Tonight is the final of The Whimper – I beg your pardon – The Voice, a show in which sob stories, manipulation and personality have played no part. This show is all about The Voice. Let us review some facts and some opinions in order to discern who will take the crown and who will go home to a dinner of rock salt and bitter tears (failure tastes nasty).
The four finalists have wildly differing followings on Twitter. Lady Bo clocks in at 44,000 but Vince more than doubles that with 96,000. Taking a massive lead, however, is Tyler with 142,000 followers. Leanne has a measly 13,000.
Through Twitter analysis of last year’s X Factor, we learnt that positive and negative discussion of contestants gave a pretty good indication of general popularity but follower count didn’t provide as close a correlation. However, with such waning audience figures, the Tweeps could well crawl out of the woodwork to make a difference. Having said that, BBC voting demographics are probably even further from the Twitter pool than X Factor fans. And hip young things on social media are way too hip and young to pick up a phone for reality TV.
Ten points to: Tyler.
I’m @dussus if you fancy joining the 66 people that currently follow me. I will endeavour to put out some ‘amusing’ tweets during tonight’s show but I will probably just be getting drunk and crying over Youtube clips of Sophie Griffin in between hurling fistfuls of my own poop at the screen every time Danny O’Donoghue makes a sex face.
Leanne may have been underestimated. It’s quite possible that fans of Ruth were simply so complacent that none of her televoting minions bothered to pick up the phone last weekend. Ruth’s elimination was still the shock of the series and Leanne must have done pretty well to overcome even a poorly performing favourite. Ronnie reckons there’s been “too much Leanne bashing” on Sofabet whilst Andrew notes that she’s “exactly the kind of person we were led to believe The Voice would be all about finding.” I’m not convinced on the second point. The show is called “The Voice” rather than “The Vocal Accomplishment” and I have always interpreted its title to refer to the search for a distinctive tone rather than an excellent session singer. Look what happened to J. Marie Cooper and Jaz Ellington – without doubt in my mind the two most capable vocalists of the series but rather boring to listen to. The same, I feel, is true of Leanne. If she wins, it will be more out of a sense of deserving than of true star quality. Belter she is. Adele she ain’t.
Ten points to: everybody else.
Tonight, contestants will duet with their mentors to varying degrees of failure. As several contestants have pointed out, Jessie and Vince feel by far the most comfortable fit; both accomplished pop vocalists with an r’n’b twist and distinctive style. Tyler and Will could well have great rapport but it’s hard to imagine the pair producing something worthy of the show’s title. Tyler is, in my opinion, the least capable singer in the final and only really works in falsetto. Whether that matters at this stage or whether this is simply a popularity contest is yet to be seen. Leanne and Tom’s duet could well be a warm and fuzzy TV moment and the latter certainly has legions of fans in Wales and the rest of the UK but the performance is unlikey to appeal to younger viewers. Again, intangible demographics play a huge part. The only contestant that feels at a distinct disadvantage is Bo. If Danny’s scrotum-rippingly awful interpretation of Somebody That I Used To Know is anything to go by, tonight’s duet could be cosmically dreadful. On the other hand, the right song choice and arrangement could well provide us with the most muso-friendly performance of the night. A lot of people think that The Script are ‘indie’ and therefore congratulate themselves for liking them. To these people, I say The Script are a boyband with guitars. Which is not a bad thing, unless you’re ashamed/unaware of that fact.
Ten points to: Vince.
BBC voters represent a different demographic to that of ITV. As Tim B points out, the Beeb is “much more middle class and Southern” and that could well favour Bo, who has been polling well thus far, both on and off the show. However, I’m not so convinced that anti-posh sentiments are the exclusive stomping ground of inbred Northerners and pie and mash vendors. We live in a post-recession, banker-hating society and commonly-heard phrases like “so fucking bourgeois” and “terminally middle-class” are more likely to be exchanged over houmous than Iceland’s famous chicken tikka lasagne (seriously, Iceland, stop it). What I mean to say is that classism transcends class. It is not merely a two-sided battle of opposing teams. There’s a certain amount of shame these days that comes with being white and privileged. We feel it when we glide past a hobo whilst sipping a three-quid macchiato. Nobody wants to admit that they are middle, or worse still, upper-middle class. Of course it’s the jubilee weekend and people could just get confused and think a vote for Bo is the same as a vote for Kate Middleton.
Vince has the rudeboy accent but is possibly too eccentric to appeal to the class voters. However, sticking a load of his gruff, manly, proud dad in a VT could really help him out. Similarly, Tyler carries an air of hipster privilege that could work against him. Leanne sort of falls in a grey area.
Ten points to: Me. I stacked shelves in a supermarket once. That makes me a working class hero.
Ross and Lolhart feel that “it’s important not to judge The Voice through the lens of X Factor,” and I’m inclined to agree with them to a certain extent. However, it would be naïve to throw all formulae out of the window and place too much faith in the public to choose a winner objectively. I refuse to believe that Ruth’s early slot wasn’t a major factor in her elimination or that repeatedly good slots haven’t helped wet fish Bo Bruce on her way to the final. Running order is crucial in almost any show. Louis Walsh could tell you that and he has an IQ of turnip and three quarters. Running order is bound to play a part in tonight’s crowning (I just wrote crowning and then imagined the winner being born out of their coach). Bo and Tyler have both received the pimp slot as well as other considerably good slots. This could mean that Vince, who has received repeatedly mediocre slots, is ripe for pimping. The same could be true for Leanne but I think this is less likely. Alternatively, The Voice could maintain an uneven playing field and pimp one of the favourites again.
Ten points to: Vince if the show is fair, Bo or Tyler if it continues to manipulate. Leanne if the sky splits open and showers of raccoons are cursed upon us.
Bo was given an incredible production last week, as Curtis points out. Glitter cannons and swirling lights are normally the euphoric perk of a winner or finalist but Bo got them along with the kitchen sink in the semi. This seems to show producer love. On the flipside, Tyler was given a seemingly atrocious, Rhydianesque production and outpolled Jaz Ellington. This seems to demonstrate strength in fanbase. Alternatively, it could just be that producers know an interesting performance has more clout over a boring number than a good one does over bad (although how that helped David Julien as long as it did I’ll never know). Finally, could Bo’s triumphant performance last week lull voters into thinking that her journey is already complete? I guess her VTs will answer that question.
Ten points to: Bo and Tyler.
Vince is the best performer, vocalist and artist. This is my opinion and the opinion of most of my musically inclined acquaintances as well as many Sofabet commenters, including Simon le chat. Considering the fact that Vince is the only finalist whose audition received a unanimous swivel, the coaches seem to agree. However, we are yet to see Vince grow as a performer. For a contestant that so many of us have referred to as leftfield, his performances have been worryingly consistent, verging on predictable. It’s almost as if his journey was complete at the point of inauguration. What he needed by this stage was some fatherly bonding and some more intense/vulnerable song choices – something along the lines of China In Your Hand, something by Tears For Fears or a slowed down version of Just Be Good To Me with a string section (hi, ITV, I have musical experience and I’m available for hire. Call Me Maybe).
Ten Points to: Vince if he finally gets the good treatment. TylerBo if he doesn’t.
A POSSIBLE FACT
Song choice rumours are out (props to Simon Le chat for posting). Bo is singing ‘Nothing Compares To You’ which is a tear-jerking classic that could easily sweep votes, especially with a dedication to her mother. Leanne is reportedly singing ‘Man’s World’ which, as Andrew pointed out, garnered Mary Byrne more votes than Matt Cardle in XF 2010, the only performance to trump the winner all series. She’s also duetting with Sir TJ on ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ which could be either fabulous or karaoke in the extreme. Tyler’s duet of Usher’s ‘OMG’ sounds horrific on paper but Michael Jackson’s ‘I’ll Be There’ can’t possibly hurt him unless the slow tempo exposes his vocal weaknesses. Vince will hit up ‘Price Tag’ with Jessie ‘Earnest To The Point Of Insincerity’ J, which tells us very little. The song is popular but a little overdone and a little too associated with Jessica Hammond. I also have the feeling that Jessie has come off as a little despondent throughout the series and her trills are not to everyone’s taste. Vince’s solo number is apparently coming in the form of Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Many Rivers To Cross’ which has a lovely melody but could well fall into the safe, consistent style that Vince has maintained throughout the series.
Ten Points to: Bo for the blubfest.
It’s tempting to call a win for one of the leading pair, Bo and Tyler. I so desperately want to write Leanne off but she has shocked me in getting this far, even if her triumph over Ruth feels like an accident (or a ploy to pave the way for a Bo win). The only fair answer is that it’s anyone’s game but Bo and Tyler seem to be heading in with a lot more momentum than their more vocally solid counterparts. After the shock of last week, I think it all comes down to running order and musical arrangement. The voting period is short which can only add more weight to the pimp slot. In a previous post, I commented on the kind of acts that Universal Republic likes to sign (cough*radio2*cough). With the exception of Vince, the final does look very much like a middle-of-the-road line-up, devoid of the poptastic flair offered by contestants like Ruth Brown, Becky Hill, Sophie Griffin, Max Milner and Aleks Josh. Perhaps the BBC have tapped into the idea that easy listening fans are less snobby about buying music made by TV contestants. Perhaps they’re gunning for album sales rather than number one singles. Either way, the younger contestants generally got boring songs in early slots whilst the ‘serious’ musicians have been praised for their artistry.
Who should win: Vince
Who will win: My money’s on Tyler.