Nearly two decades after Kelly Clarkson first sang for Simon Cowell‘s approval, the American Idol winner found herself in his seat, temporarily replacing the injured judge on America’s Got Talent.
Tuesday’s episode of AGT marked the first live episode of Season 15, giving 11 quarterfinalists the opportunity to score America’s votes. But first, a bit of housekeeping…
“As some of you know, Simon had an accident over the weekend, and he can’t be there tonight,” host Terry Crews announced atop the two-hour broadcast. “We are sending lots of AGT love and our best wishes, and we hope to see you soon.”
The spotlight then shifted to Clarkson, who admitted, “I have waited years for this. I love Simon, but I’m getting real used to this chair, buddy. Take your time. I could use another job.” All kidding aside, she added, “I hope he feels better. I love him, so I didn’t mind stepping in for him.”
Read on for a breakdown of the 11 acts that performed on Tuesday, then weigh in with the five you hope make it to the semifinals:
PORK CHOP REVUE | After rolling out the red carpet for themselves, these so-called “diva” pigs pranced through an obstacle course to the tune of Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party.” I want to be impressed by these nimble porkers, but I’m too busy worrying that they’ve already succumbed to the temptations of Hollywood. I also appreciated Howie Mandel’s shady assessment: “I think it’s amazing… because they’re pigs.” (Someone will be getting angry texts from Miss Piggy in the morning.) Click here to watch.
FENG E | Have you ever wondered what it would be like to drop acid and watch School of Rock? Well, wonder no more! This sickeningly talented kid served us a face-melting classic rock medley all the way from Taiwan. I didn’t think the world needed to find “the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele,” but I’m so glad we did. Seriously, let’s watch this one again:
SHAQUIRA MCGRATH | This week’s first vocal performance gave Clarkson a chance to flex her judging muscles, and I appreciated her mostly positive assessment of McGrath’s take on Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most.” Then again, this isn’t Clarkson’s first time at the judging rodeo, given her multiple seasons on The Voice. And let’s not forget ABC’s short-lived competition series Duets. Let’s never forget. Click here to watch.
SIMON AND MARIA | These tiny dancers gave us another high-energy performance, this time cutting a rug at the “Mel’s Diner” set on the Universal Studios lot. It was fun. You know, in the way that Old Navy commercials are fun, Also, do we think these infants really cared that they got to see where Home Alone 2 was filmed? Were their parents even born when that talkie was first released in the cineplex? Click here to watch.
FRENCHIE BABYY | I hope Frenchie’s parents watched his eye-popping performance tonight and felt like absolute poop emojis for not supporting his obvious talent. Hearing that he and his sisters have been estranged since 2010 broke my quarantined heart. I’m hoping that Mandel’s prediction of Frenchie sailing through to the next round comes true. Click here to watch.
BELLO & ANNALIESE NOCK | Clarkson apparently wasn’t the only person filling in for an injured party this week. After hurting himself during rehearsal, Bello was forced to take a knee, leaving daughter Annaliese to perform a series of death-defying stunts — including walking blindfolded on a burning piece of machinery several stories above ground — using her brother as her counterweight. She pulled it off, of course, but the judges could barely watch without squirming out of their chairs. Why do people put themselves through this?! Click here to watch.
ROBERTA BATTAGLIA | With her viral performance of “Shallow” still fresh on the judges’ minds, expectations were high for Sofia Vergara’s Golden Buzzer selection. And the 10-year-old vocalist did not disappoint, delivering a jaw-dropping rendition of Lauren Daigle’s “You Say.” Clarkson pretty much summed it up with her first three words: “You. Are. Incredible.” Watch:
MICHAEL YO | Having recently welcomed two nieces into the world, I very much appreciated Yo’s musings on the uselessness of men in the delivery room. That said, he totally lost me when he veered off into a discussion about whether he’d die for his son or his wife. It was… a lot. Especially when you factor in Yo’s near-death experience with the coronavirus, a story that had me sobbing before he even took the stage. Click here to watch.
DOUBLE DRAGON | “Be ready for the fuego,” they warned us. But let’s be real, nothing could have prepared us for these singing sisters’ take on “Bang Bang.” The choreography. The vocals. The dramatic pivot to “Taki Taki.” In a word, it was everything. I’ve been obsessed with Double Dragon ever since they made it rain men at their first audition, and this follow-up performance — complete with sparkly cowgirl costumes! — only endeared them to me further.
BRETT LOUDERMILK | This season’s primo sword swallower returned, this time imploring Vergara to shoot him with a crossbow. “Is this what I’m pushing?” she asked at one point, to which he replied, “Yes, the trigger.” If you weren’t already nervous, perhaps you were taken aback by the weapon’s apparent premature firing. “Is he dead?” Vergara asked. Fortunately, the answer was no.
ARCHIE WILLIAMS | Having already won the award for the season’s saddest backstory — he spent decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit — Williams returned to the AGT stage on Tuesday to continue fighting for his next victory. You could hear a pin drop as Williams treated the judges to a powerful private performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” Absolutely bone-chilling. Not a dry eye in the house.
Which of these acts will you be rooting for when the results are revealed tomorrow? And how do you think Clarkson did on her first night as a judge? Grade her big debut below, then drop a comment with more of your thoughts.
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