‘America’s Got Talent’ episode 12 recap: 11 acts perform for America’s vote in ‘Qualifiers 1’ [LIVE BLOG]

This summer, “America’s Got Talent” returned for its 18th season with Terry Crews resuming his hosting duties and Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofía Vergara once again making up the judges panel. As in the past, this year’s champion will take home a $1 million cash prize and be able to showcase their talent as a headlining act in Las Vegas. Only 55 acts get to perform in the “AGT” Qualifiers to compete for America’s vote and hopefully move one step closer to the finale.

Tuesday’s “Qualifiers 1” features encore performances by Heidi Klum‘s Golden Buzzer singer Lavender Darcangelo plus dog act Adrian Stoica & Hurricane, ventriloquist Brynn Cummings, dancer Lambros Garcia, stand-up Maureen Langan, dance troupe Oleksandr Leshchenko & Magic Innovation, singer Mitch Rossell, choir Sainted, the band True Villains, guitarist John Wines and danger act Ray Wold.

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Follow along with our season 18 episode 12 recap live blog of the performances and the judges’ critiques for “America’s Got Talent” Qualifiers 1″ below:

8:03 p.m. – Before we got to the performances, Terry let us know that only two acts from tonight’s slate of 11 would advance straight to The Finals. With America voting on the acts, Simon told Terry that he likes that he has no idea what will happen with the results because the live shows are unpredictable with the fans voting.

8:05 p.m. – Up first was the rock band True Villains, singing an original song instead of repeating with a cover as they did in the auditions. They know that they have stiff competition in the other acts, but it’s important that they establish themselves as an original band and “not a cover band.” Howie said that their metal music is his favorite genre and he loved their song. Heidi also loved the performance because it brought her “back to her 20s” and says the band was “super tight.” Sofia said that she liked them more tonight than in their audition and that it was a great opening to the show. Simon said that they’re a good band, but he preferred their audition because they did something interesting with a song they already knew and he didn’t like their original song.

8:17 p.m. – New Yorker Lambros Garcia told the judges during his audition that he’s been bullied at school for his love of dance, but since being on the show he’s become very popular and sees himself as “Lambros 2.0.” Tonight he performed a new routine to the Todrick Hall song “Vogue Zone” and included many classic voguing moves. Heidi appreciated that Lambros doesn’t care what others think and will do whatever style he wants to do. Sofia also loves that he’s developed more confidence and that he’s “so happy when you’re doing it.” Simon said that he really likes the reaction that he’s had from people back home due to his time on the show. For Simon he “defines personality” and that’s what makes him special. Howie suggested that Lambros didn’t change after his audition, but instead that he’s helping change the world.

8:28 p.m. – As a country artist and songwriter, Mitch Rossell has already had success in the industry, but he’s determined to earn more by continuing to perform original songs as long as he can on the show. Sofia told Mitch that it was a “catchy, romantic song” and he sings with “so much emotion.” Simon said Mitch’s audition was “brilliant” and there’s a reason his song went number one on the country charts and that, ultimately, he’s “the real deal.” Howie predicted again that this song will go to number one as well and he’ll be one of the two acts to beat for the night. Heidi added to the compliments by calling him “radio ready.”

8:39 p.m. – Dance act Oleksandr Leshchenko & Magic Innovation go beyond just dance by incorporating technical engineering and producing into their performances. Tonight they used their iconic box of screens to tell the story of a hero escaping imprisonment through a perilous journey through a fantasy world. Simon started the commentary by saying that “visually that was unbelievable” but that the music “almost ruined it,” calling it corny. Howie defended them by calling them “above and beyond anything we know” because of the visuals and the sounds. Heidi agreed with Howie, adding that Oleksandr is a “great storyteller.” Sofia called it a “highly technical performance” and imagines that it took a lot of time to prepare.

8:49 p.m. – The Italian duo Adrian Stoica & Hurricane see themselves as different from other dog acts because Hurricane improvises (“goes rogue,” Adrian says) when they’re on stage and that adds an extra element to the excitement of their act. Tonight they told a comedic story of Adrian attempting to do yard work with the complication of Hurricane thwarting most of his efforts. The judges were on their feet for the performance with Howie calling it his “favorite dog act ever on AGT.” Heidi said it’s “mind blowing” that Hurricane learns the routines without the assistance of treats as incentive. Sofia loves the story they tell in their performances and calls them “ready for Vegas.” Simon added that “this is the best act we’ve seen tonight” in terms of improving upon their first audition.

9:01 p.m. – The 26 members of Sainted were pleased with their first audition and so this week was about how they raise their game to the next level. It felt like a lot of pressure for the choir to live up to, but they brought the energy up with their medley of remixed party songs. It was clear by the audience reaction that they delivered on their promise, but the judges added to it with Sofia noting that they “lifted the room up,” Heidi saying they “bring excellence to the stage,” and Simon said it was like seeing 30 solo artists all work together on a single song.

9:11 p.m. – With ventriloquist winners in the show’s history, Brynn Cummings was able to bring something different to the talent by mixing the art form with mentalism. Tonight she “took Simon’s advice” and did something different again by attempting something she’s never done before. In tonight’s routine, Brynn used Heidi as an assistant to pick a new partner for her skunk puppet, which she predicted correctly, as well as using the audience to reveal the image of the skunk and Heidi’s chosen bird. Howie said that Brynn is “adorable” and she blends so many styles together. Heidi and Sofia both thought she did a good job with a unique act. Simon said she “didn’t have a clue what was going on,” but that she’s still brilliant as a ventriloquist.

9:24 p.m. – John Wines thought the audition was “scary but also exhilarating,” especially after it aired and his students were so excited for him. Tonight he knew he had to show the audience that he’s “not a one trick pony” so he had to incorporate other elements into his act. To do that, he beefed up his stage presence with the assistance of four female guitarists behind him. Simon was not impressed this time around, hitting his red X button halfway through the performance. Howie opposed Simon, standing up during the performance and applauding everything about it. Simon explained his red X by calling it “strange.” Heidi loved the performance and John as a person.

9:33 p.m. – Comedian Maureen Langan said that gigs and phone calls came out of the woodworks following her appearance in the auditions episodes. Her preparation for the live shows involved practicing her sets out in the real world on these new gigs she earned so that she could narrow her set down to what works. Tonight’s set focused on the idea of being a woman and the expectations that are placed on women of her age — like being given break makers as gifts, what she calls a resurgence of women wanting to do homemaker activities, and interactions with employees at the skin care counters at department stores. Sofia said that she can relate to all her jokes and Simon respects Maureen for coming on stage on her own following acts like singers, but lamented that she didn’t have a single big moment in the set. Howie countered by saying that she remained consistent and that there are women in the audience that will really connect to her set.

9:45 p.m. – With over 165 million views on their audition clip, Ray Wold & Mom were a surprise hit act because Ray’s mom was not originally intended to be his stage partner. In order to take their danger act to a new level tonight, Mom Wold took a leading role which included maneuvering through a ring of fire and blowing up balloon tours with a flamethrower. Howie hit his red X button before their final trick, Mom lighting a tub on fire while Ray was submerged inside of it. Heidi didn’t have much to say about the act, except that “it was lit,” and Sofia called them “the craziest pairing” she’s ever seen and calls Mom inspirational. Howie explained hitting his buzzer by suggesting that Ray shouldn’t be setting his mom on fire. Simon thought the act was “beautiful” because it’s unlike anything you could see anywhere else.

9:55 p.m. – The final act of the night was Heidi’s Golden Buzzer Lavender Darcangelo, an act that Heidi says touched her heart. Lavender told us that she’s often put into a box because of her disability, but her audition on the show gave her the opportunity to show the world she can achieve anything she wants. Despite her song choice “I Want to Know What Love Is” being beyond her vocal ability, Lavender said her heart was choosing it and so she had to sing it no matter what. Heidi said that she’s proud of Lavender and that everyone can “feel her” when she’s singing. Simon called it “the most amazing feeling” when a beloved contestant like Lavender “nails it.” He said that she brought new meaning to the lyric and that “made it beautiful.”

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