At last, “America's Got Talent” went live with the first-round quarterfinals on August 14, and the acts that garnered 1.5 billion YouTube views had to put their best performance on at the Dolby Theater. Tyra Banks looked luscious in gold as she sauntered in supermodel style to center stage and Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum, and Simon Cowell gave salutes to start the night. The formidable British judge wasn't a fan of every performance, but everyone was on their feet for the last performer of the evening, 14-year-old Courtney Hadwin, and she even prompted Simon to give Howie a hug.

Taking off with sparkle and spews

Japanese diabolo artist Mochi started the night with a whirlwind display of colors, shapes, and stars in a galactic vortex. The display was certainly impressive, but with these type of acts and today's technology, it's hard to know how much of the performance is human talent. Heidi Klum was blown away by Mochi, saying that when she tried diabolo, she nearly broke a tooth. Simon Cowell compared the performance to a roller coaster, and he liked it, while Howie Mandel praised the precision.

On a completely different end of the performance spectrum, Human Fountains made an “America's Got Talent” return as a wildcard pick. The gentlemen who were last seen sharing an entire morning routine mouth-to-mouth, including truly scrambled raw eggs, tried something more artistic.

They learned angles to spray in bigger volume and ended with a soggy hotdog, eliciting the comment “out comes the Weiner” from German supermodel Heidi Klum. Simon Cowell still gave the boys an X, but Mel B said they are “something to remember" before Howie closed with “sharing is caring” to summarize the performance. Only seven performers can be voted through, and it's hard to see these guys as worthy, however humorous and entertaining they may be.

Angel City Chorale lifted the entire “America's Got Talent” audience to a higher plane with their performance of “This Is Me,” and in no time, Simon Cowell was standing and clapping in support. Every member was donned in white and bathed in all colors as the performance progressed, exemplifying the unity and inclusion of the chorus.

The audience joined in as well, with their own white flags. Howie Mandel said that he hoped the viewing audience could feel the “music moves through you” as it did for the judges. Mel B was booed for saying that she loved that the assembly wasn't perfect, but she still loved them. Heidi applauded their unity and insisted that “we all learn from you,” and Simon Cowell had the ultimate praise, saying that “if I died and this is heaven, I'm fine with that."

Mixed bag

This time out, the high school dancers of the PAC Dance Team still didn't fare any better with Howie Mandel, but Heidi Klum said they might have their golden ticket for moving onward and Simon commended their spirit. Mel B cheered for her golden buzzer pick, Amanda Mena, seeing something of herself in the strong-willed singer from the Dominican Republic who sang this time in Spanish and English on “What About Us” with vocal pipes far beyond her years.

Simon attested that she could be a star, and Heidi praised that she “nailed it.” Mel B gushed with pride at her prodigy’s showing.

Dance team Junior New System from the Philippines poured their hearts, souls, and every new step they mastered into their athletic-themed routine, ending with the boys wearing silver platform heels this time. Passion and determination is what Simon Cowell saw beyond their wardrobe, while Howie didn't feel that the heels came soon enough. Heidi Klum simply commented “Heel yes!” to the group. If spirit and effort mean anything, this group deserves a huge break and lots of votes.

Howie Mandel felt that family band We Three transcended with this “America's Got Talent” performance, and Heidi and Mel B felt the heart and the harmonies in “Still A Believer,” but Simon Cowell saw the over-production as a fail.

He told them to rethink their entire presentation angle for the future. Fame can be a devouring machine, and it could be that these siblings are not quite ready for the music industry.

Escape artist Lord Nil brought his girlfriend Maya into his “America's Got Talent” daredevil attempt, involving saving her from a pit of rattlesnakes and giving him a key to escape from a tank of water in which he was submerged in chains. The drama was high, too high for Mel B, who X’ed the proceedings, calling it “too much.” The performance was lengthy and perhaps too produced and staged. In any case, the voters will decide the future of these performers.

Ending in fine form

Nothing was flat about the final four performers.

Flau’jae took off on another of her original rap compositions, “Letdown,” which held a message to “always put your best down,” and ended with everybody feeling hope. For the first time in this competition, she had a free-flowing run that allowed her to shine even more, and the judges took note. Simon Cowell said that he saw the “steel” in her eyes to go all the way. Heidi loved her, and Howie urged everyone to vote because of how Flau’jae inspires with her gift.

Shin Lim didn't use any assistance in this live performance, rising from beneath the stage with his sleeves rolled up. The magician dazzled with a patriotic display, transforming a deck of cards into a drawn red heart, and then to a banner of “I love America,” and finally, “America's Got Talent,” before all the cards vanished in smoke.

“You're Harry Potter without the glasses,” Simon teased, urging the magician to use more showmanship. Mel B, Heidi, and Howie all raved about the elegance that the illusionist brings with his hands. Expect Shin Lim to last a while, and to have a whole new life after the competition closes.

Comedian Vicki Barbolak was hot as ever in her hot pink leopard print dress, and she dished it out like always about marriage, relationships, and doing the “trailer nasty” with Simon Cowell. Simon Cowell still adored Vicki for being “real and relatable,” and Heidi called her “one funny lady” who still needs one of Heidi's bras. Mel B praised her as being a “strong, independent woman” but wanted her to be a little naughtier.

The night was another win for Vicki.

In the “America's Got Talent” tradition of saving the best for last, English schoolgirl Courtney Hadwin was a blast of passion and perfection on James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag." Before two minutes had passed, the full panel was on its feet, and Simon Cowell embraced Howie Mandel in a genuine hug for his choice for the golden buzzer. The performance was unlike any other of its genre in the competition. Simon Cowell said that Courtney didn't need any further advice from him, only to do what she already knows how to do. Mel B was ready to buy tickets to Courtney's shows, and Howie again raved that Hadwin is Janis Joplin incarnate, and probably for the first time ever in his life, gave a rock 'n roll scream.

The vote will be revealed on Wednesday from now until the competition’s close, and things are off to a marvelous start.