“Tonight is going to be explosive,” we were told, shortly before a mortifying false start from Jessie J’s microphone. “This has never happened before, I swear, I was just distracted, I’ve heard it happens to a lot of guys, etc.”
The group performance of Fun’s ‘We Are Young’ predictably favoured Vince and Becky in terms of arrangement and lyrical allocation, perhaps simply because they are young or perhaps because the show wants to push their talents. Either way, the number didn’t appear to be put together with Toni in mind.
Max went up first, like an especially bouncy lamb to the slaughter. Leanne survived the death slot last week but she did so from a considerably less talent-packed team. Max’s song choice was uninspiring, as the coaches pointed out, and The Voice just haven’t invested enough time or emotion in Max thus far, which is a pity because I think he’s one of the more interesting and charismatic performers – at least in the context of the Radio 2 snoozefest that is The Voice.
Next under the bus was Cassius, who has been done about as many favours as Ruth-Ann St Luce in this competition. Jessie’s assertion in his VT that Cassius needed to give an unforgettable performance regardless of the outcome was hardly fighting talk. Even now, I am struggling to remember a single thing about his performance other than the fact that it was a boring arrangement of one of Adele’s more boring songs. I doubt the viewing public will remember enough of it to pick up the phone.
My heart broke a little to hear that Kate Bush approved of the posh pretender to her crown, Bo Bruce. In Bo’s VT, Danny gesticulated wildly whilst saying “watch ME burn” and my mind was suddenly filled with wonderful images of The Script frontman going up in flames. Bo’s song choice, Love The Way You Lie, seemed to show favour but the tempo showed her up a bit. Bo is very lucky that The Voice doesn’t demand that contestants showcase versatility as she does rather struggle to hold a note beyond one very quick gasp, almost as if her life force (or inheritance) is ebbing away with every word she sings.
Up next was Vince Kidd, whom The Voice still seems to be holding rather close to its chest. On the one hand, Vince always wows with great arrangements and unique performances and is rightly rewarded with praise of his artistry. On the other, he has never exactly been pushed to the top of the pack. He often performs in a midway slot, which has not harmed him thus far but I felt that Vince needed something a little more special than tonight’s half-time rendition of ‘My Love Is Your Love’ in order to guarantee a place in the semi-final when Becky and Toni appeared to receive much better treatment. To Vince’s credit, he always gets a great reaction from the studio audience and he has a strong online presence but whether he can win the popular vote is tough to call. I’m crossing my fingers that he can.
The arrival next of Aleks Josh enforced my fears that David Julien is the producer favourite for Team Danny. I’m quite gutted that Aleks didn’t perform the big band rendition of Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ because the Jack Johnson cover was about as exciting as a Jack Johnson cover and felt like a huge step back from last week. Danny’s assertion that Aleks was “not a strong singer” wasn’t exactly encouraging either. Will Aleks’ charm be enough to wangle the popular vote? If this were X Factor, well, firstly it would be a lot more interesting but, secondly, I’d say yes. Aleks could be safe. Unfortunately, this is not X Factor, it’s “Make Me A Radio 2 Superstar” and Aleks just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Becky’s erratic behaviour seems to setting her up nicely for a journey towards self-confidence but once I realised that Toni was primed for the pimp slot I began to have doubts. Obviously, only two out of Becky, Toni and Vince can progress to the semi-finals and The Voice haven’t been too ambiguous with their allocation of the headline position thus far. I do so hope that Becky will progress as her version of ‘Seven Nation Army’ was one of my series highlights up to this point. Having said that, I wouldn’t want that to be at the expense of Vince who to me feels like one of the show’s only true stars. Oh dear, dear, dear.
So everybody’s favourite everyman, David Julien, went up last for Team Danny and I knocked back a double espresso to ensure my consciousness throughout. Danny took great pleasure in reminding us that David is a hardworking, honest guy from a working-class Manchester background (he probably stacked shelves in Waitrose for booze money whilst doing a degree – after all, the only painting and decorating Matt Cardle could ever account for was his parents’ multi-million pound barn conversion). The BBC should be above pandering to class ideals. David Julien is not the voice of the revolution. His vocal was solid, enjoyable even, but ultimately boring. I was slightly confused by Danny’s suggestion that he had previously gone ‘ left field’ with David, as I struggle to tell the performances apart. Will did a pretty good job of calling the performance boring. The question we all need to be asking ourselves is simple: Do we really need another Matt Cardle? I wonder how much this thought could be in the public subconscious.
And so the pimp slot went to Toni Warne. Now I feel bad laying into Toni, because she seems like a lovely lady and I’ve had nothing but venom for her since the show began, but I honestly don’t know what she’s doing on The Voice. Love them or hate them, these programmes should be about creating opportunities for artists and the only place I see Toni in a year’s time is performing Liza Minelli covers at a broken hearts-themed drag cabaret night at the top of Blackpool Tower. The gurning, the gushing and the weeping are all just too much. Get a grip of yourself, for goodness’ sake. Sorry may have been the hardest word but after that performance, sorry was quite apt.
Finally, we were subjected to a montage of Danny’s inspirational leadership as he ‘jammed’ with his acts (puke) and then went go-karting (except Bo couldn’t join in because she’s been bending over too much in her performances). The theme of Danny’s group song was ‘art’ and, as Danny has previously explained, ‘art’ is “the only justification for all the pain in the world.” How fitting, then, that ‘art’ as a visual theme should frame (justify) the pain that was inflicted through Team Danny’s interpretation of Gotye’s hipster whinge-anthem, Somebody That I Used To Know.
So what can we gather before tonight’s results are aired tomorrow and we can finally take a good look at our eight semi-finalists?
It feels fair to dismiss Cassius in Team Jessie. Before tonight, I would have written off Toni Warne as well but, as I mentioned before, The Voice haven’t allocated the pimp slot lightly yet. I’m struggling to see Toni beating out both Vince and Becky in the popular vote, which means she could be a likely contender for Jessie’s save.
Team Danny still feels like the hardest one to call, as I feel it has been from the beginning, but if I were to go out on a limb I’d guess that David will win the popular vote and Danny will save Bo. It’s a real shame because Max and Aleks both have the charm of good, honest, unpretentious popstars and I find the ‘authenticity’ of David and Bo to be ever so slightly tiresome.
What do you think people? Will we see any big surprises? As always, keep us posted with any leaks that might come up.