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In past years, the winner of America’s Got Talent usually stood out from the crowd by this point in the competition, but this season the truth be told, it’s really anyone’s game depending upon their performance next Tuesday night. It’s also harder to judge in advance because with the show’s new format, which eliminated semi-finals, we don’t get to see the acts perform as many times.
A perfect example of how important the most recent performance is to getting voted through happened last Tuesday, the final night of the qualifying auditions, when the Ramadhani Brothers performance was a showstopper, and as a result, beat out Gabriel Henrique for the Top 2. Gabriel had been thought to be a shoe-in. Even a frontrunner.
Then even more shocking was the Wild Card Instant Save when Japanese dance troupe Avantgardey won America’s vote over Gabriel, knocking him out of contention permanently. When Gabriel, who is Sofia Vergara’s Golden Buzzer, auditioned, he sang Whitney Houston’s “Run to You.” But for his qualifying round— where America wanted him to sing another Whitney song or something by Mariah Carey or Céline Dion, he chose something that he says was true to him— "Something Beautiful" by Jacob Banks—and it cost him votes.
So, who will win AGT 2023?
Here are the contenders:
Dog act Adrian Stoica and Hurricane
Singer Lavender Darcangelo (Heidi Klum’s Golden Buzzer)
Mute comic Ahren Belisle
French dance troupe Murmuration (Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer)
Mzansi Youth Choir (Audience Golden Buzzer)
Singer Putri Ariani (Simon Cowell’s Golden Buzzer)
Japanese dance troupe Chibi Unity (Special Golden Buzzer)
Magician Anna DeGuzman
82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus
Head balance act Ramadhani Brothers
Japanese dance troupe Avantgardey
Up until last Wednesday’s results show, I would have put money on Murmuration as the winner of Season 18 of America’s Got Talent. Their synchronized dance moves were stellar. Causing Howie to say, “I was mesmerized. I find what you do hypnotic. I find it very original. I find it almost more magnificent when you get a large group of people, and the movements are smaller but perfect. It blew me away. Even sitting here, I want to do something.”
The something he did was push his Golden Buzzer. But since Murmuration’s performance, there have been two other outstanding dance troupes: Chibi Unity, which earned a special Golden Buzzer, and Avantgardey.
Chibi Unity won over all the judges. After its performance, Sofia, who won the previous season with her Golden Buzzer the Mayyas, told the dancers, “I was getting goosebumps, and my heart was beating. It was the best dancing I have ever seen in my life. It was the perfect AGT audition.”
And Howie said, “The dance category on AGT for Season 18 is off the charts, but you took it to another level. The emotion that comes out of your dancing is inspirational. You added everything. It was so wonderful. I loved the speed, the dexterity, and the moves you had. I would love to see a show, an hour of you, in Las Vegas.”
Then this week, Howie shocked everyone—considering that Murmuration is his Golden Buzzer—when he told Avantgardey that they were his favorite dance act and they needed to go to the finale. That’s why he picked them as his wild card for the Instant Save vote.
But he wasn’t alone.
Heidi said, “You look like 20 dolls that have come to life all of a sudden. You set yourself apart from all the other dancers because of this unique look that you have and the unique movements that you make. One of my favorite dance troupes.”
And Simon commented, “I thought the dancers over the years got more and more boring, and then something changed a year ago. This is a great example of how dance has certainly got interesting. This is so different.”
As mentioned, last season the Mayyas dance troupe won the competition, and it’s very much looking like dancers could win again this season. The question is: Which group?
Magicians have won the competition several times, but Anna DeGuzman’s act isn’t strong enough when compared to the dancers. A comic has yet to win, so that isn’t looking good for Ahren Belisle. The Olate Dogs won season 7 of AGT, so it has happened, but like Anna, Adrian Stoica and Hurricane isn’t a strong enough act to beat the dancers.
Then there’s the singers: Lavender, Putri, Mzansi Youth Choir and the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus. Of the three, Putri was the leading contender until the army choir’s performance last Tuesday night. This is a tight race, so, again, it will depend on song choice and performance this coming Tuesday night.
And finally, the Ramadhani Brothers are in a class by themselves. They took head balancing to the next level last week, impressing both the judges and America. But for me, while I think they deserve to be part of a show in Las Vegas, it’s not something I would want to watch for longer than they already performed, so I am betting against them winning the $1 million. But I have been wrong before. I never saw Aidan Bryant winning AGT: All Stars earlier this year.
So, with all that said, I think Murmuration still has a good shot at taking home the title and the $1 million. Murmuration or Putri Ariani.
America's Got Talent final night of performances is Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, followed by the winner's reveal on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. on NBC.