Season 16 of “America’s Got Talent” continues on June 8 with a new two-hour episode highlighting the finest (and worst) auditions. To proceed to the next round of “AGT,” an act must receive “yes” votes from at least three of the four judges (Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara). The act is eliminated instantly if two or more judges buzz it.
Each judge, as well as host Terry Crews, gets one chance to press the “golden buzzer,” sending an act straight to the live performances. The performance of the Northwell Nurse Choir, a group of 18 nurses from New York City who were on the front lines during the pandemic, moved Howie to hit his golden buzzer during the season 16 premiere. Their purpose as a choir is to “blast forth some joy and love” in order to help people “discover their resilience.” They performed a mash-up of “Lean on Me” and “Stand by Me” for their audition, which contained singing, beat-boxing, and lite rap components.
This year’s structure is the same as previous year’s, with “America’s Got Talent” broadcasting only on Tuesdays for the first six weeks, with the auditions taking place all over the country. Beginning in July, there will be four weeks of Judge Cuts, followed by a series of live performance shows and results episodes.
Follow along in our minute-by-minute blog as we recount all the action from “America’s Got Talent” Season 16 Episode 2 below.
— At 8:02 p.m., Before starting any of the auditions tonight, Simon announced that AGT will be opening their own show at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Vegas this year, in addition to the personal show that the winner will receive.
— At 8:03 p.m., Beyond Belief Dance, a group of young girls coached by famed “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Alyssa Edwards, was the first act to compete for a slot in Vegas (referred to out of drag as Justin). They showcased their acrobatics, flexibility, and drive at their audition by performing Todrick Hall’s inspiring anthem “Nails, Hips, Hair, Heels.” Sofia described their performance as “out of this world,” Howie described them as “fierce,” and Heidi, a “stickler for detail,” described it as “excellent.” There was no doubt in my mind that the girls had earned their four yes votes and would proceed to the next round.
— At 8:11 p.m., The UniCircle Flow from Japan followed next, fulfilling Simon’s wish to see something “fresh” this season. The four performers, who made up the group of 12, did what ballroom dancers do, except on unicycles. They danced in costumes to upbeat music and included spins, hops, and other spectacular routines that defied expectations. Sofia described the performance as “energetic,” while Howie noted that they were bringing “beautiful dancing” to the unicycle, which is generally used by jugglers and comedians. Simon dubbed it “one of the most distinctive acts” he’d seen over the seasons, giving them a “100 per cent yes” vote on their way to a total of four nominations.
— At 8:20 p.m., Korean Soul and Larger Than Life, two boy band groups, took the stage next. Both organisations arose from a common goal to join a boy band and become renowned as a result of it. Larger Than Life took the stage first, performing a mashup of Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life” and NSYNC’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” Simon and Heidi had already given them X buzzes after a pitchy first verse and an out-of-sync choreo break. By the conclusion, Howie had given them a third X, prompting Simon to question, “Was that serious?” They obviously did not make the cut.
8:32 p.m. — Following the explosion that was the other boy band, Korean Soul took the stage, worried about their own reaction. It was evident from an away that they belonged in a different league, as they chose the ballad “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo to showcase their pitch-perfect voices and ability to harmonise. Aside from Simon, the judges gave a standing ovation. Howie said they “check a lot of the boxes” for becoming pop stars, and Heidi described them as “silky smooth.” Even though Simon didn’t vote for them, he did mention that it was one of the best auditions they’d seen all day, and with such strong opinions, it was a definite yes for them to progress.
— At 8:43 p.m., Matt Johnson, a self-described escape artist, was the first risk act to audition this season. He attempted to commit the same deed that he hung and drowned himself last year. On stage with him was what could only be described as a mediaeval contraption, which required him to free himself from a straight-jacket before being hanged, drowned, and sawed in half by rotating saws aimed at his face. Fortunately, he was able to flee this time, avoiding yet another trip to the emergency room. Howie stated he was speechless after hearing Matt speak about the device and then seeing him escape it. Simon was pleased by Matt’s bravery to put himself in that situation. The entire panel nodded nervously, eager to see what he’d accomplish next time.
— At 8:55 p.m., Unlike previous magic acts in the series, JONIO and Preston Lyford’s auditions were cut short due to the judges’ lack of enthusiasm. Patrick Kun, on the other hand, continued Shin Lim and Mat Franco’s legacy. Patrick gave a dramatic card tick involving the disappearance and reappearance of the chosen cards after narrating a childhood where he had to hide his passion for magic from his parents. Simon defended his presentation, and after receiving yeses from Heidi and Sofia, he advanced to the next round.
9:08 p.m. — Next up was entertainer Johnny Showcase, who had his family out to support him in his audition. Following an embarrassing start in which he lauded Paula Abdul, Johnny and his “spiritual counsellors” (backup singers and dancers) parodied sexually heightened soul tunes from the 1970s. For some reason, the judges seemed to enjoy the act – Simon called it “amazing” and said it was one of his favourites, Sofia said they’re better performers than talkers, and Howie said the key is getting the crowd to want to sing along. The group received four firm yes votes solely on the basis of its entertaining value.
— At 9:19 p.m., The Curtis Family C-Notes took to the stage to represent the “golden age of music” from the 1950s and 1960s, hoping to make their mark as a family. The seven members of the family pleased the panel not just with their aesthetics but also with how well their voices matched the era from which they drew inspiration. Howie was the only judge who did not stand for the standing ovation this time, but he nonetheless praised their performance by labelling them “superstars.” Heidi was relieved to discover that they sounded as nice as they looked, and Sofia thought it was great. Simon admired how everyone in this family band appeared to be having a wonderful time, so he led the charge for a unanimous yes vote across the panel to advance them to the next round.
9:32 p.m. — Danny Dechi’s bizarre gift of placing music by pounding his cheek with a pencil failed to impress, earning him a seldom seen four X elimination. Les Beaux Freres, a circus troupe, trailed him, promising a “surprise.” That surprise was naked dancing, with the exception of one bath towel each that they choreographed to cover their front and rear private parts at all times. The judges all rose (finally) to acclaim the couple for their amusing and imaginative performance after laughing their heads off. Heidi described it as her “cup of tea,” and while Simon isn’t sure where they’ll go next in the competition, the judges unanimously agreed to see them again in the following round.
9:43 p.m. — Gina Brillon, a 41-year-old stand-up comic, was worried about her audition, feeling the strain of her dual life as a working woman who also wanted to pursue comedy as a career. Her set centred on her multiracial marriage and how her upbringing in the South Bronx contributes to both conflict and love in her relationship. That led to her musings on being an identical twin. Simon said she felt like she was simply having a conversation with them because of her ability to draw from her own experiences and convert them into humour, while Sofia stated she laughed at every joke. Howie granted Gina her fourth yes to advance to the next round after describing her as the ideal addition to the 16th season.
9:52 p.m. — Nightbirde sang an original song called “It’s Okay” tonight, which was lyrically about the last year of her life. She gave self- and other-help in the song, as she does with cancer. Howie described her as “genuine,” while Sofia described her performance as “strong and sincere.” Simon called her voice “very amazing” and agreed with Howie’s assessment of her genuineness. After deciding not to say yes to Nightbirde, Simon went one step further and pressed the golden buzzer, sending her straight to the live concerts!