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America's Got Talent's Heidi Klum Explains Her Disagreement With Simon Cowell Over Golden Buzzer Winner Lily Meola

Heidi Klum on America's Got Talent
(Image credit: NBC)

The competition is stiffer than ever in Season 17 of America’s Got Talent, and the qualifiers round is almost over to decide which competitors still have a chance at winning the $1 million and Las Vegas stage show. Each live show so far has brought back a golden buzzer winner, and the episode on August 30 featured the return of singer Lily Meola, who was so great in her audition that she changed judge Heidi Klum’s mind. Meola closed out the night with another original song, and after the broadcast, Klum shared what she disagreed with from fellow judge Simon Cowell’s feedback.

Simon Cowell is often critical of contestants who choose to audition with original songs vs. covers, and covers can certainly blow the roof off the building. Just last week, his golden buzzer Sara James delivered a performance of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” so dazzling that I may need to rethink my ranking of which buzzer winners are most likely to triumph in Season 17. In this case, Cowell actually commended Lily Meola for choosing an original, and said her newest song – called “Butterfly” – was “way better” than her audition song, and that’s what Heidi Klum takes issue with. 

Heidi Klum spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets immediately following the August 30 episode of America’s Got Talent, and she mentioned Simon Cowell’s comments when opening up with her own thoughts on Lily Meola singing original songs: 

I think it is so important. That's why before she started singing, I was saying that a lot of people come and they sing other people's hit songs, but how amazing is it when you create your own hit song? And I feel like we've seen this with Chapel Hart. We've seen it with Drake [Milligan]. It's gutsy. But I feel like if you then hit a homerun, how much more amazing is it? I don't agree with what Simon said when he said that her last song wasn't as good as the song she did today, the butterfly song. I still love the first song she sang as much as the one she did today. I think she's a really really good writer. I think she's super sophisticated in her voice and in her writing.

Heidi Klum certainly has a point about original songs taking performers pretty far on AGT; two of the three vocal acts that had already made it to the grand final sang original songs. Chapel Hart got even – in their words – ”sassier” for their second song, while Drake Milligan rode the success of the first original on the show with another hit of his own. Lily Meola’s first song – called “Daydream” – was obviously good enough to earn the golden buzzer, and Klum disagrees with Simon Cowell about “Butterfly” being a step up from her audition. 

Since Lily Meola was the final performer of the night and the episode was live, the judges didn’t have time to do much banter and debate right after she finished her song, so Heidi Klum’s comments shed some light on what viewers didn’t get to hear at the end of the broadcast. While Sofia Vergara had compliments for Meola, Howie Mandel (who shared his thoughts on another competitor affecting ventriloquist Jack Williams’ chances) thought that she might not have gone big enough to beat all the competition on the night. 

In case you missed it, take a look at Meola’s performance of “Butterfly” and decide for yourself:

Whether or not her AGT journey is over is decided in the results episode on Wednesday, August 31 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Only one round of qualifiers is left before America’s Got Talent airs the finale, and fans have yet to see Sofia Vergara’s golden buzzer pick, so dance group Mayyas is still on the way. Wild card winner Jordan Conley will have a second shot as well after winning the audience vote

New episodes of America’s Got Talent continue airing on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC through mid-September. For the shows that will be back in the fall after their summer hiatuses, be sure to 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. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.