Spoilers ahead from the America's Got Talent results episode on August 26.
The latest round of America's Got Talent quarterfinals cuts delivered some fairly predictable results, like the advancements of Golden Buzzer-winner Cristina Rae and incredible aerialist Alan Silva, but the final elimination was something of a shocker. After W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew was saved by viewers in the Dunkin' Save, the judges had to choose between drummer Malik Dope and singer Nolan Neal, and I'm so excited about the surprising results thanks to the judges' explanations why. Malik Dope is moving on!
Now, I don't mean to celebrate Nolan Neal losing his shot at $1 million and the Las Vegas stage show, especially since his inspiring story and voice had made me think he was a shoo-in to the finals. He's an incredible performer, and his original song in the previous episode plucked at my heartstrings as much as anybody's. In fact, of the ten acts vying for the five open spots, I probably would have placed him alongside Malik Dope and ahead of magician Max Major, whose talents don't necessarily translate well to stage performance in my book.
That said, Malik Dope is truly unique in Season 15, and his energetic drum routines really need to be seen to be believed. The judges' comments have me psyched about Dope's chances as well as the overall competition in what remains of the season.
Simon Cowell was still missing from AGT due to his back injury, and the absence of a guest judge despite the successes of Kelly Clarkson and Kenan Thompson filling the fourth chair meant that it was down to just Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Sofia Vergara to choose between Malik Dope and Nolan Neal. Klum was full of compliments for both Malik Dope and Nolan Neal, but revealed that she did "feel more strongly" about Dope moving on.
Sofia Vergara, on the other hand, voted for Nolan Neal to continue, but her reasoning suggested that she thought Malik Dope was worthy of advancement as well. She said:
I think both are amazing. Malik, I think you have a lot of talent. You have the world in front of you. You're young. I think, Nolan, I want to give you the chance because it might be your last chance to make it big.
Howie Mandel was the tiebreaker, and it all came down to originality for the longtime judge. He praised Nolan Neal's inspiring story and the journey he took viewers on, but advanced Malik Dope for delivering a drum act unlike anything he'd ever seen before, saying that his originality is "amazing for this show" and "that's exactly what this show wants." I may not have agreed with Mandel in his praise of comedian Usama Siddiquee in the previous episode, but I can't agree more on Malik Dope!
As somebody who watches a lot of TV, I feel like I see plenty of talented singers trying to come out on top with shows like American Idol and The Voice, while performers like Malik Dope don't have a lot of options to perform on national television. His incredible drum act isn't something that can be found elsewhere on network television, and it's something I didn't know I needed until I saw him.
If the judges continue to award originality as well as talent, then the rest of Season 15 could be pretty exciting. I love the singers too, but I've seen singing before, and just check out the clip before to see what Malik Dope brings to the talent table!
The next round of America's Got Talent live quarterfinals airs on Tuesday, September 1 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, so be sure to tune in to see who will go up against Malik Dope and the other finalists who survived this latest batch of eliminations. The competition will only get stiffer as the judges (with or without Simon Cowell) pick out the best of the best!
For some additional viewing options now and in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2020 fall TV premiere guide, and vote in our poll below about whether the judges made the right call with Malik Dope vs. Nolan Neal.