TV's Best Musical Moments of 2012

The Insider

As the year comes to an end, and the more I reflect upon the good and bad the last 365 days have wrought, the more I realize what a tremendous year it's been in pop culture.

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Not only a banner year for film, music and television but also music on television. From scripted to reality to televised concerts, the ear and the eye were delighted in equal measure throughout 2012 making it nearly impossible to select TV's 12 Best Musical Moments of 2012. Emphasis on nearly.

12. Taylor Swift's First Live I Knew You Were Trouble Performance
From the minute this dubstep-tinged track first worked its way into my heart, I was infatuated. The progressive and form-breaking sound was perfectly matched by Taylor's most grand performance to date. Calling to mind great set pieces like Madonna's Vogue and Britney's Slave 4 U, Swift quickly sent the message that her sound wasn't the only part of her evolving at The American Music Awards.

11. Smash Debuts Strong
It's essential that every music-based scripted series include one performance for the ages in its pilot. Glee closed out its first episode with the still-anthemic Don't Stop Believing and Smash more than stepped up to the plate with their Grammy nominated Let Me Be Your Star. Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee's synchronized singing not only perfectly encapsulates the show's message, but sends chills up my spine every single time I watched it (the view count is around 1,245 by now).

10. Kelly Clarkson Looks to The Past
2012 featured the release of two new Kelly albums (October's Stronger and November's Greatest Hits: Chapter One) and saw the original American Idol snag four massive Grammy nominations (for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album). It was thanks to that reflective record that her fans were gifted with this Best Of medley at November's American Music Awards.

9. Nashville Nails It
I've already explained the single requirement for a music-based scripted series' pilot, and ABC's Nashville also served up a whopper of a musical moment when Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio gave my heart goosebumps with their emotional rendition of The Civil Wars' If I Didn't Know Better.

8. Pink Does More than Try
With its complex choreography and intricate emotional work, the world marveled at the music video for Pink's stunning Try upon release in October. But I don't think anyone expected her to replicate the routine live on stage at the American Music Awards. Oh, and she sang live throughout, putting all of her contemporaries to shame.

7. America Meets Carly Rose Sonenclar
Every time Kelly Clarkson's American Idol audition is shown, I recall that 2002 day I originally watched her decimate Etta James' At Last and remember saying she would be a huge star. And while The X Factor has yet to crown a winner, there is no doubt in my mind we'll be saying the same thing about Carly Rose Sonenclar in 10 years since her rendition of Feelin' Good still gives me chills.

6. Jimmy Fallon Gives The World All It Really Wants
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon produced countless viral videos this year, and while his comedy bits have been massive (Yeah, that's right, you Slow Jam the News Mr. President), the show has truly tapped into something magical with their random object musical performances. Carly Rae Jepsen may have done it first, but (as always) Mariah Carey did it best when The Roots accompanied her on All I Want For Christmas Is You.

5. Frank Ocean's Dazzling Debut
Frank Ocean made waves this year when he came out as bisexual, but the artist's defining moment was his first television performance, smashing Bad Religion on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon back in July.

4. Glee Flips The Script
Kurt Hummel, and the world at large, fell deeply in love with Blaine Anderson thanks to his energetic a cappella version of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream in Glee's November 9, 2010 episode. So it was all the more powerful that Fox's musical once again tapped the Teenage title to bring Klaine's love affair to an end in the October 4 episode, titled The Break-Up. Double kudos to star Darren Criss for delivering one of the most haunting performances of a pop songs I've ever experienced.

3. Idol Gets It Right. Twice.
There are a lot of critiques you could lob at American Idol, but the most justified is that the show is seemingly incapable of producing a decent winner's single. Save for A Moment Like This, the winner always seems ashamed while forced to perform the track during their promotional victory lap. Thankfully that streak was broken this year when Phillip Phillips was gifted with the incredible Home.

2. Jennifer Hudson's Whitney Houston Tribute
The world wept on February 11 when it was confirmed Whitney Houston had passed away at the age of 48. In the coming weeks, everyone with a microphone would offer up musical tribute to the fallen angel, but no one would do it better, or with more success, than Jennifer Hudson, just one day later at the 2012 Grammy Awards when she opened the evening with a show-stopping rendition of Whitney's biggest hit, I Will Always Love You.

1. The Pinnacle of Jersey Pride
Hurricane Sandy ravaged the north east in October, and on December 12, Hollywood rallied to stage the concert telethon of a lifetime -- 12-12-12 -- bringing together music's biggest living legends for an evening of support, solidarity and song. And while the night was rife with iconic moments, none was more powerful than seeing prodigal sons, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, sharing the stage. Click here to watch!

What was your favorite televised musical moment of 2012?


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