In the years since, AGT has become a reliable ratings earner for NBC and has given a platform to incredible performers from America and abroad, some of whom have gone on to further fame—or, at least, Vegas residencies!
Below, we’re looking back at some of our favorite auditions from the last decade and a half of America’s got Talent. Get ready to freak out—and be freaked out—all over again!
Kenichi Ebina’s martial arts dance
Ebina started his “dance-ish” career with just one move, the Running Man, but his pop-and-lock audition in Season 8 had the judges agog long before he won the season. “I thought your head had come off your body,” Mel B raved. “It was that convincing!”
Aarlyn & Izzy’s song “Zombie Skin”
Nine-year-old Izzy O’Neil and 6-year-old sister Aaralyn exchanged a knowing look when Howard Stern said he couldn’t wait to hear the siblings’ “sweet music” during their Season 8 audition. Turns out, Aaralyn had the voice not of an angel, per se, but of a death metal singer!
Freckled Sky’s contemporary dance
Bring on the waterworks! No, we’re not talking about tears from the judges’ table. We’re talking about the actual water—and projected rainfall—that made this Season 10 tryout, years in the making, a standout performance.
Grace VanderWaal’s ukulele playing
VanderWaal said miracles could happen, and she was right. This Season 11 winner had the judges wrapped around her finger with her original ukulele song. “I think the world is gonna know your name,” Howie Mandel said, before hitting the Golden Buzzer.
Light Balance’s glow-in-the-dark dance
To say the dance crew Light Balance lit up the AGT stage is an understatement. With their precise dance move and their LED-enhanced wardrobe, these Season 12 contestants packed their routine with neon-hued visual illusions.
The Sacred Riana’s horror show
Looking like she had just stepped out of The Ring, this Indonesian illusionist and magician likely gave Mel B nightmares after showing her a photo with a ghostly figure standing right behind the former Spice Girl. (That said, Simon Cowell gets points for a jump-scare of his own creation!)
Chris Kläfford’s rendition of “Imagine”
It’s a good thing this Swedish singer—who became a Season 14 semi-finalist—didn’t let the skeptics stop him from “imagining” a singing career. 87 million YouTube views can’t be wrong, after all!
V.Unbeatable’s dance routine
Season 14 also saw the ascendancy of grand finalists V.Unbeatable, a dance crew from Mumbai, whose gravity-defying routine had the judges shouting in surprise and delight—especially when one of the dancers flew over the judge’s table!
Nightbirde’s song “It’s Okay”
Here in Season 16, Nightbirde told the judges she has cancer in her lungs, spine, and liver, but she also said she’s “so much more than the bad things that happen to me.” And then she brought Cowell to tears with her song of resilience.
World Taekwondo Demonstration Team’s demonstration
The Olympics’ loss is America’s Got Talent’s gain: They couldn’t perform on the world’s biggest stage, but this taekwondo troupe certainly dominated their Season 16 audition, their acrobatic maneuvers coming at a blistering pace.
America’s Got Talent, Tuesdays, 8/7c, NBC