'America's Got Talent': Epic Singers, Magicians and Stand-Up Comics Shine Bright in 1st Live Quarterfinals
By Zach Seemayer
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America's Got Talent returned to TV on Tuesday after a two-week long hiatus during the Olympics, and is kicking off the season's exciting live rounds! ET is following along throughout the two-hour episode to break down all the best, biggest and most surprising moments.
Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara and Heidi Klum are judging and voting on the cream of the crop contestants who made it past their brutal cuts as the remaining hopefuls give it their all in hopes of keeping their AGT dreams alive.
Tonight, the fun kicks off at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, and you can follow along with ET for a look at all the acts who gave it their best shot during the final night of auditions on this season of America's Got Talent.
Tune In Tomorrow for the Results!
America's Got Talent will reveal who got cut and who is moving on tomorrow night.
Only seven of the 12 acts will move on, so it's important to vote.
AGT's results show kicks off at 8 p.m. on NBC!
Jimmie Herrod Closes Out the Night
After earning Sofia's Golden Buzzer for his performance of "Tomorrow" during the auditions, Jimmie is returning tonight for another amazing performance pulled from a surprising source.
Tonight, Jimmie is using his unique voice and singular talent to bring a new life to the iconic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory tune "Pure Imagination."
It's certainly not the version most are familiar with, as he gives it a Mariah Carey-like quality that adds real emotion and gravitas to the tune unlike any cover before.
It's slow, powerful, and touching, and it's clear once again how Jimmie earned his Golden Buzzer in the first place.
He earns a standing ovation from all the judges, and is showered with praise.
"That was spectacular! I don't have words to explain what you make me feel," Sofia marvels.
"Jimmie, you're one of those singers -- unlike a lot of people on these shows, which you forget the following day -- you'll never forget this performance. You'll never forget this voice," Simon says.
"If America decides a singer is going to win AGT this year, you're the singer to beat," Howie shares. "That was perfection."
Matt Johnson Courts Death
It makes sense the show would want to have a danger act go toward the end of the night. After all, it's hard to go again if someone gets their head cut off on live TV. That's a tough act to follow.
This particular act involves Matt needing to escape from a table before a certain amount of time or he'll get a buzz saw right to the face.
Luckily, he manages to escape, and the buzz saw doesn't kill him. But it seems like it might be too much for the judges.
"He's taught us all, if at first you don't succeed in killing yourself, try, try again," Howie says. "Yet you failed, and thank god you did."
Simon says the noises Matt was making during the escape were a bit "over the top," but Matt disagrees (since he was the one who'd get a buzz saw to the face). Meanwhile, Sofia and Heidi both admit its a great act but they can't tell if they actually liked it or not.
It's definitely intense, that's for sure.
Sethward Made It Through
The judges had to cut SO MANY people who got yes votes, but Sethward made it through? This is unacceptable.
He dressed up as a peacock. It was awkward and weird and not in a good way.
There were sparks and pyrotechnics that went crazy and he fell down some stairs, then had to get put out with fire extinguishers.
Then he came back as a phoenix, and was elevated into the air on wires and it was all part of the bit.
This happened. Good artists didn't go through to the quarterfinals so that Sethward could be here, to do this.
OK. Sure. Why not? Let him win, at this point, I guess.
Gangsta Grass Unites With Music
Gangsta Grass is trying to blend styles -- specifically old time bluegrass with modern pop and rap -- and it's a lot of fun.
This song feels a bit safer and less unexpected than their audition, but it still sounds great and brings a lot of people together.
Howie, however, isn't impressed with the performance, saying he likes the unity the band represents more than the band itself.
"I can understand where Howie was coming from," Simon chimes in. "You're so likable. You are talented. I just don't think to me the song was good enough."
Heidi and Sofia, however, vehemently disagree with their fellow judges, and shower the act in praises.
Gina Brillon Makes the Judges Smile (Except Simon)
Gina Brillon brings her wonderful voice and talent to the stage for a stellar set that felt controlled and confident.
She pokes fun at accents and mean nicknames and it's just great.
However, Simon apparently thinks she felt nervous, and that it hurt her act. The audience (and judges) start booing him, and Gina defends his right to his opinion.
However, its an opinion none of the other judges share remotely. Heidi even suggests a "Latina buddy cop movie" with Gina and Sofia and now I can't stop thinking about how great that would be.
1aChord Sing Like Angels (Again) and Wow the Judges
1aChord is made of three super talented singers who only met one another a few months before their stunning AGT audition.
This makes their chemistry all the more impressive when they hit the stage and wow with another flawless, angelic performance of "Everybody Hurts" that leaves the judges in awe.
"I think this has been the best performance of the night so far," Simon gushes. "I think you guys are just magic. Your harmonies, the leads, everything."
"You guys are seamless. It's contemporary gospel, I think you created a lane that doesn't exist right now. I would buy a ticket to your concert," Howie marvels. "Listen, I'm a Jew, and I believe."
Dustin Tavella Brings the Feels
Dustin Tavella is a magician with a heart.
The card artist shares his story of being the father of two adopted toddlers, and he brings this fatherly joy and universal emotion into his craft.
Its undeniably effective, and he gets Howie up on stage to help for his trick.
Close-up magic is always fun to watch, and Tavella, blends childlike wonder (and a predictive illustrated children's book) with truly impressive card artistry.
He also wrapped up his trick by bringing out his cute kids to pull off the grand finale that involved the entire audience. It's a great, showy trick that really proves why he could put on a show worthy of a Las Vegas theater.
"First of all, your kids have the coolest dad," Heidi marvels, adding that his act and his story "makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside."
Sofia calls him a wonderful "storyteller" and says it feels like he's "supposed to be here."
Kabir Singh Brings the Laughs
Being a stand-up comic on AGT is a tall order. You have just a very, very short window of time to be funny, and if you can't find that connection, you're out of luck.
However, for Kabir Singh, finding that connection through relatable material about his relationship with his mom seems effortless.
"It's relatable even though you talk about your mom in India, it makes me think about my mom in Germany," Heidi shares after the set.
"I'm so happy you're here, it's amazing. I had the best time. I think you're getting better. I love your relationship with your mom I love you make fun of yourself," Sofia says. "I think America is going to love you."
Madilyn Bailey Is Titanium Strong
Madilyn Bailey is a YouTube star who performed an original tune in her audition, but tonight she decides to cover a hit single and it works perfectly for her.
Belting out "Titanium," Madilyn brought the audience along with her using her flawless voice to stun Simon.
However, Howie and Heidi are somewhat disappointed that she defaulted to singing a cover instead of trying to do something unique and original -- like what she did the first time around.
Is the gambit of singing a cover tune -- even though she nailed it -- going to hurt her when it comes to votes?
Beyond Belief Dance Company Brings the Heat
This dance group of young girls from Mesquite, Texas, has high hopes and a lot of moxie.
They've got fun choreography and a great story behind the creation of their crew, but will that be enough to get them to the next round?
The judges certainly think so!
"I think that you guys are getting better and better and better," Sofia says, "This was spectacular."
"Your talent is indisputable!" Simon marvels. "I mean, you are so good. What I love about you, though, is you're interesting. You have personality. We're going to remember you."
Peter Rosalita Wows With a Whitney Tune
The 10-year-old singer who blew the judges away with his rendition of "All By Myself," hits the stage again tonight with a tune from another iconic diva.
The young singer hits the high notes -- and I mean some real, unbelievable high notes -- as he belts out Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing."
Needless to say, it's incredible. Maybe better than his first performance, and his stage presence is remarkable with a confidence way beyond his years.
"I was the biggest fan of Whitney Houston, and you really did her proud," Heidi declares. "It was amazing."
Sofia says he is "breathtaking" and Simon praises him for being "gutsy."
"In my opinion, you are going to sail through to the next round," Simon adds, before advising Peter that he might want to choose a song for the next round that skews a little younger.
The Canine Stars Kick Off the Quarterfinals
The surreal dog act that kicked off Season 16 is back to start the quarterfinals.
For reasons that are beyond me, this act made the cuts and they've once again brought back the weirdness of having the dogs acting like the judges.
However, the actual act itself is a much more traditional routine involving some remarkably well-trained doggos being adorable and jumping high.
Look, no one is saying dog acts are fun or that dogs aren't cute. It's just hard to find them very originally. Although, to these dogs' credit, they really can perform flawlessly.
"I thought the first audition was great. This was even better," Simon marvels. "It's really clever and funny."
Now it'll be up to viewers to vote for a chance to be one of the seven acts (out of 12 acts total) to make it through to the semifinals.
Right to the Quarterfinals!
This season, things are working a bit differently.
There are no judge cuts rounds. Instead, the cuts were decided upon by the judges in secret.
This means some fans' favorite acts might not be in the running anymore, and no one would even know really.
Instead, we're jumping right to the live rounds -- the quarterfinals, actually. Right from auditions to the quarterfinals.
Anyway, we're now in live shows at the Dolby Theater, and there's a comforting familiarity to it all. Lets hope the real best acts made it through!
ET spoke with Crews back in June about how this season of America's Got Talent has really brought an entirely new level of energy and excitement after coming back from the coronavirus pandemic.
"There was a moment when we never knew if we would come back," Crews shared, adding that with the benefit of hindsight, no one -- not the judges or the performers -- took anything for granted this season.
"There was not one ounce of cynicism on the show," Crews explained.