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It's Been Real: The Most Memorable Reality Rocks Moments Of 2012

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5) Amanda Brown Dreams On

This former Adele backup singer took on Aerosmith's mighty "Dream On" during the first live show of "The Voice" Season 3, and the result was the stuff rock 'n' roll dreams are made of. This power ballad had always been former "Idol" judge Steven Tyler's signature song, but Amanda ROCKED this and totally made it her own. Suffice to say this was a whole lot better than Danny Gokey's "Idol" version. She looked like a total rock star, she hit ALL of the high notes (that scream at the end! whoa!), and by the glass-shattering conclusion of this tour de force, Xtina was fanning herself with a giant pink feather and howling, "Get it gurl!" This performance stands as the best of Season 3, and will forever stand as one of the best "Voice" performances ever. How on earth did Amanda not make it to the Season 3 finale?

4) Juliet Simms Puts A Woman's Touch On "Man's World"

It's hard to imagine that any talent show contestant could top Joshua Ledet's version of "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World," but Team Cee Lo's rock goddess Juliet did just that during the second season of "The Voice." Her incendiary take on the Godfather's classic ironically had me believing that a woman could actually win Season 2, despite the fact that men hogged all the votes that particular season. This was just jaw-droppingly, heart-stoppingly, eye-poppingly AWESOME. Juliet summoned up all the fire and frustration pent up inside her after years of trying to make it in a rock world "which is saturated with men," and she just let it RIP. And she did it while wearing some absolutely fabulous Ziggy/Gaga space-oddity shoulderpads that I am sure Cee Lo was eyeing with envy. I still can't believe this dynamite lady lost out in the finale to Jermaine Paul.

3) Lyric 145 Get It Poppins

On "The X Factor's" Movie Night, some contestants played it safe with expected song choices, but Lyric Da Queen and her 145 guys covered "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"--YES, the Mary Poppins ditty--and it was one of the most bizarrely brilliant, or at least brilliantly bizarre, talent show performances I'd ever seen. They were dressed like Alice In Wonderland tea-partiers. They were jumping up on banquet tables. They were flanked by weird, Tim Burton-esque mummy dancers. They got all up in L.A. Reid and Britney Spears's grills. (And I think one of them even proposed to Britney, which probably surprised her fiancÈ, Jason Trawick.) And Lyric rapped every nonsensical syllable--even backwards at one point--without getting her tongue twisted once. This was exciting. This was original. This was theater. This supercalifragilisticexpialidociously amazing. This was the performance of a $5 million act. But tragically, Lyric 145 went home in 12th place the very next week, and Season 2 got pretty boring after that.

2) Phillip Phillips Brings It On "Home"

For a while, it looked like Jessica Sanchez had a real shot at winning "American Idol" Season 11 and becoming "Idol's" first female champion in five years (not to mention the show's youngest winner ever). But then Phillip closed the top two show with his coronation song, "Home," and then the marching band paraded out--and Phillip's deal was sealed. He won right then and there. Unlike most corny "I Believe A Moment Like This Is My Now Because I'm Flying Without Wings And Having The Time Of My Life Inside Your Heaven" coronation sapfests on "Idol," this acoustic, Mumfordian ballad sounded cool and current--like a "real" song, not something churned out by the 19 Entertainment hit factory--and it suited Phillip perfectly. It went on to become the top-selling coronation single in "Idol" history, and with good reason. Perhaps the only person who didn't love "Home" right away was Phillip himself (he dissed the song at first, foolishly), but I am sure he appreciates it now.

1) "The Voice" Pays Tribute To Newtown

Following NBC's classy move to eschew "SNL's" usual comedic opening skit and instead have a children's choir dedicate "Silent Night" to the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy in Newtown, the network opened its final competitive "The Voice" Season 3 episode in a similar but even more moving way. The season's contestants--along with the four coaches, host Carson Daly, and social media correspondent Christina Milian--stood on a candlelit stage singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," while holding individual cards printed with the names (and, even more heartbreakingly, the ages) of each of the horrific shooting's victims. It was probably the best version of "Hallelujah" that I'd ever seen on any singing competition (and I've seen a LOT of them). This was an unusually dark and somber moment for a talent show's splashy finale week, for sure--but an entirely appropriate one.

What were your favorite singing-show moments of 2012?

Related links:

Best music videos of 2012

Best new artists of 2012

Top reality TV headlines of 2012

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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