The end of the America’s Got Talent Judge Cuts is here. Seal joins the panel but, weirdly, there is barely a mention of his divorce from Heidi, and the two just interact like they are still together. Somehow, the two of them separated are still #RelationshipGoals. 

Even with Seal’s inclusion, the final round of Judge Cuts is very much business as usual. Like BuddyTV’s AGT recapper Bill King, I agree that, by and large, America’s Got Talent has done a good job of not bunching up their best and brightest talent in the Judge Cuts. The final episode for this episode is more of the same, with clear frontrunners and losers. Also, like almost every round before it, the members of the former group are singers.

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The only thing that really sets the final round of Judge Cuts apart is that Simon is particularly cranky, evidently getting fed-up with this drawn-out process as many viewers are.

In any case, let’s get to the breakdown of the acts. Spoiler alert: singers are getting the top of these rankings. 

14. Elena and Sasha 

It’s amazing that these two idiots made it to the Judge Cuts. In the auditions, they were really only remarkable because she seemed to be an enormous — and, quite frankly, dangerous — airhead. Nothing has changed with the passage of time. They’re awful. 

They do start a segment of Simon just ripping everyone apart in one big montage. This montage includes Big Brother alum (and science nerd) Nick Uhas. This one hurts particularly bad since Nick was rather good in his audition, but he gets barely a mention here. Grumpy Simon can be fun, but he is starting to be more of a buzzkill.

13. Britt Saasen

Britt is a singer with an unseen audition that has a gorgeous voice. She gets buried in a “nerves” montage, however, so it’s hard to judge her — unless you’re Simon Cowell. Simon’s unnecessary harsh to her, making it seem like he’s forgotten he’s on America’s Got Talent. This isn’t American Idol, where he openly mocked contestants. 

12. The Honeybee-z Plus

These ladies look like they could have been a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately, America’s Got Talent buries them in a montage. So despite the fact that they are dancers, we know next to nothing about their act. The energy on display is amazing, though. And in their short time, it is far more engaging than other acts that have been similarly abandoned by the show.  

11. Maria and Maxim Popazov

This married couple competes against each other, but they are equally unremarkable, so it’s right to pair them together. Maxim is much better than his wife, but he’s just a “chair stacker.” He does everything in his performance that he pretty much can do on the AGT stage. There is literally nowhere for him to go but down (aka breaking his neck or back). 

Maria gets the brunt of Simon’s scorn. He’s way nastier than he needs to be, saying she just twirled around in a ball, but he’s not entirely off base. It’s not very exciting. 

10. Artyon and Paige 

They are the child dancers that Heidi inexplicably thought were mini versions of Seal and herself — even though they don’t look like either of them — in the auditions. So, of course, it gets brought up again with Seal on the panel. These two kids don’t care about their supposed resemblance to the separated couple. They are really there to impress Simon, who buzzed them in their first performance. They do a Dirty Dancing inspired performance, and it works as Simon seems to enjoy it this time around. 

It’s not a universal opinion. There is just something inherently skeevy about child dancers. They’re in the same camp as child beauty pageant contestants. It’s unnatural and way too adult. Artyon and Paige are cute, but having two kindergarteners imitate Dirty Dancing is just uncomfortable. Baby shouldn’t be a literal baby. 

9. Will Tsai 

Will’s the best close-up magician that Howie has ever seen, according to the judge before the performance. This sets the bar really high for a really underwhelming result. The magic is good, and I certainly can’t figure it out, but the whole thing is a lot of hand waving for not a lot of reward. 

He “resurrects” his childhood fish, which is just a fool’s errand because fish are the worst pets, period. It could just be that close-up magic doesn’t work on the big AGT stage. Whatever the reason, the act is a (talented) dud.

8. Sirqus Alfon

This trio are the ones to finally break through Simon’s moody shell with their silliness. If nothing else, this makes them enjoyable. They are very weird, though, and the terrible Eastern European accents are more annoying than clever. 

There are some redeeming factors to them. Their mixture of kooky performance and video does make them unique and memorable. The judges are blown away by them, but they are mildly entertaining enough for a standard viewer. In any other line-up, they’d be irrelevant. But with Simon in his mood, they connect. 

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7. Pompeyo Family Dogs

Dogs are the most precious beings on the planet. Still, this family’s life with all their poodles — objectively the most hideous kind of pooches — sounds like a waking nightmare. Thankfully, the actual act is so solid that it overrides any thought of the never-ending poofy hair and barking at their home. They’re no Olate Dogs and stand very little chance of winning the competition, but they are a bit of slightly forgettable fun. 

6. Merrick Hanna

Merrick transcends my little rule about child dancers because he is more of a storyteller than a straight-up dancer. He is adorable, and his performance manages to tell a complete story while being surprisingly moving. Merrick’s fascination with robots hits the perfect intersection of quirky weirdness and infectious child-like nature. He’s really likable, but it might be enough to get him through to the live shows. There’s no way he can up the ante, honestly. 

5. Henry Richardson

Magic, a personal favorite genre of America’s Got Talent acts, has been severely lacking in season 12. Henry finally delivers. He doesn’t just have the sob-worth backstory; he’s a cute and severely charismatic kid to boot.

Henry performs a card trick that is genuinely perplexing in the best way. Henry’s brand of magic is the type of up-close sleight-of-hand illusion that work so well on the stage specifically because he interacts with the judges. This is what Will Tsai should’ve done.

4. In the Stairwell

These guys are, by far, the least threatening (prospective) members of the armed forces ever. They are so cheesy and dorky, but a capella is cheesy and dorky, so it works. They are obviously going to make it to the live shows, but with a season so stuffed with singers, they aren’t that exciting. They are likable but not quite lovable. 

3. DaNell Daymon & Greater Works

This choir trades in gospel from their audition for a Marvin Gaye classic, and the change pays off. They don’t have quite as unique personalities as some of the other singing groups this season, but they are infectiously joyous. They get Seal out of his seat and clapping with good reason. Even Simon takes a break from sullenly sucking on his straw to crack a smile. 

This alone will get them through to the live shows. They are ridiculously talented, so they deserve it. It’s hard to begrudge another musical act in the live shows when they’re this good.

2. Kechi Okwuchi

It should be no surprise to any viewer that remembers Kechi from the auditions that her Judge Cuts performance is another excuse to bring out the tissues. America’s Got Talent spends way too much time recapping her story because she is already unforgettable. The recap does give some context to her powerful performance. It’s, honestly, rather surprising that Kechi doesn’t already have a Golden Buzzer with her voice and her story. 

Kechi doesn’t receive a Golden Buzzer here, but that makes sense. This isn’t quite as good as her audition, but it is still incredibly solid. She’s remarkable, her story is remarkable and she stands a very good shot at actually winning this season. 

1. Johnny Manuel

He’s a tremendous singer, but Simon’s grumpiness finally pays off for more than just a cheap laugh. Simon rightfully doesn’t like Johnny’s impressive but relatively soulless rendition of a Stevie Wonder song. Simon tells him to perform a Whitney Houston hit off-the-cuff instead. 

This performance is at least 20 times more amazing than his earlier song and may be the best singing the competition has seen. It certainly impresses Seal, who gives Johnny a special reward for it. Johnny is Seal’s Golden Buzzer!

Now, every Golden Buzzer with the exception of Tyra’s has gone to a musical act, but Johnny’s an extraordinary talent. Everyone backstage is so happy for him when he gets the Golden Buzzer too. This kind of support nearly makes up for that boring statistic.


It’s time to move on to the actual Judge Cuts. The six acts joining Johnny Manuel in the live shows are: 

In the Stairwell

Pompeyo Family

DaNell Daymon and Greater Works

Merrick Hanna

Artyon and Paige 

Kechi Okwuchi

Wow. It’s a huge surprise that Merrick is making it to the live shows alongside Artyon and Paige. One child dancer seemed a shoe-in. Both of them is a stretch, especially since someone like Henry Richardson is being left out the live shows. 

Other than that, though, there aren’t that big of surprises either. It’s debatable if Pompeyo Family will do that well, but the judges clearly loved them. There was never any doubt about Kechi, Greater Works or Stairwell, however. 

What do you think? Do you agree with this latest round of Judge Cuts? Are you looking forward to the live shows? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.