The Voice – Final Blind Auditions

@stevebrookstein was out tonight and therefore offered us no introduction to the final round of blind auditions in this series of The Voice. In lieu of his insights, Jessie J announced that it was “time to raise the bar” and I for one was hoping for a couple of corkers to shake up a somewhat measly leader board.

Emmy J Mac, founder of the notorious Jingle Jangle Club For Kids opened the night by offering us ‘something different’ that sounded remarkably like something familiar. It was hard to place the exact style she was following but perhaps somewhere between Gabriella Cilmi, Janet Devlin and Corinne Bailey-Rae would describe it best. Danny now has three girls in his final ten. If we assume that he would like more than one in his final 5 and that one of those will be Bo Bruce, neither of which are guaranteed, then I see Emmy’s chances of passing the battle round at about 50/50.

Barmaid Jenny Jones underwhelmed with a slightly karaoke version of Mercy that did little to impress. Considering that she made it into Will’s team where she will be in direct competition with Joelle Moses, J Marie Cooper and Sophie Griffin, I don’t see her as a threat in the battle stage.

Will had tic-tacs, because he stays fresh, holler. Between Danny’s sycophantic mime-dancing and Jessie’s vocal ‘expertise’, I’m finding more and more that Will is a breath of fresh, robotic, futuristic air.

Next up in the Last Chance Saloon was an award-winning musical star whose rejection only served to assure us that The Voice is not afraid to be formulaic. Hopefully this bodes well for future speculation.

Will’s next acquisition was Sophie Griffin, whose slightly shouty rendition of American Boy definitely showed potential. Whether there is room for her in a final 5 that could well include Joelle and J. Marie remains to be seen but she has youth, always a useful factor, on her side. Next up it felt like time for a no and sure as eggs is eggs, Ben Lake became another rejectee.

We were then introduced to Indie and Pixie, two BFFs who wouldn’t have looked out of place singing into hairbrushes. Considering the vocalists that Jessie has slated thus far, it seems a little odd that she was so enthused about the duo but novelty and variety won through. I wonder if that novelty would be enough to carry two very shrill singers past the battle round in a strong category.

Next up was Lindsay Butler, who surprised nobody by inspiring only Tom to swivel. I don’t fancy her chances in a team with several very accomplished, older, female singers. After Lindsay came the Devlinesque manic pixie dream girl (it’s a thing, honestly), Harriet Whitehead. Harriet was one of my favourite auditions so far and I was stunned that she didn’t make the cut. A quick browse online revealed that she has some previous experience as a contestant on Wales’ The V Factor but such a minor accomplishment didn’t seem enough to overlook her as a contender for the crown in The Voice.

John James Newman arrived next and he loved his dad, much like notorious comeback kid Amelia Lily did a long time ago in an X Factor far, far away. Danny picked up the pub singer, perhaps in the hope that they would one day join forces and sing a patronising ‘rock’ ballad about drinking cheap wine and crying over girlfriends past. I may be wrong but Danny’s category just looks too competitive to see this guy through the battle phase.

In last week’s review, I opined that Leanne Mitchell had no chance of making the final – a blatant oversight on my part as Andrew pointed out. If each coach is to have one act in the final then Leanne stands a good chance of representing Team Tom. Having said that, tonight saw the appearance of another strong voice in the adorable 19-year-old belter Ruth Brown. It seemed odd that no other coach showed an interest but Ruth definitely bolsters the credibility of what otherwise looks largely like an obligatory ‘overs’ category.

Becky Hill, a slightly less dull Sophie Habibis, arrived next to impress with her cover of the Will co-written Ordinary People and she has now overtaken Jessica Hammond with some bookmakers. In my opinion, she was a stronger vocalist and I can picture her sailing through the battle round, provided she is teamed with a weak enough opponent.

Next up, Chloe Blackwell failed to make the cut, despite demonstrating a great stage presence and killer vocal. Will blamed the voice in his gut (it was asking for a tiny bottle of probiotic yoghurt) for not turning his ruddy chair. A VT introduced the two remaining contestants in order to inject some perfunctory tension into the final moments of auditions. Daniel Walker missed the mark with a solid cover of Kiss From A Rose and then we were introduced to the final auditionee of the night, Jaz Ellington.

Jazz Ellington, Jazz Ellington, Jazz Ellington. Not only was he the final contestant of the blind phase, he was given double the coverage and allowed to sing two songs based purely on the fact that he was very good (what’s the betting that Ordinary People will be back in the charts next week?). The judges wept or applied glycerine to their eyes, one or the other. Jaz is now the front-runner with most, if not all, bookies but I think we have to be careful about picking out a winner this early. Jaz was incredibly solid but his voice was somewhat indistinct. On top of that, early prophecy has oft boded ill for contestants of reality television. Danyl Johnson did not win X Factor, Susan Boyle did not win Britain’s Got Talent. Let’s perhaps hold our horses for a little while. Still, The Voice producers clearly showed Jaz an extraordinary amount of favour and that must have meaning.

Next week, we have been promised ‘soul on a pole’, singing lessons from someone in The Script and still more impressive singers on ITV. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been reading the Hunger Games trilogy (definitely worth a gander if you choose to interpret the books as an indictment of the reality genre) but The Voice continues to feel like TV without much bite. At least, now that we have a full deck of players to reflect upon, the guessing games can begin for real.

So how will they pair the players? As cheesy as the battle phase appears, it introduces a new dynamic. Of course, contestants are pitted against one another at judges’ houses in X Factor but we are meant to believe that they are all vying for a number of spots, rather than being pitted against another hopeful in their ilk. I doubt somehow that the pairings will be picked at random and thus it makes sense to pit like against like in order to flush out the filler and allow for maximum variety in the final stages. On top of this, producers will also want to avoid similar acts from different teams making it through to the finals together. Parallels between acts could make for great competitive TV but two versions of the same singer would doubtless land one coach with egg on his/her face if his/her act has to sing in the same show as a better version of themselves.

A trio of Js currently represent the shortest odds. Jaz, Jessica and Joelle make for a respectable top three, followed shortly thereafter by Becky Hill. After that, Max Milner, Vince Kidd, Bo Bruce, David Julien, J Marie Cooper and Adam Isaac fill out the top 10 as listed at oddschecker.com. Jaz and Jessica are the obvious favourites but Becky looks reasonable at 15/1 with Skybet at time of writing. I was initially doubtful of Joelle but recent stories in the press suggest she could be set up for a ‘journey’ on the show. I do feel, however, that the odds neglect to acknowledge the public preference towards the straight-white-male-everyman type. Max Milner, David Julien, David Faulker and Aleks Josh are all available at varying degrees of value but whether any of them can challenge the front-runners is hard to call. I won’t be betting on a winning manager any time soon – not when Will has clinched the front running vocalist and Danny and Jessie both have solid teams. It does, however, seem fair to speculate that Team Tom won’t take the crown. Not unless Ruth Brown can really win the public’s heart.

Let us know your thoughts on the final 40. Who looks good in each team and what odds are tempting you at this still-early stage? In a week’s time, singers will commence the battle round, in which they are sent against one another in an excruciatingly visceral fight to the death. Limbs will be torn, larynxes ripped from throats by bare hands. May the odds be ever in your favour.

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26 comments to The Voice – Final Blind Auditions

  • Despite having watched all four “blind audition” shows (which I was disappointed weren’t a bit more Equus), I find it hard to keep track of and recall the contestants. Part of it’s down to the editing (something Cowell’s shows do extremely well, as has been pointed out), but no-one for me stood out – with the possible exception of the hippy girl tonight who no-one turned round for! I didn’t expect to like her but I really found her stellar and moving. Apart from that, there was no “Misha moment”, no-one who “shut the building down” etc…

    At this very early stage and not really being familiar with the format, I think David Julien (the fuzzy Wigan shelf-stacker who seems to be playing the show’s Matt Cardle role) and the hat guy (David Faulkner?) are the best bets at present, as they fit the talent-show archetype you mention and boast likeability. I honestly couldn’t remember who most of the other favourites were until googling them just now. I think Vince Freeman is also not to be underestimated, as The Voice is possibly drawing a slightly more mature/traditional audience than Syco productions on ITV do. Compared to ITV, the BBC1 audience is slightly older, more middle-class and more southern.

    (On a completely off-topic note, as you happen to mention it, I’m just under halfway through the first Hunger Games novel and finding it good so far. It’s the perfect book for our times – X Factor meets North Korea – and the author sugarcoats nothing and has a not-unsophisticated understanding of how totalitarianism works, and I think communicating this to teens is tremendously worthwhile. Looking forward to seeing the film which looks v promising.)

    • Dug

      Hey Eurovicious,

      I’m hoping for some live horses and blinding spikes in the battle round. I’m interpreting the word battle in the most literal sense and I’m prepared to demand a refund on my licence fee if at least half the contestants aren’t mortally wounded.

      I agree in full about not having connected properly with any of the contestants – focusing on the voice is a great idea but in a way there’s less of a sense of who these people would be as artists and I think that’s what drew me to hippy Harriet despite the fact that she’s not my typical taste. Same goes for Chloe Blackwell who also failed to make the cut and Vince Kidd whose chances I do not fancy. David Julien and Vince Freeman are both good picks for men and I agree about the older demographic.

      And I’m glad that you’re enjoying Hunger Games – I think it works equally well as a message on totalitarianism and as a critique of the X Factor etc. The film is good – not too watered down or Twilighty – but it still doesn’t capture the awkward balance between brutal violence and glamourised personas that make the book so relevant to our subject here on Sofabet.

    • Dug

      An unlikely champion from a rural district is bemused to find herself hurled into a frenzy of mentors and makeovers. She is then forced into a deadly arena where her refusal to play by the rules quickly angers the Capitol. Organisers of the whole debacle then endeavour to squash her like a bug, despite her overwhelming support from the population.

      Remind you of anyone in the last X Factor?

  • Boki

    I didn’t watch it last night and also have problems with keeping track with previous ones but looking forward to half cut. Do we get to know the battle couples in advance (and more important can we expect odds for H2H)? I guess not, although there are some hints of few couples in the battle teaser trailer, right?

  • Boki

    Couples which I could recognize from the trailer:

    Danny
    max milner – bill downs
    murray hockridge – hannah berney

    Jessie
    vince kidd – jessica hammond
    toni warne – kirsten joy

    Tom
    ruth brown – deniece pearson

    Will
    j marie cooper – sophie griffin
    jay norton – jaz ellington

    • Dug

      Good work Boki, Max seems like an obvious winner over Bill but the big surprise for me is Vince vs Jessica – two of the bigger personalities and front runners. It seems rather a shame to knock one out.

      • Boki

        Maybe they wanted to give a ‘fair competition’ impression by putting big vs big and not big vs fodder. Or this is just an exception and nice opportunity to get rid one of the two for whatever reason that might be. I would keep Vince for the variety but not comittinig to anyone anyway, actually I’m more of a qualification/eviction type punter and hopefully there will be some opportunities there.

    • Oh, that’s really interesting. Suggests to me that Vince Kidd is doomed (if Jessica’s such a fave). Ruth vs Deneice is controversial, I think Deneice is miles better but it may go to Ruth. Puir wee Jay Norton (who I just had to google) doesn’t stand a chance based on the show’s pimping of Jazz, and Sophie Griffin (who I also just had to google) will likely fall to J Marie Cooper. Max Milner vs Bill Downs could go either way, and Toni (the bald chick) will win her battle. Those are my tres sketchy predictions for now.

  • Noisy

    I thought India and Pixie were poor. I wonder if Jessie had been told to pick them to even the teams out a bit.

    The majority of acts that got all 4 judges to turn round (so I’m assuming the best acts especailly earlier on) seemed to choose to be on Jessie’s team.

    Do you think the Voice is going to have the same level of producer manipulation that x factor enjoys?

  • Oli

    Hello, I have really enjoyed The Voice so far which seems to be different to many on here..

    Having trawled through the DS spoiler thread you can pretty much deduce the top 20.

    SPOILER ALERT!!!

    Apparently J Marie Cooper, David Faulkner & Jess Hammond don’t make it past the battle round…

  • Andrew

    Oli, I was just thinking how much I missed Judge and his spoilers! 🙂

    It makes sense for some high profile acts to suffer the Jade Richards shock exit treatment, and as Boki noted, we did see Jess Hammond in the ring with Vince Kidd, so there’s going to be a high-profile absentee there one way or the other.

    Here’s something that may or may not be interesting. Looking at oddschecker, Sportingbet have Jess longest (16s, vs as low as 7s elsewhere) and Vince shortest (12s, vs 14/16s elsewhere). In another of the matchups Boki noted, the same firm have Max Milner shorter than anyone else and Bill Downs joint-longest. They’re shorter than anyone on Hannah Berney and longer than anyone on her opponent in the trailers, Murray Hockridge. They’re longest on J Marie Cooper, second shortest on Sophie Griffin.

    Interestingly (or perhaps not), they’re also longest on Jazz Ellington. Is there anything on him on the DS spoiler thread, Oli?

    Having said all that, have to give kudos to the BBC for having kept a tight ship so far. Usually at this stage of XF the betting tells its own story. Of course, impossible to know who to trust on spoilers on a new show, anyone can post anything on DS – there’s been no time for someone like Judge to build up a track record.

    All things considered, I think I’ll leave alone until after judges’ houses battle rounds. Too much annoyance potential to be punting in a field where half of them are non-runners already but we don’t yet know who.

    • Andrew

      P.S. Great writeup as ever, Dug. I too am hoping at least one of the battles turns physical. Preferably with guitars.

    • fiveleaves

      The sportingbet specials compiler used to post on betfair, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re more clued up than some.

      They don’t take my bets for starters 🙂

    • Boki

      Spoilers or not, I’m disappointed we’ll not get the battle markets 🙁

    • Oli

      Hi Andrew

      I have a lot of time on my hands so I have looked through the spoiler threads and tried to make a ‘masterlist’ only of the ones which seem certain.

      SPOILER ALERT!

      Team Jessie: Vince beats Jess Hammond, Toni beats Kirsten and Cassius beats David Faulkner. This leaves Ben Kelly, Indie + Pixie,Ruth Ann & Becky. There is no indication what the pairing is but it seems that Ruth Ann & Becky make the final five.

      So Jessie has Vince, Toni, Cassius (?!), Becky and Ruth Ann (!!)

      Team Danny: The five battles are clear here from the preview and spoilers.
      Max beats Bill
      Aleks beats Vince
      The three other pairings are..
      Hannah & Murray
      Bo & Emmy
      David & John James

      I’m not sure who wins these but on the spoiler thread someone has asserted that Hannah, Bo & David get through. Which seems quite likely but I would take it with a pinch of salt.

      Team Will

      Once again we know the pairings here.
      Sophie beats J.Marie
      Joelle beats Jenny
      Frances beats Kate

      No one is sure of Tyler vs Heshima, Or Jaz vs Jay. My educated guess would be Tyler and Jaz but it is a guess.
      Although weirdly enough Jay popped up on BBC breakfast last week which made me think he’d be in the lives but maybe I’m reading to much into it and he’s just close to their new studios!

      Finally Team Tom

      Ruth beats Deniece
      Barbra takes on Leanne winner unknown
      Also Matt + Suleen are through
      The other 5 no one knows about
      Educated guesses would be Sam & Adam get through.

      I hope that was helpful and I hope I’m right otherwise I will have a lot of egg on my face come next Sunday Evening

  • fiveleaves

    I expect he’s probably just read the DS spoiler thread.

  • taichou

    yeah also i saw that Jess Hammond has been in studio recording songs. I believe she’s out 100% unless Voice contract is different to X Factors about recording your own music during the show…

  • Pauline

    I can’t remember most. However, I do remember Matt and Suleen :D, whom I quite like. I am sorry Harriet didn’t get through (I like hippy types). Of the others the only one who sticks in my mind is Ruth, purely because of her astounding breath control.

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