America's Got Talent's Ben Lapidus Reflects On His 'Absurd' Parmesan Cheese Performance And What Comes Next After The Qualifiers

Ben Lapidus after his Parmesan Cheese Song in America's Got Talent's Qualifiers
(Image credit: NBC)

The stakes are higher than ever in America’s Got Talent Season 17, and the 55 best acts (including comedian Jordan Conley as the winner of the wildcard vote) have one more shot in the qualifiers to make it into the top ten for the finale. The first night of qualifiers brought out some of the most memorable from the auditions, including country singer Drake Milligan, Terry Crewsgolden buzzer winner Avery Dixon, and – of course – singer Ben Lapidus, a.k.a. the Parmesan Cheese guy. Lapidus spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets about going heavy metal in the qualifiers and why the performance felt “absurd” to him… but not in a bad way!

Ben Lapidus started out his second version of “The Parmesan Cheese Song” by pretending that he was going to perform a very serious song rather than anything involving – to quote him – ”Big Parma.” Simon Cowell (who couldn’t stop going on about the song after Lapidus’ audition) looked befuddled at the change in tone from his first time on the AGT stage. Then, the singer started belting his iconic cheese song, and everything made sense again! 

There was a long pause between when he stopped the serious song and ripped off his shirt to show his leather outfit. When I asked what was going through his head during that long pause when nobody knew what was coming, he shared: 

What was going through my head? It kind of feels like you're dreaming, like you're about an inch and a half away from the inside of your eyes, and you're behind a glass pane. Everything is just kind of unfolding in front of you, and the regular sense of agency you have as a being in a body kind of goes away, and you're more like a witness. That's my experience of these really high pressure environments in the moment. It's really surprising, actually. It's kind of an absurd feeling.

Even the singer himself could admit that his heavy metal version of “The Parmesan Cheese Song” made him feel a little “absurd,” but that’s not a bad thing when it comes to America’s Got Talent. (Just look at the crowd reaction any time Sethward makes an appearance.) His qualifiers performance had the audience singing and dancing along, including judge Heidi Klum! He’s definitely one of the most memorable of the whole season, let alone the first night of qualifiers. I'm confident that I'm not the only one with the song stuck in my head!

So, what does Ben Lapidus have in mind for what comes next? When he spoke with press after his turn on the AGT qualifiers stage, his fate was still in the hands of voters, so there was no guarantee that he would be back for the finale. He didn’t seem too worried about his future on the NBC hit, however, as he shared this about what he plans next:

I have absolutely nothing planned, but whatever it will be, it will be insane. That's what I mean… What you saw tonight is as far as I've gotten. [laughs] So, if by the grace of God I make it through to the final, then I'm gonna just figure it out. It's gonna be, when I say that – and I hate this word – insane. It's gonna be insane.

Not worrying about what to do next when his future was still up in the air seems like a pretty stress-free way to approach the results show that was then less than 24 hours away! Viewers had less than twelve hours to vote (with voting closing at 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday after the Tuesday night live episode), so his fate was sealed very early on. Just take another look at his qualifiers performance of “The Parmesan Cheese Song,” going full heavy metal!

Whether that fate is moving forward to the finale or simply going down as the guy with the catchiest cheese-themed song in America’s Got Talent history will be revealed in the results show on Wednesday, August 10 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. If you missed any of the auditions of Season 17, you can catch up with AGT streaming with a Peacock subscription! For some more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).