"America's Got Talent" is known for inspirational auditions from contestants with stories that bring a tear (or several) to the eye.
And viewers of Tuesday's show likely had to reach for a tissue during an audition from singer Lily Meola, who stepped up to the stage with a song so powerful, judge Heidi Klum couldn't help but hit the Golden Buzzer.
The 27-year-old explained to the judges how her life "flipped upside down" after her mother's cancer diagnosis. Her mother eventually died from the disease, she said.
"She was my biggest cheerleader," Meola said, holding back tears. "Singing was something my mom, and I really connected with, and it’s how I fell in love with music in the first place, her playing music in the car. So I’m just trying to make her proud and continue to live my day dream."
Meola added that she lost a record deal while serving as her mother's full-time caretaker, but sees it as "a bit of a blessing," since it allowed her to spend more time with her mom before her death.
Meola sang her original song "Daydream," about garnering the courage to chase your dreams.
“You have a beautiful voice, and I could feel the emotion," marveled judge Howie Mandel. "In this moment right now, you are that butterfly on the way."
The other judges agreed.
"I think your mother is watching you tonight," said Sofía Vergara. "I really enjoyed that song."
Simon Cowell said there's "something special" about Meola.
"The fact that you’ve come back after what you’ve gone through, it says a lot about you, Lily," he added. "So good for you."
But the highest compliment came from Klum.
"I'm speechless," she said. "Everything about you, you just light up. I see a light around you, and immediately I fell in love with you."
Though Klum noted she was planning to root more for the non-singing acts this season, she couldn't help but give Meola the Golden Buzzer, sending her directly through to the live shows.
"I just want to know what my mom has to say," Meola said. "I think she might be really happy, wherever she might be."
Demon choir shocks Simon Cowell with 'fantastically creepy' set
"AGT" is also known for surprises — and boy did The Dremeka Choir deliver an audition no one saw coming.
The group, wearing typical choir attire, took the stage and seemed quite lovely and mild-mannered. Then they started singing.
The Dremeka Choir, which was revealed to be one of the only metal choirs in the world, launched into a throaty, growling performance of "O Fortuna," followed by a cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic" that sounded like it came straight from the depths of hell.
Cowell, known as a monstrously tough judge, loved it.
"It’s like demons in a choir singing the song from 'The Omen,' " he said. "It was so fantastically creepy. I'm all for going over to the dark side eventually, so I get it."
Vergara said the act made her feel like she was "in some kind of movie with dragons and fires."
Klum, however, wasn't a fan. She hit her "X" in the middle of the audition.
"I didn’t particularly love it," she said. "I don’t think that people would necessarily buy a ticket to come and watch that."
Mandel begged to differ.
“I think you’re opening the eyes and ears of America on our stage," he said.
The group earned three yes's, enough to send them to the next round.
Opera singer transforms into Ariana Grande, Stevie Nicks, Siri and more
Another musical transformation came from singer Merissa Beddows, who showed off her opera prowess before jumping into some uncanny vocal impressions, all while singing "Somewhere over the Rainbow."
During the performance, Klum called out which impression Beddows would do next by choosing one of six options on an oversized dice.
She earned the approval of all four judges.
Contestant bleeds from head after botched balloon act
Of course, there were also acts that didn't make the cut.
One act that didn't end well came from Willem Roelants, a 25-year-old musician who speedily popped balloons in sync with music.
He earned four no's from the judges — as well as an injury that left him bleeding from the top of his head.
"I really get into it," the contestant told the judges, with a streak of blood running down the side of his face.
"We have people that set themselves on fire. You popped a balloon and you're bleeding," Mandel quipped.
Roelants earned four no's — and a visit to an "AGT" medic.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'AGT' opera singer shocks with Ariana Grande, Stevie Nicks impression