[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for America’s Got Talent Season 17 Episode 4.]
The newest episode of America’s Got Talent Season 17 included artists you wouldn’t imagine working as full acts. But somehow, the performers pulled it off, with one of them convincing the audience that solving a Rubik’s cube could be a headlining act.
Here, we break down the most memorable and unexpected performers of the night, all of whom got four yeses from judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofía Vergara, and Simon Cowell.
Never have I ever thought watching someone solve a Rubik’s cube could be long-form entertainment. But Ethan Jan proved me wrong. Jan had each of the judges jumble up a cube, and then he went down the line solving them, leveling up the difficulty each time. He solved a cube in one hand while juggling two in the other, and then brought the act on stage to do this again while riding a unicycle, leaving the judges, host Terry Crews, and the whole crowd impressed.
What a voice! The young singer auditioned for the show after refusing to sell herself short for not looking like the “industry standard.” Singing “I See Red” by Everybody Loves an Outlaw, Cruz wowed everyone in the room with her raspy, powerhouse vocals.
“The moment you started singing, you became so powerful, so confident. It was unexpected, and it was sexy!” Vergara said.
“I was surprised also,” Cowell said, “because we have a lot of over-confident singers who come out here, and they’re dreadful. And then you come out, and your voice is what I would call seasoned. You’re not someone just starting. Your range, your tone. You have great taste, by the way, because it as a great choice of song.”
The German contestant (and Klum superfan) combined his love of dance with magic, making for a magic act the show isn’t used to seeing. Holste used magic tricks to reveal his backup dancers one by one, and each unveiling was more exciting than the next, and they danced to one of Klum’s songs to boot (which Cowell did not love, but everyone’s used to the Cowell shade by now). The unique combination of talents entertained the judges and crowd, landing the act a spot in the next round.
Rhodes’ performance of a Billy Joel song was quickly cut off by the judges. Not because of his singing voice, which was wonderful, but because Cowell wanted to see something different. He pressed the young singer to perform an original song instead, which he did, albeit through nerves. But the nerves weren’t enough to stop Rhodes from showing off his unique singing in “Disengage.” And it’s a good thing he switched gears into his original work, because the audience and judges loved the vulnerability of the lyrics.
For whatever reason, Cowell was not excited to see a pole dancing number, calling it “pointless.” But Sellers made him bite his tongue. The Australian mom of three uses dance to reconnect with herself, and that resulted in an immersive dance number combining animated visuals with her pole dancing. It was cinematic storytelling that’s easy to imagine as a longterm headlining act because of the variety the background visuals can provide. The story was created by Sellars herself, and she works with an animator to bring it to life. In the end, Sellars got a standing ovation from the audience and all of the judges, even the reluctant Cowell.
“You have such an amazing vision and you really brought pole dancing to a whole new level,” Klum said.
“You blew my mind with this,” Mandel said. “That was a Vegas show right there.”
The all-female dance group traveled from Lebanon to compete on the show and were the last act of the night.
“Lebanon is a very beautiful country, but we live a daily struggle,” one of the dancers shares.
“Unfortunately, being a dancer as a female Arab is not fully supported yet,” another says through tears.
“What is your dream?” Vergara asks, to which the dancer responds, “Us being on the biggest stage in the world is our only chance to prove to the world what Arab women can do, the art we can create, the fights we fight.”
What came next was a mystical dance number with eye-grabbing optical illusions created by their hypnotizing choreography. They brought the entire room to its feet. Mandel called it “perfection,” Klum thanked them for giving a glimpse of their culture, calling it “stunning,” and Cowell said they will make a difference in a positive way and said it was likely the best dance act they’ve seen.
Before the judges could vote, Vergara said, “I would be so honored to empower you even more on this journey, because you deserve it. I want to be part of this!” To that end, she gave the Mayyas the golden buzzer sending them straight to the live shows.
America’s Got Talent, Tuesdays, 8/7c, NBC