Jake’s Take’s Top 15: The Best Performances in the History of Reality TV

Melanie Masson X Factor

“The X Factor UK’s” resident rocker delivered an astonishing rendition of “A Little Help From My Friends” that gave everyone goose bumps. (Photo property of SYCO TV, Thames & FremantleMedia)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is hard to believe that American Idol launched 12 years ago!

Since Kelly Clarkson was crowned the winner of the inaugural season, talent competitions have been dominating ratings worldwide!

I am proud to present 15 performances that changed reality television forever!

15. Melanie Masson: “With A Little Help From My Friends” (X Factor UK-Season 9, 2012)

Of all the Overs that have appeared on the flagship X Factor program, Melanie Masson was one of the most powerful performers the show has ever seen. Her commanding cover of the Beatles’ hit “A Little Help From My Friends” showcased so much fire and passion. It is a shame that this woman was not in the finals of Season Nine!

14. Kelly Clarkson: “A Moment Like This” (American Idol-Season One, 2002)

This was the performance that changed Kelly Clarkson’s life. While many Reality TV aficionados might think that this deserved a higher spot in this countdown, Ms. Clarkson was not as composed (several screeching moments during the song) for the winning moment and missed several verses in the song.


Forte America's Got Talent

Forte’s cover of”The Prayer” paved the way for a successful career in the music industry. (Photo courtesy of NBC & SYCO Entertainment)

13. The Forte Tenors: “The Prayer” (America’s Got Talent-Season Eight, 2013)

The Forte Tenors revisited their rebirth performance during AGT’s Season Eight finale. With the help of AGT’s creative director Brian Burke, the trio transformed their performance into a visual spectacular worthy of a Vegas show. It also helped that they gave almost everyone chills as well!

12. Sisaundra Lewis: “Oh Sherrie” (The Voice USA-Season Six, 2014)

Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie” has a reputation for being a cheesy, glam metal song! However, Team Blake’s top songstress transformed this track into a powerful soul anthem that took everyone to church!


Will Champlin At Last The Voice Season Five

Will Champlin’s cover of “At Last” blew everyone away and transformed him into a contender for the Season Five crown. (Photo property of NBC’s Tyler Golden)

11. Will Champlin: “At Last” (The Voice USA-Season Five, 2013)

Will Champlin was The Voice: Season Five’s ultimate underdog. He had been bounced around between Team Adam and Team Christina, until Adam stole him back in the Knockout Rounds. However, Will transformed himself from underdog to contender with his powerful rendition of “At Last” that showcased octave leaps and his superb showmanship that earned him a spot in not only the Final Three, but in fans’ hearts.

10. Juliet Simms: “Roxanne” (The Voice USA-Season Two, 2012)

Juliet Simms made her mark on The Voice’s sophomore season by inserting her raw and sturdy vocals into classic songs! Not only was her rendition of “Roxanne” was that season’s best performance by a female artist, but it also encouraged female rockers to try out for the NBC juggernaut!


Haley Reinhart American Idol

Despite the judges’ harsh criticism, Haley Reinhart grew as a vocalist and became a fan-favorite contestant on “American Idol’s” tenth season. (Photo property of FOX’s Michael Becker)

9. Haley Reinhart: “I Who Have Nothing” (American Idol-Season 10, 2011)

For many longtime Idol fans, many remember (and cried foul about) Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez’s harsh criticisms of Haley Reinhart! However, with the little help from Lady Gaga and then-In House mentor Jimmy Iovine, Haley delivered one of the most emotional and prevailing takes of “I Who Have Nothing” that no one has touched since her season!


Chris Mann You Raise Me Up Voice

Chris Mann’s powerful performance of “You Raise Me Up” showcased his signature vocal range and incredible stage presence. (Photo property of NBC’s Trae Patton)

8. Chris Mann: “You Raise Me Up” (The Voice USA-Season Two, 2012)

Throughout my five seasons of covering The Voice, Chris Mann stands out as the show’s best male vocalist! When my fellow Kansan sang his inspirational take on Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” he not only cemented his place in the Classical Crossover genre, but he also set the bar of excellence so high for future contestants that only a few have ever touched.

7. Jonathan & Charlotte: “Caruso” (Britain’s Got Talent-Season Six, 2012)

Before the 2010s, the thought of singing duos did not appease me. It was not until the discovery of Jonathan & Charlotte, that I began to change my mind. Their goose-bump inducing performances made audiences around the world roar in pure delight. While the duo has currently gone their separate ways, hopefully they will sing together again in the future.


There was not a dry eye in the house when Fantasia won "Idol's" third season (Photo property of FOX)

There was not a dry eye in the house when Fantasia won “Idol’s” third season (Photo property of FOX)

6. Fantasia: “I Believe” (American Idol-Season Three, 2004)

There was not a dry eye in the Dolby Theatre, when Fantasia was crowned the third American Idol winner. I never connected with a winner’s career achieving moment until Fantasia sang her inspiring first single: “I Believe.” She showcased her un-denying passion in her performance, which made everyone believe that they can follow their dreams and they can come true.

5. Adam Lambert: “A Change Is Gonna Come” (American Idol-Season Eight, 2009)

During Adam Lambert’s groundbreaking run on American Idol, he redefined what it meant to be a contestant. While many bloggers and fans consider “Black or White” or “Mad World” to be his best performances, I argue that his cover of Sam Cooke’s signature song is his finest performance. It began to open the conversation for the acceptance of the LGBT community and equality across the country.

4. Jennifer Hudson: “Circle of Life” (American Idol-Season Three, 2004)

It is rare when a Reality TV contestant pleases a visiting guest mentor who is a music legend. The future Oscar and Grammy winner’s iconic cover of “Circle of Life” blew Sir Elton John away and cemented her future as an international icon.


Stacy Francis performs Purple Rain

Stacy Francis’ “Purple Rain” impressed “X Factor USA” viewers and recording artists Nicole Scherzinger and Enrique Iglesias. (Photo property of FOX and SycoTV)

3. Stacy Francis: “Purple Rain” (The X Factor USA-Season One, 2011)

Throughout the first nine years of talent competitions’ rating dominance, no artist ever covered a song by Prince. When Stacy Francis covered the song during the show’s inaugural season, she opened the door (and set the bar high) for other artists to cover this song. No one has matched Ms. Francis’s beautiful interpretation of this iconic tune!

2. Susan Boyle: “I Dreamed A Dream” (Britain’s Got Talent-Season Three, 2009)

It was the audition seen around the world! Millions of people watched Susan Boyle prove a very cynic Britain’s Got Talent audience (including Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell) wrong. Once, she sang the title phrase…the audience exploded with delight as they witnessed Boyle’s international star-making moment.


Clay Aiken Idol Finale

Clay Aiken’s interpretation of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” not only remains the best Reality TV performance of all-time..but also he is one of the best male vocalists to have hit the”American Idol” stage. (Photo property of FOX)

1. Clay Aiken: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (American Idol-Season Two, 2003)

North Carolina’s native son delivered the performance of a lifetime when he brilliantly transformed Simon & Garfunkel’s simple song into a gospel anthem that made him a star! His final notes gave everyone chills and cemented his place at the top of the Idol pantheon.

I do not own any of the clips that are featured in this article. They belong to the show’s respective television channels and production studios!


  1. Dude Tessanne Chin’s take on the Whitney Houston classic “I Have Nothing” absolutely deserves to be on this list. Maybe you were sleeping for that episode.

  2. Suncatcher says

    Spot on: Forte / The Prayer and Adam Lambert / Change Is Gonna Come – both brilliant! Have social media campaign going to get America’s Got Talent 2014 to bring back Forte for their finale in September! Forte has never sounded better than they do right now! If you get a chance, drop AGT, the judges, producers, Simon Cowell, a message!!! Thanks!

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