Brad Paisley kicks off ‘AGT: Season 14’ Judge Cuts

By: Jacob Elyachar,

The America’s Got Talent (AGT): Season 14 Judges’ Auditions are finally over! Now, things get a bit more serious.  Through the next four weeks, the judges (Simon Cowell, Julianne Hough, Gabrielle Union, and Howie Mandel) will decide which acts will perform at the Dolby Theatre.  They have also invited several celebrities to help them with the decision process.

Country music singer and former Rising Star judge Brad Paisley joined the team for the first round of Season 14 Judges Cuts.  He was only one that had the opportunity to press the Golden Buzzer and sent an act of his choice to join Kodi Lee, the Detroit Youth Choir, and Luke Islam at the Season 14 Live Shows.

Which act received Brad Paisley’s Golden Buzzer? Whose dreams came true and received a ticket to perform at Season 14 live shows? Whose dreams came crashing down?  Read on to find out!

Animal act Lukas & Falco were the first performers to face Brad Paisley and the judges. Because of my bias against animal acts, I despised their original audition. For their Judge Cuts performance, Lukas & Falco paid homage to one of Simon’s favorite movies: The Greatest Showman. I thought the tricks were boring and unoriginal. Personally, if I were on the dais, I would have buzzed them to throw them off! However, the Got Talent creator was the only judge to give them a standing ovation.

Karaoke singer Andy Rowell sunk his chances to appear in the live shows, while Jecko failed to impress with his Austin Powers-based magic act. Brad Paisley was not impressed by the Orange Magician’s signature response, “It’s good!” when he asked the performer if he was a fan of his music. However, the quick-changing magician made both Howie and Simon laugh with his antics.

French beatbox crew Berywam returned to the AGT stage. This quartet blew me away with their Judges’ Auditions performance. Tonight, Berywarm brought the Universal Studios Hollywood audience to their feet. I loved their energy and their artistry. Brad Paisley, Howie, and the ladies gave them a standing ovation for their performance. However, Simon thought that the performance was not viral-worthy!

While Brad Paisley reflected on his talent show past, 10-year-old Dylan rapped Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” the Emerald Belles dance team revealed their crush on the country music singer.  The Emerald Belles had a hard time impressing Howie during the Judges’ Auditions, so the Texas-based team had a lot to prove to the Deal or No Deal host. The girls danced to Britney Spears’ “Work B****” and they definitely showcased their growth in their routine. I felt that they incorporated the Paso Doble into their routine as well. Simon declared the Emerald Belles “were in it to win it,” however Howie believed that the girls were not ready for the show.

The Sentimentalists returned to fight for a spot in the Season 14 live shows! Mysterion offered the judges to pick out marbles. After Steffi Kay correctly picked out Brad Paisley’s red marble, they brought him on stage. She correctly picked out Brad’s handpicked photo: a guitar. The two continued to guess the colors of the judges’ marbles and Brad’s photos accurately. While Julianne stated that she would fight for them, Howie said that their presentation was still up to par. Howie’s past continued to haunt him as Duo Togni (an act he passed on during the initial auditions) returned to the stage. They brilliantly executed a death-defying drop and challenged the veteran judge to join them on stage.

15-year-old YouTube sensation Sophie Pecora wanted to advance to the next round. She performed an original song that definitely expressed teenage angst. Sophie reminds me so much of Grace Vanderwaal and Mandy Harvey. Brad Paisley lead in the standing ovation, while Gabrielle Union stated that Sophie snatched all of their hearts. Simon was honest with his critique and wanted her to perform positive reinforcing tunes in the future. Sadly, the guest judge chose her to be his Golden Buzzer act. There are too many youth acts that got the Golden Buzzer and I believe that we need more performers over the age of 18 to receive it.

Several acts such as Dakota and Nadia, comedian Kevin Schwartz, and singer Loki Alohikea failed to impress the judges. Aerial performer Matthew Richardson made a big splash during the Judges’ Auditions.  He dedicated his performance to his father who passed away from pancreatic cancer. The performance as beautiful from start to finish and gave me chills. Matthew should have received Brad Paisley’s Golden Buzzer instead of a 15-year-old brat. I agreed with Simon that Matthew was worthy of being a headlining Las Vegas act.

It was a tale of two singers! NYC singer Damiyr performed in the subway, while Chris Klafford performed in Sweden and won his country’s version of Idol. Damiyr sang A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s “Say Something,” however if I wanted to hear a pitch-perfect version of the song I would have watched Bianca Ryan’s performance from Champions. Chris decided to take a risk and perform an original called “Something Like Me.” I loved the song, and I thought he made the right decision to play the track. Brad Paisley and the judges gave him a standing ovation while Chris broke down in tears.

The Messoudi Brothers traveled from Beirut to appear on the Judges’ Cuts. Unfortunately, they were unable to get their luggage because the airline lost it and the trio had to rush to the Universal Studios Hollywood set immediately. The brothers dedicated their routine to their father. Despite not being adequately ready for the Judges’ Cuts, the Messoudi Brothers delivered a fiery performance. Their stunts made my jaw drop, but having their dad join them on stage added another level of excitement to the show. Brad Paisley and the judges were on their feet for their performance, and Simon jokingly stated that he would not show this audition to his son, Eric.

South Africa’s NDLOVU Youth Choir closed out the first round of Season 14 judge cuts. This performance marked their second time in America. The choir performed Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” and it was a beautiful celebration of life. This group reminds me so much of Musicality and Angel City Chorale, and I believe that the Season 14 live shows would not be the same without them.

After Simon and the judges said farewell to Brad Paisley, it was time to reveal their decisions. The six acts joining Sophie Pecora at the Dolby Theatre are the Emerald Belles, the Messoudi Brothers, Berywam, Lukas and Falco, NDLOVU Youth Choir, and Chris Klafford.

Next week, NBA superstar and Gabrielle Union’s husband, Dwayne Wade, will visit the show.

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar