"How do you gauge a singer to somebody who juggles chainsaws? It's crazy," Brad Paisley tells PEOPLE
Ahead of his season 14 guest appearance on Tuesday, the country star, 46, opens up to PEOPLE about joining the judges’ panel with Simon Cowell, Julianne Hough, Howie Mandel and Gabrielle Union.
“I had a blast. It was really fun,” says Paisley, who has judging experience from the short-lived 2014 singing competition Rising Star.
“[AGT] is not only multi-generational, but we’re talking about multi whatever; I would say genre, but it’s not even genre. It’s beyond that. It’s multi-sort of category,” the singer says. “We’re talking about crazy magicians and singers, and then there are dancers and acrobats — people who do crazy things well.”
Paisley adds, “It’s unlike any other show that way. I really enjoyed it.”
The father of two — along with Jay Leno, Ellie Kemper and Dwyane Wade — had the opportunity to bestow one lucky act with the coveted Golden Buzzer, which will catapult the contestant straight to the live shows.
“What’s fun about the show is unlike shows that are sort of limited to just singing, that, on any given show, can run the gamut from really great to really bad,” Paisley says. “There are so many different things. How do you gauge a singer to somebody who juggles chainsaws? It’s crazy, it’s a very entertaining show in that way.”
And the 11-time CMA Awards co-host says he learned a lot about finding raw talent thanks to seasoned judges Cowell and Mandel.
“I’ve only met [Simon] a few times, but I just have an enormous amount of respect for his wisdom in the music business and his eye for talent,” Paisley says. “His no-nonsense manner is also really fun to witness firsthand.”
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During his time as guest judge, Paisley recalls seeing a side of Cowell that many fans may not get to see on-screen.
“It’s an interesting thing, because when we first got to know him on TV, he got this reputation sort of quickly of being a really hard line, tell-it-like-it-is guy. But, when you sit there at the judges’ table with him, you just start to realize how much he just cares about getting it right. That’s pretty inspiring,” he says.
“He’s somebody willing to what they think in this day and age, face-to-face, on national television with people, and he’s also somebody who does know what they’re talking about,” Paisley adds of Cowell.
The three-time Grammy winner also praises Mandel, Union and Hough, calling them “really interesting, different experts.”
“I’ve toured with Julianne. … We’re old friends,” Paisley says of Hough, who previously traveled on the road with him. “She actually just did a movie with my wife too,” he says of Hough and Kimberly Williams-Paisley in Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: Jolene for Netflix. “They became really close in that. You can’t help but love her.”
Though he met Union for the first time on the day of his guest judge appearance, he was blown away by her talent. Similarly, Paisley is a fan of Mandel, applauding him as a “great guy” and “mainstay on television.”
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.