“America’s Got Talent” aired the final Judge Cuts round last night, Aug. 7, on NBC. Guest judge Chris Hardwick joined AGT veteran judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Mel B and Heidi Klum as they made their last set of brutal cuts in this round, effectively sending seven more lucky acts through to the live shows. Last week, the judges surprisingly cut some talented singers. This week, an extraordinary teen rapper earned Hardwick’s Golden Buzzer and more shocking eliminations ensued as the remaining six quarter-finals spots were filled.
Stunning Show Opener
Electric violin wunderkind Bring King Joseph blew everyone away with his explosive AGT audition. He opened last night's show and Simon asked him to remind everyone about his current physical struggles before he played. Joseph explained he's currently suffering from an advanced case of peripheral neuropathy and has already lost feeling in his hands. Simon pointed out this makes it hard to play the instrument he loves.
The courageous contender said, “I just want to show people it doesn’t matter what obstacles you might have, you can do whatever it is that makes you happy.” He went on to deliver another electrifying performance with mind-blowing skill, agility, and passion, given the severity of his disease. The audience and all five judges rose to their feet in thundering applause as he finished. Joseph, by far, was one of the easiest pass-throughs of the night.
Body Bumpers and Dancing Jumpers
Yumbo Dump is one of those polarizing acts people “get” or want to “get over.” The belly-bumping pair makes all sorts of strange noises with their bodies. This week they emulated the sound of a whale giving birth, owl cries and fish flapping on a boat, all capped by their familiar “feels so good” verbal refrain. Howie loved them and Mel hit her “X”, which is completely understandable. These weird and uncompelling noises arguably don’t spell a Las Vegas act.
Two dance troupes followed with varied reactions. Skeleton-themed crew Academy of Villains failed to impress while Da Republik, who hail from the Dominican Republic, wowed the judges and audience alike with their sharp choreography and gravity-defying jumps and spins. Howie praised the latter group for their passion and Simon compared both groups and gave Da Republik the upper hand by saying their personality shined through their performance.
The judges’ decision to put Yumbo Dump through doesn’t make any sense, when compared to some really talented contenders who were cut, including father and daughter acrobats Sergey & Sasha Korolev who really upped their game and transgender singer Brody Ray who performed an uplifting original song. Simon didn’t care for the latter saying, “We like you, but, I don’t think you’ve nailed a song that tells us who you are as an artist yet.” Sadly, Brody’s AGT journey has ended. In a recent AXS interview, the Nashville resident singer-songwriter assured his supporters he doesn’t intend to give up his music dreams.
Golden Buzzer and Sensational Cover
Two musical artists did manage to capture the judges’ attention this week, though, with 14-year-old rapper Flau’jae performing another original rap which detailed the struggles she’s endured to get to this point in her life. Simon commended her for being “real.” Chris Hardwick was spellbound by her performance and said it gave him goosebumps. He wasn’t sure how someone so young could be so authentic and he reached out and gave her a huge, Golden Buzzer stamp of approval. It was a euphoric moment and like season 11 teen AGT winner Grace VanderWaal, Flau’jae just oozes star potential!
Likewise, Glennis Grace per her own, stripped backspin on Sinead O’Connor’s smash hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” and crushed it. Once again, the panel was wowed by her performance. These two ladies both earned well-deserved advancement and both have the potential to go a long way in the competition.
See Ya Later, Alligator and Comic Relief
Several acts in AGT history have drawn collective gasps of horror from judges while narrowly escaping harm in dangerous routines. This week, Lord Nil made everyone nervous when he dangled upside down in a straight-jacket over a pit filled with alligators. The ropes he hung from were on fire and he nearly plunged into the pit when one of them broke. It was terrifying to watch – and he barely made it out in the nick of time.
Self-deprecating comic Samuel J. Comroe closed out the night with a warmly funny set which centered around his relationship with his wife and living with Tourettes Syndrome. The judges all loved his performance. After Lord Nil’s near disaster, Samuel’s lightheaded jokes provided much needed comic relief.
Both of these acts are going through to the next round, joined by Brian King Joseph, Flau’jae Da Republik, Grace Glennis and Yumbo Dump. The level of talent is so high this season, it’s impossible to pinpoint a winner yet. But, Brian King Joseph and Flau’Jae have definitely raised the bar moving forward.
“America’s Got Talent” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC. Stay tuned to AXS for AGT news and updates.