A Guide to “America’s Got Talent” in 2021

  • Aug 2, 2021
  • Daniel Tynski
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“America’s Got Talent” is a televised performance competition on NBC that puts talented Americans center stage as they compete to win a $1 million cash prize and a headlining Las Vegas show.

This reality show stands out in the crowd, as it embraces performers of all talents, ages, and backgrounds. Sure, you’ll see plenty of singers and dancers, but a range of truly unique acts have graced the stage since the show premiered in 2006, including ventriloquists, magicians, acrobats, comics, martial artists, beatboxers, jugglers, cake eaters, and more. 

If you missed season 16 of “America’s Got Talent,” here’s everything you need to know about this entertaining show. We’ll even have some info on the upcoming season to share. 

What Happened Last Season?

The latest exciting season of “America’s Got Talent,” season 16, premiered June 1, 2021, on NBC and ended with its finale results show Sept. 15, 2021. 

The season featured 21 episodes. This includes eight audition episodes, six quarterfinals, one AGT: America’s Wildcard episode, four semifinals, and two finale episodes, one of which revealed the season’s overall winner. 

Who Were the Judges?

Like every season, a slate of celebrity and professional judges determined the show’s contestants, rating their performances each week.

Season 16 saw four judges: Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel.

  • Simon Cowell: Also known for his time judging “American Idol” and “The X Factor,” Cowell serves as an executive producer and judge for “America’s Got Talent,” “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” and “AGT: Extreme.” Known for his eye for talent, Cowell has done it all and worked as a record company executive and a television and a film producer.
  • Sofia Vergara: An Emmy-, Golden Globe-, and SAG-nominated actress, Vergara is known for playing the role of Gloria Pritchett-Delgado on “Modern Family.” She’s also performed in numerous films and is a global entrepreneur who has built a strong lifestyle brand.
  • Heidi Klum: Klum, a German supermodel, has been turning heads since she was 19 years old. Not long after launching her career, she scored the coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover in 1998. Since then, she’s branched out. In addition to modeling, she’s served as a producer, entrepreneur, television personality, actress, author, and fashion designer.
  • Howie Mandel: Comedian and actor Mandel has hosted numerous television shows in addition to “America’s Got Talent,” including “Deal or No Deal” on CBS — where he’s also an executive producer — “Deal With It” on TBS, “Animals Doing Things” on Nat Geo Wild’s, and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent: The Champions.” He also hosts the podcast “Howie Mandel Does Stuff” with his daughter and recently completed the production of a documentary, “Howie Mandel: But, Enough About Me.”

The competition is hosted by actor Terry Crews, known for portraying Lt. Terry Jeffords on NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He’s also known for his work as an action film star, ad pitchman, human rights activist, a playable video game character, and high-end furniture designer.

What Were Some of the Most Memorable Performances?

“America’s Got Talent” is known for thrusting unknown talented performers in all areas of the arts into the spotlight. Here are some of the most memorable, jaw-dropping acts of season 16.

  • Northwell Health Nurse Choir’s “Stand By Me” performance: This moving cover during AGT’s live final performance was especially memorable when you consider these heroes have been on the frontline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience during this inspiring act.
  • Victory Brinker’s “Juliet’s Waltz” performance: This young opera singer stopped the show with her powerful audition performance. It earned her the Golden Buzzer from not just one judge but from the entire cast.
  • Brooke Simpson’s “Bad Habits” performance: Simpson made this Ed Sheeran cover her own during this powerful performance in the semifinals, earning her a deserved appearance in the finals.
  • Nightbirde’s “It’s OK” performance: Ohio’s Jane Marczewski was an early favorite who won over judges and viewers with her original song. The tune was inspired by her recent battle with cancer. Although she was an early favorite, she had to drop out due to health issues.
  • Jimmie Herrod’s “Glitter in the Air” performance: This epic Pink cover earned Herrod a spot in the finals.
  • Dustin Tavella’s live finale performance: This multi-talented magician wowed judges and viewers all season, but he went all out during the finale. He used a shower of gold confetti to deliver a powerful message: Give. This is in line with his brand of storytelling, magic, and positivity.
  • World Taekwondo Demonstration Team’s live finale performance: This martial arts team was strong throughout the season but delivered an incredible performance during the finale, showcasing the beauty of their choreography and their sheer athleticism.
  • Aidan Bryant’s live finale performance: This fearless young aerialist took stunning risks during his finale performance by wrapping himself in silk ropes to make a huge drop from the ceiling.

Who Were the Finalists?

Many performers audition for “America’s Got Talent,” but not everyone makes it through to the finals. Here are the top 10 finalists for season 16:

  • Aidan Bryant: This 16-year-old aerialist from Virginia impressed judges and the audience with his self-taught skills.
  • Brooke Simpson: This 30-year-old North Carolina singer and member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe previously competed on “The Voice,” winning third place in 2017.
  • Dustin Tavella: This Virginia magician is known for incorporating storytelling into his performances.
  • Gina Brillon: This stand-up comic from the Bronx has appeared on many late-night shows, including “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”
  • Jimmie Herrod: This Portland singer received both the Golden Buzzer from Vergara and also an Instant Save from the audience during his time on the show.
  • Josh Blue: This Colorado comedian won “Last Comic Standing” in 2006. Blue, who has cerebral palsy, is known for talking about his disability in his comedy.
  • Lea Kyle: This 25-year-old French performer is known for her quick-change magic.
  • Northwell Health Nurse Choir: This choir of 18 New York nurses received the Golden Buzzer from Mandel.
  • Victory Brinker: This 9-year-old opera singer from Pennsylvania was saved by the judges when she didn’t win the Instant Save. She was also the show’s first contestant to ever be awarded an all-cast Golden Buzzer.
  • World Taekwondo Demonstration Team: This choreographed martial arts team includes members who practice in South Korea and the United States. The team received the Golden Buzzer from Crews.

Who Won the Most Recent Season of “America’s Got Talent”?

If you missed season 16, here are the show’s winners:

  • Dustin Tavella: This entertaining magician took home the first-place prize.
  • Aidan Bryant: This teen aerialist was the season’s second-place winner.
  • Josh Blue: This authentic funnyman came in third place on season 16.
  • Lea Kyle: This French quick-change magician was a grand finalist.
  • Brooke Simpson: This former “The Voice” singer was also a grand finalist in season 16.

What You Need to Know About the Upcoming Season

There’s no doubt about the popularity of “America’s Got Talent” season 16. An amazing 7.1 million viewers watched the season’s opener, and another 6.13 million viewers tuned in for the finale.

Although season 16 ended in mid-September 2021, there’s already plenty to talk about when it comes to AGT’s season 17. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming season.

Who Will the Judges Be?

According to the show’s website, there haven’t been any changes to the lineup of celebrity judges for the upcoming season. So, viewers will be able to enjoy their favorite judges — Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel — in season 17.

The show’s host, Terry Crews, also seems poised to return to the competition. 

Is There Still Time to Audition?

Good news! Casting is open for season 17 of “America’s Got Talent.” The show is accepting video auditions from performers of all ages. Register online here to submit your video (or have your parents do it if you’re younger than 18).

For your best shot of moving forward in the audition process, producers suggest shooting your video in a well-lit spot, avoiding auto-tune apps, keeping your video around two minutes long or less, and not overprocessing your vocals.

AGT will also hit the road for in-person auditions this fall. Those dates and locations haven’t been announced yet, but you can sign up for audition alerts here

Where to Watch “America’s Got Talent”

“America’s Got Talent” can be watched live on NBC if you have traditional cable or streamed live via YouTube TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, and Hulu. It’s also available on Peacock, NBC’s streaming app, the day after it airs.

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