The Voice was back tonight. Back like a bad rash. I spent most of the last week applying probiotic yoghurt to sensitive areas in the hope that it would go away. It didn’t. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised this evening. I don’t know how many real contenders showed up but there was more emphasis on people that could actually sing. It wasn’t all guitars and folksy authenticity smokescreens.
First up was Joelle Moses – another poster child for the idea that backing singers need a chance to shine. It’s true, they do, because society judges every black female singer on whether they are as powerful as Beyonce or as pop as Rihanna. Joelle was obviously neither but she gave the most solid opening vocal of the series thus far. I liked her a lot but I don’t see her going all the way, despite the fact that Jessie J rewarded her performance with a choice dance move from Whigfield’s Saturday Night. Danny wanted to work on her breathing but she chose Will, who doesn’t seem to breathe much at all. Because he’s a robot. From the future.
Jessie J announced this evening that she’s really picky about the voices she writes for. Only unique talents, like Miley Cycrus, warrant that level of attention.
We were then introduced to a pizza spinning everyman, Jay Norton, who really needed a ‘dawler’, whatever than means. It’s perhaps a constituent part of a ‘ballid’. Jay looked like he’d bogwashed a few nerds in school and then realised that he’d pull more girls if he pretended to be sensitive. My immediate dislike of him told me that he might have a chance of impressing in the long term, despite his horrendous vocal affectations. Jessie thought his licks were clean, like a cat bath presumably. He chose Will.
The Voice’s next Last Chance Salooner was Alison Browne, who had previously won Best Unsigned Act at the MOBO awards. Keeping in with the theme thus far (ditching applicants with a certain level of success), The Voice rejected Alison and her voice. I wonder if this predictability can give us hope for accurate speculation in later rounds or if it might lull us all into a false sense of security. Holly reminded us, once again, that there were no second chances.
Leanne Mitchell, a holiday camp entertainer, was the first pleasant surprise of the evening; the first rhinestone in an otherwise floppy fedora; the first instalment in an evening that showcased more big voices and less angsty quirks than previous episodes. Tom Jones liked her timber. Not her timbre, but her timber. I, for one, liked her haberdashery. She was an awesome vocalist but I see her chances of making a beeline for the final at a zero. Leanne chose Tom, placing her very firmly in the ‘overs’ category. I don’t think she was even that old but she’s been branded as mumsy now.
Next up, Cassius Henry told us about the time he was nearly on Top Of The Pops. At this point, I feel that the idea of privilege and experience has become the main theme, rather than an exception in The Voice. Is it too wild to speculate that perhaps The Voice has a contestant or two lined up ‘for the win’ with substantial experience and the show wants to stamp the idea of unfairness out early? After a horribly cynical sob story involving a deceased brother, Cassius belted out NeYo’s sleaze anthem, Closer, in a suitably sleazy fashion. The judges talked about Cassius needing a second break and Cassius chose Jessie to tighten his ‘licks, trills and runs’. Also, Danny admitted that he was unqualified for vocal coaching.
It does feel sort of obvious at this point that The Voice is looking for a winning coach in either Jessie or Danny. The attention given to the other two (less cringe-inducing two) coaches has been minimal at best. I certainly agree with Andrew’s comment about Danny looking like the best price for a winning mentor.
We were then treated to a few clips of mediocre piano-bar singers that seemed to serve no purpose at all. There was some ‘old, smokey wisdom’. It was great.
Next up, we were treated (and I use that word without irony for once) to a performance by Hannah Berney. Her rendition of ‘You and I’ was certainly better than a certain Shoutelia Silly’s but it lacked the latter’s likeability and star quality. I don’t see Hannah as winning material but her voice was very good. Danny needs to keep his lips together during these auditions. We don’t need any more reminding that he’s, like, so ‘into’ the music, man.
Cris Grixti was the next lamb to the slaughter and seemed to solidify the point that odd looks don’t guarantee you a free pass on a blind singing context. His vocal was, I’m sorry, atrocious. Luckily, he wasn’t sent forward. Let’s be fair, though. A person of average height wouldn’t have even garnered a slot on the show with his voice.
Bill Downs was every republican mom’s dream and performed a rendition of Plan B’s ‘She Said’ in a way that was fairly reminiscent of the time that X Factor’s The Risk were good for exactly two minutes and three seconds. Perhaps Bill Downs will have limbs replaced during his run on The Voice and suffer for it. Or perhaps he will continue to stand as a reminder that getting married is what good people do. Am I supposed to give a flying lovemake that some guy from somewhere might have to move his wedding date in order to be on TV? Bill chose Danny and the nation hiccoughed in shock.
Next up was Kate Read who appeared to have a phobia of tunes by the way she dodged her way around committing to a single note during her performance of ‘True Colours’. Kate was, in my opinion, the words vocalist of the night and seemed to have styled herself in the theme of ‘people I picked on in school’. To me, she was another sad product of the Devlin factor – that need for The Voice to produce something Devlinesque in order to show up the debacle of last year’s X Factor. Having slagged her off, I have to wonder how Kate would do up against last week’s Frances.
After all that, Alys Williams popped up to warble with a Welsh accent and I actually found her quite endearing, nationalist undertones aside. The judges were mugs so they didn’t put her through.
It was hubris time next, as Nathan James sang his arrogant little heart out in an attempt to wow the judges and/or gain a roll alongside Justin Lee Collins in Rock Of Ages. Vocal ability must stand for very little in this competition if Nathan was overlooked. He was very accomplished as a singer but very unlikeable.
Next up was one of the gazillion people who have claimed being Amy Winehouse’s closest friend since her death. Despite a poor vocal, he turned a chair in Will – which only makes me doubt that coach’s winning potential even more. Tyler James didn’t sound like a winner to me.
Danny needs to stop miming along to people’s auditions. It makes my mouth dry up and shiver.
I looked at the clock at ten past eight and knew that it was time for one more ‘biggie’ to perform. That ‘biggie’ came in the form of relatively famous Bo Bruce, a aristocrat or something (Waissel anybody?). Will thought she sounded like miso soup. Danny had wanked over the same records as her. She sang very well but I fail to see how the British Public would ever see past her apparent privileges enough to get behind her.
Of the night’s performers, I’d pick out Leanne and Hannah as the strongest voices in a night that seemed to be a bit more about the girls. Jay and Bill both seem like they have a good chance of connecting with the public but, as ever, it feels to early to call any of the contestants as potential champions. A quick flick over to ITV and Britain’s Got Talent revealed the rather magnificent Chelsea Redfern. If I were to bet on anyone winning The Voice, it would be her. Sadly, she’s not even on the show. And neither is her magnificent nan.