America's Got Talent's First Golden Buzzer Winner Without An Audience Made Show History

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Warning! The following contains spoilers for the America's Got Talent Season 15 episode that aired Tuesday, June 30. Read at your own risk!

If you watch America's Got Talent long enough, it's not hard to see the pattern in acts that advance. The show loves its acrobats, large group dance crews, magicians, and kids that can do anything exceptionally well. Given that, it was quite a surprise that the series brought on what was said to be a show first, and that same contestant ended up getting a golden buzzer in Season 15's first audience-less episode.

Brandon Leake took the stage on America's Got Talent as the show's first spoken word artist, and stayed true to the art form from start to finish. With no accompaniment, light show, or interpretive dance, Leake stood in front of the judges and performed an emotional poem he wrote in honor of his sister, who died when he was young.

It was a bold move, especially considering the type of show America's Got Talent is. Simon Cowell seemed immediately skeptical of the act, and openly questioned whether Brandon Leake had a long-term vision for his talent that could carry the stage show promised to winners. I can't say whether or not Cowell was any less skeptical on the viability of that following the performance, but AGT's most critical judge surely seemed to understand the value in what Leake had to offer after hearing his emotional performance.

Howie Mandel's golden buzzer means Brandon Leake has a fast track to the live shows, and quite frankly, I think he's a strong contender to go far in Season 15. Sure, it wasn't quite the contortionist or ventriloquist type of act America's Got Talent is used to, but there was something captivating about the minimalist performance when compared to all the noise and flash of the usual acts.

It also needs to be said that the lack of an audience for this episode of America's Got Talent really elevated the performance in my opinion. I'm not sure the raw nature of the performance would've been captured quite as well in a room full of people, though not necessarily because I worry about a crowd's tolerance of such an act. There was a noticeable increase of camera time on acts without a crowd to cut to in the episode, and that's a change that I very much enjoy in the post-COVID AGT.

Brandon Leake has made it to the live shows, but does he have what it takes to win America's Got Talent Season 15? I think it's a long shot, though I'd like to see only because there's something "poetic" about having such an unconventional talent on the show taking home the top prize on what is turning into a highly unconventional season. The stars might have aligned for Leake to take this competition, and get the start for his one-man production so that he can quit his 9-5 and fulfill his dreams.

America's Got Talent airs on NBC Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest happening with the series, and for up to date news on what's happening in the world of television and movies.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.