‘America’s Got Talent’ episode 20 recap: 11 acts perform for America’s vote in ‘Qualifiers 5’ [LIVE BLOG]

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We’re just one week away from the “America’s Got Talent” season 18 finale. 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. We already know eight of the acts that will contend for the title and another will be determined by viewers watching Tuesday’s Qualifiers 5. This live two-hour show on NBC will feature encore performances from 11 acts that won over “AGT” judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofía Vergara during their auditions earlier this summer.

The roster of talent includes: chorale group 82nd Airborne Chorus, dance group Avantgardey, mariachi singer Eduardo Antonio Trevino, dancer Eseniia Mikheeva, singer Gabriel Henrique, hula hoop artist/aerialist Grace Good, singer Lachune, comic magician Mandy Muden, acrobatic duo Ramadhani Brothers, magician Sangsoon Kim and singing guitarist duo Trailer Flowers.

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Follow along with our season 18 episode 20 recap live blog of the performances and the judges’ critiques for “America’s Got Talent” Qualifier 5 below:

8:03 p.m. – Leading off the night was 11 year old mariachi singer from Texas Eduardo Antonio Trevino who described feeling like a superstar at his middle school after his initial audition aired. To impress the judges and the audience this week, Eduardo chose a song “that everyone will know,” the Oscar winning lullaby “Remember Me” from “Coco.” Sofia was ecstatic for Eduardo, calling him and his act perfect because he’s already a star. Heidi agreed, noting Eduardo’s amazing range, and Simon expressed his happiness for Eduardo because he was able to handle his nerves and nailed the high note that he promised to hit at the end of the song.

8:14 p.m. – Ahead of Grace Good’s performance, Terry said that she “changed the game” by mixing hula hoop artistry with aerialism. In order to prepare for her next act, Grace said she asked on social media what tricks her fans liked and they wanted to see more fire. Following her routine, Heidi and Sofia were on their feet for a “strong, fearless woman” fighting for her spot in the finale. They thought it was exciting, spectacular, scary and sexy all in one. Simon called Grace ambitious and thinks that her theatrics created an amazing act. Howie thought there were hiccups in the performance, noting a misstep where she dropped the baton.

8:24 p.m. – Lachuné was nervous about following up with such a strong first audition, so to do that she chose a popular song that she’d be able to put her own spin on. Her big ballad rendition of “Simply the Best” earned a standing ovation from everyone on the panel except Howie. Heidi said that “everything about this performance was stunning.” Simon admired that she made the song her own version and said there’s moments in her performance that felt like it actually was her own song. Sofia said that she performed the song beautifully in a unique way. Howie clarified that Lachuné is talented, but he didn’t love her version of the song and that it wasn’t enough for her to get to the finale.

8:36 p.m. – Aiming to become a “dance legend,” Eseniia Mikheeva put her energy, acrobatics and agility center stage for her routine to Ciara’s beat-heavy “Level Up.” Sofia told the 7 year old that it’s incredible what she can do on stage at her age and can only imagine what she’ll accomplish a decade from now. Simon said he’s never seen anything like it before, saying she has “personality, confidence and talent.” Heidi added that Eseniia is a “great entertainer” and that it’s clear that on stage is where she wants to be.

8:44 p.m. – Mandy Muden brings something different to magic acts by mixing her routines with humor and wanting “people to be slightly scared of me.” She cautioned that everything she performed this time around is brand new, leading her to be nervous as she took the stage. In the routine, Mandy also brought quick change artistry to the table while making the judges laugh with a trick box. Howie thought Mandy “checked every box” in the performance, but Heidi was looking for “more wow” in the magic elements of her act. Sofia conceded that Mandy “worked really hard” and “took a risk” tonight and managed to remain “super entertaining.” Simon laughed throughout the performance, but agreed in parts with Heidi that the magic isn’t always impressive.

8:58 p.m. – The 20 women of Avantgardey took a sped up Japanese song as inspiration to build a fast-paced, head-spinning dance routine that emphasized synchronicity and symmetry above all else. This time around, Simon was the only judge to not stand in ovation. Heidi said that they looked like dolls that came to life and that’s how they set themselves apart from everyone else. Sofia called the group “unique and weird” and Simon used their performance as an example of a way that “dance got interesting” this year compared to past years where he found them boring. Howie was a huge supporter of them, insisting that America vote them through as one of the two acts to advance to the finale.

9:08 p.m. – It took moving to Nashville at the same time for the two former strangers of Trailer Flowers to find each other and create a semi-finalist country duo. Though they were proud of their original song in the first round, Howie wasn’t a huge fan, but that didn’t stop them from preparing another original for their second performance. Heidi’s red X buzzer lit up halfway through the performance, but it was clarified that Howie pressed her buzzer not Heidi. That being said, Heidi admitted that they did sound a bit pitchy in the song. Sofia thought they sounded nice, but the song and costumes didn’t resonate with her. Simon agreed that the song wasn’t strong and that if it was an audition he would have asked them to sing a second song.

9:21 p.m. – The Ramadhani Brothers explained that the acrobatic balancing act they planned includes the kind of danger that one single misstep could throw the whole thing off and have them crashing down, which is what happened during their rehearsal. With a couple near-slips in the first stage of their routine, the brothers managed to get through the entire thing without error, including an incredible final trick that had them balancing ladders while one brother was carried upside down on the head of the other. Terry pointed out that the judges were on their feet throughout the entire performance and Simon said it’s because it was “spell-binding.” He added that he believes they’re a million dollar act and should be in “The Final.” Heidi called them one of the best acts in the world and it’s incredible that they get to see it live. Sofia acknowledged that she’s been thinking of their first audition ever since she saw it and they’re an act that is unforgettable. Howie agreed with the others and called them his favorite act of the night.

9:33 p.m. – Sofia’s Golden Buzzer, Brazilian singer Gabriel Henrique admitted that he felt a lot of pressure because of the selection and his response to that is to sing something different than what the audience may be expecting. To that end, he chose “Something Beautiful” by Jacob Banks. Sofia was extremely moved by the performance, likening it to “an angel” and calling it perfection. Simon liked that Gabriel chose something not obvious and thinks he nailed it, improving upon his audition. Heidi called him an “unbelievable talent” and thinks he set himself apart from the other singers in the competition. Howie closed out remarks by admitting that he won him over with the song because of the big note he hit.

9:44 p.m. – Korean magician Sangsoon Kim said he watched all of the live shows prior to his performance and took notes to know what he’d need to do in order to make it into the finale. His slight of hand magic tonight kept pace with his audition that focused on sneakers, but the judges were not wholly impressed. Heidi referred to him as a “Mary Poppins” because he was pulling objects out of thin air, but Howie was confused from his vantage point in front of the stage. Sofia thinks Sangsoon makes magic cool, but it wasn’t as good as his first audition. She and Simon both agreed that he stands out because he doesn’t use playing cards like most magicians, but it still wasn’t as good as before.

9:53 p.m. – The final performers of the night were 82nd Airborne Chorus with a song they see as “more dynamic.” Their rendition of Pink’s “I Am Here” incorporated military chants and beautiful harmonies to create a whole new sound for the song. Simon was on his feet in ovation once again, thanking the group for their service and for not singing an obvious song. He thinks they turned the song around based on the lyric and Sofia called them better than their audition because they stepped it up a notch. Heidi liked that they seemed at ease this time and Howie referred to it as perfect and emphasized the safety that they provide just for being who they are.

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