"America's Got Talent" has got a dilemma: Too few spots in the finale for too many stellar acts.
With two Golden Buzzer acts Chapel Hart and Madison Taylor Baez performing, as well as a slew of other acts that included dance crews, impressionists and a magician, judge Howie Mandel called Tuesday's show "the most competitive episode I’ve ever seen."
Per usual, Mandel and his fellow judges Simon Cowell, Sofía Vergara and Heidi Klum offered feedback — but it's ultimately up to America to decide which of the 11 acts will claim two more spots in the finale.
Here are the highlights.
The Pack Drumline
First up, The Pack Drumline brought the energy, banging out Masked Wolf's "Astronaut In The Ocean" expertly on the drums, while dancing seamless choreography. At one point, the group even donned blindfolds, simultaneously never missing a beat on the drums.
Mandel's feedback could barely be heard over the exhilarating cheers of the audience.
"That was amazing. The only negative is you’re here tonight, and tonight we’ve got two Golden Buzzers," he said.
Vergara said that "this is the way to open a show like 'AGT.' "
"It’s people like you who really want to be here so congratulations," she added. "That was spectacular."
Cowell corrected her.
"Actually, Sofía, that’s not how you open a show. That’s how you win a show," he said. "For every second during that performance, I felt your energy, your passion, your determination, your preparation… That was, in my opinion, a masterclass."
The Brown Brothers
The Brown Brothers gave musical impressions of Mickey Mouse Venom, Goofy, Elmo, Gollum, Donkey, Shelton and even Cowell while singing "A Million Dreams" from "The Greatest Showman."
At one point, through the use of screens, they had their impressions sing together in harmony.
"I thought this was clever. This was original," Vergara said. "This looked like a Vegas show to me."
According to Cowell, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
"At the point you did me, everything got better," he said. "Up until that moment, I thought, 'This is terrible. I don’t know who these people are.' "
Mandel called the act a "finale night performance."
Next up, comedian Mr. Pants from New York sought to "charm the pants off America."
Not long into his act, which, like his audition, consisted exclusively of pants puns, Cowell hit his X, eliciting boos from the crowd.
But then, Mr. Pants decided to get vulnerable.
"America, do you really wanna see who I am on the inside?" he asked. Then, he pulled down his pants costume revealing a boxer's costume underneath. Cowell covered his eyes.
The pants act split the judges.
"Mr. Pants, I really like you, and I think that you really upped your game today," Vergara said. "You did a good job even though you got nervous at the end. I think America is going to love you and is going to vote for you."
Cowell, however, wasn't feeling it.
"I like you; however, I actually thought maybe if you came onto the live shows there would be other jokes about other things," he said. "He could have come out as a sock or something, something different. In my opinion, it started bad and actually got worse."
Mandel complimented the comedian's dad jokes, and Klum offered a pun of her own.
"Even though your pants were down, your act held up," she said.
Fusion Japan, an act consisting of two rival dance teams who came together to become one of the best dance groups in Japan, proved they came to compete. After the act, which saw plenty of breakdancing, including a member continuously spinning on his head, Cowell said he was "blown away" by the talent this year.
"The biggest compliment for us is when acts travel all over the world to compete on this show," he continued. "That was better than your audition performance."
Mandel said the group's origin story also offers a relevant message to the United States.
"I wish our country would take note of what you’re doing," he said. "When rival teams come together, everything is better."
Klum said the act left her with "sensory overload."
"I love how you mesh your two dance styles together, and it works so well," she added.
Vergara said the two groups compliment each other well.
"The synchronicity of the girls and the breakdancing of the guys was the perfect combination," she said.
Freckled Zelda promised to "bring the magic to 'AGT' " like never before.
And boy, did she deliver.
Singing Limahl's "Never Ending Story" in her classic fairy get-up, Freckled Zelda transported the audience to a magical woodland, with a gorgeous backdrop and production. The singer looked like a true fairy goddess in a floral gown and spent a portion of the song playing the ocarina, an instrument Cowell told her to ditch after her initial audition.
But Freckled Zelda didn't agree with the advice and even gave Cowell a strawberry-shaped ocarina of his own during her song.
"I am so confused," Mandel said, as Cowell tried out his new instrument on the other side of the judges' table. "And I can’t judge while someone is blowing an ocarina."
Klum said Freckled Zelda has "a beautiful voice."
"You transported me into your world," she added.
Vergara complimented the singer's "fantastic" look. But Cowell, as usual, was tough.
"If I’m being honest with you, I preferred your first audition," he said, adding that he couldn't really hear Freckled Zelda's singing. "Everything for me, it was overproduced... I didn’t feel tonight you had the opportunity of showing us what a great singer you are. You got lost in the production."
Gymnast act Duo Rings brought the romance in addition to the stunts. The pair are a couple in real life, and their chemistry was definitely felt by the judges.
"I have never ever been this close to two hot people almost falling on me," said Klum. "It was sensual. It was hot. It was dangerous. It was everything."
Cowell said it was one of the best acts of the night thus far.
"We’ve seen two incredible acts so far, and that is act one and now, you," he said. "You are, with the first act, in my opinion, the best two acts of the night so far.”
Mandel called the act "a winning performance."
Wyn Starks sang a soaring rendition of Benson Boone's "In the Stars" in tribute to his late brother.
Cowell, clearly moved, stumbled over his words.
"To be able to give your brother this tribute as you just did I think was remarkable," he said.
Vergara added: "You’re so lovable and likable, and your voice is amazing, and your backstory is very moving."
Aiko Tanaka delivered a stand-up set with plenty of jokes about awkward situations, like receiving compliments and forgetting someone's name. At the end of her act, the comedian, who has been open on the show about the recent death of her mother, was holding back tears.
Mandel said her career is "blasting off," and Klum said she has a "great attitude."
Madison Taylor Baez
Baez, 12, stunned "AGT" viewers and the judges, when she was discovered singing in the studio audience during a supposed commercial break. Her groundbreaking audition earned the Golden Buzzer from Mandel and made her the youngest contestant in this season's competition.
On Tuesday, Baez, also known as Maddie, delivered a lively performance of Whitney Houston's "Higher Love" that allowed her to show off her powerful belt.
"After this performance, your control for your age, you brought yourself a higher love," Mandel said.
Cowell said that Baez's performance wasn't perfect, but it didn't matter. He also called out those who thought Baez's audition was staged.
"Everybody thought this was rigged, your Golden Buzzer," he said. "The truth is, I was outside. I always run away when people are singing in the break because they're terrible, and I heard your voice and thought, 'At least someone’s good.' So everything that happened was genuine."
He continued: "You’ve got steel in your eyes because you really want this... It went off key at times, but it didn’t matter. I thought that was a step up from your first audition."
Magician Yu Hojin delivered an act that had Klum wondering if she was hypnotized.
Before the audience's eyes, the illusionist seemed to transform a piece of paper into several objects, including a toy car, a Rubik’s cube, a crayon, a feather, a watch and flower petals. And that was only one of the magician's tricks.
"You have such a calm but elegant presence," Klum said. "Did you hypnotize us?”
Vergara said the contestant "made me believe in magic."
But what did Cowell, who gave him a "no" after his initial audition, think?
"I think I helped you," the judge said, to groans from the crowd. "Me saying 'no' at the auditions, I think, has pushed you to be a better magician, and I’m very happy to say on live television I am officially an idiot."
Mandel described the act as "magic and beautiful."
"It was mesmerizing," he said. "If you don’t get to the finals, you certainly deserve your own room in Las Vegas."
Country trio Chapel Hart, who clinched a collective Golden Buzzer from all the judges plus host Terry Crews in their initial audition, delivered another smash performance, singing their original song "The Girls Are Back In Town."
The group ended their act with a literal mic drop.
"Things are gonna go very well for Chapel Hart, because we loved you in your very, very first audition, and we love because you just lit up the room," Cowell told the singers, who held back tears of joy. "Your songs are brilliant. You are amazing performers, and I have a really, really, really good feeling about what’s gonna happen to you."
Klum let out an enthusiastic "yeehaw!"
"We can’t take our eyes from you, and this show was better than the audition," Vergara said.
Mandel added: "You deserve everything. Good luck!"
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'AGT': Golden Buzzers Chapel Hart, Madison Baez have singing showdown