A curly-haired teenage girl with a guitar wows the world with her insightful song lyrics, beautiful voice and sheer musical mastery. Are we talking about Taylor Swift circa 2008 or 15-year-old Sophie Pecora on last night’s America’s Got Talent? Who can say? Brad Paisley, that’s who. The country star gave the young singer-songwriter-rapper her golden-buzzer moment during Tuesday’s second-round AGT auditions. We are stunned.
It would seem Paisley, along with fellow judges Simon Cowell, Julianne Hough, Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union—and, okay, the rest of us—were totally wowed by Pecora’s performance of her original song “Misfits.” The girl may not love talking in front of a crowd, but hand her a guitar, and she’s suddenly a superstar.
During her first-round audition, Sophie took the stage with a personal song peppered with strong anti-bullying lyrics. Needless to say, her bravery and talent touched America and the judges, who advanced her in the competition with four yeses. This time around, her lyrics addressed social media, and the “perfect images” we see on the Internet—a choice that seemed to strike a personal chord with the audience and judges.
“I think I would know you from that one song,” Paisley told Sophie after her performance. “That’s incredible to stand up there with just a guitar. I mean, that takes incredible cojones,” he said. Paisley continued to discuss the substance of her song, commending Sophie for tackling an issue as “pervasive” as social media, and we couldn’t agree more.
“You have schooled so many people in this moment,” he said, right before slamming on that famous golden buzzer (cue the confetti), sending Sophie Pecora straight to the live shows.
Reflecting on his choice in an interview to People, Paisley likened Pecora’s talent to a certain blond gal with a guitar.
“Sophie’s more of the coffee house vibe, and I thought [the golden buzzer] might need the nudge, because it reminded me, actually, of some of the early stuff that Taylor Swift was doing,” he told the magazine. “In the sense that Taylor was writing these songs that started out with her and a guitar, and what it was like to be that age, and every girl that was anywhere near that situation immediately just took to what Taylor was doing. Sophie delivered perfectly.”
Do we see a handful of platinum albums and stadium tours in Pecora’s future? Time will tell.