The judge cuts round of America's Got Talent has come again, which means the addition of a guest judge. For the first week of judge cuts, country superstar Brad Paisley joined the panel comprised of Simon Cowell, Julianne Hough, Gabrielle Union, and Howie Mandel. Paisley was a fun and funny addition, but he wasn't exactly doubled over with laughter at some of Mandel's remarks about a high-kicking high school dance team from Texas. In fact, he said that Howie could "suck it." Here's what happened.
The Emerald Belles dance team, comprised of 76 young women from South Lake, Texas, took the the stage for a routine set to Britney Spears' "Work Work." Pretty much everybody in the room seemed impressed by how they upped the ante for their second AGT performance, although Julianne Hough commented that they still felt "high school," prompting Simon to cattily meow into his microphone. (Hough didn't appreciate that.)
Howie Mandel went farther than just suggesting that the Emerald Belles weren't refined enough in their performance. He came right out and said that it "wasn't enough" to win America's Got Talent or even to move on to the next level. The audience booed, and Simon said the boo wasn't loud enough. Brad Paisley had more to say.
After wondering what prom must be like at their high school (and grinning when the Belles said that they're big fans of his), Brad Paisley said this:
Like I said, they're amazing. And perfect. And Howie can suck it!
Fortunately, Brad Paisley said "Suck it!" with a smile on his face and a friendly look to Howie Mandel while everybody (including Mandel) erupted into laughter, so it's clear that there are no hard feelings. It was also a night packed with the other judges heckling Mandel about his harsh comments about several of the acts who returned in the July 16 episode.
Howie Mandel was more impressed by some of those acts than he had been in their firsts performances, but he wasn't really overflowing with praise for all the acts he'd panned in the past. Luckily for the Emerald Belles, Simon Cowell came out and said that he thinks they deserve one of the seven slots in the next round of competition, and he planned on fighting with Howie Mandel about it.
Simon Cowell wasn't quite as openly gleeful about the high-kicking high schoolers as he was about the man who reenacted The Greatest Showman with his dog, but who could really compete with that combination for Simon Cowell's affection?
The man may be infamous for critical commentary, but the man loves dogs and he loves The Greatest Showman. Should the Emerald Belles go Greatest Showman for a future performance, on AGT or elsewhere?
Take a look at the act and decide for yourself if Howie Mandel deserves to "Suck it!" for his less-than-glowing remarks about the Emerald Belles:
I'm not sure that I would rank the Emerald Belles as a group that's ready for a Las Vegas show of their own at this point, but there's something truly remarkable about how high they can kick while also pulling off impressive choreography. Throw in the fact that most of the dancers are likely 18 and under, and they could have a long future in the performance arts.
Find out what's in store next on America's Got Talent with more judge cuts when new episodes air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Some acts have already made it to the live shows by virtue of winning the golden buzzer, but singer Joseph Allen told CinemaBlend that there are challenges that come with earning a golden buzzer. Stay tuned to find out who else has a future on AGT this season!