By Zach Seemayer‍, ETOnline.com.

“America’s Got Talent” season 17 has reached the live rounds, and the performances are bigger and better than ever!

After over two months of audition episodes, the best of the best returned to face the judges once again, this time at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, for the first night of the season’s live qualifying rounds.

This meant the pressure to deliver in a big way was even higher than before, and some of the night’s hopefuls truly brought their A-game in the hopes of impressing the judges and, more importantly, viewers at home who will be voting on who makes it through to the next stage in the competition.

From acrobatic groups to vocal powerhouses to surreal contortionists, here’s a look at the acts that stood out from the crowd on Monday with truly impressive performances.

Amoukanama

This Guinea-based circus group delivers some of the most jaw-dropping acrobatic feats of the season, and they kicked the night off on a high note, performing an epic routine set to “Zapata” by Lil Saako Instinct Killers. The performance set the bar high for the acts to follow, and absolutely wowed the judges.

“There’s nothing to say but good job, guys!” Sofia Vergara marvelled. “I couldn’t think you guys could get better, because I loved you so much, but this was another level.”

Ava Swiss

This young singer’s voice is more than impressive enough to earn her a place in the live rounds, but her inspiring and emotional story makes her performance all the more powerful. Swiss is a survivor of the Oxford High School mass shooting in Michigan back in November, and for her number tonight, she belted out a moving rendition of “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” by Pink.

“That song, it was more — it was a statement,” an emotional Simon Cowell shared after the song. “I think you’re remarkable, that was incredible.”

Oleksandr Yenivatov

Contortionists always have a hard time on “AGT”, because the judges are always both impressed and often disgusted by their acts — which doesn’t always translate to success. However, few bring the kind of showmanship and timing to their acts that Ukrainian contortionist Oleksandr Yenivatov displayed during Tuesday’s show. Blending comedy and surrealism and horror into a single beautiful demonstration of acting talent and physical mastery that really already deserves its own Vegas show.

“What I loved about tonight was you really pushed yourself and did things we’ve never seen before.” Cowell shared. “For me, that is what a live show performance is all about — something we’ve never seen before and you’ll talk about. It was really good!”

“I can’t believe half of the stuff I’m seeing. It’s incredible,” Heidi Klum marvelled. “Facing forward, backward at the same time it’s insane. It’s so bizarre. It’s so strange. I want to see more, oddly.”

Players Choir

This collection of NFL players with mind-blowing voices came to the live qualifying rounds with the goal of surprising everyone and being the absolute best — and they accomplished both. The choir belted out a life-affirming cover over Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” that got the audience to fall in love with them, and brought joy to the judges.

“I’m not a fan of choirs, but you make us feel good. You make us smile. You make us bop to the music,” Howie Mandel praised. “You put a smile on our face. The world needs nothing more than a smile right now and you delivered it.”

Avery Dixon

The Golden Buzzer winner proved he is truly a force of nature when it comes to music with his epic saxophone performance of “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder.

Drake Milligan

Already being dubbed the “Elvis of country music,” Drake Milligan wowed the crowd with an original song, “Kiss Goodbye All Night” that sent the audience — and the judges — into a frenzy.

“I will predict that tomorrow that song will be No. 1 on the country chart again, I promise,” Mandel said referring to Milligan’s original song that he performed during the audition that topped the country iTunes chart the next morning. “You have a good chance of winning this whole thing.”

After the show, ET’s Denny Directo spoke to some of the judges on the red carpet about their favourite acts, and Klum was singing the praises of one act that the audience loved but that her fellow judges seemed to not really connect with — Ben Lapidus, and his heavy metal version of “The Parmesan Cheese Song”.

“It’s like it’s like the greatest earworm ever written, in a way, because it is so weird but it’s so catchy. We all understand it because we all want more cheese,” Klum said.

Apparently, she wasn’t the only one near the judge’s table who liked it. While Cowell was clearly not a fan, his young son Eric apparently was.

“I asked Simon’s son! I’m like, ‘What was your favourite act?’ Then he’s like, ‘Well, the parmesan cheese guy,’” Klum recalled. “And I’m like, ‘See Simon? Your son knows what’s up!’”

“America’s Got Talent” returns Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, and fans will get to see who America voted to move on to the next round, and one step closer to victory.

MORE FROM ET:

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Simon Cowell Says He Was ‘Really Upset’ by Initial ‘AGT’ Auditions

Dolly Parton Praises ‘AGT’ Standouts for Viral ‘Jolene’ Performance

‘AGT’: Singing Trio Earns Golden Buzzer With Dolly Parton Tribute Song

‘AGT’: Hypnotic Lebanese Dance Crew Gets Sofia Vergara’s Golden Buzzer





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Ellen Bullock