“America’s Got Talent: Season 11” Auditions continue

Simon Cowell smiling

The talent is so good this year that Simon Cowell is jumping for joy! (Photo property of NBC & SYCO Television)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Last week, America’s Got Talent returned!

The longtime NBC talent competition series kicked off with a bang thanks to creator Simon Cowell joining veteran judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B at the Judges’ Desk. Also, 13-year-old Laura Bretan’s omnipotent vocals received the very first Golden Buzzer of Season 11 courtesy of Mel B.

Which acts impressed the judges? Who got buzzed? Did we see a Golden Buzzer moment? Read on to find out!

After Simon and Howie “bonded,” it was time for the first act to face the judges. Mother-son dancing duo Alla and Daniel performed a superb ballroom routine to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.” They had the Pasadena crowd on its feet with their choreography. I wished that they hired Mary Murphy as a judge because she would have given them a ticket to the Hot Tamale Train and a Golden Buzzer.  Howie stated that they thrilled him, and Mel B said that Daniel commanded the stage. Meanwhile, Heidi called Daniel adorable, and Simon jokingly said that Alla shrunk her husband.  They received the first unanimous “Yes” of the night!

47-year-old Jonathan Nosan showcased his talent—as a contortionist. The New Yorker performed his one-man routine to The Weeknd’s “Earned It” and his stunts shocked both the judges and the audience. He received a standing ovation from Howie, Mel B, and Heidi. Howie was surprised by his act, while both Heidi and Simon declared it “fantastically weird.” He received the second unanimous “Yes” of the night!

After Nick Cannon had wished them good luck, Chicago-based vocal ensemble Musicality took the stage. These kids escaped their city’s despicable violence through the arts. From the first note of their performance of One Direction’s “Night Changes,” tears started to fall from my eyes. Musicality lifted my spirits, and their harmonies were impeccable. Mel B got chills and stated that their harmonies were superb.  Heidi added that they blew her mind, and Simon said that he got what they were about and were impressed by their efforts. They received 4 “Yeses,” but I believed that they deserved a Golden Buzzer!

I saw Russian prima ballerinas Florence and Olga live in Pasadena, and I was shocked with their routine. Was it on purpose? Or was it comedic gold? You decide! Meanwhile, 63-year-old laughter specialist Tita Begashaw hoped that her act would put a smile on their face. Unfortunately, no one was laughing as Simon, Mel B and Heidi pressed their buzzers, and she was eliminated from the competition.

Auditioning for America’s Got Talent can be a family affair. For Family Band Edgar, this was a chance to rekindle one of their member’s biggest dreams: a career in the music industry. Frontwoman Nikki Edgar was a former member of a Christian music group, but she was forced out of the group because she was pregnant with her daughter. The trio covered the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You.”  Both ladies have great voices, and when all three of them harmonize together, they create beautiful music. It was one of the most inspirational auditions I have ever seen on the show. As Heidi stated, “America is going to fall in love you.” Meanwhile, Howie said that the group gave birth to a second chance. The group received four “Yeses” and was voted through to the next round!

We have not seen a danger act so far this season! The Amazing Sladeck, the oldest hand balancer in America, took the stage to audition. The New Yorker with the assistance of his little brother built a giant chair ladder and promptly began to balance.  Howie closed his eyes, while Mel B and Heidi sat at the edge of their seats. His ladder was at the top of the “Xs”, and he spread eagle into a handstand and had the crowd at their feet. As Heidi gave him a standing ovation and advised him to get a new outfit, Simon stated that his audition was fantastic.  He received four “Yeses” and advanced to the next round.

Malevo traveled all the way from Argentina to audition for Simon and company. The octet has known each other for over 20 years and their goal: share their musical culture with America. From the word, “Go,” their impeccable musicianship and choreography made me dance in my seat and put a smile on my face. They are great entertainers, and I believe they will go far in this competition. Simon called it, “Incredible!” Meanwhile, Mel B called them: “powerhouse men” and Howie stated that everyone was impressed. They moved on to the next round!

Stand-up comedian Danny Palumbo talked about his mom, but his jokes fell flat, and the audience started booing when Simon pressed his buzzer. Howie, the voice of comedic reason, advised him to play with the boos and work on his Improv. While he received four “Nos,” 30-year-old Canadian comedian D.J. Demers worked with the audience and his jokes talked about overcoming his disability and sexual orientation.  Howie revealed that he was D.J. was his favorite comedian so far this season!  D.J. received 4 “Yeses” from the judges.

82-year-old John Hetlinger stated that he was “singing for Simon” tonight. The Broomfield, Colorado retiree and former Navy pilot sang Drowning Pool’s “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.” I was awestruck with his audition, and I loved seeing Simon lose it as John screamed.  Mel B got scared, and Heidi tried to replicate his screamo face. Meanwhile, Simon declared him an “animal” and added that he loved him. While Heidi gave him a “No,” Simon, Howie and Mel B gave him three yeses!

The lights in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium were off as five incredible dancers combined lights, sound and drones for one epic dance performance. They reminded me of a combination of previous finalists Fighting Gravity and iLuminate, but their technology was out of this world. Both Howie and Heidi gave them a standing ovation, Elevenplay delivered a spectacular audition and made their home country of Japan very proud. The group received four yeses and moved on to the next round.

The final act of the night was 12-year-old New York native Grace VanderWaal and her face lit up as Nick Cannon asked for a hug. With her family waiting in the wings, Grace entered the stage tugging her ukulele and performed. I was very impressed with her voice and songwriting abilities.  She overcame her nerves and delivered a performance that will change her life forever.  Grace received a standing ovation from all four judges and a very special prize: a Golden Buzzer from Howie Mandel! Bravo, Grace!!!

Next week, the auditions continue! Which judge will be the next to hit their Golden Buzzer?

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar