‘America’s Got Talent’ episode 11 recap: See the best auditions of season 18 again in ‘Road to Lives’ special [LIVE BLOG]

With the audition phase of “America’s Got Talent” season 18 coming to a close, the show paused this week to “relive the magic” of the last 10 weeks before the live shows begin on August 22. There are no changes to judges’ dais this summer with executive producer Simon Cowell and long-time judge Howie Mandel taking their place on the ends of the table. Heidi Klum returns as well, as does Sofia Vergara who took a break when “All-Stars” aired earlier this year. Hosting duties are entrusted to the lively Terry Crews once again.

In the audition phase of “AGT,” an act needed at least three of the four judges to give them a “yes” vote to advance to the next round. If two or more judges buzzed the act, they were immediately eliminated. Each judge and Crews had one chance to hit the “golden buzzer” and send an act straight through to the live performances.

In the season premiere, Simon led the panel in handing out the first ever Audience Golden Buzzer to Mzansi Youth Choir from South Africa. Simon gave the Golden Buzzer to 17 year old Indonesian pianist and singer Putri Ariani in episode 2. Then, in episode 3, Terry descended the stage to make a dream come true for Chioma & The Atlanta Drum Academy. Howie made his choice to send French dance group Murmuration straight to the live shows in episode 4. And in episode 6, Heidi fell in love with singer Lavender Darcangelo. Sofia finally used her Golden Buzzer in episode 9 when Gabriel Henrique took the stage to sing Whitney Houston. The one final act to receive the golden prize was Japanese dance group Chibi Unity who received the only Group Golden Buzzer of the season in episode 10.

Below, read our minute-by-minute “America’s Got Talent” recap of Season 18, Episode 11, the “Road to Lives” special which aired Tuesday, August 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite acts on NBC’s long-running reality TV show and who you think will ultimately join the AGT list of champions.

8:02 p.m. – Terry hosted the night by running down the very best auditions of the season while the judges make their final decision on which of the acts will appear in the live shows set to begin next week. After a montage of some of the craziest moments of the entertaining acts we saw earlier in the season, Terry settled us down with the full audition from Mzansi Youth Choir, the first act to receive a Golden Buzzer this summer. You’ll remember that they sang the original song “It’s Okay” by AGT alum Nightbirde who passed away in 2022. Following their rendition of her song, the judges could not believe how strong the audience response was and awarded them the first ever Audience Golden Buzzer. Simon had a particularly strong connection to Nightbirde, who was his own Golden Buzzer choice, and got emotional as he called their performance “breathtaking.”

8:19 p.m. – We also saw short clips of the auditions from Japanese instrumental band MOS, dog act Adrian Stoica & Hurricane, Ukrainian mixed medium artist Oleksandr Leschenko, Japanese dance group Avantgardey, and strength and balancing act Ramadhani Brothers.

8:29 p.m. – Terry was particularly moved by Chioma & The Atlanta Drum Academy and so he bestowed his personal Golden Buzzer upon the group ranging in ages 6 to 14. Amidst a standing ovation, Terry stopped the judges from voting in order to make his way to the dais so that he could make Chioma’s dream of receiving the Golden Buzzer come true.

8:40 p.m. – Acts like hula hooper Grace Good, comedy mentalist Mandy Muden, trap choir Sainted, tech magician Trigg Watson, sword swallower Herwan Legaillard, and ventriloquism mentalist Brynn Cummings all showed the judges that there is still new ways to present talents they’ve seen before.

8:49 p.m. – Terry said that Howie gave Murmuration his Golden Buzzer because he “loves an act that can go viral” so Terry wanted us to see their audition again which has over 40 million views on YouTube. The 65 members of the group tutted with the synchronicity of a flock of birds where not only did the timing of their movements have to match each other’s but the quick beats of the music as well. Howie told them that he was “mesmerized” and “more magnificent” because it’s a large group of people with small, perfect movements before tutting his way over to the Golden Buzzer.

9:00 p.m. – Simon is a judge that is constantly moved by the people that try out for the show and the personal stories that they bring to the stage. This season some of those people he fell in love with were dancer Lambros Garcia, singer Mitch Rossell, comic Orlando Leyba, violinist Philip Bowen, singer Lachune, the 82nd Airborne Chorus, singer Alfie Andrew, singer Lavender who was Heidi’s Golden Buzzer, and the Freedom Singers.

9:13 p.m. – Though it’s called “America’s Got Talent,” the show still accepts auditions from acts all over the world. Chibi Unity from Japan earned the Group Golden Buzzer for their dance routine in the final audition episode. The judges were all on the same page about how the group was deserving of a unified decision because of how much they loved their performance.

9:25 p.m. – Howie called this season his favorite of auditions because of how many young people came to the show and succeeded with their talents. Among them were dancers of all ages, including 14 year old Mariandrea, 36 year old Erica Coffelt, and 7 year old Eseniia Mikheeva. Other acts that impressed were Ahren Belisle who used artificial intelligence to offset his disability in order to deliver a rousing comedy set. Then there was 59 year old John Wines on the guitar, 64 and 85 year old danger act Ray Wold & Mom, and 27 year old singer Gabriel that earned Sofia’s Golden Buzzer with his cover of Whitney Houston.

9:38 p.m. – Some of the contenders to win the million dollar prize included shadow artist Shadow Ace from the Philippines. His act was highly entertaining because it mixed modern music, comedy and interesting use of his hands to create a complete story through shadows. Sofia called it “a real show” and Howie said he could “watch it all night.” Simon thought it would be appealing to both adults and kids and likely do really well on the show and potentially in Vegas.

9:46 p.m. – The blind teenage singer Putri came from Indonesia before moving Simon to the point of hitting the Golden Buzzer in her favor. She played the piano and sang two song, the second of which was a special request from Simon simply so everyone could hear her voice again. She dedicated her rendition of “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” to Simon and then we awarded her with the top prize, sending her straight to the live shows.

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