America has taken to social media on more than one occasion on Season 18 of America’s Got Talent to take the judges—specifically Howie Mandel, but also occasionally Simon Cowell—to task for being harsh in their critiques of the acts and the fact that they are hitting their buzzers more often than normal during the Live Shows.
After all, the Live Shows are comprised of the 55 best acts from the auditions, which were hand selected by the judges, so it seems odd that they would find fault with their own choices.
“I don’t know if we’re being more harsh, as much as we’re just being in the moment and real and authentic,” Howie told Parade on the red carpet after last week’s episode. “If you think in the moment that “Oh, my God, a lot of people sitting at home are turning the channel, or if they’re watching it on YouTube, they’ll click onto something else,” the buzzer is our remote control —and then I feel bad. I don’t want to make anybody feel bad, but I think that we are getting paid to at least share what we think.”
When asked if maybe AGT selected the wrong 55 acts performing on the Live Shows and that's why more buzzers than normal, Simon admitted that maybe that’s the case.
“You can’t get it all right,” he told Parade. “I think if you can get 30 to 40 good acts, that’s doing well. I think it’s probably context maybe a little bit more now, where you’re thinking, ‘Can you win this show, because Vegas is such a big part of it.’ That’s how I’m judging the acts. I said this at the end, we all have different tastes and that’s what makes it fun.”
Last week, one of the acts that got buzzed was Erica Coffelt, the hip-hop dancer, and the other was the Sharpe Family Singers.
“I thought that the buzzing, especially for that family, was wrong,” Heidi told Parade. “Because, for me, it was a song choice more than talent. They are very talented that family. To me, every single one of them sounded absolutely incredible. To me, I wish they had sung a different song. For me it was that, it was song choice. But I feel like they’re really talented so I would have never buzzed them. I love them. But that’s why you also have four different people there with four different opinions, which I feel like we resemble also all the people at home. The people at home have different opinions when they watch this.”
And Howie agrees with that. One way in which he justifies buzzing the acts during the Live Shows is that his job is actually done.
“Here’s how I comfort myself,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter what I think because ultimately America is going to choose. If they’re really mad at me because I disliked something, vote for them and show me how wrong I am. There’s no right or wrong. Talent is subjective, it really is. The point is I could give somebody a red buzzer and I was reading on X [formerly Twitter], where people thought I was totally wrong and they thought that group was amazing. They’re not wrong, I’m not wrong. And you know what? If you think I’m totally wrong, then vote.”
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.