Jake’s Take: The Greatest “AGT” Music Acts of All-Time

Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Nick Cannon will celebrate the tenth anniversary season of "America's Got Talent" when the show returns on Tuesday. (Photo property of NBC)

Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Nick Cannon will celebrate the tenth anniversary season of “America’s Got Talent” when the show returns on Tuesday. (Photo property of NBC)


By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

America’s Got Talent is celebrating its tenth anniversary season!

But before host Nick Cannon and the judges (Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B & Howie Mandel) introduce us to this year’s contenders, Jake’s Take is paying homage to 13 musical alums who have made an impact on the NBC talent competition over the past nine seasons.

Emil & Dariel AGT

Emil & Dariel electrified crowds with their cellos during the “America’s Got Talent” live shows. (Photo courtesy of Emil & Dariel)

13. Emil & Dariel (Season Nine, 2014)

Brothers Emil & Dariel kick off our countdown! The duo merged classical music and classic rock together with their outstanding interpretations of iconic tunes such as “Purple Haze” and “Satisfaction.” However, Emil & Dariel’s standout moment was when the brothers tackled the Diane Warren-penned Aerosmith tune: “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing.” While the Armageddon theme song had been performed on multiple shows, Emil & Dariel took center stage as an angelic choir added their haunting vocals to their final Radio City Music Hall performance.

12. Quintavious Johnson (Season Nine, 2014)

Like his fellow younger competitors, Quintavious Johnson proved that age was not a limit when he entered last year’s competition. The Franklin, Tennessee powerhouse’s spellbinding vocal showcases stunned the judges and made the audience’s jaws drop. While he may have finished in fifth place, the singer’s impact can be felt in fan-favorite performances such as “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and “Let It Be.”

11. Prince Poppycock (Season Five, 2010)

Five years ago, America fell in love with one of the most eccentric performers that had ever graced the AGT stage. Prince Poppycock’s intriguing cover of “Figaro” blew everyone (especially Sharon Osbourne) away. His spectacular flamboyant performances set the standard for other colorful characters to appear in the future. Despite placing fourth in his season, he received one of the best parting gifts of any season…his celebrity duet with the Queen of Disco herself: Ms. Donna Summer!

Sons of Serendip America's Got Talent

From the first note of their audition song: “Somewhere Only We Know” to their epic final performance of “Bring Me To Life,” Sons of Serendip’s soothing and compassionate covers brought the “AGT” audience to their feet. (Photo courtesy of Sons of Serendip)

10. Sons of Serendip (Season Nine, 2014)

Up until last season, no band has ever gotten into the finale. However, Micah Christian, Cordaro Rodriguez, Kendall Ramseur and Mason Morton, changed the precedent with their beautiful arrangements of iconic pop songs. While Sons of Serendip’s audition and superb renditions of “Don’t You Worry Child” and “Bring Me to Life,” it was their take on Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” that guaranteed them not only a trip to the Season Nine finale, but also a future in the music industry.

9. William Close & The Earth Harp Collective (Season Seven, 2012)

Ever heard of an Earth Harp? In case, you have not heard about it, just talk to its inventor: William Close. The music instrument creator showcased the largest string instrument in the world when he auditioned in front of Howard, Sharon and Howie three years ago. The haunting music that he created rang across the country and his journey took him to the AGT: Season Seven finale where he delivered the best performance in show history.

8. Jackie Evancho (Season Five, 2010)

Opera singer Jackie Evancho might be one of AGT’s greatest discoveries. At just 10-years-old, Jackie shined brighter than any child performer that graced the America’s Got Talent stage. Not only did her first appearance received critical acclaim, but she also matched note-for-note with beloved international recording star Sarah Brightman during the Season Five finale. Despite placing second, Ms. Evancho remains the best-selling musical alum in show history as 2,243,267 albums were sold.


Classical crossover singer Branden James stole America's hearts when he appeared on "America's Got Talent" earlier this year. (Photo property of NBC's Virginia Sherwood)

Classical crossover singer Branden James stole American hearts when he sang “You Raise Me Up” in 2013. (Photo property of NBC’s Virginia Sherwood)

7. Branden James (Season Eight, 2013)

Season Eight featured multiple musical artists that saturated the AGT Top 60 acts. However, one singer that stood out was tenor Branden James. Every time he performed on the AGT stage, he delivered spectacular performances and won viewers’ hearts. His interpretations of “Nessun Dorma,” “You Raise Me Up” and “Hallelujah” not only sent chills down my body, but also set the standard for male vocalists who plan to audition for any future seasons.

Andrew De Leon Regresa A Mi

Andrew De Leon’s return to “America’s Got Talent” charmed the audience and the judges. (Photo property of SYCOTV & NBC)

6. Andrew de Leon (Season Seven, 2012)

Never judge a book by its cover! America learned this lesson very well with a gothic make-up artist named Andrew de Leon arrived to audition for Howard Stern’s debut season as a judge. He shocked everyone with his powerful interpretation of “O Mio Babbino Caro” and instantly won over America’s hearts. While he was disappointingly eliminated in Vegas, Howie Mandel gave him one final chance and delivered a heartbreaking “Regresa A Mi” that brought the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to its feet.

5. Eli Mattson (Season Three, 2008)

There are only two musical acts that caught my attention during the third season and one of them was singer-songwriter Eli Mattson.  The Season Three runner-up was the first contestant to brilliantly connect the songs that he performed with the audience. His cover of “Walking in Memphis” sealed his future in the competition and the music industry. However, his performance of “Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word” remains one of the best musical moments in the show’s history. The only thing I want to know is what was Elton John’s reaction to the performance.

4. Nuttin’ But Stringz (Season Three, 2008)

Six years before Emil & Dariel took the stage, brothers Tourie and Damien Escobar auditioned for then judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff and set the stage on fire. Their sound integrated classical music and Hip-hop music together in a harmonious way that not only redefines the violin as an instrument, but also set the bar extremely high for other AGT acts in the future.

 3. The Forte Tenors (Season Eight, 2013)

The first (and founding) line-up of the Forte Tenors (Josh Page, Fernando Varela and Hana Ryu) first met online and stunned the nation with their debut performance of “Pie Jesu.” Unfortunately, Hana’s personal problems forced him to drop out of the competition before Vegas. The group returned to Vegas with new member Sean Panikkar and their second audition took them all the way to Radio City Music Hall. From their show-stopping renditions of “Somewhere” and “My Heart Will Go On” to their final performance of “The Prayer,” this trio shook the foundations of the competitions and reinvented the classical crossover genre on the show.


Emily West AGT Finale

Throughout the entire show, Emily West did not disappoint and her cover of “Chandelier” and “Nights in White Satin” are her best performances on the show. (Photo property of NBC)

2. Emily West (Season Nine, 2014)

What attracted me to Emily West was her stunning voice. Ever since she sang “Sea of Love” for her audition, the singer-songwriter enchanted me and cast her excellent spell upon America. “Chandelier,” “Nights in White Satin” and her season-ending duet of “True Colors” with her hero, Cyndi Lauper, were all standout moments from the ninth season and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us when she debuts her post-AGT album this August.

Barbara Padilla Time to Say Goodbye

Barbara Padilla’s vocal performances not only blew audiences away but secured her spot as the greatest music act to appear on “AGT.” (Photo property of NBC, SYCO TV and FremantleMedia North America)

1. Barbara Padilla (Season Four, 2009)

Opera singer Barbara Padilla reached the number one spot in our countdown for several reasons. One, Ms. Padilla’s omnipotent vocals set the standard for every opera singer that has auditioned for the show. Look back at her audition and performances of both “Time to Say Goodbye” and “Ave Maria,” they left viewers mesmerized. Second, she left a legacy! Without Barbara providing a map for future classical crossover vocalists, we might have not have seen performers Jackie, Prince Poppycock, Andrew, Forte and Brendan grace the stage. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next.

I do not own any of the clips that were featured in this article. They belong to NBC, FremantleMedia North America and SYCO TV.



  1. […] Last week, I introduced you to the greatest musical acts that have ever graced the America’s Got Talent stage! If you not had the chance to read the article, click here. […]

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar