Based On America's Got Talent Finale Performances (And Judges' Reactions), I Have 2 Predictions For A Surprise Season 18 Champion

 AGT judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, and Simon Cowell in Season 18.
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Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for the final performance episode of America's Got Talent Season 18.

The eleven finalists of America's Got Talent's eighteenth season performed to try and win votes for the last time on September 26, and their fates were left in the hands of fans. As expected, the two-hour episode was packed with amazing acts from start to finish, because only the best of the best make it to the finale. Of the final eleven, five were performers who had previously won a golden buzzer from the judges, and golden buzzer winners tend to become AGT champions. That said, after watching the last performances for the finalists and seeing the reactions from the judges, I have two predictions that wouldn't have even occurred to me before this week.

The performers who made it to the finale were the Airborne Division All-American Chorus, animal act Adrian Stoica & Hurricane, stand-up comic Ahren Belisle, magician Anna DeGuzman, dance group Avantgardey, dance group Chibi Unity, singer Lavender Darcangelo, dance group Murmuration, Mzansi Youth Choir, singer/musician Putri Ariani, and balancing act Ramadhani Brothers. Read on for my two predictions about who wins Season 18 after the last performances and why we could be in for a surprise after who seemed to be the frontrunners!

A Music Act Isn't Going To Win

Four of the eleven finalists in AGT Season 18 are music acts, with two choirs and two solo singers making it to the very end. They were all phenomenal, with Lavender Darcangelo and Putri Ariani in particularly wowing the audience and judges. But I was struck by the fact that these acts have been pretty fantastic all along, and there wasn't much room for growth for me to be wowed to a new level. Plus, with Darcangelo earning Heidi Klum's golden buzzer, Ariani getting Simon Cowell's, and Mzansi Youth Choir claiming the group golden buzzer, of course the judges were going to be enthusiastic!

And in the case of AGT, having multiple similar acts isn't always going to be a good thing, and four musical acts vying for the top prize – right after an episode of The Voice, no less – might put them at a disadvantage when it comes to voting. The last singer to win a season was Kodi Lee in Season 14, and the last before him was Grace VanderWaal in Season 11. Singers are great at making finals, but winning? Not so much in recent years, and The Voice's return is just a reminder there are shows dedicated just to singers, whereas AGT is the only primetime stage for some more unique acts.

The musicians of Season 18 have been fantastic, but I don't think one of them is winning the $1 million and Las Vegas stage show.

A Golden Buzzer Act Isn't Going To Win

For all that I've compiled a list of how AGT champions tend to get golden buzzers first and ranked the Season 18 performers who received that honor, the last round of performances changed my mind about who will win the top prize. Five golden buzzer winners made it to the finale: dance groups Chibi Unity and Murmuration as well as Darcangelo, Ariani, and Mzansi Youth Choir. Before the night of September 26, I was sticking to my prediction that Chibi Unity would become the next champions with an act comparable to what the Mayyas did to win Season 17 last year. And none of those five acts disappointed me in the slightest.

But it was the reactions to other performers (including my own) that made me sit up and suspect that Season 18 was still anybody's game while the episode was airing, particularly for stand-up comic Ahren Belisle, balancing act Ramadhani Brothers, and magician Anna DeGuzman. All of those three are the only ones in their field in the finals, and AGT has never been won by a comic or a female magician. Instead of that factor working against Belisle and DeGuzman, I can see it adding an extra underdog appeal. In the case of the Ramadhani Brothers, they already seem ready for a Vegas stage!

The judges' reactions to the non-golden buzzer winners seemed much more natural to me; if I'm not alone in that, I think it could translate into more votes for the performers who didn't get the confetti to win that $1 million and stage show.

Now, could I be dead wrong, and the Top 5 in the results episode will be the five golden buzzers? Could a singer/choir win the whole season? Should I have stuck to my guns about predicting Chibi Unity as the winner? All entirely possible, but luckily, AGT fans don't have to wait too long to find out who becomes champion and who goes home without the grand prize. The Season 18 finale of America's Got Talent will air on Wednesday, September 27 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. For what you'll be able to watch after AGT ends, check out our 2023 TV schedule!