The ‘America’s Got Talent’ star is doing fine after having surgery.
If there’s one thing 2020 has taught “America’s Got Talent,” it’s that the show must go on.
The NBC talent juggernaut held its first live show of the season Tuesday, without an in-person audience due to the coronavirus pandemic and without Simon Cowell, who broke several parts of his back during an electric bike accident at his Malibu home over the weekend.
Thankfully, Cowell knew just the person to temporarily replace him: Kelly Clarkson.
And she knows a thing or two about talent: Clarkson’s the inaugural winner of “American Idol,” who Cowell helped discover, and she’s a three-time champ on “The Voice.”
“I have waited years for this,” Clarkson marveled during the episode Tuesday. “I love Simon but I am getting real used to this chair. I’m just saying, take your time. I can use another job.”
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Cowell wasn’t the only one plagued with injury.
Comedian Michael Yo “fought hard” to be at the live shows after being hospitalized with COVID-19. “My life did change after ‘AGT’ (auditions) but not in the way I thought it was going to change,” Yo said.
And he didn’t waste his chance. “(Comedians) are needed more now than ever,” Clarkson said while applauding his comedy sketch. Howie Mandel added: “I’m so happy you survived the COVID. Comedy and tragedy go well together.”
There was more redemption. Annaliese Nock, one part of the father-daughter daredevil duo Bello & Annaliese, carried on without her father after he suffered an “acrobatic injury” during rehearsals on the self-proclaimed “Wheel of Death” contraption.
“I never expected to perform without my dad,” Nock said after nailing her fire-filled act. “I just had a lot of emotions running high. And now I just hope I did good enough to get us both to the next round.”
Sofia Vergara said Nock had “nerves of steel” while Heidi Klum joked, “I wonder how you guys play truth or dare at home?”
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In Cowell’s absence, Mandel emerged as the toughest critic. He was clearly not impressed with the pig act, Pork Chop Revue: “I think it’s amazing because they are pigs but if I have to be honest, it’s like a very lethargic dog act.”
Shaquira McGrath brought the roof down with a soulful rendition of Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most.” Although Clarkson, Klum and Vergara agreed that McGrath sounded “breathtaking,” Mandel argued that the singer didn’t up the ante.
“To be honest, I’ve watched you three times on this show,” Mandel said. “I think your first one was your top performance.”
Mandel thankfully cheered up halfway through the two-hour broadcast, predicting that contortionist Frenchie Babyy will be “one of the five” acts advancing to the semifinals. The dancer performed with the full support of his family after reconnecting with his Christian mother following Cowell’s impromptu phone call intervention during auditions.
In total, 11 of the 44 remaining acts performed during Tuesday’s quarterfinals round, mainly from Universal Studios Hollywood’s soundstage, theme park and the famed backlot.
One act joined via satellite from across the country due to pandemic travel restrictions. Ukulele player Feng E wowed from a dazzling stage in Taipei, Taiwan.
“You are the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele,” Mandel said. “We are now worldwide. That stage live from Taiwan – it’s bigger and better than anything I’ve ever seen on this show.”
The 11 acts that performed Tuesday were: Pork Chop Revue (pig act); Feng E (ukulelist); Shaquira McGrath (singer); Simon & Maria (salsa duo); Frenchie Babyy (contortionist); Bello & Annaliese Nock (daredevil duo); Michael Yo (comedian); Double Dragon (singing duo); Brett Loudermilk (sword swallower); Archie Williams (singer); and singer Roberta Battaglia (Vergara’s Golden Buzzer)
Only five will advance. However, the fate of the contestants is no longer in the judges’ hands. It’s up to America.
Fans can vote up to 10 times for each act on NBC.com/AGTvote, the “America’s Got Talent” app and through Xfinity Voice Remote. The five acts advancing to the semifinals will be revealed during Wednesday’s results show, which will include guest performances from “AGT” winners Kodi Lee and Mat Franco (NBC, 8 EDT/PDT)
Contributing: Bill Keveney
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