Simon Cowell RETURNS as AGT begins Season 16

Howie, Heidi, Terry, and Sofia were reunited with the Got Talent franchise founder Simon Cowell as AGT began its sixteenth season. (Photo property of NBC)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

Simon Cowell is back on America’s Got Talent! 

Thanks to an injury, the Got Talent creator was forced to sit out when the long-running NBC talent competition’s fifteenth anniversary season went live from Universal Studios Hollywood. Now, Simon is back, and he’s reunited with his colleagues, including returning judge Sofia Vergara, host Terry Crews, and show stalwarts Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel.

Which acts received “Yeses” from the panel? Which hopefuls found their dreams dashed thanks to a buzzer? Did anyone receive the premiere’s Golden Buzzer? Read on to find out!

After Terry and the judges welcomed Simon Cowell back to the show, it was time to get down to business. The first act to face the judges was dogs impersonating Terry and the judges that included a Golden Buzzer. As much as I despise animal acts, I thought it was an excellent start to the auditions. The Canine Stars received the first standing ovation of the season, and Simon called it: “Genius” and Howie called it – “the best animal act he has ever seen on the show.” The Canine Stars received the first unanimous “Yes” of the season.

As Heidi took a photo of Howie and his dog counterpart, 10-year-old singer Peter Rosalita walked onto the stage. He sang “All by Myself,” and Peter showcased a fantastic group of vocal runs, which blew me away. Peter received a standing ovation from the judges, and Simon called it – “Incredibly good.” He received the second unanimous “Yes” of the night.

After a series of bad auditions, 16-year-old aerialist Aidan Bryant stepped onto the stage. He revealed to Simon Cowell and the crew that he learned his skills from YouTube and a P!nk concert. With the encouragement of his mom, Aidan chased his dreams, which led to the AGT stage. I was very impressed with Aidan’s athleticism and his choreography, and he made my jaw drop. Sofia called it – “amazing,” and the judges advanced him to the next round. 

Japanese novelty act Mr. Cherry and Chikki wanted to make their AGT debuts by breaking walnuts. He was successful in crushing 79 walnuts on his butt. Sofia thought it was not tough, so she went onto the stage and hurt her butt in the process. While Simon Cowell and Sofia wanted to advance them, Howie and Heidi said: “No.” Due to a divided panel, Mr. Cherry and Chikki were eliminated from the competition. 

The Northwell Health Nurse Choir is made up of all frontline nurses. They were at New York City’s coronavirus epicenter, and now they wanted to flex their musical muscles. These 18 nurses represented 18,000 of their co-workers and wanted to inspire. They sang a beautiful mash-up of “Lean on Me” and “Stand By Me,” and it gave me the first set of chills of Season 16. All four judges gave them a standing ovation, and Sofia called the performance “beautiful and dynamic.” Heidi also got chills and loved it. Howie gave them the season’s first Golden Buzzer, and they advanced to the Dolby Theatre live shows!

As Howie and Simon wore matching outfits, Keith Apicary made his AGT debut, and he reminded me a little bit of Napoleon Dynamite. He surprised me with his hysterical dance moves and was surprised when he fell off the stage. All four judges gave him a standing ovation, and Howie called the audition – a “Surprise.” He received a unanimous “Yes” from all four judges. 

53-year-old comedian Gerald Kelly has been in stand-up comedy for over 30 years, and he was facing off against his son, Little Hunter Kelly, in the auditions. Gerald went first, and his routine talked about homework help and raising his children. Gerald made me laugh so hard with his material. Sofia called it “fresh,” and Howie liked his stage presence but not his material. Simon Cowell stated that the audience at home would like him. Gerald got all four “Yeses” from the judges.

1aChord (Tavis, Christoff, and Julian) walked onto the AGT dreams with hopes to go far in the competition. The trio revealed to Simon Cowell and the judges that they met a month and a half ago at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the cafeteria. The trio randomly sat at the same table, found many commonalities, and revealed that they were “all church babies.” For their audition, the trio sang Coldplay’s “Fix You.” I got chills from their harmonies, and they reminded me so much of AGT greats such as Forte and Voices of Service. All four judges gave them a standing ovation. The guys received four “Yeses” and a ticket to the next round.

Magician Dustin Tavella hoped his abilities could advance him to the next round. The Virginia Beach native brought his wife and son, Xander, to his audition. He revealed to the audience that he sent Terry pictures from his “most magical day of his life” and that the host received the email. Dustin believed in two kinds of magic – stage magic and the most “real and powerful magic that exists” (impacting human life). Dustin incorporated the judges into his routine. Heidi selected a random card of kids’ toys, while Sofia marked an arbitrary date from February 2020 on a calendar. Howie shouted “Smith,” an unexpected last name, and Simon picked out a random time. Next, Dustin turned to Terry for a word that described him, and he said, “POWER.” Fighting back the tears, Dustin shared Xander’s story as he told the audience that he and his wife adopted his son when he was 2-months-old.

Dustin revealed that the most magical moment was when a judge let Dustin and his wife legally adopt Xander. Dustin also added that the judge gave Xander a stuffed animal. Heidi’s card was the stuffed animal. Terry revealed his photos that included the adoption ceremony. Terry admitted that Xander was in a box marked February 21st, 2020 – the date that Sofia randomly picked out and the last name of the judge “Smith.” Dustin asked Simon Cowell to reveal the time he picked out – “7:04,” which was the time on the clock in the photo. He also dedicated the audition to Xander’s birth mother, who was featured in the final image holding a “POWER” sign. Howie said that Dustin “checked every box” and Sofia called it “mesmerizing.”

For the final act of the evening, we turned to a familiar face – the comedian Sethward. He had been buzzed over the past three seasons and he gained a fanbase. He dressed as a giant peacock and already Simon gave him an “X.” However, there were something adorable about the routine. Heidi called it “a hot mess,” while Simon called it – “horrible.” However, he received three “Yeses” -from Howie, Sofia, Heidi (through the audience), and a disgruntled Simon.

Next week, the Season 16 Auditions continue!

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar