America's Got Talent’ has always been uplifting TV, beyond other TV talent competitions. It is the summer viewing stalwart that all ages can watch together, and feel moved. Through this tumultuous week in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, when every heart is hurting with Houston and other communities, any moment of hope is welcome. Nothing on a TV show can take away the tremendous loss by so many affected, but Tyra Banks and others among the “America's Got Talent” contenders echoed the wish that hearts would be lifted while they were performing. The dozen talents taking the stage on August 29 for the last of the quarterfinals gave a mix of “good” and so-so on a night when the stakes demand stellar level.

Who were the ones to deliver?

Shots of hope

Even before the performances began, the judges’ panel put forth more effort. Simon Cowell was in a suit coat instead of his V-neck T-shirt, and Mel B went with bright pink hair. The look of the first act, DaNell Daymon and Greater Works, was different, too. The men of the choir were dressed in tan suits, and the ladies wore dark blue dresses. No choir robes were necessary as they tore into “You’re the One That I Want, ” and displayed dazzling dance moves to go with those immense voices in unity. The song wasn’t gospel, but the spirit was the same, and standing ovations were virtually instant. Mel B let out a long “Oh, my GOOOSH” and “Thank you, Jesus.” Howie Mandel admitted not going to church, but said “I feel anointed,” while Heidi Klum loved their combined “gigantic voice.” Simon Cowell said they turned the performance into a spectacle and were totally “inspirational.” This choir's place as the opener had to be divinely chosen.


Brother and sister dancers, Junior and Emily came on literally red-hot with a blazing background as they began their routine with their trademark spins. They soon branched out into different moves—stretches, splits, and overhead twirls. The pair tried things that “America's Got Talent” has not previously seen from them, and it may pay off in the vote.

Heidi Klum and Mel B offered ovations. Heidi called the performance “dynamic and modern,” and Mel B loved that they “mixed it up.” Simon Cowell deemed it the “most powerful” performance from the two, and Howie Mandel said the siblings “explode with it,” referring to the energy and changes that the panel had asked for in the Judge Cuts.

Vocal group, Final Draft, was given a second chance from Simon on the strength of their original audition. The harmonizing boy band has the voices but lacked the sizzle of Ed Sheeran on “The Shape of You” Mel B is still a believer and gave the boys her standing ovation, but the other judges didn't quite feel the passion of performance they had hoped. Simon Cowell said the song didn't work in the first half but was saved by the second. Howie Mandel “didn't love” the performance, agreeing. Heidi Klum reminded that the need to be memorable is crucial, and it was hard to see this one standing out.

Mixed bag

Love him or hate him, plus-size dancer, Oscar Hernandez always brings the energy and the fun, and everyone in the Dolby Theatre was jumping and bumping to “Milk Money,” celebrating his passion.

Oscar definitely shakes his moneymaker, and Simon Cowell gave him a firm endorsement of hope that he moves on in the competition, along with her standing ovation. Heidi Klum agreed that he gave it all he’s got, and Howie Mandel said he invented the “splerk” a combination twerk and splits. Mel B asked if he forgot the middle, but she enjoyed the rest!

Heidi Klum’s golden buzzer girl, Angelina Green, has big dreams for her future following “America's Got Talent” wanting to improve life for her single mom and little brother. The 13-year-old took on a weighty song with “Gravity,” and Heidi gave her “100%” support, saying how proud she was of her pick. Mel B also gave Angelina her ovation, saying that “music is everything” and she could feel that Angelina knows the emotion in her songs.

Simon Cowell praised the young teenager’s “amazing voice” and her ability to make any song “your song.” Talented as she is, Angelina may be one of the talents on the bubble in the votes.

Colin Cloud certainly put his “forensic investigation skills” to use in a pretend scenario of “The Murder of Simon Cowell,” but the premise was far too complicated, and really, never explained. It started by having a lady picked by Mel B from the audience think of a naughty memory, while another pick by Simon at the direction of Cloud’s hand came up on stage to answer a form of questions. Mel B was asked to stab Simon, much to her delight, with what turned out to be the only rubber knife among five. It was a feat, but very long and not so fulfilling for an audience.

The judges more or less agreed, and this elongated demonstration may cost Colin in the tally.

From the heart

Subway singer, Mike Yung, made the most of his meaningful time in the spotlight. Ed Sheeran had another reason to smile, as Mike poured out a passionate “Thinking Out Loud” that was all the more resonant because it came from the voice and the spirit of a 56-year-old, not many years away from 70, as noted in the song. Howie Mandel said Mike was the best of the night thus far, and also noted that “till we’re 70” is a “short romance” for Mike. Simon Cowell said that Mike Yung’s talent explains perfectly why there's no age limit on “America's Got Talent.” Mel B began her comments with “good” and “better” before Simon interrupted her explanation of how Mike was improving.

People of a certain age don’t always advance well by the numbers, but this man has waited 37 years, so he has earned this fortunate turn in life.

Techno-light artists, Oskar and Gaspar, went romantic, too, They illuminated images of hearts, family, long-life and endless stars to the strains of Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Heidi Klum was not so hot on this performance since it was not featuring herself as the star, but the rest of the panel was quite approving. It is hard to tell with technical performances whether the programming is the creative force, or the people determining how it is used, but the public will decide.

Sara and her incredibly talented and loyal dog, Hero, were assisted by a pal, Loki, for a “desert operations” kind of routine.

What makes Sara and her dogs such standouts is that complete and mutual love and loyalty power every move, spin, jump, and test of agility. This is more than training and reward, this is a family, and this competition means more to them than any prize, or even being able to sleep in their own beds instead of the back of a van. Every judge was on board with this doggie convoy, and seeing them mess with Tyra after the performance was a hoot!

A memorable conclusion

Remarkable singer-songwriter, Chase Goehring, stuck with his commitment to his own original compositions, this time, performing, “Illusion” about a feigned former girlfriend of the composer. DJ Khaled gave Chase his golden buzzer because of the creative abilities he saw flowing from the folk and rap shifts that flow so effortlessly from the voice and guitar of Goehring, This song was less high-speed hip-hop and more emotional intensity.

Heidi Klum said that she missed the former, but the rest of the panel, who all gave ovations, applauded the “brilliant self-expression,” as Mel B phrased it. Howie Mandel deemed Chase a star, while Simon was most pleased that the young man stays himself. It's almost a certainty that Chase will be staying, just take a look at his growing fan base on social media.

Acrobatic construction performers, Diavolo, designed their own spaceship on the stage this time, and their leaps, spins, and moves kept everyone watching in orbit. They were like human projectiles on the spinning, rotating sphere, and received raves of ovation from the entire audience. Howie Mandel called the performance “carpentry meets choreography,” and Mel B declared that she was “ready to buy a ticket.” Heidi Klum remarked that this was a spectacle, and Simon affirmed that he is “back in love” with Diavolo.

The decision rests with the dialers and clickers who vote.

The finest example of divine intervention appeared with the last performance of the night. Plane crash survivor, Kechi, put a real face from Houston with all of the appeals through the evening for Red Cross donations. Her presence alone is a resounding testament to strength and hope, and her selection of Katy Perry's “By the Grace of God” was most assuredly divinely inspired. Looking beautiful and never something better, the singer nailed the performance, saying afterward that she hoped anyone who could watch in Houston would feel hope and strength to move on from her song,

Beyond her talent, this young woman is an ambassador of resilience, and Howie Mandel called her “a beacon” to her city right now.

Heidi remarked how lovely she was, while Mel B said her most important gift was in being an inspiration and a survivor to anyone seeing her. Simon Cowell declared that in the moment of her performance, she became the person she wants to be. Kechi did more than deliver an incredible performance. She administered a balm of healing to hurting hearts across America, straight from her soul. Being the last performance only makes it more memorable.