Simon Cowell is sensing a troubling cycle on “America’s Got Talent.”
“I think it’s a pattern tonight. It could be nerves but nobody is doing better than their auditions,” Cowell said during Tuesday’s episode. “I don’t want to be negative.”
The third and final round of quarterfinals hit the stage – all vying for the chance to move on to the semifinals next week. As if facing the judges wasn’t hard enough for the 11 acts, voters got the opportunity to bring back one wild card act.
On the first-ever Peacock special “AGT: America’s Wildcard” earlier this month, viewers voted between five acts eliminated in Judge Cuts: singers Dylan Zangwill, Storm Large, Matt Mauser; comedian Mike Goodwin; or magician Patrick Kun.
“I can now reveal that the fan favorite is the incredible singer Storm Large,” host Terry Crews announced. Cowell added, “I can’t wait to see you. I’m so excited for you.”
Large, however, didn’t make the most of her second chance. She switched up her signature grunge style on a-ha’s “Take On Me,” but Cowell said “everything was too soft.” He added, “There was a rawness about you in the first audition which has somehow got lost.”
UniCircle Flow, a group of 12 that preform intricate choreography while riding unicycles, suffered a fall during their act. But the judges cut them some slack.
“The fact that someone fell over made it even more exciting because it shows how difficult this act was,” Cowell said. Sofia Vergara added, “It didn’t matter.”
Other acts weren’t spared. Although Golden Buzzer winner Léa Kyle made Heidi Klum “proud” during her enchanting quick change act, Cowell argued that Kyle’s audition was better: “I just thought it was going to be better.”
“He’s in a bad mood,” Klum clapped back.
Howie Mandel compared The Curtis Family C-Notes’ rendition of “Love Train” by The O’Jays to a “cover band at a wedding.” Cowell added that dancer Keith Apicary’s Napoleon Dynamite-esque performance was “terrible.”
“I don’t know what’s happening tonight. It’s one of those days where we said ‘yes’ during auditions when everyone was terrible,” Cowell said. Ouch.
Things started to look up more than half way through the episode.
“It looks like we have a competition now,” Cowell said after Rialcris’ death-defying acrobatic routine. They earned extra kudos from Vergara and Klum for taking off their shirts.
Brooke Simpson’s powerful rendition of Billie Eilish’s “Lost Cause” was “incredible,” Klum said. Vergara added that the Native American singer “has a good chance to win.”
ChapKidz, a group of dancers ages 12-18, earned the first standing ovation of the night from the judges. “This stage can make you or break you. Tonight, it made you,” Cowell said, calling them “sensational” and the “best act by a mile.”
World Taekwondo Demonstration Team, Crews’ Golden Buzzer act, earned the loudest applause of the night by closing the show with a masterful display of storytelling and strength. Mandel called the martial artists act “Marvel Movie: The Musical.”
“This was the best act of the night,” Mandel added. The judges all agreed.
The third group of quarterfinalists were rounded up by ANICA, voicetramentalist Michael Winslow and magician Klek Entos, who earned a red “X” from Cowell.
Now, it’s up to America to vote for who moves on.
Fans can vote up to 10 times for each act on NBC.com/AGTvote and the “America’s Got Talent” app. The seven acts advancing to the semifinals will be revealed during Wednesday’s results show, which will include guest performances from “AGT” winner Shin Lim (NBC, 8 EDT/PDT).