Season 13 has brought many “America's Got Talent” firsts in the competition, and for its panel of judges. The third round of quarterfinals on August 28 was no exception, and once more, Simon Cowell exhibited emotion rarely seen on camera. The night was already filled with a mixture of tension, joy, and anxiety, beyond measure, for the 12 performers giving all they had for the chance to continue their “America's Got Talent” journey. For many, the stakes were about much more than winning the million dollars. The past several days have been emotional for Simon’s judging cohort and friend, Mel B, too, as she plans to address issues related to PTSD and trauma once the competition ends in September.

She joined Cowell, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel many times through the night in rising to her feet with applause, and she didn’t try to hide her own tears. Real emotion and performances with a greater purpose ruled the night.

Hot pink and plenty of passion

Tyra Banks strolled out in hot pink to open the proceedings and included congratulations for Simon Cowell on receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He responded by saying that he felt like he was “living the American dream,” and more of those dreams were happening for The Future Kings, the multiage, multitalented dance group who live like a family. Rainbow colors glowed from a backdrop with the dancers in rainbow skin suits. They maintain the high-energy through their routine of rapid tempo changes, and it wasn't long before Howie Mandel joins Simon Cowell in giving a standing ovation.

Simon Cowell praised the performance as being “like a cool commercial” and also praised the dancers as people. Howie Mandel respects the diversity and unity of this clan, and Mel B loves their “strength and loyalty.” Heidi Klum said that the troupe “brought the party to the Dolby.”

Married couple, Us The Duo, dedicated their up-tempo love ballad to their unborn baby daughter, whom they witnessed on ultrasound in a recent doctor visit.

The love shared by the growing family is priceless but diapers, wipes, and baby food don’t come for free, so now the time in the competition means even more. Standing ovations came from all four judges. Howie Mandel called their joyful dedication his favorite number ever performed by the couple, and teased that they are bringing “reproduction to the production." Mel B was already shedding tender tears with her congratulations, and Heidi Klum called the performance “schmaltzy, but I love it.”

Daniel Emmet wasn't about to waste a second of his chance as a wildcard and offered a dazzling operatic rendition of “I Don't Want To Miss a Thing” in Italian, complete with flaming bursts behind him - he, too, earned four standing ovations.

Heidi Klum not only gave Daniel her OMG response, but added that she would give him her golden buzzer if she had another one. Mel B adored the dramatic key change, only wishing it had come earlier. Simon Cowell said “Hats off to you,” and Howie Mandel remarked that the performance was “Pavarotti Does Aerosmith.” Depending on the numbers, this pivotal performance may keep Daniel in the running.

Violinist Brian King Joseph constantly feels either pain or numbness in his talented hands, but he always brings a beaming smile and unyielding exuberance to every performance, and the panel took notice. He was added to the performer list to earn standing ovations from the full panel. Simon Cowell noted how he had broken strings with his energy and virtuosity.

Howie Mandel commended that this performance was far better than his memories of “Fiddler on the Roof” from childhood. Mel B applauded how he “killed it” always rising above his pain.

Danger and a diva

Danger artist Aaron Crow again chose Howie Mandel to come to the stage for his performance, but this time, there was nothing to slice on the comedian’s head, and he wasn't in the line of fire. Instead, Howie was the one to choose from red boxes on a table, each to be crushed by Crow, hoping, of course, that he avoids the one containing an immense knife. A metronome adds to the suspense, and that danger is avoided, but then how he is taken to a pedestal with a large mallet, and told to strike the mallet when Crow’s hand is above the chosen box, on the beat.

Crow then pulls Simon Cowell to the stage and has him place his hand above the boxes, while Howie makes the choices by the strike of the mallet. In a final moment of wrenching suspense, Crow pushes the British judge’s hand away, saving him from peril. All the dramatics took a long while, and Mel B gave an X. Heidi Klum was also underwhelmed, while Howie gushed that “I was amazing — vote for Erin.” Simon was simply glad to be fully intact, especially with his son watching in the audience.

The crowd loved the single and yearning singer, Joseph O'Brien, who again chose an original love ballad for his performance. Yelps came from the audience every time O'Brien reached his falsetto range while playing from a real piano.

The song made Mel B emotional, and she called the performance “flawless,” but the best Heidi Klum could do was call it “sweet.” Simon Cowell was not a fan of the song, nor was Howie, who also didn't like the backdrop of a “doily” on the stage. Joseph will have to rely on his growing female following for help in the voting. Tyra Banks did coax him to say that the song was about a girl named Brianna, so now, he's bound to get multiple namesake contenders.

The international superstar entertainer, Hans, lifted the night to a much higher, happier note with his take on a Spice Girls song, not even recognized by Mel B, and mixed into his part vaudeville-part Vegas-style act. Unanimous standing ovations came to Hans, and Howie Mandel told him it was his favorite act of the night.

Simon Cowell simply said “loved it,” along with the audience roar of approval, and Heidi Klum concurred, marveling that Hans is “so entertaining.”

UDI Dance fell short of delivering their usual optical delight in movement and color, with the judges' comments of being “better before” being common. The noble aim of these performers born from a Siberian orphanage deserves recognition and surely more opportunities will arise from their “America's Got Talent” exposure.

Emotional flourish to the finish

The final performances of this round were assuredly among the most memorable in “America's Got Talent” history and exhibited all the heart and soul fitting for the moment. Christina Wells dedicated her powerful performance of “I Am Changing” from the Broadway and movie musical, “Dreamgirls” to her widowed mother.

Every note from the singer resonated with personal truth and stunning vocal power and Christina praised her mother from the stage, saying that she made sure that her mixed-race daughters always understood their dignity. Simon Cowell told Christina that Broadway producers would surely be calling her now, and Howie Mandel said that it was already “..a grand finale” moment. Mel B could not contain her emotions, saying “I was with you. You’re incredible. I love you.”

Aerial dancers, Zurcaroh, have racked up an incredible combined total of almost 37,000,000 YouTube views for their performances, as Tyra Banks bragged of her golden buzzer pick. In their audition for the season, they re-created the union of Adam and Eve.

For this offering, the performers kept the jungle theme, and went wild and divine, featuring leaps, strides, and tosses that come to an eloquent, angelic climax with the embrace of a child by a magnificent protector. Besides the unanimous standing ovations, Heidi Klum proclaimed the group “ready for Vegas,” while Mel B dubbed them breathtaking. Simon Cowell went further, calling them the best live performers on “America's Got Talent.” Howie Mandel praised the ensemble as proof that more is more.

Following that act was a hard climb, but magician Rob Lake pulled out all his showmanship stops to impress Simon Cowell. There were big screens, beautiful ladies, and a disappearing motorcycle in this impressive display, which Cowell called great, but still “cheesy-- maybe because that's who you are.” Mel B stood to give her applause, and Heidi loved the fast pace.

Howie Mandel felt it was a little outdated, like something from the 80s. The vote tally will have to tell if Rob did enough this time.

Michael Ketterer, the adoptive dad with a boundless heart and a “voice of truth” as Mel B described, took the stage for the final performance. The power of his conviction rang in every note of James Bay’s “Us,” and Ketterer made it seem like the song only belonged to him and his family. In his pre-performance profile, his sons described what they wanted to be in their future. One son simply said, “I want to be like my dad. I think I can do that.” Each of the judges was swayed in emotion, but Simon Cowell was truly overtaken, at first, asking that Tyra move on, before she urged that the judge should “talk through it.” He did, with tears, echoing “I can't imagine what you've done” to his golden buzzer selection.

Mel B called him captivating, and Heidi Klum insisted that “we need more men like you.”

Thus, another night of quarterfinals competition ended with a first on “America's Got Talent,” one that no one will forget. America will determine the seven acts moving forward, to be revealed on Wednesday, August 29. They already are champions.