The America’s Got Talent season 12 Judge Cuts continue with 20 more acts set to perform for one of seven slots available in the live shows. And this time, it’s guest judge DJ Khaled who will have a golden buzzer at the ready to send an act of his choosing straight through to the next round.

But before we get to the second batch of talent hopeful for a spot in the quarterfinals, it’s not like the first go-around wasn’t without controversy.

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Three of my top seven acts were sent packing — including two of my top four — in favor of old-school soul crooners who peaked in the ’60s, a singing Trump and a freaking dog. They’re all talented enough at what they do, but it’s clear this is who the judges wanted to advance as opposed to who deserved it.

Instead, we lost:

— A guy who performs amazing tricks while merging magic with technology. (The showmanship needs work, but the raw talent is there. He’s a prime candidate for a wildcard.)

— An incredibly likable and seasoned comedian.

— A young guy with a stunning voice you just want to keep hearing. 

One reader commented, “I’m glad the Masqueraders got the spot. I absolutely think Darcy has an amazing voice, but he’s young and he will have so many opportunities in his future. One, the trio can sing. Two, they’ve paid their dues for 50-plus years. They deserve this opportunity!” 

But do they? If someone is better than me, should I get the chance simply because I’m old? How do we know Darcy Callus will have “so many” opportunities? Maybe this was his chance? 

We’ll likely never know. But it is what it is, and we dance with who ya brung. Now let’s see if the judges can redeem themselves.

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20. Jokgu and Aichan

Jokgu the piano-playing chicken was the very first audition of season 12, with the 2-year-old mother clucker pecking out “America the Beautiful” on the keyboard. To kick it up a notch, Jokgu is joined by sister Aichan for a duet of “Born to Be Wild” that never materializes — because they’re chickens.

19. Azeri Brothers

The gross-out strongmen slice fruit with an ax on one dude’s chest, and then a guy pulls nails out of wood with his teeth. Riveting.

18. Steven Scott

He’s a stand-up comic with an unseen audition, but apparently he makes silly noises with his mouth like the guy from the Police Academy movies. He jokes about his mom being terrible at leaving voicemails, and the punchline is that he can make his voice sound like fast forwarding through an answering machine message. He’s more gimmicky than funny (I didn’t laugh at all), but Mel B. promises to be his champion.

17. Pelican212

An all-sibling band, we see as much of them as we did during their audition. 


16. Str8jacket 

The dance troupe is an unseen audition that gets about five seconds of screen time during a montage of dancer acts, so it’s essentially impossible to tell if they’re any good. Their intricately timed moves seem crisp, but who really knows?


15. Solto and T Dot

Unseen audition number three, these two do a lot of jumping and flipping. The one guy also does weird stomach contortion moves that show off every centimeter of his rib cage.  


14. Junior and Emily

The brother-sister Salsa-on-steroids duo competed all the way back in season 3, and they specialize now in the same thing they did then: Junior spinning Emily around at warp speed to house music. It feels like the exact same routine, with one lift tossed in at the end to mix it up a tiny bit. 

The delusional judges don’t like it because they have selective memory and somehow believe they got more dancing last time. But the siblings get an extended vignette that includes their dad, so I’m fairly certain they’re advancing to the next round.

13. The Quiddlers 

The creepy mini Village People are back, only this time they are tiny versions of the judges. They dance around to the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” I dunno, I think they’re stupid. But my wife consistently laughs her ass off when they’re on stage. So up to you, I guess.

12. Mirror Image

Ugh, these insufferable twins again … Trent and Colton Edwards believe themselves to be, like, quintuple threats, with enough sass and ferocity for 10 Destiny’s Children. The vocals and harmonies are actually much better this time, but combined with the wild dance portion of the show, it’s an assault on the senses. Simon buzzes and a confused DJ Khaled can only describe it as “very interesting.” But if AGT has taught me anything, they’re memorable enough to advance.

11. Dakota Striplin 

This kid apparently wowed with his take on Grease‘s “You’re the One That I Want” the first time around, but we’d never know that. Here, it’s an overly nasal rendition of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” and it’s mostly forgettable.

10. Tulga

We haven’t seen this dude before either, but he starts off by spinning and tosses a giant flaming log. Then he puts Heidi and Howie in swings attached to each end of said log and spins them. Were they really unrestrained? Heidi, her mic pack flailing, easily could’ve flown out and died. Her agent will not be happy.

9. Xavier Mortimer

Yet. Another. Unseen. Audition. Unless you count when we saw him twice back in season 10. The magician and illusionist interacts with a pre-recorded “mirror on the wall.” 


8. Sammulous

I know, I know, it’s shocking. But we didn’t see his audition, where he showed off his incredible falsetto but was a bit too cabaret for Simon. He tones down the theatre but keeps the fun, with a rollicking rendition of Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” It’s a song I’ve never heard before, but it’s a perfect choice for this kid, who feels like a disco throwback. 

7. Puddles Pity Party

The sad clown mime with the amazing voice dazzles again with Celine Dion’s “All By Myself,” and despite the unending praise, I simply do not get it. Why is he a sad singing clown? Why is there a sad singing clown in the first place? He is a spectacular singer, so why does he need the shtick? Maybe it gets him through the door, but it will eventually be the reason he goes home.

6. Evie Clair

The 13-year-old had one of the more gut-wrenching auditions, singing Christina Perri’s “Arms” to honor her cancer-stricken father. He’s since stopped treatment and doesn’t have much time left, and her rendition of Macy Gray’s “I Try” is another fitting tribute. She’s not the strongest singer, but she picks songs perfectly tailored to her voice. She’d have to be awful not to be carried by her tragic backstory, but especially in this group, she earns her spot.

5. The Godfathers

They’re part acrobatic strongmen and part cheerleaders, but they’re all amazing. I have no idea how they haven’t gotten a full routine on TV in two appearances.

4. Kyle Eschen

Have there been more unseen auditions than people we know in this one? Kyle is a magician with a decent flair for a comedic touch, and he has Simon place his hands on top of a book. He then has Howie pick a playing card numbered between 1 and 300 (126), and he tears the card into four pieces, handing a quarter to Heidi. 

He transforms the other three pieces into the page of a book, which happens to be page 126. Finally, Simon opens the book to find page 126 torn out, and in its place are the other three pieces of the card, magically put back together.


3. Chase Goehring 

The Jason Mraz/Ed Sheeran hybrid is again singing an original song, a ditty called “A Capella” that’s about him. It’s a ton of quickly-sung lyrics crammed into one tune, but it’s cleverly written and performed brilliantly. He’s unique and original (despite my previous description of him as “every famous WGWG”). And, heck, he has people singing along with a song they never heard before. Simon has no advice to give because Chase has it all happening, and DJ Khaled calls it “real and authentic like an a capella” before slamming down on his golden buzzer.

2. Colin Cloud

The mentalist, self-described as the real-life Sherlock Holmes, summons Howie and Mel to the stage, where he tells Mel to think of a random word to describe herself. He then licks her hands, correctly guesses that she’s been eating eggs and potato chips (gross), and hands her a piece of paper. 

He prompts Howie, Simon and Heidi to correctly guess the six-digit code to unlock his iPhone, whispers an “unknowable” secret from Mel’s past (“Stacy was a bitch to you at school”) and has audience members turn around cards that identify the word (goddess) that Mel thought at the beginning of the trick. It’s astounding, but the unanswered question is what was on that piece of paper he handed to Mel?

1. Yoli Mayor

The always-struggling-with-her-weight singer got an audition do-over (and Tyra makeover) after Simon dubbed her initial performance too old-fashioned, and she wowed with her loungy rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Make It Rain.” She keeps it going with Rihanna‘s “Love on the Brain,” and the top sure is heavy on singers and magicians.

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The lineup was stacked with lower-tiered acts to allow the vocalists to shine. Honestly, with this group, it wouldn’t have taken much for the chickens to crack the top 10 had they just put beak to ivory.

Four singers, two magicians and a quartet of acrobatic cheerleaders should be advancing, according to my rankings. But we know that will never happen, so I’m going to have to bite my tongue and make some painful educated guesses.

Yoli Mayor and Colin Cloud are obvious locks to join Chase Goering in the next round, and I think we can pencil in Puddles Pity Party and Evie Clair. Unfortunately, the fact that Kyle Eschen and The Godfathers were montaged doesn’t bode well for them. 

And in this backward scenario, it’s likely that the final two spots are going to Junior and Emily (#MakingPitbullProudFor10Years) and, gulp, Mirror Image.


Sammulous, Dakota Striplin and Puddles Pity Party are first to learn their fates, with the sad clown moving onward and downward. 

The Quiddlers are joined by Mirror Image, which means bad things are brewing. Annnnnd the twins are through. Oh joy.

Pelican212, Str8jacket and Xavier Mortimer are all eliminated.

Solto and T Dot are out, while Junior and Emily get a second chance. Shocker.

Azeri Brothers, The Godfathers and Tulga are up next, and the grouping has me hopeful. Except none of them are moving on. I literally slapped my knees in protest when Howie dropped the bombshell and crushed my dreams — and, you know, theirs.

Steven Scott and Kyle Eschen are both out. Profanity forms on my lips.

Colin Cloud is in the next round, as are Evie Clair and Yoli Mayor. They made it dramatic, but anyone who can do basic math knew what was coming. I can’t say I’m surprised, seeing as how I predicted it perfectly, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed.

Do you agree with the judges’ picks? Who were your favorites and who do you think got cut too early? Are any of these acts potential wildcard picks? And who do you think has the best chance to win it all? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

(Images 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