‘AGT’ Season 16 Premiere Features the Return of Simon Cowell

Tyler Golden/NBC

America’s Got Talent Season 16 premiered on Tuesday night on NBC, as the judges returned to watch a fresh batch of auditions. The episode also featured the return of judge Simon Cowell, who missed last season’s live shows due to a back injury.

The Brit made his big entrance wearing an unusual outfit. Cowell had on a pair of white shorts with black socks, in contrast to his more dressed-up co-stars. Later in the show, Howie Mandel poked fun at Cowell by showing off his own shorts.

‘AGT’ Premiere Features Self-Taught Young Aerialist

One of the most memorable performances of the AGT premiere came from 16-year-old Aidan Bryant, an aerialist. What made Aidan’s talent so incredible wasn’t just his young age or the fact that he’s only been practicing his craft for two years. It’s that he’s completely self-taught, having been inspired by Pink’s concert performances.

The show shared footage of Aidan practicing in a tree in his family’s yard, as the performer shared that he had a “missing piece” in his life that was filled by aerial arts. His mother explained that he’s had difficulties in school, and she teared up sharing how proud she is of him for chasing his dreams.

Aidan delivered a stunning performance on a hoop hanging over the stage, set to a haunting version of “Shout” by Tears for Fears. He showed off grace, flexibility, and strength. Heidi Klum said he had “beautiful poise and elegance,” while Cowell called it a “ridiculously good audition.” The act received four “yes” votes to move on.


Choir of Nurses Earns the Golden Buzzer

We’re used to Golden Buzzer acts appearing at the end of the episode, but this week it was halfway through the show. The show saved returning contestant Sethward for the last audition. (He dressed as a peacock and flashed his butt, and he somehow made it through.)

This week’s Gold Buzzer went to Northwell Health Nurse Choir. The group got emotional talking about their experience treating COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. They performed a mashup of “Lean on Me” and “Stand by Me” that earned praise from the judges.

Howie Mandel told the nurses that he wanted to “stand by you” by hitting the Golden Buzzer. It was a heartwarming moment, and the performance was beautiful. However, we’ve come to expect singing acts to earn the honor at this point. Hopefully the rest of the season will feature a larger variety of Golden Buzzer acts.


Dogs Imitate the Judges in Funny Act

Tuesday’s opening audition came from the Canine Stars, featuring “dogs and their people.” It was one of the most creative and adorable animal acts we’ve seen on the show, as several dogs were set up to look like the four judges. That included Bowowie Mandel and Simon Howl.

The performance also featured some impressive dog tricks, as a pup named Delta even performed CPR on the trainer. Unsurprisingly, dog lover Cowell raved about the act, calling it “genius.” Mandel called it the “best animal act I have ever seen on this show by far.”

We might have to wait until we’ve seen more from the group to make such a declaration. But it was certainly a fun way to open the show. What makes it even better is that the group promotes animal adoption. The act earned four “yes” votes, sending them to the next round of the competition.

Was There a Live Audience During the ‘AGT’ Premiere?

Before Season 16 premiered, we were wondering what the audience situation would be like. Although the show seemed to suggest that there was a live, packed audience present in the auditorium, fans on social media were skeptical.

In close-ups of the judges, no audience could be seen behind them. The crowd was only visible in wider shots. Fans on Twitter believe that the audience shots and cheering were inserted digitally and through editing. It’s likely that AGT has gone the same route as The Masked Singer by using footage from past seasons to make it seem like there was a live audience.

People published an interview with Howie Mandel that mentions a “limited audience” during auditions. It’s possible that there was a smaller number of people there in person, or that the rules were adjusted as the season went on.


Jill O'Rourke
Jill O'Rourke

Jill O’Rourke is a contributor at Talent Recap, writing news stories and recaps for shows like ‘AGT,’ ‘The Voice,’ and ‘American Idol.’ She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and Film Studies, and has been writing about pop culture since 2012, with previous bylines at Crushable and A Plus. Jill spends her free time binge-watching sitcoms and daydreaming about life as a hobbit

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