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It's Been Real: The Week In Reality Rocks Ending Nov. 9

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Meanwhile, Simon's golden boys Emblem3 didn't even make the top three (the look on Simon's face when he heard this news was PRICELESS). Ironically, despite his vehement, phone-slamming protests over getting "stuck" with the Over-25's category this season, L.A. Reid ended up with two contestants at the top of the leaderboard. This was even more ironic considering how aggressively "The X Factor" had courted the teeny-bop vote all season. Are kids even watching this show?

However, L.A. did lose one Over-25's contestant last week. In the end, it was Jason Brock--the out-and-proud contestant who'd been nicknamed "Mr. Entertainment," had performed on the show amid glitter explosions, and had even dared to pinch hunky host Mario Lopez's rear end on one live broadcast--who was the first "X Factor" finalist to be voted off by America. But Jason went out in his usual abfab style, as only he could, memorably belting out Bonnie Tyler's '80s epic "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" and triumphantly declaring, "I did it for the gays and Japan!"--a slogan that really needs to be printed on T-shirts and sold on the Fox website right away.

Things were a lot more sedate over on "The Voice" last week. "Tonight, there are no bells and whistles. It is stripped down, so you can focus on what matters--the voice," host Carson Daly announced at the start of the first live competitive "Voice" episode of the season, in what kinda/sorta seemed like a dig at "The X Factor's" crazy kitchen-sink approach. (Side note: "The Voice" did see the triumphant return of off/on mascot Purrfect The Cat last Wednesday, which was really the best TV gimmick of the whole week. She was missed.)†But that didn't mean "The Voice" didn't have its share of standout, gabbed-about performances. And interestingly, many of the best of the bunch were by underdogs, contestants who not long ago had actually seemed like fodder: Amanda Brown, Cody Belew, and Sylvia Yacoub.

Former Adele backup singer Amanda Brown completed her spectacular journey from Team Cee Lo castoff to stolen-away Team Adam frontrunner when she took on Aerosmith's mighty "Dream On" and, suffice to say, did astounding, glass-shattering, pulse-quickening things with the power ballad that put Danny Gokey's cringeworthy Season 8 "Idol" version to shame. "Get it gurl!" howled Christina Aguilera. Oh, Amanda got it, all right. She got it good.

Meanwhile, Cee Lo Green, the man who made the silly decision to not keep Amanda, proved he'd made the right decision to keep Southern sweetheart Cody Belew, who continued to be-low me away. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.) Cody's rendition of George Michael's "One More Try" was a real tour de force--the guy sounded like, looked like, and just flat-out was a star. Blake Shelton even confessed that his wife, Miranda Lambert, crushes hard on Cody--and, judging by the studio audience's screams, it was obvious that Miranda is far from alone.

But the biggest "Voice" revelation of the week had to be Sylvia Yacoub, who out of nowhere totally wowed with her stunning rendition of Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away." I had no idea that she played piano, and I have no idea why we didn't see this singer-songwriter side of Sylvia before. Before this performance, I wasn't even rooting for her to get past the Battle Rounds...and now I realize, and freely admit, that I underestimated this woman, as did probably everyone else watching this show. Thankfully, America totally took notice and voted her through, so Sylvia was not Season 3's one that got away.

There were some sad cuts on "The Voice" this week, however, the most surprising being Team Cee Lo's shaggy-haired, guitar-strumming teen heartthrob, MacKenzie Bourg. Although Cee Lo did what he had to do--MacKenzie hadn't received enough public votes, so Cee Lo was forced to make a Sophie's choice between MacKenzie and Cody for his final team member--it was still difficult to grasp the concept that such an adorable kid could be going home this soon. If MacKenzie had competed on "Idol" (or even "The Glee Project"!), he could have won the whole show. As for the other shocker--Christina's decision to make pretty pop starlet Adriana Louise her personal pick over androgynous fan favorite De'Borah--Christina had made it clear from this season's first episode that she's on the hunt for babydivas, basically mini-me versions of herself. And De'Borah, though the more unique and interesting choice, clearly did not fit that mold.

Oh well. Speaking of divas, this week it was announced that one of the most unique and interesting singing-show contestants of all time, Adam Lambert, has been tapped to host VH1's forthcoming "Divas Live" special. And that makes sense, because if there's one dude who totally gets a diva pass into this elite girls' club, it's Adam, because he can keep up and belt with the best of 'em. I expect--nay, demand--no fewer than a dozen costume changes from the great Glamerican Idol when the show airs December 16.

But long before "VH1 Divas" airs, this week it'll be "Diva Week" on "The X Factor"--which of course makes me even more disappointed that Jason Brock did not stick around. (This would have his time to shine!) And over on "The Voice" this week, for the first time this season--and actually for the first time in "Voice" history--the contestants will be competing without team quotas, meaning that just the top vote-getters, regardless of coach affiliation, will make it through. That will really level the playing field; it'll be every man, woman, and diva for him- or herself. So rock the vote, and watch this space.

Parker out.

Related links:

Experts debate "Voice" & "X Factor" results

"Voice" Season 2 winner Jermaine Paul debuts new video

Follow me on Twitter, Amazon

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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