“America’s Got Talent” aired the dazzling season 13 premiere May 29 on NBC. Host Tyra Banks returned to guide the first round of auditions, along with veteran AGT judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel. An eclectic mix of acts took the stage hoping to get one step closer to their shot at stardom. Standouts included a fantastic feline troupe, a sibling band and a talented teen rapper who paid tribute to her late father with a stunning original rap which takes a stand against gun violence.
The Cat’s Meow
“America’s Got Talent” couldn’t have picked a better act to open season 13 than the amazing and adorable troupe of trick-wielding cats. Mom and daughter Svetlana and Marina led their Savitsky cats through some jaw-dropping stunts, usually seen being performed by dogs. They jumped through hoops, hopped over each other, walked on their hind legs and even scaled a tightrope upside down. It was incredible! Even Simon, who is more of a dog lover, was genuinely amazed. They are all advancing to the next round.
Tyra Gets Tricky and Nobody’s Better Than Howie Mandel
Magician Shin Lim recruited Tyra Banks to participate in a card trick in which she picked a card from the deck and wrote her name on it. She placed it into the middle of the deck and he magically “moved” it to the top and then an imprint of it appeared on his chest. He also moved a signed card from Tyra’s hand to his own and made her card go blank. Shin served up some awesome sleight of hand magic and he is moving on to the next round.
Ian, who is originally from Scotland told the panel he was auditioning to be an AGT judge. He compared himself to Simon, but said he wanted to replace Howie. Simon asked Howie to step aside and told Ian to take his empty seat. He had a chance, then, to judge a guy who made fart noises with his hands and his critique was lackluster at best. The audience booed Ian and Simon promptly gave him a “no” on his judging skills and a “no” to the contestant. Everyone concurred --nobody does it better than Howie Mandel.
Touching Sibling Trio and a Human Fountain Friends
Sibling trio We Three impressed the judges with an emotional original song which was written from the perspective of the band’s mom before she passed away from cancer. All of the judges were moved, especially Mel B, who really connected to the song and had to wipe away tears. We Three was the third act to get a pass through to the next round.
Across 13 seasons, AGT has repeatedly proven aspiring acts are often unpredictable. Case-in-point was four friends dressed in tuxes and who called themselves Fontane Umane. The former college singing group said they were performing “My Heart Will Go On.” When the first guy started spewing water from his mouth, it became clear they weren’t a “singing” act. They were a human fountain. They moved and sprayed water all over each other – even passing it into each other’s mouths. Simon was disgusted and pressed his “X.” The other judges and the audience roared with laughter. They’re gushing ahead to the next round.
Dazzling Dancers and a Sensational Rapper
Philippine native male dance group Junior New System wowed the crowd with a spectacular routine and an emotional backstory. They grew up on the streets in a poor neighborhood and hoped to win AGT to support their families back home. Their choreography was captivating, and their precision was right on point. They surprised everyone and stepped it up a notch by dancing and doing all kinds of tricks on heels. They were thrilled to get four yeses from the judging panel.
14-year-old aspiring rap artist Flaujae told the judges her late father, who died from gun violence before she was born, was a rapper who never got to fulfill his dream of stardom. So, she was there to chase her own dream in his honor. She delivered an emotional and inspiring original rap called “Guns Down,” which boldly takes a stand against gun violence. Everyone stood up in thunderous applause when she finished. Simon was particularly moved, almost to tears, and told her it was his favorite audition of the day “by a clear mile.” This Georgia native teen will definitely be one to watch moving forward.
Creepy Magic and a Golden Buzzer Dance Group
2018 marks the 13th season of AGT and the premiere featured some “creepy” contenders who didn’t make the cut. That is, until The Sacred Riana hit the stage with her twitching face half hidden behind her long black hair, clutching her equally creepy doll. (Reminiscent of the scary girl in 'The Ring'). She did an astounding horror-themed magic trick, in which she involved a frightened-but-fascinated Mel B. Simon was afraid they would all be cursed. So, he opted not to put her through. However, she received yeses from all the other judges. So, it looks like we’ll see her again.
The final act was a large non-professional dance troupe of various ages called Zucaroh whose aim is to give them all a chance “to be something." The extraordinary theatrical routine caused Howie to say “Wow!” multiple times and Simon called them “breathtaking.” Host Tyra Banks was so bowled over she pressed the Golden Buzzer, sending them through to the live shows and effectively closing out the “America’s Got Talent” season 13 premiere in a shower of golden confetti glory.