Watch America's Got Talent's Tory Vagasy Feel The Love In Powerful Lion King Performance, And How She Feels About Simon Cowell's Comments

Warning: spoilers ahead for the first round of America's Got Talent Season 16 semi-finals on NBC.

America's Got Talent is getting closer and closer to crowning the champion of Season 16, and the first round of semi-finals proved that the contestants who are still in the running are in it to win it. There was no real obvious weak link in the initial night of semi-finals, even if all of the judges didn't agree on some of them. One that the judges didn't fully agree on was singer Tory Vagasy, who hit the stage to belt a Lion King song that immediately became a hit with the audience at the Dolby Theatre, and she has shared her feelings about what Simon Cowell had to say.

Tory Vagasy went for her own take on the iconic "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" from The Lion King, although the Elton John version rather than the precise lyrics that were part of the original 1994 movie. It was a spectacular performance, and Vagasy didn't miss a note. Take a look:

The crowd at the Dolby Theatre definitely responded well to Tory Vagasy's performance, which isn't exactly shocking. After all, it was a great performance of a memorable song from a beloved movie, so what's not to love? Well, according to judge Simon Cowell, she's a good singer but her song choice of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" was "too safe for the semi-finals" especially compared to golden buzzer winner Jimmie Herrod. The crowd (and some of Cowell's fellow judges) booed his comments, and Cowell had to protest that he wasn't being "grumpy."

Tory Vagasy was gracious and kept her cool while listening to the feedback from the judges, but when speaking to CinemaBlend and other outlets following her semi-finals performance, she shared her reaction to what Simon Cowell said, as well as her reasoning for choosing a Lion King song for a make-it-or-break-it performance. When I asked about the song choice that drew Simon Cowell's criticism, Vagasy explained:

You know, I would really disagree, first of all, with what Simon said about this was a safe song choice. I think it's really hard to pick a song like this, that is so sacred and important to so many people with everyone's childhood, and really do justice on a song like that because it means so much to so many people and means a lot to me. This song was such a staple in my childhood. I have such fond memories of it. It makes me feel warm and tingly. And yeah, I love Disney. I love Elton John, everything that he stands for. So when the idea was proposed to sing that song, I was like, 'This is everything I could want. Elton John, a wonderful message, a song we all love.' I wouldn't change it.

Simon Cowell wasn't the only judge with some criticism for Tory Vagasy on the semi-finals, with Howie Mandel agreeing that she is an "amazing singer" but that AGT "needs more." Heidi Klum's comments had more of a positive edge, encouraging Vagasy with her Broadway dreams and saying that AGT is lucky to have her, after what Klum deemed "another flawless performance." Sofia Vergara concurred that Vagasy belongs on Broadway (in a good way!) and that she stepped it up for a "spectacular" performance of one of her favorite songs of all time.

Personally, I was on board with Tory Vagasy's performance as soon as I recognized the opening lines of the Elton John version of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" Still, it remains to be seen whether voters agree more with Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel or those of us who loved Vagasy's performance. Only five of the semi-finalists will be advancing to the finals, and the competition is stiff.

Not only did Peter Rosalita return for another show-stopping performance, but the judges chose to bring back Beyond Belief Dance Company for a second chance after their elimination following a wonderfully "Clueless" number in the quarterfinals. Rosalita seems like a pretty safe bet to advance, along with golden buzzer winners Jimmie Herrod and World Taekwondo Demonstration Team. I certainly wouldn't bet against Aidan Bryant after his latest breathtaking aerial performance, but even that leaves a slot open. The competition could still go to pretty much anybody.

Find out if Tory Vagasy's AGT journey will continue with the results episode on Wednesday, September 1 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. If you haven't already and there's still time, be sure to vote for your favorite semi-finalists here before it's too late and the latest batch of eliminated acts are sent home.

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 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).