‘AGT’ Judge Cuts Episode 1 Recap: Which Acts Will We See In The Live Shows?

Julia Delbel
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America’s Got Talent Season 13 Judge Cuts began tonight, and with 18 acts fighting for seven spots in the quarter-finals, the pressure was on.

Judge Cuts is one of the toughest rounds of modern-day AGT. In fact, I’d argue that it’s probably even more stressful than the first round of actual live shows. The stakes are high since the next round is the beginning of the live performances – a major milestone for contestants – but so few acts advance per episode (7/18, as opposed to 7/12 in the quarter-finals) that the pressure to step it up is at it’s peak. The contestants need to use the stress as a motivator rather than a fear inducer, but that’s easier said than done, and I always feel for the performers when I watch these episodes.

Tonight’s episode featured physician-turned-comedian Ken Jeong as guest judge, and with him at the table, we knew things would get a little weird…in a good way! I think he did a great job encouraging the acts and keeping the mood as light as it could have been with all the aforementioned tension and stress in the air. But at the end of the day, who were the seven acts to advance?

Junior New System

The first act shown in a Judge Cuts episode tends to be one of the seven to advance, so I wasn’t surprised to see these guys move on. However, I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed by them this time around. While I’m sure dancing hip-hop in high heels is no easy feat, the novelty has pretty much worn off for me as a viewer. The choreography was fun, but I think they’ll probably be out next round unless they add another “wow” element or two for their quarter-finals performance.

Us The Duo

This is one of the acts that’s borderline “too famous” for this franchise (and for some viewers, they’ve already crossed that line). I get that AGT wants to keep them around to get their fans to tune in to the show, but putting their level of notoriety aside and judging them strictly on what we saw them do tonight, I didn’t think their performance was anything special. In fact, by the end of the night, I forgot they were even on this episode until they walked out for their results. Even though I have mixed feelings on their involvement with the show to begin with, I really hope they give us something really good in the live shows, because I know they’re capable of so much more than we’ve seen so far.


Howie pretty much said it all. Lots of people dance, do diabolo tricks, or perform with video projections, but it’s the combination of all Mochi’s talents that make his act something truly special. I’m absolutely thrilled he made it through Judge Cuts and I can’t wait to see what he does for the quarter-finals!

Voices Of Hope Children’s Choir

Okay, so the show kind of let the Golden Buzzer out of the bag a little early on this one. During one of the “Coming Up” segments they showed Ken saying his “from all of us to all of you” line before hitting the buzzer, which made it kind of obvious it would be Voices Of Hope since Junior New System had already performed and they were the only other act this episode featuring more than two performers. I was disappointed when I figured this out, but I was much happier once they actually showed their performance of “How Far I’ll Go”, which in my opinion was a strong improvement over their audition. And yes, this is yet another Golden Buzzer singing act, but a choir can’t go on The Voice or American Idol like the solo vocalists can so we can’t accuse them of having a monopoly on reality competition opportunities.

Aaron Crow

This was another situation of the result being pretty obvious ahead of time, since AGT released the performance on social media in advance, but it was very well-deserved. Once again, Aaron delivered one of the most polished, suspenseful, and exciting danger acts I’ve ever seen on AGT. I especially loved that he had the nerve to bring the guest judge on stage as a “volunteer”; hardly any of the acts do that and I’ve always crossed my fingers for someone to, so for that Aaron gets even more points from me! I can’t really say much else; just watch the video if you haven’t already!

Christina Wells

Christina was yet another performer who I kind of knew would advance, since part of her performance was released in advance as well. While this wasn’t as good as her audition, I think it was a little better than some of the judges made it out to be and she’s still one of the best singers this season. I fully expect her to bring us some show-stopping performances in the live shows.

Duo Transcend

Okay, I’m seriously torn on this one. I really love seeing acts like this and their performance tonight was absolutely captivating and breathtaking for the most part, but I’m not sure how I feel about them getting through despite the mistake (which I’m actually a little surprised turned out to be real and not a misdirect by the promos, but I was so glad Mary was safe!). It just felt a little “off” to me for the judges to brush off a mistake like the one they made at the end of the act but dig into other acts for more minor issues. I think I would have liked to see them get turned down tonight but brought back as a “wildcard” in the quarter-finals, which would have sent the message that acts need to be on their A-game but still allowed this great duo to compete again. But on the other hand, lately I’ve felt the judges have been relatively easy on singers and tougher on other acts so it was nice to see them give a trapeze act another chance without a lot of fanfare.

Wildcard Possibilies

With five Golden Buzzers given out during auditions and seven acts advancing from four Judge Cuts episodes, it looks like there will once again be three spots in the quarter-finals left over for “wildcards” – acts that get cut but brought back afterwards, and I’m wondering if we could see someone from this episode return?

I think Patches could be a possible candidate for one of these spots. I wasn’t the biggest fan of his songs, especially tonight’s, but the judges gave him high praise in this episode and for his audition (and it’s worth noting he got a full introduction package before both of his performances). However, based on the general reaction I’ve seen to him I think it might be best if he doesn’t return; I don’t like seeing the kid acts get raked over the coals by viewers.

Daniel Emmet seems like another possibility. The show sure spent a lot of time on his audition and “second chance”, and I know they sometimes like having genres like opera represented.

Next week we’ll see another crop of hopefuls perform for the panel and guest judge Oliva Munn! But for now, I’ll leave you with the entertainingly silly Celina and Filiberto.

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