It was a night of highs and lows on America’s Got Talent Tuesday, and that doesn’t even include the performances that happened on stage, but rather what was going on at the judges' table.
The live performance show featured a mix of seven musical, dance, magic and acrobatic acts, with only two moving on to the finals. And if judge Howie Mandel was out to push people’s buttons — both literally and figuratively — throughout the night, he seemed to succeed in that mission based on the reactions of his fellow judges and viewers watching at home.
When it came time for Lachuné, a singer from South Carolina, to perform her rendition of Tina Turner’s “The Best,” she received standing ovations from three of the four judges — with Mandel the lone chair-dweller.
Judges Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell loved the performance, with Cowell saying: “You radiate kindness, you really do, and I would love to see you in the final. I think you really deserve it.”
But Mandel had a different take on it, saying that he didn’t “personally love” her rendition, which prompted Cowell to press his red X buzzer toward Mandel. But the latter continued on, saying, “Only two can go through and I don’t think this is enough to get you to the finals,” which prompted another judge’s buzzer from Vergara.
That set the stage for Nashville singing duo Trailer Flowers, who said during a pre-taped segment before their performance that they were out to prove Mandel wrong for once calling their act “very good” but saying that “great” is what they were looking for.
And during their original song “Who You Are,” which all the judges later concurred wasn’t their favorite performance from this group, Mandel slyly pressed Klum's red X — which viewers initially heard but didn’t see. So after the song, host Terry Crews confronted Mandel who said, “I would not press my buzzer in the semi-finals,” despite the fact that he has done it before, and that Crews had video proof of him doing it just then.
“What is going on with you, Howie?” Klum asked. “There is an invisible line right here. This is your side, this is my side.”
When it was Cowell’s turn to chime in, he expressed frustrations with the people behind the scenes for turning the buzzer moment into a whole bit to begin with.
“First of all, I don’t think the producers should have done what they just did, because we don’t have a lot of time to talk and actually give you something constructive,” he said to Trailer Flowers. “So I apologize.”
Meanwhile, the group on stage watching it all unfold and taking in tough criticisms at the same time took the high road, saying they “appreciate the judges” and reminded the viewers at home that Trailer Flowers will need their votes to make it through.
Viewers watching at home definitely noticed a feistiness in Mandel and took to social media with their thoughts. Some felt it was rude for him to buzz an act during the semi-finals and wondered if he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, while others called for his job, or at least a suspension.
Despite the judges comments, behavior and buzzer-happy actions on Tuesday, it will be America’s votes that will decide the fate of the acts during Wednesday’s results show. And, presumably, the executives at NBC will decide the fate of Mandel, if that ever became necessary.