America’s Got Talent went live for the first time in Season 12 as the quarterfinals got underway, but despite a rollicking two hours of fun, a closer inspection reveals a rather sub-par effort on the collective behalf of the performers

The haves and have nots were apparent, which leads to expected results, but the fact of the matter is that few, if any, upped their game. Nearly everyone took a step back, and even the best of the night was so only because of a stumble that could have cost him his life.

America’s Got Talent Recap: The Quarterfinals Get Underway>>>

Now please don’t think I’m taking anything away from Bello Nock, who was enthralling while defying death in his giant spinning hamster wheel. But his near fall was one of the realest moments in AGT history, and one that put the nuttiness of what he was doing into perspective. It’s what propelled him to the top of my rankings, but hindsight being 20/20, I think he’d have preferred a clean routine. 

The Breakdown

The rest of the bunch can be divided into the musical and non-musical, who get a clear edge in the voting simply for being different. Okay, that really only applies to Darci Lynne Farmer (a singing ventriloquist), Billy and Emily England (who failed to have a show-stopping moment) and Preacher Lawson (who told a ton of jokes so fast I missed almost all of them). Meanwhile, the only hope Just Jerk has is a combination of hijacked, creepy, kid-dancer votes and a split verdict on the mediocre singers that lands them on the bubble.

As for the vocalists, the group included a bevy of favorites and a trio of golden buzzer recipients, all of whom failed to steal the spotlight. Angelica Hale and Yoli Mayor are the best, but both were flawed and unable to live up to previous perfection. They’re probably fine, but the muddled middle means one of Puddles Pity Party and Christian Guardino is likely to move on as well. 

There’s no need to elaborate on my actual predictions, because this is one of the rare times in recorded human history that esteemed BuddyTV colleague, Derek Stauffer, and I are in complete agreement. So I’ll let him explain it. 

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But then again, who knows? Maybe Bello Nock doesn’t go through because America hates danger acts, and The Singing Trump and In the Stairwell advance. Because ‘Murica. But let’s all agree we can get rid of Baby Footloose

On to the show! And the filler. Lots and lots of filler.

Who Needs Your Save?

After the standard time-wasting recap of the previous evening’s transgressions, which takes up a whopping one-sixth of the show and comes complete with behind-the-scenes commentary, it’s time to reveal who is competing for the Dunkin’ Save

The sixth-, seventh- and eight-place acts are: Christian Guardino, Just Jerk, and Yoli Mayor. 

It’s a fair group, with the clear edge going to Yoli. And since two of these acts are definitely in the semifinals, it would seem Puddles has cried for the last time.

After a quick stop in the Dunkin’ Lounge, it’s time for the first results. Tyra summons Artyon and Paige and In the Stairwell, and oh f—, f—, f—. 

In the Stairwell is in the semifinals

There’s the first wrench, folks. Next to learn their fates are The Singing Trump, Puddles Pity Party and Preacher Lawson.

Preacher Lawson is in the semifinals

Welp, one out of two ain’t bad, I guess. But whose place is In the Stairwell stealing?

Welcome Back, Grace VanderWaal

The polarizing Season 11 winner is making her triumphant return to the stage that made her an annuitized millionaire, performing her new single “Moonlight.” Can she be the first AGT singer to successfully transition to mainstream?

It’s reminiscent of her summer 2016 in the spotlight, albeit with a slightly more commerical look, and I imagine not much has changed in terms of public opinions. So if you love her, this is wildly entertaining. If not, maybe it’s time for a bathroom break or to refill the wine glass. I like her, so yay for Gracie. 

She’s headed out on tour, and when Trya asks how viewers can find out more info, she’s like, “I dunno, look it up online.” It’s a classic “duh” answer and why the younger generation is both doomed and destined for greatness. Just depends if you’re on your front lawn shaking your fist about kids these days.

Filler Up, Howie

Our mid-show vignette is Howie Mandel dressing in drag and greeting (and messing with) potential AGT contestants, and it’s why recapping the results in real time is so much easier than an actual live performance show.

Time for more results, and Darci Lynn Farmer and Angelica Hale step forward. Oh sweet Jesus.

Darci Lynne Farmer and Angelica Hale are in the semifinals

Thank goodness for that, but either Bello Nock or the England sibings are about to get the shaft. And for an acapella choir? C’mon.

Billy and Emily England are in the semifinals

You have to be kidding me, America. The man put it all on the line, risking his health and well being, and now he’s been unceremoneously eliminated twice. Who didn’t vote for this guy? Did they tell him he’s too dangerous for a live show? Is this a false flag?

The Results are In

There’s two spots left for our three Dunkin’ Save candidates, and to be honest, I’m not invested one way or the other. Yoli Mayor is going through, and she’s the only one I care at all about seeing again. I can take or leave blind Manny from Modern Family and the South Koreans.

Christian Guardino wins the Dunkin’ Save

Simon believes America got it 100 percent right, which is nonsense because Bello was awesome and somehow didn’t get more votes than a boys choir.

Now, it’s up to the judges, and Just Jerk should be eliminated on name alone.

Heidi picks Yoli Mayor

Mel B. picks Just Jerk

Simon picks Yoli Mayor

Howie hedges and picks Just Jerk, so it’s going to the votes

Yoli Mayor is in the semifinals

And there you have it. Five of the seven acts involve singing, and Bello Nock gets screwed. I hope he reads this blog. I wasn’t initially in your corner, Bello, but you won me over and you deserved better.

What do you think? Did America get it right? Did the best make it through, or were you pulling for an act that was sent packing? And what do you think of Grace VanderWaal? Will she be the first AGT singing superstar? Or does she simply make you pine for the stretch that gave us Kenichi Ebina, Mat Franco, Paul Zerdin and even Olate Dogs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

America’s Got Talent season 12 airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC. Want more news? Like our America’s Got Talent Facebook page.

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order