‘America’s Got Talent’ recap: Semifinals open with surprising performances

With just two weeks until the finals, Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent saw 11 more acts fight for their chance to win that massive $1 million prize and their own headline show in Las Vegas.

Tuesday’s show kicked off with a twist as host Terry Crews announced that there would be a guest judge joining Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough, and Simon Cowell at the desk during the semifinals. This week’s guest judge was Will and Grace star Sean Hayes.

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of all the performances as well as my prediction on who will advance.

Ndlovu Youth Choir

The choir from South Africa kicked off the live show with a beautiful and inspiring performance to Steve Winwood‘s “Higher Love.”

“The pressure of the semifinals is enormous,” Simon said. “For me, this was in a way higher league than anything you’ve done. When I see you backstage, you are the nicest group we have had on the show for years.”

There’s no doubt the choir delivered. Not only was their song choice better, but their costumes were as well. They looked great and sounded great, and got the crowd at the Dolby Theatre to dance and sing along the entire time. It was a great way to start the night.

Ansley Burns

The tween singer was next and performed her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Cry Pretty”. Her performance once again backed up what I have thought about her since her original audition: she’s just not ready for this big stage yet. She not only flubbed a lyric but the song was all over the place.

“You are a ray of sunshine in this sometimes gloomy world and that is why America stands behind you,” Julianne said. “I think this song may have overpowered you a little bit. I am proud of you that you got to pick your song the way you wanted it.”

The most surprising thing about the judges critique was that not one of them mentioned her messing up a lyric. Overall, I think its time for Ansley to go and maybe come back in a few years.

Messoudi Brothers

Three acts in and things got hot when the brothers took the stage to do a hand balancing act surrounded by fire. They started the act by bringing Julianne up on stage to have one of the brothers balance her on his back while Ginuwine’s “Pony” played in the background. And I’m not a mind reader, but I think Julianne really enjoyed that.

The act got much more dangerous when the brothers balanced high in the air with no safety net below them. They truly stepped it up and their performance proved why they belong in Vegas.

“That was fantastic,” said Julianne. “I literally felt like I was in Magic Mike. You guys upped the ante. That was so dangerous. Great job.”

Tyler Butler-Figueroa

Up next was Simon’s Golden Buzzer choice, Tyler Butler-Figueroa. The violinist performed his version of Ariana Grande‘s “Break Free” as child cancer survivors looked on with some cool lights in the audience. It was truly an inspirational act that continues to live up to its billing.

“Your story is unbelievable but now I want to talk about your musicianship tonight,” Simon said. “You showed what a brilliant musician you are. You put on a shining performance that defines the words joy and talent.”

While Tyler’s performance was good, I’m not sure how much more it can grow at this stage. There’s no denying his talent but at this stage with a spot in the finals at stake? It didn’t do much for me.

Greg Morton

The impressionist was next and did some spot on cartoon voices such as Scooby Doo and the Simpsons. It was a much better performance than his quarterfinals one, mainly because of the nostalgia.

“I don’t know how you are not going to work the rest of your life,” Sean said.

On this point, I agree with Sean. Regardless of how things turned out for Greg on AGT, I see a bright future for him. I’ve said in past recaps that he should be picked up by a studio or network looking for a voiceover guy or someone to play a new character. But as far as the competition goes, I just don’t see how this is a Vegas act.

Kodi Lee

Gabrielle’s Golden Buzzer choice was up next. Kodi sang a beautiful rendition of Calum Scott’s “You Are The Reason”. Fun fact: it is the same song that played when he got the Golden Buzzer back in his audition. Kodi brought the house down and had everyone on their feet.

“You just keep changing the world,” Gabrielle said. “Every time you step on the stage, we are all so grateful to be in your orbit.”

Kodi’s performance was the best of the entire night. There is no doubt about who is winning this season – it is Kodi. Not only did his performance get the biggest ovation of the night, but the Dolby crowd was chanting his name going into the commercial break.

Jackie Fabulous

The comic was next, which unfortunately meant she had to follow Kodi’s flawless performance. She did a set about weight loss and dating, but this time, it was not her best work.

“Semifinals, to me, are very different because this is the moment to see if people are the top of their game,” Simon said. “You didn’t bring the confidence with you. So many performances tonight were so much bigger.”

I agree with Simon here. I’ve been a massive fan of Jackie since her first audition, but this time she missed the mark. It was easily her worst performance to date and I did not laugh once. She might be in trouble during in tonight’s results show.

Robert Finley

Robert Finley, the oldest contestant left in the competition, was next. He came to the stage with a cool, bluesy rendition of “Age Don’t Mean a Thing” and he brought the house down.

“I will be honest with you, I know more about the Jews and the blues,” Howie joked. “I don’t know this world, but it felt so authentic. I am proud to be part of your congregation.”

Robert’s performance was easily the second best of the entire night behind Kodi. His passion, soul, and voice should have him feeling good going into the results show.

Eric Chien

Despite being told to get bigger, the magician stuck to his close-up magic. Did it work? Not really. He used cards and a world map, making the structures of iconic buildings like Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower appear live and in person.

“At first, I didn’t know what we were watching,” Julianne said. “Then I realized what you do is so specific. I am confused. I have to process.”

Here’s how I see it. Eric is a great magician, but it feels like he’s trying too hard to be like last season’s winner Shin Lim, who is one of the magicians best to ever be featured on AGT. Eric needed to be himself and take his act to the next level, but he failed to do that.

Light Balance Kids

The penultimate act of the night was the Light Balance Kids, who were dressed up as Iron Man and lit up the stage with a Marvel themed dance routine.

“I am blown away by the choreography,” Sean said. “It is unbelievable — the technology and the timing.”

I was not as impressed as the judges. We’ve seen tons of light acts over the years, but these kids don’t do it for me. The adults were better and without the cool technology, this act wouldn’t even exist. So its cool but in my opinion it’s not Vegas worthy.

Benecio Bryant

The final act of the night was the 14-year-old singer, who sang another original song. The performance earned a standing ovation and massive praise from the judges.

“I take back everything I said about you singing an original song,” Howie said. “You are somewhere near Harry Styles.”

Maybe I was watching another show, but Benecio took a step back in my opinion. I thought his song last week was much better. Maybe it was because I was paying attention to his tucked in sweater or the waterfall background, but it was not good. With that said, I still think he will advance.

Predictions

So who will advance to the finals? This time, only five acts will make it through. I’ve correctly predicted 20 of 21 acts correctly up until this point, but my streak may be in jeopardy. This week, I think Kodi Lee, Messoudi Brothers, Robert Finley, Ndlovu Youth Choir, and Benecio Bryant will advance to the finals.

Who do you think will advance? Let me know in the comments below!

America’s Got Talent continues tonight at 8/7c on NBC with the results show LIVE from the Dolby Theatre with host Terry Crews.

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