'America's Got Talent' semifinals recap: Second round contenders deliver epic performances
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The second group of “America’s Got Talent” semifinalists arguably delivered one of the most epic live shows in series history last night, Sept. 12, on NBC. With only five more spots to fill heading into next week’s finals, the stakes were astronomically high. The acts could have easily crumbled under that kind of pressure. But, they rose to the challenge and conquered instead, which makes for a potentially brutal elimination round tonight.

Celine Smashes “Moana” Song

Has anyone else considered how crazy is that two pint-sized girls like Celine Tam and Angelica Hale are directly competing against each other this season? Celine picked an absolutely perfect song to sing with “Moana’s” “How Far I’ll Go.” Her voice floated and sparkled across these lyrics. Heidi jumped to her feet in applause and Simon loved it as well. Mel B, however, thought it was too “musical theater.” As precious as it was, Mel could be right. Celine, overall, comes across as more of child Broadway star than a recording artist. We love her! But, she needs a Disney show or a Broadway stage.

Colin Cloud Blows Our Minds Again

Yes, Colin, we agree – you look like Neil Patrick Harris’ evil twin – thanks for pointing that out! The mysterious mentalist shocked us so much, it’s hard to describe what he did, much less trying to figure out how he did it! He basically predicted Heidi’s tweet selection of “Ellen Rome Cheese” from viewers’ random tweets and appeared “in disguise” in several places backstage pre-show with these three words “popping up” in places on the video. It was mind-blowing. We want him to stay – but oh, the competition is so fierce!

Christian Guardino Stuns

Christian Guardino hit another one out of the park with his amazing “What’s Going On” cover. This sweet, inspirational kid couldn’t flub a vocal if he tried. It was spectacular, as always, and he earned a four-judge standing “o.” Howie beamed at his Golden Buzzer act and Heidi really wants to see him in the finals. So do we!

In the Stairwell Steps It Up Ed Sheeran-Style

Ed Sheeran has been covered a lot this season. But A cappella group In the Stairwell really upped their game with their spin on “Castle on the Hill.” They nailed a key change and everything. In the scheme of things, though, they may not have done enough to make it into the finals. Its tough for choirs of any kind to survive. It was hard to see Greater Works go last week. In the Stairwell could be facing the same fate. Either way, they were a joy to see on the show this season.

Merrick Hanna Soars to New Heights

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. What Merrick Hanna does is so creative and original and stunning to watch. There’s never been an act quite like him on the show. He’s so young to plot out his own original stories and routines. He deserves a pass-through on these astounding achievements alone. The visuals were great last night and he even flew soared above the stage. Like Celine Tam, Merrick Hanna needs his own show. He could be a great role model and inspiration to kids everywhere.

Mandy Harvey Delivers Groundbreaking Performance

Deaf vocalist Mandy Harvey defies reason every time she gets up and sings the way she does, without being able to hear herself sing. She gave her series-best performance last night with another beautiful original song called “Release Me.” Simon notably compared it to the first time he heard Adele sing. Harvey used sign language throughout, which was groundbreaking because she's the first artist to ever do this on AGT. Calling her "inspirational" feels like an understatement. She should be in the finals. Period.

Polar Ice Pooches

The Pompeyo Family returned with their adorable pack of pooches as the Wildcard Act. Their winter-themed routine was set to Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold.” It was cute, but rather chaotic. Sara and Hero are already in the finals. We probably don’t need two dog acts and too many other acts have out-performed them.

Diavolo Dazzles in Million-Dollar Glory

Acrobatic dance troupe Diavolo gave themselves an edge by using Harry Styles' sweeping anthem "Sign of the Times" as their musical backdrop. It was the perfect song to showcase their originality. They dance, they spin, they leap, they twirl and use different huge props and sets every time. This week’s playback-worthy performance was breathtaking. Heidi loudly proclaimed, “This is a million-dollar act.” Simon said he was “gobsmacked.” Everyone was on their feet cheering. Diavolo absolutely should be in the finals next week. Anything less will be a shocking disappointment!

Kechi Delivers Tear-Inducing Vocals

Kechi has overcome incredible hardships to get to the AGT center stage spotlight last night. Like Mandy Harvey, she delivered her series-best performance last night with “Don’t Worry About Me.” Mel B was in tears and called Kechi “so special.” Win or lose, Kechi needs a record deal and a tour. She is arguably one of the most unforgettable, inspirational people to have ever graced the AGT stage. Bravo, Kechi, well done!

Light Balance Electrifies

O.M.G. Light Balance came back from “technical difficulties” that plagued them last time and electrified everyone this week. We’re already thinking too many acts are too good for elimination. Tonight’s results are going to be so intense!

Angelica Hale Brings Explosive Ending

Thank you, AGT for showing Angelica Hale singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to her newborn baby sister! We all needed a dose of pure sugary sweet smiles. Angelica also celebrated a milestone 10th birthday heading into her semifinals performance. There is just something so special, rare, and precious about this little girl. She beams a radiant light in every performance and she crushed her “Without You” cover. She should be in the finals. She also needs a record deal. She sings and performs with a wisdom way beyond her years. Let’s hope America does the right thing here!

“America’s Got Talent” airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on NBC.