America’s Got Talent is one of the biggest events of each summer along with Big Brother, but this season brought some major changes to the varied talent show. The judging panel of Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Sofia Vergara is back and intact, but the format of the show has changed a lot. For one thing, this season will have fifty-five finalists instead of thirty-three. Additionally, each will perform only once in a qualifier before the finals – with only two getting through each week.

This does away with two major America’s Got Talent mainstays. The Dunkin’ Save is gone (good), but so is the judges’ pick, which does away with one of the most dramatic moments of the results show each week. The margin of error is tighter than ever, so who’s most likely to survive this first week of competition?

Below, I’ll look at the eleven America’s Got Talent week one qualifiers and make my prediction of who’s most likely to move on.

  1. Amoukanama – This Guinean circus act is like many of the large-scale acrobatic acts in the show’s history. They have impressive talent, but it’s hard to see how they can elevate it to a level that could win the show. They’re likely to get lost in the shuffle today. 8/10
  2. Amazing Veranica and Her Incredible Friends – We’ve seen quite a few kid-and-dog acts over the years. This was far from the most polished, but maybe the most unique. While most of the tricks were just guiding the dogs to move around in funny ways, there were elements that resembled a doggy quick-change act. It was a bit of a…shaggy dog of an act, but it was highly entertaining. 8/10
  3. Ava Swiss – The young school shooting survivor has a powerful voice and an inspiring story, and her rendition of Lauren Daigle’s “Remember” didn’t disappoint. There was a lot of emotion packed into this performance, but she’s up against some powerhouse singers. I don’t know if she’ll be memorable enough to move on. 8.5/10
  4. Ben Lapidus – I didn’t know what to expect from the guy who sang “I Always Want More Parmesan”, but I knew it would be bizarre. He started with a boring soft rock performance that he seemed to interrupt midway through, followed by ripping his shirt off and delivering a hard-rock version of his viral song. Was it fun? Yes. Was it worthy of moving on? Probably not, although I kind of want to see the opera version of the same song next. 7/10
  5. Lace Larrabee – It’s probably easier for comedians to bomb on this stage than any other talent. If the audience isn’t feeling your material, it’s over. That’s what happened to the thirty-something comedian Larrabee, whose material about friend groups when everyone starts getting married felt like it was imported from 1995. Simon didn’t feel it and neither did I. 6/10
  6. Drake Milligan – Drake became the biggest star of the season when his first original song became a hit on the charts, and he returned for another original with “Kiss Goodbye All Night”. Sweet, soulful, and powerful, it felt like a great old-school country song. He’s already a star, and he just might win America’s Got Talent too. 9.5/10
  7. Oleksandr Yenivatov – The Ukrainian acrobat and contortionist was definitely the night’s strangest act, with his performance veering between a talent act and a variety act. There were some bizarre moments, but his powerful presence on this show is an act of resistance in itself. Still, people with his talent always struggle on this show. 8/10
  8. Players Choir – A musical choir made up entirely of former and current NFL players, this was one of the most surprising acts of the season. They delivered a rendition of “Can’t Stop the Feeling” that was the ultimate good-time act. Under the old rules, this would have been a shoo-in to advance – but will it be enough this time? 8.5/10
  9. Stefanny and Yeeremy – This Colombian dance team was competent, but unexciting, leading Simon to buzz them. That’s the problem with just about every solo/duo dance act on this show – it is really hard to pull off any moves safely that would put you on the level of the bigger acts. 7.5/10
  10. Don McMillan – The #1 corporate comedian in America, this scientist-turned comedian was a surprising hit as he used visual aids to parody the kind of presentation he used to give. McMillan had great comic timing, winning over even Simon, and it was probably the most original comic performance we’ve seen on the show this season. 9/10
  11. Avery Dixon – This young saxophone player had an inspiring story of overcoming bullying that led Terry Crews to give him his golden buzzer, and tonight he showed off his talent once again. He really does seem like he’s possessed by the spirit of a Jazzman from the golden age in New Orleans. It’s hard to electrify an audience with a solo instrument, but he pulled it off. 9.5/10

Should Advance – Drake Milligan and Avery Dixon

Will Advance – Drake Milligan and Avery Dixon

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