The last selections for the “America's Got Talent” judges were up for debate this week (August 8) in the most eclectic TV talent competition, and Heidi Klum's connections really came in handy. When the scheduled guest judge had a schedule glitch, and couldn't fulfill proper duties, the supermodel knew the perfect person for the seat—her ex-husband, Seal. Beyond his worldwide status as singer and songwriter, as noted by his 300 million units sold, Seal was a perfect bridge between honest critique and encouraging words and seemed to balance out the sour disposition that seemed to overtake Simon Cowell.

Little dancers Artyon and Paige, who already feel destined for a future, did their own pint-sized version of “Dirty Dancing,” and Artyon ensured that he made the crucial catch! Heidi Klum played along as she teased that the two were “a little Heidi and Seal.” Simon did not care for this pair the first time around, but said that the kids were “fun” this time! Seal commended their discipline, and they got their share of ovations.

Bring on the songs

“America's Got Talent” is strong on singers this season, and many would never fit into categories on “The Voice” or “American Idol.” First up this Tuesday was the lovely singer, Britt, whom Simon loved in her first audition, but didn't so much care for her song selection of Fleetwood Mac this time around.

Seal noted that her nerves were very visible.

Next came the Air Force Academy’s acappella group, "In The Stairwell," named after their only practice spot. These sharply dressed boys came out in their flight suits this time, and they were determined to win over Howie Mandel, who said they “bored” him in their first audition.

They affirmed that they were “desperate” to move on, and made some sharp moves of their own, doing NSYNC’s “Bye Bye-Bye.’ They earned Howie’s favor, and received standing ovations from Seal and Heidi, and Mel B called them “adorable” in their awkwardness.

Vex on variety acts

Despite a true effort, it wasn't the best night for variety acts.

Magician Will, of whom Howie Mandel raved as “the best close-up magician” he had ever seen in his first performance, failed to wow this time. His routine centered on bringing his boyhood pet fish, Joey, back to life. Howie still marveled at the smoke and fire coming from his hands and producing a fish from paper, but the other judges didn't see the feat so well. Simon called it a step backward. Henry Richardson produced Heidi Klum’s signed playing card inside a sealed pop tart, and the panel was pleased, but would it be enough?

Sasha and Elena claimed that they were performing the dance from their wedding, with concerns about insurance claims. Simon really blew up at Nick the science guy following his blowup from methane gas.

“This is why I hated school," quipped the English judge.

Off to a great finish

Things took a big swing for the better when DaNell Daymon and his glorious choir, Greater Works, took the stage. There is such immense energy and joy in this gathering of voices and spirit that absorbs any audience or arena. When they sang “Ain't No Mountain High Enough,” everyone believed it. Seal even whistled approval with his ovation, and said “RESPECT!” They received unanimous ovations.

Pompeyo Family Dogs aren't perfect, and that's what makes them precious! Their haircuts are home projects, and they don't always pay perfect attention, and that makes for pure delight onstage. Their “cowboy” routine was a riot, complete with jumping rope with the little daughter, and even the littlest dog riding horseback.

This “could only happen on ‘America's Got Talent,’” Seal rightly remarked.

Johnny Manuel didn't have the easiest night, either. He chose Stevie Wonder’s classic, “Lately” and delivered an illustrious version, but Simon wanted something like his first audition, only acappella. On the spot, the singer launched into “I Have Nothing,” and it was flawless, as Mel B herself described. Simon instantly said that the impromptu song was better than the audition. Heidi thanked Johnny for his gift. Seal began talking about being ready for “moments” in life, and how Manuel’s talent was “undeniable.” After several teasing tries, the guest judge hit the golden buzzer, and Johnny Manuel’s dream is coming true again.

It's a bet that it will mean more this time than it did when he was 14

Married competitors, Maria, the contortionist, and Maxim, the balance artist, failed to be such a dynamic duo this go-round. Simon said Maria was “just in a glass ball” while her husband balanced on 22 chairs, terrifying anyone in the fall zone. The curvy girl dancers still dished up much to love.

Merrick Hanna pops and locks like a robot, but tells a story with his pure, human, open heart with his performance. The young dancer had music that Simon disapproved of, again, but Cowell could not reject the young man’s gift. The roars of applause expressed all that needed to be said.

Kechi Okwuchi did not earn the night’s golden buzzer, but her powerful rendition of Leon Russell's “A Song for You” captured something more wonderful, everyone's heart and respect.

She was asked once again to share her story of being the sole survivor in a fiery plane crash carrying students home from her school. Her mother was there to be part of the experience this time and heard her daughter describe how there were times she thought she “could not make it a day, and now I'm on ‘America's Got Talent.’”

The moment was not only beautiful, it was filled with the sense of divine purpose that has been part of this courageous woman's journey, and only this competition could allow her to convey such strength. “You’ve transcended what you've lived,” Seal told Kechi. After getting unanimous standing ovations, Seal came to the stage, embracing the singer in her joyful tears. “Do you know how beautiful you are?” he asked.

The world will see that beauty now, and Kechi’s beautiful voice is only one small part of her portrait in courage.

The seven performers moving on to live shows, beginning next Tuesday, are:

  • DaNell Daymon and Greater Works
  • Johnny Manuel
  • Kechi
  • Merrick Hanna
  • Artyon and Paige
  • Pompeyo Family Dogs
  • In The Stairwell