Spoilers ahead for the first night of America's Got Talent qualifiers for Season 17.
America's Got Talent is skipping the quarterfinals and semifinals stages of competition with Season 17, meaning that the contestants only have one more performance to try and make it to the grand finale after their audition. Only two of the eleven performers on Night 1 of qualifiers will advance, and those eleven were talented enough that voters had a hard choice to make. One standout was country singer Drake Milligan, whose audition left Simon Cowell thinking that he might quit. Speaking with CinemaBlend and other outlets following the live qualifiers, Milligan explained why he came back.
Drake Milligan's audition was with the original song "Sounds Like Something I'd Do," which shot the singer to the top of iTunes in the country music genre. After his qualifiers performance of another original song ("Kiss Goodbye All Night"), judge Simon Cowell noted that a lot of performers whose songs go to #1 after appearing on AGT just walk away and don't come back to keep competing. He told Milligan that he has his "absolute respect" for coming back and staying in the competition.
When Milligan spoke with press after bringing the house down with "Kiss Goodbye All Night," I asked if he ever considered walking away with his success and not coming back to AGT. He shared:
Not at all. From the first moment I stepped on that America's Got Talent stage, all I wanted to do was come back and be in front of that crowd and be in front of those judges again. It's so much fun to feel that energy from the crowd and to know that millions of people are watching. I just couldn't wait to come back.
It's no surprise that he'd look forward to performing in front of the judges again, after all four of them were overflowing with praise after his audition! He even won over Simon Cowell with his first performance, and the formidable judge couldn't stop breaking into a smile while talking to Milligan after the qualifiers. Based on what the judges had to say and the reactions of the audience live in the theater, everybody was happy that he didn't quit AGT!
So, what's next for Drake Milligan? Well, his fate was still up to the voters from home when he spoke with press, but Howie Mandel told him that he has "a good chance of winning this whole thing" and predicted that Milligan would be one of the two acts moving forward to the finale. Heidi Klum concurred about thinking that he'd make it to the finale, and Simon Cowell said that "Kiss Goodbye All Night" was the "best performance of the night" halfway through the episode. Sofia Vergara called him "the whole package," and nobody disagreed!
Still, it's the voting audience who decide the acts that move forward instead of the judges, and Milligan shared his thoughts on what he'd do for the next performance if he's voted through:
If I'm lucky enough to move on, hopefully we can just keep raising the bar even more. I feel like I came out really swinging with 'Sounds Like Something I'd Do' and now with 'Kiss Goodbye All Night.' I'll be very excited to hopefully sing a new song. I've got a ton of new material. I've been in Nashville for a few years writing and got some new stuff and hopefully be able to do one of those.
Fans (and Drake Milligan himself) will find out his AGT future with the results episode on Tuesday, August 10 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (Season 16 champion Dustin Tavella will return with his magic act for a performance as well.) The competition is stiff, and the first qualifiers episode also revealed which of the Season 17 wildcards was saved by voters. If you want a refresher on Milligan's latest soon-to-be hit, take a look at "Kiss Goodbye All Night" below!
If you want to do your part to advance Drake Milligan (or one of his competitors) to the finale, you can vote via the official AGT app and the NBC.com voting page until voting closes on Wednesday, August 10 at 7 a.m. ET. Even though Season 17 has been heavy on singers (to the point that I decided against a singer as my pick for the golden buzzer winner with the best chances of victory), the first night of qualifiers delivered a nice variety of acts, including an animal act with some misbehaving but thoroughly adorable dogs, dancers, a contortionist, comedians, singers, Terry Crews' golden buzzer saxophonist, and even a choir comprised of former NFL players.
Tune in to NBC on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of qualifiers and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET for the results for America's Got Talent Season 17. You can catch up on anything you've missed with a Peacock subscription, and find more viewing options on our 2022 TV premiere schedule.