America’s Got Talent auditions continue on NBC tonight with Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and new judge, Sofia Vergara. Toward the end of the episode Heidi Klum is no longer in her chair, she’s out sick with a mysterious illness. Spoiler alert: she never returns to the auditions. Terry Crews hosts.
Noah Epps – Dancer – Eleven year old is a military brat, and has lived all over. Dance helped him cope with constantly moving around. I’m feeling a Michael Jackson vibe off of this kid. He’s doing a Pinocchio inspired routine wearing the creepiest makeup ever. But his hip hop game is pretty impressives. He contorts, isolates, and slides across the stage. He’s competed in World of Dance–not the branded TV show but the international dance competition. Howie is impressed how he commanded the stage. Sofia calls it fantastic. Simon compliments his storytelling skills. “You may be one to watch,” he says. 4 yeses
Liliac – Female rock band – We see just a snip of this family rock band from Downey, California singing Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” 4 yeses
Luca Di Stefano – Singer – 19 year old Italian singer is very nervous. Sofia jokes that nobody can understand Heidi with her accent. Luca’s thing is that he covers Barry White’s “Let’s Get it On” in the same deep voice, which nobody expects. It’s actually not smooth like Barry. He’s gravelly and weird and not in tune. But OK. Cool party trick I guess? Sofia calls him “fun.” Howie loved the surprise. “I could hear you sing that all night long.” Heidi calls it “an amazing gift.” Simon says, “It’s the last thing I would have expected from you.” 4 yeses. I have feeling Luca is a one trick pony. But OK, send him through.
The judges blow off a series of acts with Xs and nos! Sads.
W.A.F.F.L.E. Dance Crew – Dancers – New York City based dance crew perform in the subway. Ellen gave them a $10,000 tip when they appeared on her show in 2018. They sound like the dance version of American Idol’s Just Sam. Same backstory, of rising from poverty, helping out family with subway earnings, inspiring others. I wonder if they know each other? The crew is full of energy, fun to watch, good hearts. But as an aficionado of dance competitions, I’ve seen better. They wouldn’t make it past the qualifiers on WOD. Which is why they are here. Simon loves their energy and determination. “This was my favorite audition so far.” Oh really? Oh. Simon hits his Golden Buzzer. Huh. Tears all around! Golden buzzer means the act can skip the judge cuts and go straight to the live finals.
Nolan Neal – Singer-songwriter – Nolan made it to the Knockout round on The Voice season 11 as a member of Team Adam Levine. These days, he’s recording demos for other artists. His father, also a musician, committed suicide. Was that part of his Voice backstory, I wonder. ETA: Yes, it was. Nolan shared his father’s story as a season 10 no-chair turn. The coaches suggested he audition again, and he did. At one point Nolan had a record deal. Unfortunately, he became dependent on alcohol and drugs. The label dropped him. Ten years ago he got sober. There is no mention of The Voice or the songs he’s written for other artists. He sings an original song he wrote after he got out of rehab. It’s a raw song, delivered with passion and emotion and a huge scream. He’ll make it through. But these singer-songwriters don’t last, usually. The panel are on their feet. “You have an amazing voice,” says Simon. “I think you’re a very brave guy.” Howie says, “We felt your heart, your soul, your pain.” Sofia is almost tearful. She shares, “My family is full of this horrific sickness.” 4 yeses
Feng E – Ukulele prodigy – Taiwanese ukulele prodigy Feng E is only 12 years old. He’s got more than a half a million followers on Youtube and has appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show. He plays an electrified version of the instrument. He reminds me of those violin virtuosos that have appeared on AGT. He’s got incredibly fast fingers for a kid. “I think you are so talented,” says Simon. 4 yeses
Christine Hurley – Comedian – Boston area comedian bases her comedy on being a 55 year old wife and mother of 5 kids. She didn’t pursue stand up comedy until her kids were grown, only 15 years ago. She tells a bunch of mom jokes. Hm… This isn’t funny. The audience seems to appreciate it. Until she makes a mistake and never recovers. She can’t just roll with it. Now, she’s flopping and it’s very uncomfortable to watch. Yikes. Howie commiserates. He tells her to embrace it when things go wrong. Heidi says “I feel you.” Sofia is skeptical. Simon says they’ve had better comedians. Howie goes backstage to console her, comedian to comedian. “You’re really funny, he says,” adding, “Don’t feel bad.” – Howie and Heidi say yes. Sofia and Simon say no.
OLOX – New Age Electronica – This duo are indigenous people from Siberia who mix ethnic songs with electronic sounds. They live in Los Angeles now. The internet only came to her village 3 years ago. It’s been her dream to be on AGT. Today, they will sing Cranberries’ “Zombie” in the style of their culture. Hm. This is very odd. Will they get buzzed? The performance involves that impossible sounding throat singing. It’s like Yoko Only covering the song. But it’s sorta cool! The audience is warming up to them. Now, Simon is smiling. Ok. No buzzes. It reminded Sofia of a movie soundtrack. Howie calls it hypnotic. Simon could feel the audience loved the act. “Very mysterious, very original,” he says. 4 yeses
Now, Heidi’s seat is empty. It will take two yeses to put through a contestant.
Ashley Marina – Singer – Ashley is a 12 year old singer from Pittsburgh and a student at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts charter school, where she recently completed 7th grade. She takes dance classes at the Abby Lee Dance Company. Ha. Sofia pipes up that her husband is from Pittsburgh. ME TOO! She sings “Anyway” by Martina McBride. Simon stops her. He wants a second song, noting the backing track was overbearing. He wants her to sing a capella. He stops her again and says “You brought the wrong songs today.” The audience boos him. He suggests she learn “a guy’s song” and come back in the afternoon. This feels like a set up. Sending a singer away to learn a new song is classic Simon schtick. He’s done it over and over again on both X Factor and Got Talent.
Spyros Bros – Diabolo duo – Brothers perform tricks with a Diabolo, which is like a giant yo yo. The two grew up in Queens, but live in the Philippines where they attend school and perform. The act begins with only one brother, named Marcos. He’s an AGT stan and can rattle off all the winners in a row. AGT is pretending there’s only one brother, to spring a surprise. He starts off with some really boring diabolo tricks. A few more seconds of that, and BZZZT. But then his brother appears in the audience behind the judges and they play catch with the Diabolo. They toss it high, high in the air. It’s spectacular They get close enough to the judges to kill them. That empty space where Heidi sits comes in handy as they toss the diabalo between them. Impressive! After, Marcos is in tears, explaining that he had learning disabilities as a kid. AGT inspired him. The 2nd brother, Marc, is younger. Yes, their names are very similar. Howie calls them incredibly entertaining. Sofia loved their energy. 3 yeses
ASHLEY IS BACK – She struggles to pick an age appropriate song. They’re running out of time! But apparently, she’s settled on something, because she’s back on stage. She decides to sing an original song about her dad. This is a total set up. C’mon. Ashley has written 10 original songs, according to her bio. She’s sung this “Hero” song on television before. It’s a decent effort for a young girl. But of course, she wins over the audience and judges. FISHY. Howie shares that he walked two of his daughters down the aisle. He’s verklempt. Sofia loves “the new you you’re showing us now.” Simon says, “I think we’ve finally met Ashley.” Dad comes out on stage to meet everyone. OH YEAH FATHER’S DAY IS SUNDAY. – 4 yeses
Brett Loudermilk – Sword Swallower – Brett, originally from North Carolina but now living in New York, has appeared on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us. His grandfather was a Pentecostal minister. He handled snakes! Rightly, Brett considers his grandfather to be to an entertainer. As he talks, Brett cradles a violin case. But surprise! It doesn’t hold a violin. It holds swords. “I’m a sword swallower, if you haven’t already figured that out,” as quips as he points to his colorful outfit. Happy Pride! Heh. He chooses Sofia to help. I usually hate sword swallowers. Gross. I can’t even watch. But Brett not only can swallow (heh) but he’s HILARIOUS at the same time. He’s a funny sword swallower, which is something new. He and Sofia do a whole routine, where he swallows a sword, and she can’t bring herself to pull it out. “Just pull it out!” he shouts. She finally does it! But first a commercial break before finding out whether Sofia killed him or not. Welp. HE’S ALIVE! Oh. He’s got a wavy sword. Next, Brett will swallow THREE SWORDS and each of the judges will pull one out. Howie calls him an entertainer. Sofia calls it super fun. Apparently, Brett did that trick for the first time on the AGT stage. 3 yeses
Next week, Eric Stonestreet sits in for Heidi Klum.