'America's Got Talent' 5th Judge: Golden Buzzer Is Triumphant Statement You Can Overcome Anything

Plus, one act proves no matter how memorable you were in a previous season, sometimes it’s best to just never, ever, ever, ever come back.

Proving that kids can be the worst and the best, a young cancer survivor who was bullied in school for being sick had perhaps the biggest moment of the night on "America’s Got Talent."

He was joined by the night’s sentimental favorite when an 84-year-old man came out and blew everyone’s minds with his talent. Let’s just say, no one saw this coming, and then when the act was in full swing, no one could breathe or take their eyes off of him.

The night was filled with ventriloquism, magic, dancing and, of course, singing. We even got a kid singer — and we know how much "AGT" loves those — and yet, she wasn’t the one who got the golden buzzer. That said, she was genuinely phenomenal.

And while we’d usually be excited about the return of a memorable contestant from seasons past, we’re actually trying really hard to forget the one who made a less-than-stellar return tonight. And we can’t believe they actually got "yes" votes. The acts are supposed to be good to advance, right?

Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I’ve spent the last seventeen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I’ve got this.

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe. And just for fun, I’m gonna rank them from worst to first to see who emerges as my winner each week.


(performance art) After a disastrous audition last year where he was a near-pornographic caterpillar-to-butterfly routine. It wasn’t funny, or compelling or entertaining at all. This year, he came out in a terrible giraffe costume and then did a terrible neck-stretching thing. The judges gave him four X’s, but he just kept going. And then he managed to expose himself again.

Judges: N,N,N,N

And then the show let him come back as a walrus and he fell off the stage. Still not funny, but suddenly Howie and SImon liked him. It may have been his best of the three performances, but for the most part, he’s just not funny. Can we ban him now?

Judges: Y,N,N,Y

Yuriyan Retriever

(performance art) So that was a thing that happened. Yuriyan introduced herself as a dancer, but she apparently only really meant her arms and hands as the rest of it was just kind of cavorting back and forth. Honestly, this was a mess from top to bottom and there’s no way that was a sincere performance. Unfortunately, it also wasn’t so bad or awkward that it was entertaining that way, making it a big whiff. She was actually funnier when she was not performing which alone made her slightly stronger overall than Sethward.

Judges: N,N,N,N

Edson & Leon

(hand balancing) What an adorably unexpected duo. At 84-years old, Leon has to be one of the world’s oldest balancing act participants, and yet he showed amazing core strength and balance holding himself aloft as 54-year-old Edson was the strong man of the pair. On younger men, this act would perhaps be too rudimentary, but seeing it performed at these ages with this level of grace is remarkable. On top of that, we loved Leon’s little dance moves throughout the routine.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y


(singer) Honestly, that felt like more of a vocal showcase than a heartfelt rendition of the iconic "Nothing Compare 2 U." He has an incredible voice, but this is a song about passion and believability. It was as if he was trying harder to show off than really perform and connect to the song he was singing. No denying his talent, but a true artist is more than just a good voice. In fact, that’s not even always needed; it’s everything else that you do to make someone believe you and believe in you.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Tyler Butler-Figueroa

(violinist) Tyler could stand to lose the backing track when he performs as Kelly Clarkson’s vocals were actually overlaying his violin playing at times and he did a great job of staying in tune with a lovely vibrato. He is a full body performer and put a lot of passion into it. He may only be 11 years old, but if he can add some complexity to his playing, he could definitely go to the next level, but he’s quite charismatic and good for where he’s at right now. We’re not sure we would have gone golden buzzer — as xx did — but he definitely deserve to carry on.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Carmen Carter

(singer) Now that is one seasoned performer who really knows her instrument. Carmen is absolutely in control of every nuance and move she makes vocally and gave a masterclass in the subtleties of performance. Is it dynamic or unique enough to make a mark in popular music? Probably not, but that’s not where she would belong anyway. It is absolutely powerful and impressive enough that she should be singing lead, and it’s a shame she was put down for her size year ago causing her to retreat from the spotlight.

Judges: Y, Y, Y Y

Dom Chambers

(magician) Dom was kind of a slow burn as it was just making beers appear over and over again, but he did it with such charisma and humor — not to mention the appearances got more complex, too — that it really did become a lot of fun to watch. This might be one of the easier acts for magic aficionados to tear apart, but Dom has a charm and natural humor to him that makes him a lot of fun up on the stage.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Kevin Schwartz

(comedian) A former agoraphobic, Kevin made a monumental step in his progress hitting the "AGT" stage. He was a nervous wreck in the beginning, Great one-liner comedians are a rare breed, and Kevini has the tools to really take this subsect of comedy and make it his own right now. It’s simple, observational jokes, wordplay and his dry delivery keeps you hanging on the edge of the seat trying to guess the twist. It was another slow-burn act, but he really did draw us in.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Marina Mazepa

(dancer) Well, that was certainly a unique twist on ballet, as Marina quickly abandoned her tutu and went into a lyrical contortion routine. It was great that she maintained musicality throughout the contortion element of the routine, but it might have been even more exciting had she worked it directly into some of the ballet moves rather than shit in and out so abruptly. That said, she was utterly compelling and there was an elegance to her movements even as you cringe at her flexibility. She makes contortion art and that’s wholly unique.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Charlotte Summers

(singer) With a low timbre to her voice and a stunning amount of grit and control at 13 years old, Charlotte is a bit of an ingenue. She put a spell on the entire audience with a beautifully heartfelt and soulful performance of a song before her time and with a maturity and understanding beyond her years. She is the epitome of that notion that some people have old souls and brought a very cool vibe to the stage.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

Michael Paul

(ventriloquist) Ventriloquist acts are often hit or miss, but Michael was both talented as a ventriloquist and funny to boot. The interaction between him and his "bird of prey" was funny from the top, and the quick banter between them was among the best we’ve seen from this style of comedy. This is a tough stage to do ventriloquism, but Michael quickly established himself as one of the best they’ve had.

Judges: Y, Y, Y, Y

"America’s Got Talent" continues next Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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