ADEM Show made their way onto the stage of America’s Got Talent in 2019 with a massive challenge in front of them. Simon Cowell was grumpy. Even grumpier than usual. As can be seen at the beginning of the video, Cowell was scathing of everything he had seen up until that point. “When it’s not as good as we’ve had before,” he told one rejected act, “I can’t get excited.” To another, he dismissed in a bored voice, “Way too generic. You’ve got to do something better than people have done before.”
So that was what Kyrgyzstan’s ADEM Show was up against. They needed to do something original that was better than what the judges had seen before. Considering this was Season 14 of the long-running talent show, that was no mean feat. “This has been a seriously odd day,” Cowell sighed wearily. Then the ADEM show appeared on stage, assembled together in outfits inspired by the game Mortal Combat. Cowell became wide-eyed with surprise. Refusing to introduce themselves made the judge even more intrigued.
Forgoing the usual pre-performance conversation with the judges, a sound of electricity began the performance. Cowell looked positively spooked by this point, already breaking out of his boredom. The dance group shook as if being brought to life by the electric charges. As fast as electronic music started, they broke out into perfectly synchronised robotic dancing that left Julianne Hough, Cowell’s fellow judge, open-mouthed with amazement.
After this, the group showed their astonishing—even slightly disturbing—contortion skills. Arms were twisted and pulled out of the joint. Heads were moved improbably to give the impression of decapitation. “Oh!” cried judge Gabrielle Union with a look somewhere between amazed and nauseated. One of the dancers then twisted his whole torso around while clutching his ankles. It was presenter Terry Crews’s turn to squeal, and he had to look away with a sense of horror at what he had witnessed.
The performance climaxed with a truly astonishing sight. In portraying one of the members being killed, the victim of the attack managed to lean back further and further on one leg. The incredible balance that he displayed seemed to defy all the laws of physics. The group reassembled, with the electric shocks returning them to their static positions.
As the performance ended, the crowd screamed with joy and amazement. All four judges joined the crowd in getting to their feet to applaud what they had just witnessed. The group took off their masks, revealing actual human beings, which seemed somewhat implausible given the moves they had managed to pull off.
Hough tried to speak, but the crowd was ready to stop screaming. Eventually, she was able to get her words out. “What you guys created on stage was freakin’ amazing!” she cried, and the audience screamed in agreement.
Over to Cowell, their biggest obstacle to getting through to the next stage. “I always like to see something I haven’t seen before,” he told them with genuine gratitude in his voice. Finally, his frustrations had washed away, and he could complete the four yeses for them to go through to the next round. As the 45 million views of this video on YouTube demonstrate, this truly was original and better than any such acts that had come before on the show.