Despite Howie Mandel sneakily hitting fellow judge Heidi Klum's buzzer during their performance on Tuesday's live episode of 'America's Got Talent,' the duo tell PEOPLE they hope their song was "just one big hug that everybody felt"
Trailer Flowers are singing their hearts out, no matter what their critics think.
Despite Heidi calling him out and cameras actually catching him do the deed, the 67-year-old judge insisted he "would not press my buzzer in the semifinals."
Heidi, 50, didn't seem to buy Howie's sarcastic quip and was puzzled by his behavior. "What is going on with you, Howie? There is an invisible line right here," she said during the live show, gesturing to the space between them. "This is your side, this is my side."
Simon Cowell also addressed the matter, offering an apology to the Nashville singers. “First of all, I don’t think the producers should have done what they just did, because we don’t have a lot of time to talk and actually give you something constructive,” he said of the producers replaying the moment on screen. “So I apologize.”
— America’s Got Talent (@AGT) September 20, 2023
Speaking to PEOPLE backstage after the final season 18 qualifier round, the country duo — best friends Brooke and Jack — explain why they weren't fazed by Howie's actions, or the lukewarm reception from the judges.
"We don't live for anyone's criticism, and so I honestly had open hands about whatever the judges may have to say," Brooke tells PEOPLE. "We respect anyone's opinion, and it's okay if we're not for everybody. So we're excited to spread country music and to keep doing our thing."
Jack echoed her partner's words, sharing, "We don't live for anybody else's validation other than Jesus Christ."
Though he insisted he didn't press Heidi's buzzer during the live episode, Howie appeared to have a change of heart backstage, telling PEOPLE of the moment: "I think sharing is caring."
"Sometimes I have to do her work for her," he jokes of his fellow judge. "But I don't know why she did that or why she had me do it."
Despite the night's antics, Trailer Flowers ultimately feels "really grateful" to have performed on the America's Got Talent stage and hope anyone who "needed to hear" their song on Tuesday "felt the lyrics."
"We also believe that anything that's destined and made for you cannot be taken away from you," Jack tells PEOPLE. "So I know that we are meant to be up there tonight."
"We hope that it was just one big hug that everybody felt," she adds of their performance.
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Fans will find out if Trailer Flowers is one of two viewer-voted contestants to move onto the season 18 finale when the America's Got Talent results show airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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