“America’s Got Talent” recap: Seal is a guest judge as the final last acts advance

Trae Patton/NBC(NEW YORK) — The Judge Cuts wrapped up on Tuesday’s edition of America’s Got Talent, with seven of the acts that made it through the auditions advancing to the Live Rounds.

Air Force chorus In the Stairwell; animal act Pompeyo Family Dogs; gospel choir DaNell Daymon & Greater Works; dancers Artyon & Paige and Merrick Hanna; and singer Kechi, all advanced. Singer Johnny Manuel was sent straight to the Live Rounds via “the Golden Buzzer.”

Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B were back behind the judges’ table to offer their opinions and decide which acts would advance. Helping them this week was Klum’s ex-husband, singer/songwriter Seal.

Here’s a rundown of some of Tuesday’s highlights:

Dancers Artyon & Paige — nine and eight years old, respectively — performed to Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” from the movie Dirty Dancing. Ironically, Simon, who had pressed his buzzer for the duo during their first audition, was pleased this time out, while Howie, who was a fan after the first audition, wasn’t thrilled this time.

Howie also wasn’t impressed with In the Stairwell’s first audition, but changed his tune after hearing Tuesday’s performance of N’ Sync’s hit, “Bye Bye Bye.” Mel B agreed, noting that the Air Force chorus was “awkward, but adorable.”

DaNell Daymon & Greater Works earned a spot in the live rounds with their rousing performance of Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Seal declared that “There was a joy that filled the room” when the 42-piece choir began singing.

Pompayo Family Dogs featured the family of three, dressed as cowboys and cowgirls, putting the dogs through their paces, coaxing them to leap through hula hoops, skip rope and climb ladders. Simon called the act “fun and original.”

Johnny Manuel’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” pleased most of the judges, but Simon called it a poor song choice, noting that no one could top Wonder’s version. However, Johnny redeemed himself when Cowell asked him to reprise the song from his first audition, Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” right there on the spot. Afterwards, Simon called Manuel “One of the best singers in the competition.” Seal was so impressed with Johnny’s impromptu rendition, that he pressed his “Golden Buzzer,” sending him straight to the live rounds.

Dancer Merrick Hanna, 12, dazzled the judges with his robotic moves to “Something Wild,” by Lindsey Stirling featuring Andrew McMahon, but Simon — as he’d been doing for most of the night — disagreed, criticizing the song choice. On the other hand, he did like the story within Merrick’s performance.

Kechi, a 27-year-old burn victim, brought the judges to their feet with her take on Donny Hathaway’s version of “A Song for You.” In response to her earlier comment that she felt lucky to be in the competition, Howie insisted, “WE feel really lucky to have YOU here.” Simon agreed, saying that Kechi earned her place in the competition with her talent, as well as her back story. Seal, noting that “strength through vulnerability” is his mantra, added, that there was no greater example of that then what Kechi had showed them.

It’s on to the Live Rounds when America’s Got Talent returns Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern time on NBC.

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