Ten legendary acts from "Got Talent" around the world return to compete, including heartwarming aerialist Alan Silva, Canadian winner Jeanick Fournier, and a seven-year-old spoken-word poet.

It’s been four years since “Champions,” so it was time to look at an updated bevy of “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars.” Wasting no time in the new year, this new iteration of the summer staple brought back some truly amazing talent — and then promptly broke our hearts.

Continuing with the brutal “Champions” format that was terribly brought to the regular season this past summer, “All-Stars” features ten acts competing each week, but only one will advance to the finals thanks to the votes of a mysterious group of “Superfans.” There’s also the Golden Buzzer chance to advance five total acts across this round, but those are still rough odds.

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Adding to that pressure is the fact that these are some of the best to have competed on the American and foreign editions of the “Got Talent” franchise, with this week alone featuring two acts who’ve won their respective seasons already — and one of those is a bona fide “AGT” legend.

60 acts have been greenlit to compete this season ranging from tonight’s legendary return of Terry Fator to the bizarrely ridiculous and offensive Sethward, coming to a future installment.

Tonight also featured the returns of “AGT” favorites Jimmie Herrod, Light Balance Kids, Berywam, Bello Sisters, Caly Bevier, Lioz Shem Tov, and Alan Silva, while American audiences were introduced to Britain’s seven-year-old poet Aneeshwar Kunchala, and a Canadian winner, singer Jeanick Fournier.

The pressure was definitely on, but almost everyone really stepped up their game and rose to the occasion with some of the best-ever performances by these acts we’ve ever seen. They clearly knew how high the stakes were with this format. The next challenge for this week’s winner is figuring out how to top this week’s performance.

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

And just for fun, I’m gonna rank them from worst to first to see how my favorites do and then we can see how you did — i.e., if you agreed with me.

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Lioz Shem Tov

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(comedian/mentalist – AGT:S13) Well, his act is still very, very stupid, but there is something entertaining about it. The final “trick” would have worked with almost anything, and most of it wasn’t even close to mentalism. Basically, he’s just making fun of what those people do, but he does it with a certain charm to him. This wasn’t the kind of routine, though, that left us gasping for breath from laughing so hard, nor was it overly clever. It would have been great to have even one moment of genuine mentalism, but as that didn’t happen, we were left feeling it was amateurish.

Aneeshwar Kunchala

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(poet – BGT:S15 finalist) At only seven years old, this “Britain’s Got Talent” finalist definitely has a lot of passion and charisma in his delivery. We loved his message about the importance of conservation and taking care of our world and the beautiful wildlife within it. His delivery was a little shaky at times, and a little too much in the beginning when it looked like he was overcompensating a bit for nerves. But he definitely touched the hearts of the audience with this piece. We love to see the next generation of spoken word poets getting such a platform.

Caly Bevier

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(singer – AGT:S11 semi-finalist) After battling Stage 3 ovarian cancer and competing with a “Fight Song” back on “AGT” Season 11, where she picked up Simon’s first-ever Golden Buzzer, Caly is back with a new attitude and a new approach, performing the first song she ever wrote. She’s taking her music seriously in a whole new way. Clearly pulling from her personal experiences, we felt the strength of this anthem in the lyrics and her passion. Oddly, though, it felt as if it wanted a little more vocal push than she was giving in that chorus. Obviously, it’s her song, but that’s how it came across to us, leaving us a little wanting by the time it was done. We enjoyed the song, but thought she could have given a little more to it.

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Jeanick Fournier

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(singer – CGT:S2 winner) The explosion was completely unnecessary as Jeanick’s voice is explosive enough. She is one of those beautiful finds you can discover on these “Got Talent” shows, as she’d have likely never gotten discovered through traditional means. Her voice is so effortless and powerful, we were hearing some Celine Dion tones in there (is it a French-Canadian sound?). It’s easy to see how she was able to rise to the top and win “Canada’s Got Talent” as she is just effortlessly gorgeous as a singer. It was a flawless performance.

Berywam

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(beat-boxers – AGT:S14 quarter-finalist) Even though they only made the quarter-finals in Season 14 of “AGT,” Berywam has the honor of subsequently becoming the act with the most-watched audition video in the history of the show at more than 200 million views. It’s incredible that they can bring a whole electronic club sound to the stage with just four mouths, and they slayed those iconic notes on Billie Eilish’s “bad guy.” Honestly, this was so much fun to watch and mesmerizing to see who was making what noises and realizing it was all a cappella. It didn’t leave us breathless, but it left us super impressed.

Terry Fator

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(ventriloquist – AGT:S2 winner) After all these years, Terry still has it. Yes, we saw his neck and mouth move at one point, but he’s getting older and these things might be harder to control. Nevertheless, a duet with Winston the turtle and an Elton John puppet was masterfully controlled from start to finish, not to mention that his singing/ventriloquism was beautifully handled through both characters with distinctive sounds. The whole piece was a lot of fun and a testament to his mastery of his craft.

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Alan Silva

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(aerialist – AGT:S15 grand-finalist) Always inspirational and living proof that it’s possible to turn any situation into an asset with passion and vision, Alan actually upped the ante tremendously from his initial run. At points he was hanging by one foot or one arm, and it just looked all so beautiful. He wanted to add vulnerability and emotion and he certainly did as there was more artistry in his movements. And the suicide drop at the end could only have been improved if he’d dropped and then extended the rose to Heidi. It was stunningly performed and heart-stoppingly beautiful (and a little scary).

Jimmie Herrod

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(singer – AGT:S16 finalist) Once again, Jimmie just pulls you in with the silky smoothness of his voice that then grabs you by the ears and refuses to let go. His falsetto, the depth and character of his ability, it’s easily one of the most technically impressive voices we’ve ever heard on any of these shows (Howie declared him the best male vocalist in “AGT” history). And yet, it’s also matured since we last saw him, with more emotion and heart than he gave in his prior run. The biggest flaw for Jimmie is that he’s on “AGT” and not a singing competition, as he’d mop the floor with so many of those contestants, but here things are so varied, it’s hard to predict what will resonate.

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Bello Sisters

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(acrobats – AGT:S15 finalist) The Bello Sisters made it all the way to the finals of “AGT” back in Season 15, but due to Covid they were unable to perform live. What followed was a lot of “What If?” This was their chance to answer that question. And they did not come to leave anything to chance, once again contorting their bodies and pushing their trust of one another to literal new heights. There is a lot of creativity in finding new ways for three people to climb all over one another and balance in pretzel formations, and these sisters make it exciting, dangerous and unpredictable. Just when we wondered if we might get bored with this, we found ourselves riveted by each new moment; this routine escalated perfectly.

Light Balance Kids

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(dancers – AGT:S14 finalist) These Ukrainian kids were coming from a different world when they first competed back in 2019. Now, they are the children of war, with some of their parents at home right now fighting for freedom for them and their country. They haven’t danced together since before the war, so their hope was to use this platform to spread the message of what is happening back home for them. Some of the adult Light Balance members had to step in as not all the Kids could come, too.

We’ve seen so many of these light dance troupes before, we weren’t sure if they could really blow us away anymore. But these kids went off and put together an inspired performance that had more creative use of the technology and lights and graphics to really immerse us in their video game adventure. It was flawlessly presented with some mind-bending visuals that were even more impressive when you know there’s real people moving around up there behind the lights. They’ve upped their game tremendously since their last appearances and definitely earned Howie’s Golden Buzzer.

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PREDICTIONS

A brutal format first perfected in the 2019 “Champions” edition of the show, only one act could advance out of the nine contestants who didn’t get the Golden Buzzer tonight. That’s good news for Light Balance Kids, but a pressure cooker for everyone else.

Even worse, this was an absolutely stacked first night of preliminaries, with seven of the ten acts more than worthy of advancing (and they just happen to be our Top 7 above). We had Bello Sisters in our second slot, and there’s a real chance the “Superfans” would vote them through.

We had a feeling that Terry Fator would probably get enough love to perhaps be in the Top 3 for the week, but his fanbase is a little older than the likely voters. Of the rest, Alan Silva was the only one we felt could perhaps have touched their hearts with his beautiful aerial work, so in our minds, it was down to these three acts. Of the three, we’d give the edge to Bello Sisters, as they really wowed us by the time their time was up.

The first act Terry Crews put into this week’s Top 3 (where two of them get the honor of sweating it out a little longer before going home anyway) was the Bello Sisters. They were followed by a big surprise in our books, as Caly Bevier took the honor. We appreciated her story and her original song, but clearly America didn’t find her vocals as lacking as we did.

The women were joined by Terry Fator to round out the Top 3, sending home some genuinely incredible talent. This format is always so heartbreaking as we love to see all these familiar faces, but it’s so hard to see so many go each and every week. And we don’t love that Simon adopted it for the regular “AGT” seasons as well, as those aren’t even fan-favorites making a return visit.

A Top 3 nod after all these years is a testament to Terry Fator’s resilience and continued relevance to “AGT,” while it’s a huge step forward for Caly Bevier’s dreams of making it as a legitimate recording artist and the validation the Bello Sisters were looking for after their virtual disappointment their last time competing.

In the end, though, there could be only one act who would advance into the finale to compete alongside Light Balance Kids. Caly went home in third place, leaving Terry and the sisters to battle for that spot. Ultimately, it went to the Bello Sisters, in what could arguably be called a huge upset — but an exciting development for that finale.

“America’s Got Talent: All-Stars” continues Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.


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