The trick of every episode of “America’s Got Talent” is to save the best, or one of the best, acts for last.
Tuesday night at Radio City Music Hall, the prestigious finale spot was given to the American Military Spouses Choir. Stephanie Holmberg of Fort Leavenworth is one of the members.
And as the group did when it performed “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on the show a few weeks ago, the choir of military wives earned a standing ovation from both the audience and the judges.
The choir sang Mariah Carey’s stirring “Hero,” as photos of the women with their children and soldier husbands flashed on the Radio City stage behind them.
Such a smart song choice on so many levels, not the least of which is that Mariah’s hubby, Nick Cannon, hosts the show. His voice cracked with emotion as he came back onto the stage when the choir finished.
“You picked the perfect song, it’s about heroes,” judge Heidi Klum said. “You women are all heroes ... you’re keeping the family together at home while you’re hero husbands are overseas taking care of business ... you can be very proud of yourselves.”
Judge Mel B, former Spice Girl, wiped tears from her eyes before she spoke.
“Made me cry,” she said, “and you sounded so much better than before as well, so the whole thing was just like ...”
Howie Mandel called the performance amazing, moving and an “inspirational way to end tonight’s show.”
But he also added that the show’s viewers have tough decisions to make after Tuesday night’s show. Only four of the 12 acts that performed will move on to the semifinals. Those winners will be announced Wednesday night.
Will feel-good patriotism win out over the young gay opera singer whose parents have disowned him? The plus-sized diva with the huge voice who can finally stand center stage and feel the love?
Or Kenichi Ebina, the Japanese dancer/martial artist whose first performance on the show has already racked up more nearly 11 million hits on YouTube?
Mandel made a rare statement Tuesday night, saying that Ebina deserves the show’s $1 million top prize.
If the show doesn’t do better next time in choosing wardrobe for the military wives – come on NBC, were those odd-looking costumes supposed to be dresses or choir robes? – he might be right.