We get that The Voice is all wholegrain and authentic but there are times when you need a pantomime villain in high-waisted trousers to slag everyone off. As well as making great TV, it gives punters a lot of clues as to which contestants are favoured. With the inauguration of The Voice into our TV calendar, we have to learn a new language based on compliments, great compliments and uber-praise. This means that seemingly supportive words, for instance ‘you are a real professional’, might translate into ‘you are mediocre’. The true measure of favour is now the liquid volume of tears expressed in response to a performance. Crying is the new pimping. If anyone really raises the bar then the coaches will just have to strip off and wee on the floor. Jessie J could simulate a really tuneful orgasm, will.i.am could invent something. All other methods for expressing admiration will have been exhausted.
We started the night with a group performance during which will.i.am appeared not to give a shit, Jessie J sang some notes and Tom Jones showed us his best impersonation of a Tom Jones impersonator. Danny then attempted to compete with Jessie’s vocal gymnastics before executing some hideous thrust-and-skid dance move whereby he attempted to insert his manhood through the camera lens and into every living room in Britain. Holly Willoboobies, who definitely makes her house-guests remove their shoes, alerted us to the dangers facing someone called Tim. Danny had been given a haircut. THANK GOD.
Opening the show was Joelle Moses, whom Will saved because she left her comfort zone, not because the barmaid she sang against was shit. Her vocal was pretty awesome but due to her early placement, bland styling and poor song choice she was largely forgettable. It’s interesting to hear that Joelle expressed dismay at being sent out first. Clever girl. Do we think The Voice is that willing to dispose of her or did they just need a big voice to open the show?
Next up was Carol from HR doing a ‘number’ at the office Christmas party. Nope – wait – it was Samuel Buttery. Sam was nervous which seems sort of unnecessary considering his chances of winning. I think it would be best for Sam if he just focused on enjoying his time in the contest. If he’s still alive in two weeks, I suggest Lady Marmalade as a suitably sophisticated song choice.
After some RIDICULOUS complaints from Jessie J about dance distraction and ‘seeing’ people’s voices, we were introduced to Frances Wood whose tone was so hollow and reedy that her vocal chords might well have been cling-filmed. Ain’t Nobody is a great song choice but it did Frances no favours tonight. I wonder if the whole Northern ‘thing’ will be enough to secure her some votes.
Up next was Adam Isaac, whom I can never remember. The Voice is branding Adam as a ‘rock god’ in order to prescribe him some much needed personality. Rock music, you know? Like The Script. Adam’s performance was unmemorable and probably won’t appeal to a broad voting base. It was up Danny’s street because Danny is serious ‘n’ authentic and knows about rock music because he reads NME and he knows how to do the thing that I always confuse with a Vulcan salute (not Klingon – thanks Eurovicious). The problem is that rock music and reality TV aren’t the most natural of bedfellows and I doubt that Foo Fighters fans are likely to pick up the phone.
After Adam, it was the one-to-beat, the man who makes people cry (bully), Jaz Ellington. Jaz’s stylist had attempted some sort of early 2000s-themed trilby and humpty-dumpty trouser combo that wasn’t flattering at all. As a song choice, At Last might seem to show favour but, in fact, a classic song teamed with bad styling only served to create the impression that Jaz is not a contemporary artist, as Danny did point out to his credit. I’m sure this won’t be a massive problem for the market favourite but it does feel slightly like the show was trying to put the breaks on the Jaz Train after the fallout from the initial blubfest. That, or they genuinely don’t know what to do with him.
As a side point, I will give a hundred million pounds to anyone who can enlighten me as to how Danny O’Donoghue has worked with Boyz II Men. It’s baffling. Danny is baffling, it’s like we’ve been tricked into believing he’s a person at all. A few months ago, I was only vaguely aware of The Script as a lame guitar wielding boyband who did that song about pretending to be a hobo in order to impress your ex-girlfriend (because nothing says ‘take me back’ like the smell of stale urine). And then I’m just supposed to accept this dreadful man claiming to have collaborated with Boyz II Men on my television?
Next up was Leanne Mitchell, the holiday camp singer. Perhaps she should have kept quite about that because it’s all I can picture when she sings and the association will be in the nation’s mind now – Leanne Mitchell: holiday camp singer. Danny rocked out with his eyes closed whilst Joe McElderry’s backing dancers pranced about in the background. I can easily see Leanne in the danger zone tomorrow.
If anything restored my faith in The Voice tonight it was Sophie Griffin whose performance of David Guetta’s hard-to-sing Titanium was quite the showstopper. We were clearly informed in Sophie’s VT that she was Irish, seventeen and really nervous (so she has a potential journey towards self-confidence). It all screamed ‘vote Sophie’, which is sort of justified by her talent. I definitely think it’s time to sit up and take Sophie seriously as a contender.
Up next were Matt and Sueleen (M&S), who had been styled as a pair of maniacal Bond villains. M&S managed not to completely butcher Fleetwood Mac, which was nice, but it became clear that Matt is really the voice of the act and Sueleen just harmonises nicely. I imagine that they might have a deceptively wide appeal but I’m unsure of how likely people are to vote for a pair. They do have individuality on their side.
The penultimate performance of the night came from Amy Winehouse’s ‘best friend’ (if they were best friends, why aren’t there more than three photos of them together?). I’m not sure what makes Tyler James so hard to warm to – he doesn’t seem like an unpleasant person but he’s far from endearing. Vocally, he’s far more at home in his falsetto range and a reasonably nice arrangement tonight could see him safe tomorrow. I had initially predicted that Tyler would fall at the first hurdle but we shall see.
And so it was pimp slot for Ruth, whose colour-changing corkscrew curls are fast becoming my favourite thing about The Voice. Ruth has officially trumped Jessie J in the hair stakes and she’s having a pop at the vocal stakes too. She definitely got a lot of help and hype tonight but I wouldn’t overreact and bet on her for the win just yet. True, she has a great ‘journey’ to go on, youth, charm and amazing vocals but it’s only week one of the lives and we have all the time in the world to see other acts getting pimped. If you feel like gambling your entire life savings in order to get a good return, Betfair have Ruth at 1/25 to represent Tom in the final. After mediocre performances from Leanne and Adam, that almost looks generous.
So who’s in danger then? I reckon a late placing and nice arrangement might just about see Tyler safe so Team Will is fixing to lose Frances or Joelle. I can see The Voice wanting to ditch the latter before she picks up any momentum in the event that they plan to get Sophie to the semis, which seems relatively likely. For now, Jaz and Sophie seem safe as houses. The dignity of Team Tom is currently surviving on the lone shoulders of Ruth Brown so anyone else could be in danger. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Matt & Sueleen will be safe tomorrow but Leanne, Samuel and Adam had all better watch their backs.
Happy betting. And may the odds be ever in your favour.