Cue up the music, fill the confetti cannons, and have Tyra Banks ready her final-ever dramatic America’s Got Talent pause (probably) because the time to crown the Season 12 champion is finally here!

'America's Got Talent' Season 12 Finale Recap: A New Champion is Crowned

After four grueling months, countless sob stories (nearly all relating to vocalists), a whopping nine golden buzzers (nearly all going to said sad vocalists), several shocking judge cuts and a few viewer mistakes, we’re about to find out who will walk away with $1 million (payable in a financial annuity over 40 years or the contestant may choose to receive the present cash value of such an annuity) and his or her name in lights, at least for a few nights.

Ten acts entered, but only one can leave a post-tax lump-sum $300,000-aire. 

Easiest Prediction Ever?

There’s a general consensus as to the acts competing for a medal, as well as a clear favorite overall, but diving into the numbers a little further indicates it might not be that close. 

In a pair of very unscientific BuddyTV polls with nearly 3,000 votes at press time, that frontrunner has run away with roughly 70 percent of the total. The polls include four other individuals who each come in no higher than 5 percent, and the second-most clicked option is “someone else” with 12. Not exactly a photo finish. 

It seems like the bigger drama might be the competition for the silver, where a top-of-the-rankings mainstay is being pressed by an illuminated group who saved their sloppy-but-astounding, best for last. 

So who makes up this triumvirate that has distanced itself from the pack? I’ll let the esteemed Derek Stauffer answer that question, because for possibly the first time ever, his predictions are 100 percent in line with my own. 

I echo his sentiments for the placement and reasoning behind each of the Top 5, but if you’re like, “Hey Bill Goober, I want to know where everyone will finish,” fair enough. I round it out with Kechi 10th, Sara and Hero 9th, Preacher Lawson 8th, Diavolo 7th, and Angelica Hale 6th. Is it accurate? Or are we in for a shocking conclusion? There’s only one way to find out…

On to the show, the celebrity collaborations, and the coronation of Darci Lynne Farmer!

The Live Blog Starts Right Now

Just because we have an action-packed docket doesn’t mean there’s no time for filler, and of course, that includes the customary 10-minute behind-the-scenes recap of Top 10 performances. Highlights include: 

  • Angelica promising baby Abigail that if she wins, she’ll spend the money on lots of toys and diapers
  • Simon overreacting about dogs, as if it were possible to overreact about dogs
  • Heidi absentmindedly singing Phil Collins
  • So many tears when Evie sings … from everyone, including her family, her fellow contestants, audience members, and me
  • Howie breaking the set
  • Simon’s dad-like overuse of the expression “gobsmacked,” as if he recently heard the word for the first time and decided it was his “thing”

Then it’s Howie Mandel on the hot seat because the judges each took time to dish the dirt on each other. And Howie apparently tells a ton of terrible jokes. Which anyone who has seen any of his movies could tell you.  

Anyway, it’s all proof you don’t need to tune into any results show until at least 8:15, even if it’s the finale.

Let’s Get This Party Started

The next stop is the Dunkin’ Lounge, cause good god, why not? There, Angelica attempts to teach Tyra how to sing, and Petunia and Oscar avoid a requested make-out session because Darci is 12 for crying out loud. 

Back in reality, Kechi and Angelica launch into Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” before the American Idol legend joins them on stage.

The blending of the trio of voices is pretty terrible, but everyone knows these shows are about shameless self-promotion. In this case, it’s Kelly Clarkson’s new single “Love So Soft.” Like Charmin Ultra Soft.

She’s amazing, of course, and her new album comes out in October. Then the judges inform us Mel B. usually has no idea what’s going on. It’s like they’re explaining knock-knock jokes at this point. Yeah, we get it. We’ve been watching, too. 

Dancing with the Stars

Tyra introduces our two dance acts like Diavolo and Light Balance have put something special together, but it’s really just Diavolo performing first followed by Light Balance. Oh, and apparently Derek Hough was in a light suit with the Ukrainians. Neat.

(I have no idea why they separated these videos)

Then it’s a pre-recorded vignette in which Tyra has gathered together all the buzzed acts to find out about “Life after the X.” It appears they hang out in warehouses and sing 80s hits, though I can’t figure out the presence of the Dancing Pumpkin Man, the heavy metal keytarist and the opera-singing cab driver. That dude was amazing and is literally a world-renowned tenor (and decidedly not a cab driver).

Maybe I’m being cynical, but this has all been dumb so far. Can we get to the ventriloquists already? Maybe some results? 

Filler Filler Chicken Dinner

The doldrums are broken by a training session with Sara and the judges’ dogs, which has to be the highlight of the night. Mel has two Frenchies, which makes her my favorite because we should set up a playdate for Ned (and maybe invite the other Spice Girls). Howie’s English bulldog is also adorably lazy.

Keeping the gravy train rolling along, deaf Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin offers a nice introduction for Mandy Harvey, who is performing a rendition of “Still the One” with Shania Twain. 

The country star then offers up her new single, “Life’s About to Get Good,” complete with a bunch of bro backup dancers sporting the worst summer trends. Seriously, they’re all wearing pink or blue short-sport coat combos over white T-shirts, with Keds. I’m surprised there’s no Romphims or lace shorts.

Oh, and according to the judges, Heidi is known for pointing out things. Like food stuck in their teeth. They speak like it’s a negative, but c’mon, that’s just considerate. Simon, for his part, takes a long time greeting the fans because everyone loves him, and he also feeds produce to the audience and the other judges. 

Is this Show About to Get Good?

Yaaay! It’s time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Darci is met backstage by the great Jeff Dunham, and they talk shop in her dressing room. They head out, leaving the puppets behind, and things take a turn for the worse. The dummies wake up on their own and start chatting, and I might as well go see “It” now, because all my childhood fears are being realized.

Out on stage, Darci and Petunia are joined by Terry Fator and Winston the Impersonating Turtle for a sing-off. Their competitive nature leads to a battle of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better,” but unfortunately, Darci gets the lyrics backwards and stops singing.

She picks it up on the chorus, but what was supposed to be the marquee moment is instead a bit of a flop. It’s OK. She’ll get over it when she wins.

The Longest Night

Since Preacher Lawson is on the only standup comedian, AGT sent him and Howie Mandel out for a night at the Laugh Factory with Kevin Nealon. They share drinks and swap tricks of the trade, and each one of them gets in a set. Preacher’s jokes are funnier than anything in his final performance, and Howie’s time on stage shows he’s still got it. 

Evie Clair gets a shot at an original song, presumably called “It’s Gonna be an Okay Day,” and she’s joined halfway through by James Arthur. He admirably sings along with her, before launching into his hit “Say You Won’t Let Go.”

Chase Goehring sits down with him, and their duet is easily the best moment so far. Their voices blend perfectly, and if there was any doubt Chase could hold his own with the pros, he dispelled them. He might do that song better than James. 

Simon then trounces the other judges in a “History of AGT” quiz show, before they pay tribute to the new host with a montage of Tyra’s best bits. The collection of pre-live show moments actually paint a pretty picture of her time with us. 

Finally, Some Results!

After an inspiring pre-recorded vignette of the Top 10 describing how this experience has changed their lives, it’s finally time to whittle this field in half. The 52 million votes cast were the highest ever, and Tyra summons Mandy Harvey and Chase Goehring. Are we in for a surprise right off the bat?

Mandy Harvey is in the Top 5

So much for predictions, though my top four is still intact. Next to learn their fates are Evie Clair and Sara and Hero, and we’re mostly according to plan.

Sara and Hero are in the Top 5

Whaaaattt? OK, well that’s astounding. Diavolo and Light Balace step forward, and if it’s Diavolo, methinks Tyra is dyslexic.

Light Balance is in the Top 5

Tyra beckons Preacher Lawson and Darci Lynne Farmer.

Darci Lynne Farmer is in the Top 5

Thank goodness. The Top 3 are all that really matter. Finally, we have Kechi and Angelica Hale.

Angelica Hale is in the Top 5

So Sara, Hero and Angelica slip in, and Chase and Evie get the boot. It’s not terrible, as long as they’re 4/5. But seriously, who would’ve thought it’d be the sympathy and WGWG votes that would fall short? 

Fate of the Furious

We’re doing it all at once, so the eliminations are coming fast. The narrowing continues, and…

Sara and Hero finish in 5th place

It’s a commercial break, then two more results, then another commercial, so…

Mandy Harvey finishes in 4th place

W. O. W. Wow wow wow. Fourth? Mandy vows this is just the start of her journey, but what the hell, Angelica slipped into the bronze?

Light Balance finishes in 3rd place

Ohhhhhh holy hell. It’s apparently time for another edition of America’s Got Talented Children

Angelica believes she’s a winner no matter what happens, which is good because she’s probably going to lose. Darci gets flustered and says it doesn’t matter who wins, which is just stupid because it totally matters. 

And the Winner of America’s Got Talent Season 12 is…

After one final misrepresented reminder that a million bucks and headline show in Vegas is on the line, it’s a montage of the final two’s journey on America’s Got Talent. I feel bad for the intern who had to run scrambling through the halls to retrieve Angelica’s tape after the last results were revealed.

America has voted, and the winner is…

Darci Lynne Farmer!

All’s well that ends well, I guess, and two random guys who end up being Darci’s brothers rush the stage. The other contestants stream out, and Evie is the first to embrace our new champion. 

There was some drama along the way, but the final result is still the same. Do you agree with the votes? Which result surprised you the most? And can you believe Angelica came in second? 

Thanks again, everyone, not only for reading and commenting, but also for avoiding the DVRs and watching live with me each week. You’re the only reason to bother live recapping, and you have my appreciation. And on that note, I’ll see you next summer!

America’s Got Talent season 13 returns next summer on NBC. 

(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