection of what people are going through, and you could think that people are going to be very despondent and very gloomy but actually it was the opposite," Cowell shared. "They come out with a lot more energy, strength and [happiness]."
"They're happy to be out of the house," Klum added. "You can definitely see that everyone, in the last year, has been doing a lot of things at home trying to figure out new acts, working on their acts."