‘America’s Got Talent’: Simon Cowell Reveals What to Expect in This Year’s Live Shows

by Tia Bailey

America’s Got Talent” notoriously hard-to-please judge Simon Cowell spoke about the upcoming live shows. This season has already kicked off, but the live shows will have a different format than past seasons.

Cowell spoke to PEOPLE about what’s going to be different with this year’s live shows.

“We had a ton of great people this year. So trying to get that number down to 36 would’ve been really difficult. In some ways we’ve made it easier by putting more people through. In other ways, we’ve made it harder because only two people per night are going to go through to the final. But I think that’s more exciting,” he said to the publication.

The judges have narrowed down the contestants to 55 people, and are doing five qualifying rounds. They can then only choose two from 11 to move on to the finale.

“Not knowing what’s going to happen until it happens, I think, makes it more exciting,” Cowell said to PEOPLE. “Compared to where we were a year ago, where seven people went through per night, I didn’t feel there was much at stake, if I’m being honest.”

After the fifth week of live shows, the judges will announce the top 10 finalists — along with an 11th “Wildcard.” Viewers will get to vote on who the Wildcard will be.

“America’s Got Talent” Showcases Tons of Talent This Season

Fans have been loving this season of “AGT.” The talent, as Cowell had said, has been great. The judges, along with Terry Crews, also gave out 6 golden buzzers rather than the usual 4-5.

Standout acts this season include: 11-year old Madison Taylor Baez, a young singer who sang “Amazing Grace” and shared that she would use the prize money to fund cancer research in honor of her father who battled cancer; Mayyas, a dance group from Lebanon who left judge Sofia Vergara so amazed she hit the golden buzzer; singer Lily Meola, who lost a record deal after becoming a full-time caretaker for her mother who passed from cancer; 13-year old Sara James, whose singing impressed Simon Cowell so much that he gave her a golden buzzer; Avery Dixon, a musician who coped with bullying by learning the saxophone, who host Terry Crews ran down to give a buzzer to, and all-Black woman country music group Chapel Hart, who went viral for their original song “You Can Have Him Jolene,” a response song to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” All the judges decided to give them a golden buzzer as well based on their stellar performance.

With all of these fantastic acts awaiting viewers in the live shows, fans are excited and ready to see how they play out. The live shows begin on Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NBC.