Apparently fans should buckle up as, according to the America’s Got Talent judges, season 13 is headed in a much darker direction than the show’s past seasons.
“It’s really scary!” Mel B appropriately tells Billboard of the new season, which kicks off Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. “Even though my nickname is Scary Spice, I’m the most afraid scared person of anything even remotely spooky. I’ve never watched horror movies, I won’t go on roller coasters, I’ve never bungee jumped. I’m not a risk taker like that,” she says, noting that this latest installment has what it takes to potentially push her over her threshold.
“It’s kind of serendipitous that it’s the 13th season and it’s very spooky, especially, in particular, the magic acts,” Mel adds. The Spice Girl described one act in particular that she’s admitted has been keeping her up at night — a magician she describes as being “straight out of a horror movie. “I went into my dressing room and she followed me down the hallway and I said, ‘Wow, you are still following me!’” she exclaimed. Mel also disclosed that her first run-in with the contestant was so impactful that she had to sleep with all the lights on in her home that night. “I had my TV blasting because I couldn’t sleep because I thought, ‘Is she going to come to my house?’ I’m that much of a scaredy cat!”
Heidi Klum had her own little tryst with danger. “There is one specific act that I was terrified during, probably because he had me be a part of it!” she explains, revealing the contestant to be “danger act” Aaron Crow. “He calls me up on stage, asks me for my ring, carves out the center of an apple, puts my ring inside, places the apple on my head and then goes into the audience with a bow and arrow to shoot the apple with,” Klum reveals, noting that she was incredibly nervous since, if his aim was just a little off, he would have been hitting her head, not the apple. “Clearly, all went fine since I’m telling you about it, but that was definitely a crazy moment, and there are lots more like it this season,” she proclaims.
The judges admit to saying this every year, but they swear that the talent this season is “better than ever.” Klum and Mel B teased an international vibe, more musical contestants, and a lot of unexpected acts. “I feel like so much more than last season, people have combined all of their different skills and tricks and put it into one blast of 90 seconds,” says Mel. “So sometimes you think it’s going to be a regular singer and it’s not. They are doing something else or they are dressed like something else or it’s something different that they are doing that is shocking and you don’t know what you are going to expect.”
The judges reveal that season 13 has “a group from the Philippines that can’t walk in heels but can dance in them like badasses,” hilarious comedians, a talented soulful family band with a heartwarming backstory, a college group that went viral that dances to themes like Alice in Wonderland, and a young teenage Dominican performer who was worthy of a golden buzzer.
Mel adds there are more people writing and performing their own original songs this year than ever before — “That makes the stakes higher because to do an original song that nobody else knows and to win over the audience and to get a golden buzzer says a lot,” she reveals. While it’s anyone’s game at this point, Mel could definitely see a singer making it all the way. Klum agrees, noting that since Simon joined the panel a few years ago, she’s seen an influx in musicians signing on, and talented ones at that. “These are some of my favorite acts. The past two seasons I’ve pushed my golden buzzer for singers,” she says.
And while recent winners have included the likes of Grace VanderWaal and ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer, the judges reveal that it’s currently anyone’s game. “The past few seasons have had young winners, and this season there are some older acts that really wow you,” explains Klum. Mel cites one performer in particular as an example. “There is a woman that is 75 years old that looked 22 and she was doing things that you never thought a 75-year-old would be able to do. And she started actually learning to dance at 60. Anything is possible, this season more than ever,” she says.
One thing’s for sure: The judging panel promises “weird things” will happen in every episode. “This season is just cram-packed of shocking stuff,” says Mel. “There are arrows being thrown at people’s heads, my jewelry flew off in a balloon and ended up in my hand at the desk. It is just really unexpected.”
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.