Each year “America’s Got Talent” attracts top talent from all around the globe, but in 15 seasons viewers have never experienced anything quite like OLOX, an Arctic Siberian duo that incorporated their unique culture into a contemporary pop song on Tuesday’s fourth episode of auditions. Zarina Kopyrina and Andreas Veranyan-Urumidis shocked judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Howie Mandel with their haunting vocal style and drum techniques. Watch their audition of “Zombie” by the Cranberries above.
“It’s one of the most cold, remote inhabited places on planet Earth,” says Zarina when describing her homeland. “Then two years ago we came to the United States!” But this pair isn’t expecting much hometown support. They come from a village of only 900 people that only started getting the internet three years ago.
“Living in that severe environment, you need to be in harmony with all animals, humans and mother nature,” Zarina explained to host Terry Crews. “When we’re on the stage we’re bringing our ancestors. We hope that we will get the universe’s energy through the audience and through the judges.”
“I just love the outfits you have on,” gushed Heidi when they walked onto the stage. They explained to the the supermodel judge that they decided to come on “AGT” because it’s their biggest dream. “It’s so unusual being here,” Zarina said. “My people are in a small, remote place and the winter temperature can be minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.”
“I didn’t expect that!” Heidi exclaimed after Zarina began the performance with her distinct tone and nature calls. Soon after Simon was clapping along and the audience erupted into a standing ovation. “It’s so amazing, it’s so different,” said Howie. Sofia added, “It reminded me of a soundtrack to a wonderful movie. And you look spectacular in that outfit. It’s beautiful!”
Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara reunited during Tuesday's episode of America's Got Talent, marking the first time they've collaborated since their ABC series finale in April.
"My new family and my old family are together!" Vergara said.
In his first of two guest episodes, the actor, 48, joined his former costar, 47, on the judges' panel to fill in for Heidi Klum after she fell ill on set in early spring. Klum, 47, made a brief cameo after the first act and tearfully FaceTimed with judge Howie Mandel, who called to check in with her.
"I was sad to hear Heidi wasn't feeling well, but my first reaction was, 'Yes, of course, 100 percent, absolutely. What time do I need to be there and what do I wear?'" Stonestreet tells PEOPLE about jumping into the production at the last minute.
After memorizing scripts for over a decade on Modern Family, Stonestreet says working with Vergara on an unscripted show was a no brainer.
"Having worked with Sofia for 11 years, I knew how great of a personality she has and how funny she would be on a show like AGT, because anyone who spends any time with Sofia knows she's as funny in person as she is with a script," says the star, who will not be selecting a Golden Buzzer act during his guest stint.
"I've been a fan of Howie and Simon for a long time having watched the show. Both of them lived up to well beyond my expectations," Stonestreet says. "They were both kind and welcoming, and made me feel comfortable stepping in on such short notice."
Though he has been a fan of the show, Stonestreet says there was "one thing no one remembered to prepare me for" during the judging experience.
"I felt bad running into a couple of the people that I had to, unfortunately, say no to," he recalls, adding that he came "face-to-face with contestants backstage both who got through, and those who didn't get through."
On Tuesday night, the hit NBC competition show continued with its next round of auditions for season 15. But before any acts could wow the audience, viewers noticed that Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet was in Heidi’s seat. Right on cue, questions about the beloved AGT judge ensued, which Heidi quickly answered on Instagram.
“From Modern Family to the @agt Family ❤️,” she captioned a photo of the actor in her backstage chair. “Thank you @ericstonestreet for filling in for me when I was home sick.”
As previously reported, in early March when AGT was filming audition episodes, Heidi left the show’s set after not feeling well. As a precaution in the earlier months of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., she stepped away from production and got tested for COVID-19. On March 24, Heidi announced that she didn’t have the coronavirus.
“America’s Got Talent” season 15 resumed on July 14 with another two-hour episode showcasing the best (and worst) auditions. In this phase of “AGT,” an act needs at least three of the four judges (Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara) to give them a “yes” vote to advance to the next round. If two or more judges buzz the act, it is immediately eliminated.
Each judge, along with host Terry Crews, has one chance to hit the “golden buzzer” and send an act straight through to the live performances. Terry was inspired to press his golden buzzer on the season 15 premiere by the performance of the Voices of Our City Choir. Their mission is to serve the homeless community of San Diego. In their audition they sang “Sounds of the Sidewalk,” an original tune written and produced through their songwriting clinic. In the second episode, new judge Vergara made it rain gold for 10-year-old Roberta Battaglia who delivered a stunning rendition of Lady Gaga‘s “Shallow” with her mature-for-her-age voice. Then, on the third episode, Heidi sent singer Cristina Rae straight to the live shows as her golden buzzer act. Simon hit the button for WAFFLE Crew in the fourth episode, naming them his favorite audition of the season, and Howie bestowed his upon the show’s first ever spoken word poet, Brandon Leake, in the sixth episode.
8:01 p.m. – Though all of the golden buzzers have been given out and the auditorium remains empty due to rising COVID-19 concerns, the “show must go on” with more auditions to fill out the next stages of the competition. Tonight’s first auditioner was Alex Hooper in his triumphant return to the show after trying out a few years ago with a terrible set of jokes targeting the judges that got him buzzed off stage. Alex vowed that he’d be presenting a “new Alex Hooper” and with an apology to the judges, but after just one joke it was clear that yet again he had developed a comedy set just to take jabs at all the judges and Terry. That being said, the judges did laugh this time and he at least avoided getting buzzed away. In fact, he got all three judges to say yes and so he’s moving on to the next round!