09/01/2010 at 01:00 AM EDT
With five finalists
, including Prince Poppycock
, already in the top 10, it was up to four singers, two magicians, two dance acts, a pianist, a stunt biker, and Fighting Gravity
to vie for the final five spots.
"It was the best show we've had on America's Got Talent
, as far as I'm concerned," says judge Piers Morgan
. "I have never seen so many standing ovations, so much talent, so much variety." And, he adds, "in Jackie Evancho
, one of the biggest stars we're ever going to find."
Once again, 10-year-old opera singer from Pittsburgh moved the audience with her rendition of "Time to Say Goodbye."
"She has exceeded my expectations from the moment I saw her," judge Howie Mandel
says. "I keep thinking, nah, this has got to crack. There's got to be a crimp in this. But there never is. There is nothing better than perfection."
Evancho, however, has some formidable competition. "You know, Susan Boyle
had a beautiful voice," Mandel says. "She was a sensation like Jackie, but she did not win Britain's Got Talent
, so you don't know what the demographic is of – not the who watch the show, but the person who will feel very passionate and vote."
In the battle of the magicians, Michael Grasso
's disappearing-assistant-switching-places-with-him trick trumped Murray's vanishing train. "I thought Murray blew it tonight," Morgan says. "I thought it was a pretty simple trick, not that impressive, his delivery was stilted, and Michael Grasso was impressive."
Grasso also told his moving story of surviving three kidney transplants, all kidneys provided by his mom and two cousins, and how "the only thing that ever made sense was to follow my dream and do magic."
The night also saw a unique Day-glo set by performance troupe Fighting Gravity
; a romantic number by flying acrobats Michael Lipari
and Ashleigh Dejon
; a spirited dance routine by Studio One Young Beast Society
; and a bruised and battered bicyclist, Jeremy Van Schoonhoven
, literally battling his way up and down a mountain to earn a standing ovation. "What more does that man have to do to get into the top 10?" says Morgan. "He's courageous."
Tonight, the top 10 will be set. –Cynthia Wang