America’s Got Talent Season 17 has found its Golden Buzzers. For new fans of NBC’s talent competition, here’s what that means: Judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara, as well as host Terry Crews, each have one chance per season to press the Golden Buzzer for any contestant. In some seasons, there’s also a Group Golden Buzzer from all of the judges at once. The recipients have a fast track to the live shows, so Golden Buzzers are only given to the best talent.
So, who is the best talent this season? Here are all of season 17’s Golden Buzzers and how they stack up against each other.
6. Madison Taylor Baez (Howie Mandel)
Howie Mandel had quite a memorable and unique Golden Buzzer this season. Madison Taylor Baez, an 11-year-old AGT fan, was sitting in the audience during an audition taping when the crew hosted a sing-off between contestants. A crew member handed Madison the mic, and she belted out an impressive rendition of “Amazing Grace.” It was so impressive that Simon invited Madison to the stage for an impromptu audition.
Again, she wowed the audience with her cover of “Amazing Grace.” Madison also revealed that her dad has stage 4 colon cancer, and she would use any winnings from AGT for cancer research. Feeling moved by her mature voice and her touching story, Howie pressed the Golden Buzzer as the crowd chanted.
Madison does have an incredible voice, but there are lots of singers on AGT this season. She may not be able to stand out from the other singing acts in the long run. Madison’s audition also felt tainted for some viewers because it seemed elaborately staged.
“I find myself (and see ppl here) getting mad at the kid like it’s her fault she was planted, and I have to remind myself to be angry at the show and not the acts. It’s frustrating, like I don’t wanna compare kids because that’s f***ed up but when that girl got the Golden Buzzer when this last girl was so much better it’s hard not to,” one fan wrote on Reddit.
5. Sara James (Simon Cowell)
Another young singer, Sara James, 13, came all the way from Poland to audition for AGT. She told the judges she wanted to see if dreams really do come true in America. Sara mesmerized the judges and the audience with Billie Eilish’s “Lovely,” and Simon said he had a good feeling about her from the start.
After her performance, Simon said the audition wasn’t perfect. However, he recognized her “star glow.” Simon resonated with Sara’s journey to America and decided to give her a “moment to remember forever” with the Golden Buzzer.
Like Madison, Sara had a mature voice for her age. However, she seemed a little more in control and didn’t focus so much on adding runs. At the same time, Madison’s runs could be what makes her voice stand out more than Sara’s in the lives.
For now, many viewers aren’t too sure that Sara’s audition deserved a Golden Buzzer. Some pointed out on Reddit that Simon’s pick could have been a more unique talent instead of another child singer. But, if Sara can impress the audience enough in the lives, she could become the next Billie Eilish.
4. Lily Meola (Heidi Klum)
The third singing act of the America’s Got Talent Season 17 Golden Buzzers is Lily Meola. She came to AGT with an interesting story; Lily once had a record deal, a publishing label, and an overall thriving career. However, when her mother received a cancer diagnosis, the singer, unfortunately, lost all of her deals as she became a full-time caretaker. After her mother’s death, Lily knew she had to make her proud by auditioning.
Lily performed an original song called “Daydream,” which she wrote before her mother’s diagnosis. The crowd cheered and rose to their feet for Lily as she belted out high notes.
Heidi hadn’t planned to use her Golden Buzzer on a singer, but Lily’s story and talent changed her mind. Now, Lily will likely face the same challenge as Madison and Sara: There’s a lot of competition in the singing genre on AGT. However, Lily’s prior experience and her original songs could help her stand out more, especially if those songs come attached to memorable stories. Hopefully, she’ll have more originals to share in the live shows.
3. Chapel Hart (Group Golden Buzzer)
America’s Got Talent Season 17’s final Golden Buzzer went to Chapel Hart, a country music trio from Mississippi. Comprised of sisters Danica and Devynn Hart and their cousin, Trea Swindle, Chapel Hart hoped to get their big break on AGT after trying their luck in Nashville for a few years.
Chapel Hart performed an original song with a twist: It was a sequel to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” called “You Can Have Him Jolene.” Danica explained that the trio loved Parton and wanted to write a song about being tired of fighting over the same man for years.
The audience loved Chapel Hart’s performance — so much that they chanted “Golden Buzzer” at the judges. Simon Cowell told Chapel Hart he needed to hear them that day. Meanwhile, Sofia Vergara dubbed it a “perfect” performance. Cowell, Vergara, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Terry Crews collectively pushed the Golden Buzzer.
Chapel Hart stands out as a singing trio because of their originality. If they can continue to show off their creative touch with other songs, they’ll surely go far in the live shows.
2. Avery Dixon (Terry Crews)
Avery Dixon was AGT Season 17’s very first Golden Buzzer, and he set the bar high for the others. The 21-year-old saxophonist shared a story about how he was severely bullied in elementary school for his voice and appearance. He found the saxophone as a way to escape the negativity, which he still experiences today — he can’t even practice at home without having the cops called on him.
Although Avery was very nervous, he delivered a flawless, smooth jazz tune on his instrument. Avery even added his own flair by dancing around the stage as he played. Howie told Avery that he would change the world, and Terry marched over to hit the Golden Buzzer.
Avery already stands out this season as the only saxophone player so far. That, combined with his talent and personality, could be enough to bring him to the finals.
“I don’t know the difference between good and bad saxophone playing. But I know what I like, and that was f’ing fire!!” one AGT fan wrote on Reddit.
1. Mayyas (Sofia Vergara)
The fan-favorite Golden Buzzer by a longshot this season seems to be Mayyas, a female dance crew from Lebanon. The group felt inspired by the late singer Nightbirde, who received a Golden Buzzer last season but dropped out before the quarterfinals due to health complications from her cancer diagnosis. Mayyas decided to honor Nightbirde with their audition.
Mayyas left the audience and the judges completely hypnotized with their dance routine. Simon told the group they were one of the best dance troupes the judges have ever seen. Sofia also called it the “most beautiful, creative dancing” she had ever witnessed and awarded Mayyas her Golden Buzzer.
This group has serious potential to win AGT Season 17. There are endless possibilities for them to shake up their choreography and continue to show the audience things they’ve never seen before.
“Hands down the best golden buzzer act so far. Maybe one of the best ever. Excellent choice by Sofia. I really hope they win! They’re my number one so far, and that’s going to be pretty hard to beat,” one Redditor wrote.
America’s Got Talent airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.