Simon Cowell joins “America’s Got Talent” for Season 11

Simon Cowell joins AGT Season 11

A new chapter in “AGT” history began as Simon Cowell will join Howie, Heidi, Mel B & Nick for “America’s Got Talent: Season 11.” (Logo and Photo property of NBC & SYCO Entertainment)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

For the first time in 11 years, Got Talent franchise creator and Executive Producer Simon Cowell is joining veteran judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B at the judges’ table!

Recently, Jake’s Take named Simon: “The Greatest Talent Competition Show Judge of All-Time” and hopefully throughout the season, Simon will show why he deserves this title.

Earlier this year, Jake’s Take had the privilege of covering the Kansas City America’s Got Talent (AGT) Producer Auditions and learned from Mr. Cowell’s right-hand man and fellow Executive Producer Jason Raff that the Golden Buzzer is back!  For new fans to the AGT world, the Golden Buzzer is a device the judges can use only once a season to propel an act to the Live Shows.  Because of AGT’s relocation to Los Angeles, the Live Shows are scheduled to be at the Dolby Theatre.

Did any of the acts that auditioned tonight earn a Golden Buzzer? Read on to find out!

Before I continue with my recap, I wanted to let you know that I had the privilege of seeing a taping of an AGT audition show, and I had the best experience of my life! I received a fist bump to Howie Mandel, a high-five from Mel B and shook hands with Simon himself!!! So if I recognize an act from my audition, I will let you know!

The first act to face Simon, Heidi, Mel B and Howie was six-year-old Nathan Bockstahler. This was the first time that he performed on the big stage. His humor was impeccable as Simon asked him the “tough adult questions.” Nathan revealed that he was going to do comedy, which made Howie give him a thumbs up! He had a lot of energy and great material for child comedian. Heidi loved his charm and Simon added that he thought that Nathan was a real character. Nathan received the first four “Yeses” of the season.

Animal acts have been a staple on AGT. In fact, Olate Dogs won Season Seven four years ago! Jose and Carrie hoped to continue that tradition as they danced a salsa to “Shake Senora.” This was another feel good act and spectacular audition. In fact, this is the only animal act that I thoroughly enjoyed all 11 seasons.  Simon could not keep his composure as he laughed during his comments; meanwhile, Heidi was bored with the act after 15 seconds and voted “No!” Luckily, Simon, Mel B, and Howie gave them—the three Yeses they needed to move forward to the next round.

As Nick danced Carrie offstage, the Clairvoyants (Thommy and Amelie) took the stage. They invited Heidi on stage with her green handbag. After inspecting their equipment, Tommy asked Heidi to pick out an object randomly, and she correctly picked out Heidi’s lipstick down to the shade and number. They continued to mystify the crowd including picking out an AT&T iPhone and Howie’s eye drops.  Howie gave them a standing ovation, while Mel B stated that their talent was very alien-like. They received four Yeses and moved to the next round.

One act that I got to see audition for the judges was Linkin’ Bridge. This Louisville, Kentucky quartet (Ekoe, Montre Davis, Shon China Lacy and Big Rome) blew me, the judges and audience away with their rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” One of my personal favorite versions of the song is Hawaiian singer-songwriter Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s ukulele enhanced cover.  However, their outstanding a cappella interpretation might give Israel a run for his money. I got chills listening to them twice! After receiving a standing ovation from Howie, Mel B, and Heidi, they left Mel B speechless and Simon called the second half of their audition: “Sensational!” I hope these guys go far in the competition!

The lights went out at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium as a spectacular Japanese magician named Hiroki Hara combined special effects and projections for one impeccable audition. In 10 years of watching this show and seeing the likes of iLuminate, Fighting Gravity and Kenichi Ebina audition, this audition floored me. Hiroki Hara might be a strong contender to win this season.

Tape Face Boy creeped me out, but it wasn’t until he whipped out two oven mitts and they mimed Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’ “Endless Love” and the “Lady in Red” bit that I started to enjoy the act.  It was a little uncanny for my taste, but it was better than I expected it to be.

As Howie and Simon debated who was weirder, entertainers Ryan Stock and Amber Lynn took the stage. This was one of the acts that I got to watch in Pasadena and boy, it was weird. First, he poked scissors into his nose and then licked the blades. Next, he put the 15-foot knee hook up through his nose and into his mouth. I was too grossed out then and now to watch the audition. I was among the hundreds of people that agreed with Heidi and buzzed them. However, I was shocked that Simon gave them a standing ovation. Mel B was grossed out, while Simon stated it was the most “disgusting thing that he ever seen and liked it.” Heidi gave them a “No,” while Mel B turned to the audience for help and voted “Yes.”  Simon and Howie joined Mel B in the “Yes” voting and the couple moved onto the next round.

13-year-old Laura Bretan showcased a lot of nerves before she faced the judges especially Simon. But, she surprised everyone with her powerful voice. When I saw her in Pasadena, I was on my feet from the first few notes of “Nessun Dorma.” Laura’s voice instantly put her in the outstanding vocal Gerphil Flores and Barbara Padilla class! Mark my words, this girl is going to be a star! Thank you, Mel B for giving Laura this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and pressing your Golden Buzzer!

The final act of the night was retired construction worker Greg. He “believed” that his danger act could win the whole show. But, his danger act falling into a foam pool.  After receiving 4 Nos, Nick pushed Heidi and Simon into the foam pool. They hugged Howie and next went for Mel B and Simon.

Next week, the auditions continue!

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar