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NBC Insider America's Got Talent

Simon Cowell Says This 'Unbelievable' Audition Is the Best in AGT History

A roller coaster ride of emotions!

By Jackie Manno
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America’s Got Talent has seen some brilliant Acts over the years. And after 17 Seasons, there are a handful that the Judges remember vividly to this day. Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, Howie Mandel, and Host Terry Crews sat down with Vanity Fair to discuss some of the most mind-blowing and inspirational moments on the show. Let’s take a look at some of their favorite Auditions.

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Grace Vanderwaal

The 12-year-old singing and ukulele sensation won a Golden Buzzer from Mandel with her original song “I Don’t Know My Name,” and ultimately went on to win the 11th Season of AGT. Cowell said that she had a certain “glow” to her during her Audition, and Klum even remembered how the song goes to this day!

“How lucky are we to be a small part of it,” Mandel said of Vanderwaal’s rise to fame. 

Nightbirde

Jane Marczewski, a.k.a Nightbirde, sang her touching original song “It's OK” during her Audition, which was about keeping a positive attitude while she battled cancer. Although Cowell gave her a Golden Buzzer, she had to withdraw from the competition due to her illness. Marczewski passed away on February 19, 2022.

“I have goosebumps just thinking about her,” Klum said, with Mandel adding that her performance was one of the most “inspiring” and “emotional” moments on the history of the show. He also powerfully stated that despite her condition, she was “teaching the world how to live.”

Cowell said that he spoke to Nightbirde after her Audition, and she said that it was one of the best moments in her life, because her dream was to have people appreciate her music. Nightbirde’s legacy lives on, as her performance of “It's OK” currently has millions of views.

Darci Lynne Farmer

Another young singer, Lynne’s performance came with a twist: a puppet! Not only did she blow the Judges away with her show-stopping voice, she managed to sing the entire song without opening her mouth! During her ventriloquism Act, she sang the classic jazz number “Summertime” through her puppet bunny Petunia, who her mother bought for her to help her with her shyness.

Cowell described her as one of his favorite Contestants, praising her talent and sense of humor.

“Everybody on that stage is a human being, and there’s always something you can relate to,” Mandel added.

Courtney Hadwin

Speaking of Contestants coming out of their shell, Mandel described the 13-year-old singer as one of the most timid people he’s ever met. However, once the music started, she transformed into a completely different person, with free-spirited dance moves and Janis Joplin inspired vocals. Mandel said it was one of his favorite moments in the history of the show, and that Klum “fell in love” with her Audition.

World Taekwondo Demonstration Team

On Season 16 of AGT, a team from all over the world traveled to the stage to perform an intricate choreographed routine of Taekwondo that involved some seriously impressive skill. They earned a Golden Buzzer from Crews, and during the Judges' chat, Mandel described the performance as “like watching an action movie without CGI." 

Kodi Lee

Season 14 winner Kodi Lee took the world by storm when he auditioned, showing off his piano skills and rich, soulful voice. Cowell described it as the number-one best Audition in the history of America’s Got Talent, with Vergara acknowledging that he is “everybody’s favorite." 

“You could’ve heard a pin drop,” Cowell said of the audience’s stunned reaction to Lee’s talent. “It was unbelievable.”

Watch AGT on Peacock and NBC.