America's Got Talent” welcomed legendary late-night host and ultimate “garage guy,” Jay Leno, as the guest judge for the final Judge Cuts of Season 14 on August 6. The comedian quickly confessed that determining the best contenders was a much harder job than he imagined from his easy chair at home. Jay Leno doesn't spend many nights off work and he put real thought into his choices for the evening. It didn't take long for a child prodigy to prove worthy of his golden buzzer, with her gift, and many performers gave their best-ever “America's Got Talent” offerings, making it very difficult for each of the five judges to choose only seven from 18 to go forward.

Dogs, dancers, and other delights

The devoted family from Dallas who comprise the Dominguez Poodle Revue him did their very best and were cute as ever, but their dogs just weren’t as obedient as needed for this high-pressure performance. Still, the pooches did perform some astounding leaps, tumbles, and tricks. They also ran off the stage and into the crowd, but it was all in good fun. Hopefully, this sweet clan can benefit from their AGT run to get more lucrative gigs and fulfill their dream of a home instead of just their RV. Simon Cowell is still a fan, and the judge suggested a spinoff theme from “The Lion King” might be a hit.

DM Nation dancers, from Canada, have never been received so warmly by Simon Cowell.

He complained that a “coldness” pervaded the female troupe. Jay Leno, on the other hand, felt lots of “girl power” personality and was “blown away” by their performance. Julianne Hough agreed that they “delivered.”

About a month ago, Australian dancer, Ben Trigger, closed his audition performance by giving himself the golden buzzer.

This time, he described that he was set on showing his more serious side as a dancer. He opened with a moving interpretive dance to “Fire Away,” and in a single turn, switched to full-on Tina Turner with “Proud Mary” and some memorable pasties. “It's been a long time since Crocodile Dundee,” declared Jay Leno. The comic appreciated that the audience loved Ben, and so did Gabrielle Union, who didn't care much for the serious stuff.

“I love the show,” praised Julianne Hough. What fans love is that Ben loves what he does.

The singers truly shined in this final “America's Got Talent” effort before going to the Dolby Theatre. An Australian singer who had really impressed Simon Cowell and connected with the audience sang an original song, “High Hopes,” that seemed perfect for the evening. Benecio Bryant, who knocked the socks off the judges’ panel with his audition of Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke,” took the risk of performing his own original song, “Here Goes Nothing,” also completely apropos. The choice between these singers would become the most wrenching of the night in the end. Jay Leno praised that the 14-year-old was “an old soul,” whose song went into his heart.

Twisted and triumphant moments

Incredible contortionist, Marina Mazepa, seemed to twist her head completely off in her most bizarre routine. She also frightened the unflappable Simon Cowell, and he admitted it. Jay Leno called her abilities “an art,” and Julianne Hough described her as “creative and original.” No one knows what kind of daring performance Marina will deliver next.

The 13-year-old Charlotte Summers went very old-school with her song choice of “You Don't Own Me.” Jay Leno observed that it was among the first songs to embrace female empowerment, and Charlotte put a vicious growl in her delivery that definitely got to the guest judge. Simon Cowell commended the “rawness” of the performance.

Callie Day captivates anyone who hears her, as much with her spirit as with her divine voice. When Howie Mandel asked if she was going to “leave the roof on the place tonight,” she replied that she “might be hurtin’ a few folks,” with a smile. Her rendition of “Up to the Mountain” was moving beyond words. The performance was a moment of pure church, and Jay Leno stood to address the congregation. “Your voice is better than any instrument,” Leno gushed. Julianne Hough assured Callie that “you captivated my heart.” The standing ovations from the audience spoke everything necessary.

After being taken to such a heavenly place, the judges and the audience saw a few acts falter, including magicians, jugglers, and comedienne, Kara with a K, who was just plain ridiculous and tossing too much of her wardrobe.

When 10-year-old Emanne Beasha clung to her stuffed unicorn and described that she was going to do. Her most difficult song yet, there might have been some doubt about the operatic wonder. As soon as she opened her mouth, however, any doubts were dispelled, as she dove into “Caruso” with perfection. She earned the first true roar from the crowd, and more than that from Jay Leno.

The guest judge proved that he was an opera buff, pressing his golden buzzer and sending the little girl into jubilation with her parents. Jay Leno applauded the honesty and truth exuded by the prodigy. Simon Cowell reminded that her voice was “a gift,” and Howie Mandel noted that Emanne showed every other performer “how it’s done” on “America's Got Talent.”

Magician Eric Chen had to follow the showers of golden confetti, but he still managed to leave his audience awestruck.

He transported coins from Jay Leno's hand, to demonstrate the power of imagination, and repeated it from his table on the stage. In conclusion, he offered a simple paper to the judges’ panel as his gift, as though nothing that had been seen was real. “Bloody hell, Eric!” Simon exclaimed. Julianne Hough adores Eric's “sense of wonderment, and Howie agreed that he “really upped," his game.

The second roar of the night was reserved for the gifted and selfless military service quartet, Voices of Service, who give their gift of song to suffering brothers and sisters in arms. For this high-bar performance, they chose the very high-emotion ballad, “See You Again.” Neither the judges nor the audience could help but feel every note, and the notes were exquisite.

Jay Leno told the singers that he felt their words from the heart, knowing they brought healing. As if the ovations and applause were not enough, Simon Cowell assured the group, saying, “We like you!"

Comedian Jonathan Burns was “just awful” instead of charmingly funny this time around, but Jackie Fabulous came through in a big way. Her mother was watching from the audience, having to reveal to the world for the first time that her daughter was a comic—not a lawyer. Her delivery was sharp, perfectly timed, and designed for the modern woman. Jay Leno assured her that her law degree was not wasted, because she was like a prosecutor with perfect jokes. Gabrielle Union said “you had us at the door,” and Howie Mandel affirmed Jackie as “a true comic.” Whatever happens next in her career, this will be the pivotal “America's Got Talent” moment for her.

The deliberations were tougher than ever with so many quality performances, and hard cuts had to come. In the closing minutes, these were the seven acts chosen:

Emanne Beasha

Voices of Service

Eric Chen

Marina Mazepa

Charlotte Summers

Jackie Fabulous

Benecio Bryant-- following a second pause of critical reconsideration by Simon

Next week, the quarterfinals begin the live shows, with broadcasts every Tuesday and Wednesday on NBC.

EDITOR, PLEASE NOTE: Names of performers are spelled correctly. Thank you for your review.