The 12 Defining Performances from Reality TV (the 2014 Edition)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

I enjoy this time of year!

Around the holiday season, I unleash several countdowns of epic proportions.

Up first…the 12 defining Reality TV performances from 2014!

I have looked all over the globe for the best up-and-coming artists that appeared on the Idol, Got Talent, Voice and X Factor franchises. For the first time in the countdown, there are THREE winners, TWO runner-ups and ONE instrumental-based performance!

Tee Hey Jude X Factor Australia

Backed by a choir, Tee made “Hey Jude” into one of the best performances from this year’s “The X Factor Australia.” (Photo property of FremantleMedia Australia)

12. Tee: “Hey Jude” (X Factor Australia Season Six)

Our countdown begins in Australia! Last season on The X Factor Australia, Ofisa “Tee” Toleafoa, stunned the judges in earlier rounds…but failed to convince his then-mentor Ronan Keating to send him through to the Live Shows. With a brand new attitude and support from new mentor, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Tee soared into the Live Shows with a powerful and emotional take on “Hey Jude.” He made his New Zealand-based mother proud and received a standing ovation from both his current and former mentors!

11. Lola Saunders: “Stay With Me” (X Factor UK: Season 11)

Lola Saunders was crushed when her judge, Cheryl Fernandez Versini, told her that she would not be going to the Live Shows! However, thanks to the efforts of X Factor UK stalwart Louis Walsh, Lola was given one final chance to sing for the UK as a Wild Card! Lola took that second chance and gave a soaring cover of Sam Smith’s signature song: “Stay With Me.”

10. Jack Pack: “My Way” (Britain’s Got Talent: Season Eight)

As a 90s alum, the Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men and *NSYNC set the bar so high that today’s boy bands could not touch them! However, the Jack Pack proved they were musically superior (and sounded 1000xs better) then the trio as they delivered a goose-bump inducing cover of the Chairman of the Board’s timeless “My Way.”

Paul Akister Ghost X Factor

Paul Akister’s “Ghost” was a true highlight during the first few weeks of “The X Factor UK’s” live shows. (Photo property of ITV)

9. Paul Akister: “Ghost” (X Factor UK: Season 11)

I (along with the millions of international X Factor UK fans) was screaming at my computer when Louis Walsh eliminated Paul Akister at the Judges’ Houses during the show’s tenth anniversary season! Paul came back and blew everyone away at each stage on the competition. However, he came into his own when he covered X Factor UK alum Ella Henderson’s hit “Ghost.” He showed confidence, conviction and powerful runs that showcased why he has a bright career ahead of him outside the show!


Jesse Kinch Rising Star I Put A Spell On You

“Rising Star’s” reigning champ Jesse Kinch had “A Star Is Born” moment when he sang “I Put A Spell On You.” (Photo courtesy of Jesse Kinch)

8. Jesse Kinch: “I Put A Spell On You” (Rising Star USA)

While Rising Star polarized TV fanatics, everyone can agree on one thing; the show produced a superstar with inaugural winner Jesse Kinch! While he delivered epic performance after epic performance, it was his audition that began a path to Victory Road. His jaw-dropping cover of Nina Simone’s “I Put A Spell On You” gave viewers chills and made classic rockers Joe Cocker, John Fogerty and Robert Plant proud.

7. Josh Kaufman: “Set Fire to the Rain” (The Voice: Season Six)

It is never easy to sing an Adele song on a competition show; many judges (or coaches) would call out the contestants for not creating their own interpretations of the song. However, Josh Kaufman won his season of The Voice with his show-stopping cover of the tune that featured superb vocals and dramatic showmanship!

6. Caleb Johnson: “Dream On” (American Idol XII)

Our trip to Winner’s Row concludes with an out-of-this-world performance from the reigning American Idol champion: Caleb Johnson! For the 2014 American Idol finale, show creator Simon Fuller chose “Dream On” for Caleb to sing! The rocker took the track to new heights and delivered a rousing (and perhaps show winning) performance complete with former Idol judge Steven Tyler’s signature scream!

5. Sons of Serendip: “Ordinary World” (America’s Got Talent: Season Nine)

There must have been something in the Radio City Music Hall water fountains during AGT’s Top 12 night because three performances from this night alone are featured in the Top Five! Up first, Boston University alums Sons of Serendip! They beautifully transfigured Duran Duran’s 1993 hit. The arrangement combined with Micah Christian’s booming voice gave everyone chills!

Emil & Dariel I Don't Want to Miss A Thing AGT

Emil & Dariel gave everyone chills with their interpretation of Aerosmith’s signature rock ballad. (Photo property of NBC)

4. Emil & Dariel: “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” (America’s Got Talent: Season Nine)

Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” has been performed on multiple talent competitions. However, brothers and cello virtuosos Emil & Dariel took the rock ballad to new heights during AGT’s Top 12 night. From the first few notes, the audience was hypnotized by the beautiful notes and was in tears when the choir made their entrance! Despite not making the finale, Emil & Dariel set the standard for classical instrumentalists who try out for the show.

3. Lucy Kay: “Nessun Dorma” (Britain’s Got Talent: Season Eight)

“Nessun Dorma” is the most difficult opera arias to perform for anyone! The last time, I heard anyone attempt this was when the one and only Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin, triumphantly performed the aria at 1998 Grammy Awards. 16 years later and across the pond, a remarkable young lady named Lucy Kay gave her beautiful interpretation at the Britain’s Got Talent that received high praise from Simon Cowell himself.

Sisaundra Lewis Oh Sherrie

Sisaundra Lewis stole the show with her electrifying cover of Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie.” (Photo property of NBC)

2. Sisaundra Lewis: “Oh Sherrie” (The Voice: Season Six)

Sisaundra Lewis is probably the best vocalist that has EVER APPEARED on The Voice! Her powerful performances throughout the season gave me goose bumps. However, I was little hesitant when I heard she was going to tackle one of the cheesiest rock songs of all-time: Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie.” With the help of Voice band director Paul Mirkovich, Team Blake’s high vocal priestess commanded the stage and took the audience to church with her signature high notes!

Emily West AGT Finale

Throughout the entire show, Emily West did not disappoint and her cover of “Nights in White Satin” are her best performances on the show. (Photo property of NBC)

1. Emily West: “Nights in White Satin” (America’s Got Talent: Season Nine)

2014 was a comeback year for Emily West! After losing her recording contact with Capitol Records Nashville, she rebounded by auditioning for America’s Got Talent. With every round, Emily delivered superb performances that stunned the AGT audience. However, it was her Top 12 performance of The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” that sealed her position in the Season Nine finale. This was a true vocal master class performance!

I do not own the clips that are featured in this article. They belong to the television shows and their respective networks!






  1. I whole heartedly agree with Jesse Kinch having the best audition in AMERICA, but this Aussie perfomer was the best Australian audition EVER heard in Australia!


  1. […] from your time on “AGT” was “Ordinary World.” It reached the Top Five of my favorite Reality TV Performances of 2014! Why did the group pick that particular song to perform on the show’s Top 12 […]

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