Published 1:03 AM EDT Sep 19, 2018
This is it.
The top 10 acts from "America's Got Talent" laid it all on the line during their final performances before the winner of $1 million and a chance to headline at a Las Vegas casino is crowned Wednesday (NBC, 8 EDT/PDT).
Before the show began, judge Simon Cowell predicted Tuesday's performances would make all the difference in the sprint to the finish line: "Of all the finals, this is the most open. ... I think some of you tonight are going to have life-changing moments." He was right.
Electric violinist Brian King Joseph set the bar high for the entire show with a rendition of Kanye West's "Heartless." Dressed in all white, Joseph battled his painful nerve condition to give a riveting final performance that featured pyrotechnics and flashing lights.
His act brought all the judges to their feet. Howie Mandel said: "I can’t believe that we opened the show with what I would consider a closer." Cowell added: "This is everything this show should be. ... I think you’ve got a real shot here.”
Opera Singer Daniel Emmet performed Ed Sheeran's "Perfect Symphony" in Italian after clawing his way to the finals. Judge Melanie Brown said this performance brought back his "original sound."
Cowell called his performance "powerful" and "way better than last week, apart from the jacket," calling out Emmet's shiny black blazer.
Comedian Vicki Barbolak – aka Ms. Trailer Nasty – left it all on the stage during her last performance, which many judges dubbed her best. “I thought the final was going to be a swimsuit competition,” the comedian said before ripping off her animal-print robe to reveal a bathing suit.
The laughs didn't stop there. Barbolak shared her idea of a female-friendly version of "Hooters" called "Woodpeckers," to which Heidi Klum replied, "There is nothing I love more than a big fat German sausage."
Cowell even suggested she star in a reality show with her trailer-park friends as an alternative to “Keeping Up the Kardashians."
Powerhouse singer Glennis Grace brought down the house with a breathtaking performance of "Run" by Snow Patrol.
The devoted mother, who's son was in attendance tonight, believes "there is a chance I can win," and the judges seemed to agree. Cowell called her voice "absolutely sensational" and Klum called her voice "the real deal."
Up next was the acrobatic group Zurcaroh. Tyra Banks' Golden Buzzer act transformed the stage into a jungle during a tribal routine to “Baba Yetu,” complete with a human jump rope and plenty of astounding lifts.
The performance brought everyone to their feet, receiving by far the loudest applause from the audience. Mandel's remarks were completely overwhelmed by the crowd's cheers. Mel B said, "I have a funny feeling that you can win this entire show."
Klum added that the group is "ready for Vegas."
The second comedian, Samuel J. Comroe, took the stage after sharing a heartbreaking story of losing his mother. He joked about his relationship, rude people and how someone with Tourette syndrome uses the bathroom. Mel B could be heard laughing throughout Comroe's set.
The former Spice Girl complimented his "delivery" and "swagger." Cowell said, "You have given yourself a shot after that," and Mandel agreed: "I think your mother is looking down on you ... your career just took off tonight."
Standout singer Courtney Hadwin took the stage after visiting iconic places around Los Angeles where her idols, such as James Brown, Otis Redding and Janis Joplin, performed.
She held nothing back singing Tina Turner's “River Deep, Mountain High.” Her rendition started out slow before showcasing her signature high notes and eccentric dance moves, which Mel B thought would "snap" her legs.
Mandel called his Golden Buzzer winner a "superstar" and Cowell said Hadwin is more than just a singer: "Every time you perform you inspire people, you are more than a great singer, you are a trendsetter."
Magician Shin Lim revealed he was training to be a concert pianist, but chose magic after being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. He began his set playing the piano in front of a Halloween-inspired backdrop, while documenting his journey.
He then moved to mind-bending card tricks that are hard to put into words. Mandel tried, adding it was a "$1 million act worthy of it's own show in Vegas." Cowell agreed, "this can actually win." Mel B said he proves magic does exist.
Acrobatic couple Duo Transcend continued to push the envelope and took trust to a whole new level during their intense trapeze routine. Their performance incorporated drum beats, more gravity-defying stunts and, in a twist, Mary held – and dropped – Tyce (on purpose).
Mel B said America doesn't realize how strong you have to be to do this act. Mandel said "every week seems like a winning act." Klum added that it was "exciting," "sexy" and "dangerous."
Last but not least was singer Michael Ketterer. Before his performance, an emotional Ketterer received special messages from people he inspired. Cowell's Golden Buzzer choice performed Diana Ross' “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
His rendition didn't receive the best reviews from the judges. Mel B called the song a "brave" choice and Klum noted that she could hear his nerves, but it may be Ketterer's inspiring story that tugs on America's heartstrings. Cowell said he hopes Ketterer's family wins the grand prize.
The winner of "AGT" will be announced on Wednesday night's two-hour show.
Related: 'America's Got Talent:' Christina Wells honors Aretha Franklin with body-positive message