AGT Fifth Judge: Wild Card Winner Tries Something New — Plus, One 'Terrible' Act Wastes Everyone's Time

“America’s Got Talent” reveals America’s pick from the Peacock-exclusive Wild Card special, who joins the final 12 acts vying for a spot in next week’s semifinals.

Some of the acts really brought their best to the last quarterfinals on “America’s Got Talent,” while one act was dubbed “terrible” by Simon Cowell and we can’t see any reason to disagree.

We supposed we should be appreciative that the judges divided Sethward, Johnny Showcase and this act across the three weeks of these quarterfinals, as we’re not sure we could have endured them all in the same episode.

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Thankfully, that was the only act that was truly awful tonight, though there were several that were surprisingly underwhelming after very strong auditions. Probably the most famous returning face was “Police Academy” star Michael Winslow, bringing his sound effects again in an act we’re still not quite sure about.

We were pleased to see that despite having three impressive singers on the night, as well as a family band, these acts did not dominate the top of our rankings, and probably won’t with America as well.

With a horror-magic act, a unicycle act, a massive dance troupe, taekwondo group, and incredible trio of acrobatic brothers and one of the most impressive quick-change artists to ever hit the auditions, the night was filled with the kind of great variety we want to see more of on “AGT.”

We also got the reveal of America’s choice from the Peacock-exclusive streaming Wild Card episode that aired two weeks ago. And then that act came out and did something completely out of left field. We’re still trying to figure out if it was a good idea to switch things up that much, or a deadly mistake.

We suppose we’ll all find out when America’s votes are revealed Wednesday night and only 7 of these 12 acts advance into the semifinals, kicking off next week. But before all that, we need to check out tonight’s acts.

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

And just for fun, I’m gonna rank them from worst to first to see how my favorites do and then we can track them throughout the season to see how they fare.

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Keith Apicary

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(performance art) Why did they put this guy through again? It’s absolutely absurd, terrible dancing, terrible comedy. Okay, so there is a market for this kind of silliness — maybe on YouTube or TikTok or something — but not for a million dollars and a Las Vegas act. It was … better than Sethward. Heidi and Sofia were strangely compelled by it, while Howie found him amusing, but Simon echoed our thoughts. It wasn’t enough and was, in fact, “terrible.”

Michael Winslow

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(voice artist) There’s probably a reason he was always a supporting player on “Police Academy,” because this didn’t work consistently throughout as an act. Perhaps it’s because the narrative didn’t make a whole lot of sense, nor was it ridiculous enough to be funny in that regard. We also think he spent a little too long on animal and traffic sounds — as we all do those when we’re kids, and they aren’t nearly as impressive as his cooking sounds, for example. We were impressed with how he could fade a sound out, but as a solo act, it was a little dull in places.

Klek Entos

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(illusionist) This was way too slow, and Sofia first put her finger on Number 14 but Klek flipped to 13 instead to continue his act. Honestly, this just wasn’t working at all. Did her face appear on his hand? The ink was too dark to really make it out. It was almost comically stupid, though he did have a few semi-decent moments with the table and the ghost reveal, but for the most part it was all way too melodramatic and tedious to get through.

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The Curtis Family C-Notes

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(family band) What an absolutely wholesome and endearing family. There were some truly special moments, like the opening harmonies and the fresh interpretation of “Love Train,” but somehow all the pieces didn’t quite come together to elevate the whole as much as we were expecting. The parents have really special voices — they’ve been holding out on us with Dad — but there wasn’t as much fullness in the overall auditory experience as we were expecting, to match their incredible visual presentation. We love this group, so the disconnect is odd to us.

Léa Kyle

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(quick-change artist) For some reason, after blowing us away in her initial audition, this was more of a slow-change — that she even talked about in her opening package — meaning we had fewer wow moments and more opportunities to see just how she was pulling off some of these changes. We wanted less how and more wow. Unfortunately, this felt like a huge step down for her, even as we appreciated she was getting more creative with some of her tricks. It also felt oddly unfinished.


Storm Large

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(singer) Talk about a huge risk, America’s Wild Card winner came out with a very different twist on a-ha’s “Take On Me.” On the one hand, it helped her stand out against the singers we’d already seen on the night as she was the last singer to perform, but it was also a little sleepy at the start. In fact, it was about two thirds of the way through that she really cut loose and it started to become a special moment for her. But did that moment come too late? She has an incredible voice, as she showcased beautifully here, but is it enough?

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World Taekwondo Demonstration Team

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(martial artists) We appreciated the effort to add some narration to this, but two of the first four wood blocks were missed and then one of four girls didn’t quite nail the drop punch. It just wasn’t as tight of a routine as the first one we got, nor was it as exciting and high-flying and unpredictable. Thankfully, they got back on track with what got Terry’s attention in the first place and the back half was much stronger overall, though we still didn’t see this as the improvement we were hoping for.


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(singer) Anica came out and did exactly what she needed to do. After auditioning with a soundalike Janis Joplin vocal, she needed to make herself current and unique. Tackling Bishop Briggs showed she could be relevant today, and without losing any of that signature rasp and energy, she absolutely slayed yet again. Anica performs like she was made for the stage. She’s all cool confidence up there, she could have been a headline act. It was a great showcase for who she is as an artist and what she brings that’s different.


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(acrobats) We weren’t sure how well these brothers could up the ante and keep this hand balancing act interesting and unique, but they definitely delivered. They truly work as a single unit, with each knowing their role in the trio. And we saw some things from them we’ve not seen on this show before, which is always a huge plus. Even better, they kept things moving, even through their transitions. The jump into the handstand was probably the most exciting, as these acts are usually slow and deliberate, so we’d encourage more moments like that. But it’s all great to watch.

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(dancers) Once again, it is so impressive how such a large group (35 dancers!) can look so tightly synchronized. This could look like a mess, but everywhere you look on the stage there is something very precise going on, and it’s going exactly as it should. This was an incredibly clean and interesting routine with some fun formations. The yellow elbow-length gloves helped add another visual elements with their arms that they utilized effectively. Smart choreography that was never too busy but always had everyone playing a role toward the whole executed flawlessly left us breathless by the end.

UniCircle Flow

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(unicyclists) Howie always says to go bigger with each successive round, and these ladies have certainly done that. Coming from Japan, only four of them made it to their mesmerizing audition, but they flew out eight more to join them. We wanted to envision what this act could be with more unicyclists, and now we don’t have to imagine it anymore.

The larger numbers did make mishaps more likely, and we saw two drops fully off of the unicycle early on. But from that point on, this just got stronger and stronger until our eyes were glued to our screens. What they do is utterly bizarre and unlike anything we’ve seen before, but that’s also what makes it so compelling. You keep waiting to see what else they can do. By the end, the slips were fully forgiven as what we were seeing was visually stunning.

Brooke Simpson

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(singer) An incredible song choice for Brooke to show so many different facets of her voice. She had grit, strength, ethereal whispers and belting strength. It was everything she needed to do to put her stamp on the night and the competition. On top of that, she absolutely owned that stage with attitude and such presence. This was easily one of the best vocal performances of the entire season, eclipsing even her own audition moment. She was a superstar in that moment.

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In reviewing our rankings on the night, we absolutely do not feel that this is how America is going to vote. We do think that you will agree with us on most of our picks, and perhaps even 7 of our Top 8.

We just have a feeling that America is going to be a little hesitant about Anica, as Simon was, and given the chance to put Storm Large in, as well, they’re only going to go with one of the two rockers — even if Storm didn’t rock out tonight — and Storm will get the edge.

That leaves an opening that will probably be filled by Léa Kyle slipping up one spot, even as she didn’t completely blow us away by her not-so-quick changes. The problem is we can’t really see anyone else taking that spot, unless the sweetness of The Curtis Family C-Notes wins out or America is feeling nostalgic for “Police Academy.”

Keith Apicary was a complete disaster and Klek Entos is better as a concept than in his execution. The Sacred Riana did it better back in 2018.

“America’s Got Talent” continues into the semifinals Mondays and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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