Jake’s Take’s Top 20 Reality TV Performances of 2016-Part One

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is ending in less than one month.

This was a monumental year in performance-based Reality TV.

American Idol took its final bow; Simon Cowell became the head judge on three TV shows, and Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus became the first two female coaches to join Adam Levine and Blake Shelton on The Voice panel.  Plus, Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson became the first Idol alums to become coaches of The X Factor Australia and The Voice UK respectively.

In addition, we watched artists received second chances of a lifetime (MacKenzie Bourg, Laura Bretan, Billy Gilman, and Dalton Rapattoni), stars being born (Sarah Aalto, La’Porsha Renae, Linkin’ Bridge, and We McDonald), and artists dividing their show’s respective fan bases (Honey G & Grace VanderWaal).

Today, Jake’s Take begins a two-part countdown that honors the best performances from Reality TV this year!

(Photo property of iTV & Syco Entertainment)

(Photo property of iTV & Syco Entertainment)

#20: Jasmine Elcock, “Believe(Britain’s Got Talent: Season 10)

Britain’s Got Talent celebrated their 10th anniversary season this year! One of the best performers to grace the BGT stage was 14-year-old Jasmine Elcock. While I am not a huge fan of child performers, Jasmine’s gorgeous and mature vocals on Cher’s “Believe” made the performance one of the most heartfelt auditions of the season. Also, Ms. Elcock made veteran judge Alesha Dixon weep and received Ant & Dec’s Golden Buzzer.

Dalton Rapattoni Bird Set Free

(Photo property of FOX)

#19: Dalton Rapattoni, “Bird Set Free(American Idol XV)

I had the pleasure of visiting American Idol during its Top 4 week and Dalton Rappatoni’s performance of “Bird Set Free” gave me chills. Every word that he sang broke my heart, and my members of the press corps were extremely impressed with this performance.  Dalton bared his soul on stage and because of that, earned a spot in the “final” American Idol finale. I will remember watching this performance and looking at a star being born on that celebrated CBS Television City soundstage.


(Photo property of NBC & Syco Television)

(Photo property of NBC & Syco Television)

#18: Edgar Family Band, “Bless the Broken Road(America’s Got Talent: Season 11)

I will be bluntly honest with you, the Edgar Family Band, were one of the acts that should have been in the Season 11 finale. They improved at every stage in the competition. However, their best performance, “Bless the Broken Road,” was the last time they appeared on the show as contestants. The vocal harmony between the trio was spectacular, and I believe that someone should sign them because they would be the hottest alternative rock trio in the country.


(Photo property of NBC & MGM TV)

(Photo property of NBC & MGM TV)

#17: Paxton Ingram, “Break Every Chain(The Voice USA: Season 10)

When The Voice USA went live during Season 10, many fans were confused why Paxton Ingram was part of the Top 20 and questioned Blake for saving him during the conclusion of the Live Playoffs. Paxton proved everyone wrong during Top 11 week when he sang Tasha Cobbs’ gospel hymn: “Break Every Chain.” Paxton’s flawless vocal performance was probably the best male vocal from his season.


(Photo property of NBC & MGM TV)

(Photo property of NBC & MGM TV)

#16: Billy Gilman, “When We Were Young(The Voice USA: Season 11)

Many millennials remember Billy Gilman for singing “Ben” at Michael Jackson’s epic 30th Anniversary Celebration and being one of country music’s brightest young artists. However, as Billy got older, he faced problems maintaining a recording career. This year, Billy returned to the spotlight as a pop singer and had one of the most important Blind Auditions of the past four seasons of the NBC singing competitions. Win or lose Season 11; Billy Gilman has all he needs to get a recording contract and reclaim the spotlight.


(Photo property of NBC & Syco Television)

(Photo property of NBC & Syco Television)

#15: Sal Valentinetti, “My Way(America’s Got Talent: Season 11)

For Reality TV veterans, Sal Valentinetti charmed Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and guest judge Adam Lambert one year ago on American Idol. Unfortunately, Sal was eliminated during Hollywood Week. While a particular America’s Got Talent (AGT) alum won Sal’s season (Beach Avenue alum Nick Fradiani), Sal did not give up on his dream and auditioned for AGT: Season 11. His outstanding interpretation of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” blew away the judges and received one of the rare four-judge standing ovations from the auditions. Unlike the final Idol judges’ trio, Heidi Klum gave him a chance and awarded him with her Golden Buzzer. Sal ended up in fifth place, but I believe that he has a bright future ahead of him!


(Photo property of 7 Network & Syco Entertainment)

(Photo property of 7 Network & Syco Entertainment)

#14: Natalie Ong, “When Love Takes Over(The X Factor Australia: Season Eight)

Pack your bags and have your passports handy! We are heading to Australia to watch Natalie Ong perform David Guetta & Kelly Rowland’s massive club hit: “When Love Takes Over.” The Adam Lambert-mentored artist delivered one of the Top 12’s only knockout performance of the season with her outstanding vocal riffs. Sadly, after receiving a standing ovation from the judges and superb compliments, Australia voted to eliminate her. (What the heck is wrong with you, Australia?)


Saara Aalto My Heart Will Go On

(Photo property of iTV & Syco Entertainment)

#13: Saara Aalto, “My Heart Will Go On(The X Factor UK: Season 13)

Our international talent trip returns to the UK as Sharon Osbourne’s “Finnish fairy princess” delivered one of the best Celine Dion covers I have ever heard on Reality TV. Saara’s brilliant interpretation gave me goose bumps and her excellent vocal range does not hold a candle to any of the contestants remaining in the competition. Win or lose, Saara’s voice needs to be heard globally!


Ali Caldwell Top 12 The Voice

(Photo property of NBC & MGM TV)

#12: Ali Caldwell, “Did I Ever Love You?” (The Voice USA: Season 11)

Team Miley’s Ali Caldwell is one of the artists that you should be watching this season. Between dominant performances such as “Dangerous Woman” and “Times Have Changed,” Ali continues to impress her coach and her fans every time she stepped on the Universal Studios Hollywood soundstage. Ali showcased her softer side as she paid homage to the late Leonard Cohen when she sang a heartfelt “Did I Ever Love You?” I believe that this vocal performance will be one of the reasons why Ali might be in the Season 11 finale.


Musicality Vocal Group performs Born This Way

(Photo property of NBC)

#11: Musicality Vocal Group, “Born This Way(America’s Got Talent: Season 11)

Musicality closes Part One of this year’s countdown! I was very disappointed with America for not voting them into the Season 11 finale. As a mentor for an inner-city non-profit that works with at-risk high school youth, Musicality charmed me since their beautiful cover of One Direction’s “Night Changes.” Of all their performances on America’s Got Talent, their astonishing cover of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” lifted my spirit. Their soloists were on point, and the chorus soared like eagles over Mount Rushmore. I hope that some performing arts foundations reach deep into their pockets to fund this program because I believe programs such as Musicality should be in every high school across the nation.

The clips that are sprinkled into the article belong to the following:

*American Idol: 19 Entertainment, FOX & FremantleMedia North America

*America’s Got Talent: Syco Entertainment & NBC

*Britain’s Got Talent/The X Factor UK: Syco Entertainment, Thames & iTV

*The Voice USA: NBC & MGM Television

*The X Factor Australia: Seven Network & FremantleMedia Australia


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Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar