Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reality Singing Shows: 25 Best Performances of 2014

The Olympics of Reality Singing Competition is back! But unlike last year, this edition is much more interactive. The usual suspects are still included - American Idol, The Voice US, The X Factor Australia, The X Factor UK, and The Sing-Off - but we now have the addition of The Voice UK, The Voice Australia, and Rising Star US in the mix.

This made the process a lot harder as we sift through all the performances, hence the extended help from the best set of people - seven [7] people - that are also into these reality singing competitions. You will be surprised with how much background they all have regarding the landscape of these shows.

So, DAM NATION gave them a shortlist of 60 performances and asked the panel to rank them according to their personal preferences. Tallied the scores up, and came up with a definitive list of 25 Best Performances of 2014. Sounds fun right?

Reality Singing Shows: 25 Best Performances of 2013

See what you make of this little lot below, and let us know of your thoughts.

25. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Jay James
The X Factor UK 11
[192 points]

The song choice was baffling at first, but the genius arrangement backed by Jay James' almost faultless vocals and emotional connection to the song, this turned out to be a fantastic rendition of the song and, without a doubt, his best performance on the show.

24. Seven Nation Army
Jesse Kinch
Rising Star US 1
[191 points]

He won the show - there was no other competition, to be honest - and this performance proved why. There's a palpable intensity to his delivery that's very reminiscent of Steven Tyler, and his vocals were mostly on point and his vocal tone's pretty recognizable.

23. Into My Arms
Dean Ray
The X Factor Australia 6
[189 points]

His tone on this song was pure magic, his vocals soared to great effect, his phrasing was lovely, the arrangement with just a piano to accompany his vocals was brilliant, the build up was amazing, the vocal dynamics was incredible, and yes, I could on and on and on and on about this performance.

22. Bang Bang
Christina Marie
The Voice UK 3
[185 points]

There's drama to this performance that was quite riveting to watch. But somehow her flawless vocal managed to stay on top of the whole theatrics and the booming sound of the band. Her delivered her intricate runs with superb precision, and the whole thing was just fierce.

21. Sex On Fire
Jamie Johnson
The Voice UK 3
[182 points]

If I didn't know better, I would assume that Sex On Fire was a song written especially for Jamie Johnson. This was a solid song choice for him as his voice had the power and grit to really lift a verse and he made each one a different experience. The intensity and passion was there and the whole performance was just transfixing. 

20. Chandelier
Andrea Faustini
The X Factor UK 11
[177 points]

Look, a LOT of contestants from different shows around the world have already attempted this song - of course, with varying degrees of success - but Andrea Faustini's version came in on top of the list. On paper, he should've crashed and burn with this song choice, but his voice just soared higher and higher. The quiet arrangement on the first part was divine and when he hit the chorus, the performance just exploded.

19. Cry Me A River
Chris Jamison
The Voice US 7
[162 points]

Chris taking on a Justin Timberlake hit was a walk in the park for him and it showed. His vocals were effortless, the transitions were flawless, it had presence, and it was just an all around outstanding performance. Not sure how Chris had me so interested in him, but it happened.

18. When Love Takes Over
Anja Nissen
The Voice Australia 3
[162 points]

Pitch perfect. Impressive control. Great range. Gorgeous girl. What's more to ask? Anja Nissen flawlessly showcased her fantastic tasty tone and she effortlessly glided around her upper register with ease especially towards the end.

17. Decode
Jena Irene
American Idol 13
[160 points]

This was the first moment Jena Irene made a case for herself as a strong contender for an American Idol win. It was every bit as haunting as Alex Preston's Falling Slowly and every bit as vocally impressive as Caleb Johnson's Skyfall. The intensity was incredible, her vocals just soared, and the vocal dynamic was compelling. It was a savvy performance, and she then clearly locked down a particular style, which made her a force on the show.

16. Budapest
Dean Ray
The X Factor Australia 6
[148 points]

Who knew Dean Ray could pull off something as vibrant as this? I'm used to hearing him sing something more moody and then to breakout and nail Budapest was a pleasant surprise. This was an incredibly charismatic performance with enough joy and quirk to the whole number. Here, he proved to be quite versatile.

15. Missing You
Jamie Johnson
The Voice UK 3
[142 points]

Jamie Johnson performed the absolute hell out of this song and delivered another stirring vocal that will be named one of the best performances of The Voice UK Season 3. Really. How he started off slow in the verses provided an interesting transition to a bigger chorus and when he got into it half way through, he never looked back! His supple voice with power was just impressive.

14. Sweater Weather
Taylor Phelan
The Voice US 7
[126 points]

Arguably, the best Blind Audition of The Voice US Season 7 and probably one of the most memorable of the whole US franchise. The song choice was a little unexpected, but he managed to make the song sound fresh as there's a discernible edge to his arrangement than the original, his vocals were fantastic, and there's an awkward stage presence to him that's quite fascinating to watch. 

13. Take Me To Church
Matt McAndrew
The Voice US 7
[124 points]

Perfect song choice. Strong vocals. Pure Awesomeness.

12. Stay With Me
Reigan Derry
The Voice Australia 6
[122 points]

At the onset, it would seem that this beautiful song made the performance special, but she actually showed some brilliant vocal control, a couple of beautiful little touches on the melody, and her great tone gave the performance some added dimension The way she made some of her notes sound so pure, raw and clear and how she used her vibrato for emphasis was quite impressive.

11. Uptown Funk
Fleur East
The X Factor UK 11
[118 points]

This was just flat out awesome! The energy level was contagious, her vocals were on point, and the staging and choreography was on a league of its own. Is she the best singer? Hardly. But she was the most entertaining and she knew how to use them to the hilt. She brought the stage presence other contestants were lacking and just made the others look duller than usual.

10. When I Was Your Man
Chris Jamison
The Voice US 7
[117 points]

Oh Chris, this was lovely. Never would've thought that a Bruno Mars ballad would work for him, but his nuanced and restrained vocal performance was just a thing of beauty. The way he navigated the melody impeccably with his voice was excellent, his transitions were spot on, and how he infused his falsetto into the song was genius. 

09. Dark Horse
Christina Grimmie
The Voice US 6
[116 points]

The dark intro arrangement was brilliant. She was a little inconsistent after her stupendous blind audition, but she bounced back with a riveting version of Katy Perry's Dark Horse. Her vocals were fantastic, the liberties she took with the melody was just about right, and this was probably Christina proving that she could very well be a legitimate pop star in the making.

08. Happy
Lauren Platt
The X Factor UK 11
[112 points]

On paper, Lauren Platt and Happy should not have worked as there's nothing one can do to make the song not sound like a lame copy of the original - especially with a marked beat - but the glossy arrangement was quite dazzling. The slowed down first half was absolutely clever and the effort she put into tuning the song to compliment her voice was very well done.

07. Jealous Guy
Ben Haenow
The X Factor UK 11
[102 points]

Everything really did come together for Ben Haenow with Jealous Guy. He delivered some impressive vocals with enough character and texture giving him a recognizable sound, his connection to the song was remarkable, and his stage presence - though awkward - worked. There were also some interesting choices of throwing in some jazz during the opening verse, and just the whole performance aspect was well thought out.

06. Stay With Me
Josh Kaufman
The Voice US 6
[84 points]

Never really figured Josh Kaufman to be capable of delivering a water cooler performance early in the competition. Stay With Me was a perfect song choice for his voice. His pitch was faultless, the tone to his voice sounded lovely, and how restrained his verses and then just went all the way towards the end was unreal. And then backed it up with a pretty dramatic production and lighting, the performance just became nothing short of a showstopper.

05. Can't Help Falling In Love
Jena Irene
American Idol 13
[79 points]

This was Jena Irene in her element. A little skeptical with the song choice at first, but she managed to breathe new life to this Elvis Presley classic. It was gorgeous, haunting, restrained that showed everyone the difference between knowing what you're singing about, and just making noise. Simply outstanding.

04. Creep
Jena Irene
American Idol 13
[75 points]

This was by far one of the strongest performances I have seen this year. Her vocals were powerful and soared to new heights and the way she worked with the dynamics of the song was like watching a vocal masterclass. I was seriously considering punching a soul that week if she gets cut before Top 3. This was an impeccable version of Creep, and she does belong here.

03. Take Me To Church
The Sing-Off 5
[65 points]

The Sing-Off Season 5 was turning out to be a dud with underwhelming performances throughout the episode. Then, Melodores pulled all the stops and gave a rousing performance of Take Me To Church.  The arrangement was awesome, the modulation was great, and I enjoyed the simplicity of it all. Plus, the lead vocalist was sensational. How things exploded towards the end was a fabulous way to end the show.

02. Fix You
Christina Marie
The Voice UK 3
[52 points]

No doubt, this was a phenomenal rendition of Coldplay's Fix You. Christina Marie certainly had vocal power, but how much technique she holds as a vocalist was exceptional and the way she delicately balanced her pitch and dynamics to a perfect degree blew me away. How she did not win her season is beyond me!!

01. Hold On, We're Going Home
Christina Grimmie
The Voice US 6
[51 points]

Winning by one point above Fix You, Christina Grimmie's stellar version of Drake's Hold On, We're Going Home emerged as DAM NATION's Best Performance of 2014. It was a big risk to tackle a song outside of your usual genre, moreso a Drake song, but she confidently put her own stamp on it and just pulled it off. She showed some brilliant vocal control, excellent vocal dynamics, and impeccable falsetto. She managed to perfectly blend her spot on vocals with her usual vocal bombast and that much needed swagger.


Here's a quick rundown of how the voting went for the Top 25 - excluded the performances that ranked 26 to 60.

Let me know who wants to join for next year. 


David Dong said...

love the list and glad there is a few aussie xfactor performances. I personally preferred Dean Ray's 'stolen dance' and 'betty davis eyes' over the other 2 but oh well still all good.

Rune Ward said...

Love Lauren, but credit where credit is due to the arrangement on Happy

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