JT’s Top 20 Greatest AGT Auditions of All-Time

Jake's Take with Jacob Elyachar reveals its Top 20 Favorite Auditions in 'AGT' history. (AGT graphic property of NBC)

Jake’s Take with Jacob Elyachar reveals its Top 20 Favorite Auditions in ‘AGT’ history. (AGT graphic property of NBC)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

America’s Got Talent (AGT) is returning for its EIGHTEENTH SEASON on Tuesday, May 30!

Judges Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and host Terry Crews are back and looking for the next $1 million champion! Before the search starts, Jake’s Take reveals the 20 most amazing auditions ever. These performances come from the history of NBC’s long-running talent competition.

Without further ado, here are Jake’s Take’s Top 20 Greatest Auditions of All-Time:

#20- Chapel Hart (Country music group; Season 17 FIFTH PLACE FINALISTS; Group Golden Buzzer; 2022) 

Jake’s Take friends Chapel Hart kickstarts this countdown. Before this trio auditioned for AGT, country music could have done better in this competition. Chapel Hart’s powerful performance of their original song: “You Can Have Him Jolene,” not only did they have the Pasadena Civic Auditorium audience on its feet, but these fantastic trailblazers received the show’s second Group Golden Buzzer.

#19- Darci Lynne (Ventriloquist; Season 12 WINNER; Mel B’s Golden Buzzer; 2017) 

Ventriloquist Darci Lynne’s life was changed when she walked onto the AGT stage. The Oklahoma City native brought her friend, Petunia, on stage to keep the art of ventriloquism alive. Petunia’s “Summertime” performance blew audiences away, earned former judge Mel B’s Golden Buzzer, and set the standard for youth performers. 

#18- Linkin’ Bridge (Vocal group; Season 11 Top 10 FINALISTS; 2016) 

Linkin’ Bridge’s audition remains special for me as I saw them audition in person during Season 11. When they sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” A cappella, myself and other audience members rose to our feet as their velvety R&B vocals and harmonies gave us goosebumps. Linkin’ Bridge also set the bar high for vocal groups with their audition.

#17-Andrew De Leon (Opera Singer; Season Seven SEMIFINALIST; 2012) 

Of all the acts that came from Season Seven (Howard Stern’s first and Sharon Osbourne’s final respective seasons), Andrew De Leon’s Judges Audition still stands the test of time. The self-taught opera singer wowed the Austin, Texas audience with his beautiful interpretation of “O Mio Babbino Caro,” setting the standard for surprisingly good auditions for seasons.

#16-Voices of Service (Vocal Group; Season 14 FIFTH PLACE FINALISTS; 2019) 

While AGT welcomed US Armed Forces veterans to audition, not all made it to the finals. However, Voices of Service set a new standard when the quartet auditioned for NBC’s talent competition’s fourteenth season when their powerful rendition of Katy Perry’s “Rise.” This audition inspired the nation, and this performance began Voices of Service’s journey to the finale.

#15-Forte Tenors (Opera trio; Season Eight FOURTH PLACE FINALISTS; 2013) 

When the Forte Tenors’ first incarnation (Josh Page, Fernando Varela, and Hana Ryu) told the judges and audience that their audition was the first time performing in public, I was concerned that they would be one of the acts to receive all four Xs. However, when they sang Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu,” the trio gave the audience chills with their superb harmonies and received a standing ovation from Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum. Despite the Forte Tenors switching members (Sean Panikkar for Ryu) before the Radio City Music Hall live shows, the trio set the golden standard for vocal groups for seasons to come.

#14- Kenichi Ebina (Dancer; Season Eight WINNER; 2013) 

A majority of AGT’s top dance acts are dance crews. Kenichi Ebina broke barriers during the eighth season for solo dancers. His epic Matrix-style dance containing spectacular choreography, such as dropping his head to his stomach and getting up from the stage floor without assistance, made the audience’s jaws drop.

#13- World Taekwondo Demonstration Team (Karate Stunt Team; Season 16 Top 10 FINALISTS; Terry Crews’ Golden Buzzer; 2021) 

One of Season 16’s most memorable auditions came from the World Taekwondo Demonstration Team. Athletes from both South Korea and the United States delivered a masterful audition featuring high kicks, incredible jumps, fantastic stunts, and tons of wood breaking. After Terry pressed the Golden Buzzer, the World Taekwondo Demonstration Team was cemented as one of the most incredible extreme acts that the show has ever seen.

#12- Prince Poppycock (Singer; Season Five FOURTH PLACE FINALIST; 2010) 

Prince Poppycock comes dashing in at the twelfth spot in the countdown. My jaw dropped when he sang “Figaro” from The Barber of Seville. Until then, I have never seen anyone deliver opera in such a fun and campy way that put smiles on the audience’s faces as Prince Poppycock did that day. Former judge Sharon Osbourne would have pressed it for him if the Golden Buzzer was around that season.

#11- Kodi Lee (Singer/Pianist; Season 14 WINNER – Gabrielle Union’s Golden Buzzer; 2019)

Singer-pianist Kodi Lee’s Season 14 audition is one of AGT’s most excellent inspirational auditions. The world was in awe when he performed Leon Russell’s iconic “A Song for You.” His artistry gave me chills, but former judge Gabrielle Union perfectly rewarded him with the Golden Buzzer and a spot in the Season 14 live shows, where he won the season.

#10- Team iLuminate (Light-Up Dance Group; Season Six THIRD PLACE FINALISTS; 2011) 

Team iLuminate should be considered pioneers in glow-in-the-dark entertainers. In 2011, iLuminate creator Miral Kotb and this fantastic dance troupe stunned the world with an electrifying audition that set the stage for acts such as Light Balance and Light Balance Kids to compete and a new standard for Las Vegas entertainment.

#9- Zurcaroh (Dance Crew; Season 13 RUNNERS-UP; Tyra Banks’ Golden Buzzer; 2018)

In 2018, Zurcaroh became one of the largest dance crews to audition for AGT. They concluded the Season 18 opening with high-rising stunts, unparalleled hand balancing, and superb gymnastic feats. I was on the same page as both Howie Mandel and former judge Mel B as they yelled: “WOW!” I was so glad that former host Tyra Banks selected them as her final Golden Buzzer act.

#8- Fighting Gravity (Blacklight Illusion Dance Group; Season Five THIRD PLACE FINALISTS; 2010)

13 years ago, Fighting Gravity changed AGT for the better. This group of fraternity brothers combined dance and blacklight for a game-changing audition. Despite having no previous dance experience, Fighting Gravity laid the blueprint for future acts like iLuminate, Light Balance, and Light Balance Kids to follow.

#7- Cristina Rae (Singer; Season 15 THIRD PLACE FINALIST; Heidi Klum’s Golden Buzzer; 2020)

Singer Cristina Rae kicked off Simon Cowell’s second era of AGT during the show’s fifteenth anniversary in a massive way. While she blew the audience away with her cover of Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight,” Simon asked for a second song. Her interpretation of The Rolling Stones’ iconic “Gimme Shelter” not only electrified the Pasadena City Center Auditorium and earned Heidi Klum’s Golden Buzzer but cemented Cristina as one of the best solo singers in show history.

#6- Angel City Chorale (Choir; Season 13 SEMIFINALISTS; Olivia Munn’s Golden Buzzer; 2018) 

Before Angel City Chorale came along, choirs rarely made an impact, and that changed when Sue Fink and the choir auditioned for Season 13 in 2018. From the moment the choir engaged the audience with an audio simulation of a storm to their incredible four-part harmonies with their beautiful interpretation of Toto’s “Africa,” Angel City Chorale became a fan favorite and set the standard for future choirs who auditioned for AGT. 

#5- V.Unbeatable (Dance Crew; Season 14 FOURTH PLACE FINALISTS; Dwayne Wade’s Golden Buzzer; 2019) 

Mumbai, India-based dance group V.Unbeatable’s lives changed when they traveled to audition for AGT: Season 14. These fantastic dancers’ fiery choreography included gymnastic stunts, a bamboo stick slide, and quicksilver footwork that set the AGT stage on fire. Throughout the season, V.Unbeatable earned Dwayne Wade’s Golden Buzzer and made it to finale night, where they placed fourth. The group returned for redemption on America’s Got Talent: The Champions – Season Two (Spoiler Alert – they did win and received another Golden Buzzer). Because of these accomplishments, V. Unbeatable remains the most extraordinary dance act in show history! 

#4- Barbara Padilla (Opera Singer; Season Four RUNNER-UP; 2009) 

Opera singer Barbara Padilla is truly an AGT trailblazer. When she sang “O Mio Babbino Caro” in 2009, the first time any singer on the NBC talent competition gave me chills and moved me to tears. On top of her beautiful voice, Barbara shared that she beat her battle with cancer after her performance. She became an inspiration to viewers. Despite being robbed on the Season Four crown and sash, Barbara blazed the trail for so many AGT fan favorites such as Jackie Evancho, Andrew De Leon, Branden James, the Forte Tenors, Laura Bretan, and Jimmie Herrod to follow. I hope AGT gives her flowers one day and acknowledges this powerhouse vocalist’s impact on the franchise.

#3- The Clairvoyants (Mentalists; Season 11 RUNNERS-UP; 2016) 

AGT audiences have seen mentalists come and go, but there is something special about Jake’s Take friends Thommy Ten and Amelie van Tess. I was blown away when Amelie correctly picked out Heidi Klum’s lipstick, Howie Mandel’s eye drops, and a random audience member’s iPhone. With each performance, the Clairvoyants raised the bar for future mentalists and cemented themselves as one of Got Talent’s premiere mentalism acts. 

#2- Shin Lim (Magician; Season 13 WINNER; 2018) 

Shin Lim perfected the art of close-up magic! His audition focused on the tale of Tyra Banks’ autographed Queen of Spades. From making the image appear on his body to changing the cards’ backs to red and sealing the card in a glass box, this routine made the former AGT host gasp with delight and made audiences’ jaws collectively gasp. This successful audition led him to the Judges Cuts, becoming the first performer to win two consecutive AGT seasons.

#1- Terry Fator (Ventriloquist; Season Two WINNER; 2007) 

If Terry Fator did not audition for America’s Got Talent: Season Two, the Got Talent franchise would not be where it is today. Despite former judges David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan, and Sharon Osbourne’s hesitations, Terry and Emma Taylor wowed the audience with their fantastic take on Etta James’s “At Last.” He earned not only three “Yeses” but, throughout the season, America’s love. After winning AGT, Terry began the Got Talent domination of the Las Vegas strip and inspired countless ventriloquists to compete on various shows.

What were your favorite auditions from AGT history?


  1. Charone Monday says

    I think it’s hard to compare different talents (i.e. singing versus magic versus dancing, etc.) Being a magician myself (and knowing the skills required), I’m convinced Shin Lim is the most talented magician ever on AGT (and there have been many good ones on AGT).

    But when it comes to singing… and there have been many gifted singers who competed, IMHO… Barbara Padilla clearly stands out as the best ever who has appeared on AGT. That’s probably because she’s one of the best opera singers around. And I agree with you, Barbara was “robbed” of the crown. But look at what she’s done since. Her personal testimony of her Faith is so incredibly powerful and God has used her in such a wonderful way, maybe coming in second was a “blessing” in disguise. Had she won, the road she travelled might have been very different.

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar