Now in their 17th season, the audition rounds for this year’s America’s Got Talent competition have already revealed some potential rising stars. One contestant, Drake Milligan, achieved the ultimate compliment from judge Howie Mandel, who deemed the singer/songwriter the “New Elvis of Country.”
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As Milligan took the stage on June 7, he shared his personal background, including how Elvis inspired his career moves as a musician. Milligan then performed a stunning original song for the panel of celebrity judges, including Mandel, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, and Sofía Vergara.
In a pre-stage interview, Milligan explained how a chance encounter with an Elvis impersonator in his childhood led to him picking up music at an early age.
“When I was about 7, I went out eating with my family, and there was an Elvis impersonator at the restaurant, and I was enthralled. I think that’s where I decided I wanted to be like Elvis,” he said. “It was cute at first—I’d go putting on my jumpsuits, I was dyeing my hair black, but it probably wasn’t until one of the first times that I got on stage and sang one of my own songs and figured, ‘Man, this is something I could do, you know? I could pave my own way.’”
The 23-year-old then compared his audition for the NBC TV competition to The Ed Sullivan Show jump-starting the career of Elvis and The Beatles. Despite being signed to a record label in Nashville, Milligan said he sees the AGT stage on the “same scale” as the famed variety show, hoping it will help him garner a bigger audience.
“Back in the day. Elvis had ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ and The Beatles too, and I see this kind of on the same scale of that, almost bigger, way bigger,” Milligan explained.
Accompanied by his band, Milligan launched into his song “Sounds Like Something I’d Do” from his July 2021 self-titled EP. The singer charismatically sang the song in a full denim outfit, pausing to shake his hips, shimmy his shoulders and point to the crowd in a very Elvis-esque fashion.
I ain’t the kind to settle down/ Or let myself get wrapped around/ Somebody’s finger, but if I had you/ Baby, sounds like somethin’ I’d do, Milligan sang in the chorus.
“I think that song is a hit. And I think that you’re a hit. You’re like the new Elvis of country,” Mandel said after the performance. “I think you’re gonna break out from this particular song, this particular moment on this particular night.”
Milligan received four resounding yeses from the panel of judges, moving him onto the next round in the competition. Watch his full performance below.