‘America’s Got Talent’: Ranking the Judges From Best to Worst

america's got talent

America’s Got Talent | NBC

There are many talented acts competing to win Season 12 of America’s Got Talent. Sadly some of our favorites went before their time. However, it’s arguable that the true stars of the show are the judges. We once again have Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Melanie Brown (Mel B), and Heidi Klum back to narrow down the acts before America starts voting.

It’s true that everyone has their favorite judge, but which ones are truly the best and the worst? A good judge is someone who is able to balance entertaining the audience at home, while actually giving valuable feedback to the contestants.

Sometimes this balance is thrown out of whack by a judge. Other times they’re just not able to do their job to the best of their abilities given their experience. So how do the four current judges on the show stack up? Below is where we rate the America’s Got Talent judges, starting from the best and moving down to the worst.

Simon Cowell

simon cowell

Simon Cowell on America’s Got Talent | NBC

Is this really a surprise to anyone? Even those who aren’t really into competition shows might be tempted to tune in because of Simon. He was a huge part of why American Idol dominated television for so many years. Simon is known for never holding his tongue. This means he tends to tell contestants what they need to hear rather than saying what they want to hear. If contestants keep focused they can use this to their advantage by learning from it and improving.

However his quips can also be distracting when they aren’t aimed at the contestants but his fellow judges. We understand that this banter is used as comedy and entertainment for the audience, but as we will mention later, it can hurt the credibility of other judges.

Simon may say some crazy things but he also knows what he is talking about. As a music producer he made many acts household names including One Direction and Leona Lewis. Many contestants understandably come on the show wanting to impress him.

Howie Mandel

howie mandel

Howie Mandel on America’s Got Talent | NBC

The Canadian actor was previously on the medical drama,  St. Elsewhere and was the host of Deal or No Deal. In addition, his experience includes working as a stand-up comedian, acting for movies and TV, and some voice over work.

Howie is pretty valuable to the America’s Got Talent judging panel because he’s the only person who has experience with comedy. This shows when he gives critiques for comedy acts, but he has also shown that he has confidence giving advice to other various acts as well.

Many people like the comedian because he is able to fly off-the-cuff and make the audience laugh. He doesn’t do it in a mean spirited way, which balances out Simon’s more edgy jabs. New viewers might not go into the show knowing who the comedian is, but they will walk away enjoying him.

Mel B

mel b

Mel B on America’s Got Talent | NBC

Many were introduced to the singer as Scary Spice in the ’90s band, Spice Girls. After that she performed on Broadway, recorded music, and starred in a reality show. Now she is a judge on the America’s Got Talent panel where she is able to use her singing and live performing experience to judge other acts.

Although Mel does have some expertise she usually doesn’t offer it. All of her comments are solely based on her reactions rather than actual notes on what the contestants can do moving forward. This feedback is necessary for the success of the show and the contestants. America’s Got Talent is entertainment and it’s entertaining to see our judges squirm through uncomfortable acts or be amazed by them. However the critiques from her are lacking.

Mel is also often undermined by her fellow judges. We know that it’s part of Simon Cowell’s shtick to zero in on a female judge and poke fun at them from time to time. It gets the audience laughing and it make the judges look like they enjoy what they do. Sadly, this time around that person happens to be Mel and there is hardly an episode where we don’t get a singing or Spice Girl joke from Simon thrown at her.

This banter might be funny at times, but underneath it all it has to make some people subconsciously take Mel less seriously as a judge. If a music producer constantly says his fellow judge doesn’t have musical talent then what is she doing there? This is certainly not Mel’s fault and more Simon’s. Perhaps they need to change this dynamic and allow Mel to give more advice and encourage Simon to spend less time making fun of her.

Heidi Klum

heidi klum

Heidi Klum on America’s Got Talent | NBC

The German model and host has made the tough transition from posing for photos to being a TV personality. After all, hosting requires personality and being able to fly off-the-cuff which doesn’t come easily to everyone.

Heidi made the transition by first executive producing Project Runway, where she also hosted and acted as a judge. The move increased her profile, and she was able to show exactly what she knew about fashion. Now, she has once again made the leap to judging on a talent show.

Heidi can certainly be funny with contestants and the fellow judges. However, all of her critics are mainly coming from a place with the least experience out of the team of judges. A lot of the time that’s perfectly fine. The show includes magicians, contortionists, and many other professions that are new to all of the judges. However, there is no specific talent that she has a specific authority on which can make it tough to argue her credibility.

We have also seen some of her advice damage acts. For example, she was so excited about The Amazing Sladek after his audition that she gave him a standing ovation. However, his next performance with a trampoline and dress was a total dud. So what caused the bizarre change? The daredevil said he took Heidi’s advice and she inspired the act!

To be fair, the only advice Heidi gave him was to change his clothes. That was actually good advice because they were obviously outdated. However, it might be possible that there was more advice that was edited out or given at a different time that we didn’t see. Either way the act went down and flames and Heidi was the scapegoat.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice

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