Published 10:06 PM EST Jan 6, 2020
Amid reports of a toxic work environment, the second season of “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” premiered Monday on NBC.
Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel returned to judge the talent competition alongside Heidi Klum and Alesha Dixon, who replaced Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union following their controversial exits.
Hough and Union left “America’s Got Talent” after one season over a reported culture of toxic, racist jokes and “excessive notes” about physical appearance on set, Variety reported in November.
But the show must go on. Ten former winners and standout acts from different “Talent” editions around the world returned to the stage for a chance to beat the “best of the best,” as “Britain’s Got Talent” import Dixon said.
“Everyone you see on this stage is already a champion. It’s anyone’s game,” Mandel added.
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The first round of the pre-recorded competition was dominated by singers – five to be exact – but Angelina Jordan outshined them all. “This moment, this time onstage, this song, this performance is going to change your life and your career forever,” Mandel said.
The 13-year-old singer won Season 6 of “Norway’s Got Talent” as a “little girl with big hair and (missing) teeth” at age 7, she said. But, “since I was very little I’ve always wanted to sing for Simon.”
Jordan got the chance on Monday and didn’t waste the “biggest opportunity in my life,” performing a stripped-down version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“Everything about tonight felt like it came from you. The arrangement of the song, the simplicity of it. I’ve never heard that song in that version before. Seriously, this was an amazing performance,” Cowell said. “I don’t think you know how good you are.”
Klum had enough of all the chit-chat: “Finally you guys are finished talking! You have no idea how hard it is for me to sit here and wait for you guys …” the supermodel said, before jumping out of her seat to hit the Golden Buzzer.
With that, Jordan instantly advanced to the finals round. The singer said, “I don’t have any words to describe how amazing it feels. Thank you so much. I love you guys.”
Trapeze act Duo Transcend and magician Dania Diaz advanced through to the semifinals by way of superfan votes. (Since the whole competition is taped, there will be no live voting.) The judges also sent through singing accordionist Hans.
The eliminated acts were salsa dancing duo Paddy and Nicko; singer Mike Yung; shadow-dance group Junior Creative Dance; singer Jack Vidgen; stand-up comedian Dan Naturman and singer Eddie Williams.
“America’s Got Talent: The Champions” will return on Jan. 13 (NBC, 8 EST/PST) with 10 more former winners and finalist.