'America's Got Talent' season 12, episode 5 recap: 2 R&B acts get sweet second chances
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The fifth round of “America’s Got Talent” season 12 auditions aired last night on NBC. Standouts included a teen magician, a sword-fighting dog, and two R&B acts who were looking for a comeback that proved it’s never too late to fight for your dreams.

Pick a Card, Any Card

The level of youth and teen talent on AGT this season is incredible. Singers like 9-year-old Angelica Hale, 13-year-old Evie Clair and 16-year-old Christian Guardino have vocal skills beyond their years. This week, 15-year-old Henry Richardson joined the ranks of mind-blowing magicians when he stunned the judging panel, (especially Mel B), with a card trick. He was confident, charming and really good with his routine. He dedicated his performance to his late father who inspired and encouraged his art. We can’t wait to see what he does in the next round!

Couples that Sway Together, Stay Together

Maxim and Maria Popazov dazzled the audience with two different balancing acts. Maxim did acrobatics while on top of stacked and staggered dining room chairs. Maria used special apparatus to balance and twist her body into all sorts of cringe-worthy positions. They both made it through to the next round, though Maxim’s act seems more “daring” than his wife’s.

The Masqueraders Prove Some Dreams Should Never Die

It’s impossible not to fall in love with former Hot 100 R&B trio, The Masqueraders. These guys have been singing together since high school, through segregation and the Civil Rights era. Sadly, their recording career was cut short due to racial tension at the label. But, they “never stopped dreaming” and auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” to take another shot at success.

They sang Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and slayed it. Their harmonies were perfect and they oozed emotion and passion. Mel B was enamored and slyly asked if they were all single. Simon Cowell proclaimed, “I love you three!” Everyone was on their feet with wild applause and we couldn’t be happier for them. It’s so great to watch people of all ages follow their dreams and we’re so glad they found a new opportunity to do so here. Bravo!

Simon Makes an Emotional Plea

Sara and her sword-fighting dog Hero were just too cute for words. Hero knew exactly what to do – like a precision, choreographed dancer. For some reason, Mel B and Howie Mandel weren’t all that into the act. Sara started to cry after they both gave her a “no.” So, in an unprecedented move, Simon got up on stage, hugged Sara and begged Mel or Howie to change their mind. He said, “I saw something you didn’t see.” Howie ended up changing his vote and Simon was all-smiles when Sara and Hero were put through.

A Soul Singer Tries Again and Nails It

Flint, Michigan native Johnny Manuel was lucky enough to strike a record deal at 14. He even toured with N’ Sync, only to be dropped for no reason. Like many artists that face that sort of disappointment, it took Johnny some time to muster the courage to try again. He sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” and per Howie Mandel, delivered another “jaw-dropping” AGT moment. He was incredible, to the degree he may have rivaled Whitney’s original version of the song.

Simon playfully pegged him as a “diva” then noted, “you are somebody who can nail and sell a song.” We totally agree. Johnny might be the strongest male singer in the competition thus far. We hope his spectacular audition moment is just a launching pad for a whole new resurgence of his music career.

Final Note

Surprising contestants are always the best and this week, AGT found a hidden gem with opera-singing cab driver Carlos De Antonis. The burly, charismatic contender was so humble and genuine. Everyone was stunned when that beautiful opera song flowed out of somewhere deep inside. He earned the loudest and longest standing ovation of the night. He got teared up at the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction and his open display of emotion tugged even more on our hearts than his phenomenal performance. It was a great way to close out the night and we’re thrilled he’s going through to the next round.

“America’s Got Talent” airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on NBC. Stay tuned to AXS for updates.