After eight weeks, America’s Got Talent crowned its first-ever All-Stars champion Monday. And there were some eyebrow-raising, head-scratching results — Simon Cowell even called the results “brutal” — indicating that if viewers at home had been able to vote instead of this season’s mysterious, elite group of “superfans,” this finale could have panned out very differently. But in the end, when host Terry Crews finally announced the winner, it was a deserved, happy outcome that all of America could get behind.
To be honest, I’ve been skeptical of this spinoff series' superfan format from the beginning — and that attitude didn’t change this week, as Terry summoned the contestants in pairs or trios, either grouped by performer category or just because they were seemingly equally popular, and then eliminated one act from each grouping.
Come on, did the superfans really want aerialist Aidan Bryant, but not hand-balancing trio the Bello Sisters as well? Or young dance troupe Light Balance Kids, but not young singing troupe Detroit Youth Choir? Or saxophonist Avery Dixon, but not comedian Mike E. Winfield? (Simon was especially “gutted” by that result.) Or singing ventriloquist Ana-Maria Margean, but not Tom Ball, the crooner that Simon once dubbed “Susan Boyle’s grandson,” or Season 14 champion Kodi Lee, the most viral contestant of all time? The fact that the latter two seeming frontrunners didn’t even make the finals’ top five, when singers have historically done so well on AGT, was downright baffling.
Ultimately, 13-year-old Britain’s Got Talent magician Aidan McCann placed fifth, Romania’s Got Talent teen winner Ana-Maria was fourth, and Ukraine’s Light Balance Kids was third. And then, it all came down to 18-year-old aerialist Aidan Bryant and 22-year-old musician Avery Dixon. (The superfans apparently like their contestants young.)
And the winner was… Aidan Bryant!
— America’s Got Talent (@AGT) February 28, 2023
Aidan, a small-town teen aerialist who taught himself Cirque du Soleil-level stunts by studying YouTube and swinging from sheets tied to trees in his backyard, came to America’s Got Talent: All-Stars this season with something to prove, seeking “redemption” after losing in a shock upset to magician Dustin Tavella on AGT Season 16 two years ago. That night, Simon had told Aidan, “I promise you, this is not the end,” and Simon obviously was right. But as Aidan sobbed with joy Monday, while Avery’s reaction to his just-announced defeat was noticeably subdued, this time Simon assured Avery by saying: “There is no loser tonight. Both of you are winners, genuinely. You could not have done any more. I want to congratulate you, Aidan, and I want to congratulate you, Avery, for also winning. Talent has won tonight!”
Avery certainly had a good night regardless, because one of the All-Stars finale highlights was his groovy, vibey performance of Bobby Brown’s New Jack Swing classic “Every Little Step” with soul star Babyface, who praised Avery’s “beyond-his-years” skills; afterwards, Avery told Terry, “My life couldn’t get any better than it is today!” Another standout finale moment was when Aidan Bryant and the Bello Sisters swung from more than just chandeliers while Simon’s old American Idol friend, Adam Lambert — a man whose career is proof to Avery and everyone else that placing second ain’t too shabby — belted Sia’s “Chandelier” from his new covers album, High Drama.
Hip-hop violinist Lindsey Stirling, who went on to a great career despite only making it to the AGT quarterfinals in her season 13 years ago, joined All-Stars acrobat couple Power Duo; All-Stars semifinalists Voices of Hope Children’s Choir backed Tom Ball on Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” (which was fabulous, although I wished it’d been an epic Adam Lambert duet instead); Weezer and Detroit Youth Choir teamed up for an unexpected version of “Beverly Hills” that a delighted Simon called “absolutely brilliant” and “magic”; and in a sweet torch-passing moment, Ana-Maria dueted with her idol, AGT Season 2 winner Terry Fator, the man who actually inspired her to take up ventriloquism in the first place.
The regular, 18th season of America’s Got Talent will kick off this summer, with fourth judge Sofia Vergara (who sat out All-Stars) returning to sit alongside Simon, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel, and the voting power returning to America’s viewers. See you then.
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