The Voice – How Did She Do It?

26th May, semi-final: Yellow beams of light pull up on the stage. As we go to close up, we see a shot of Leanne Mitchell. Her hair is back and she wears a knee-length, coral dress. She is a wilting bud. Her eyes are on the floor, her hand placed nervously on her chest. As far as everybody knows, this is to be her swan-song.

LEANNE

I know, that when you look at me…

(cut to)

2nd June, final: Yellow beams of light pull up on the stage. As we go to close up, we see a shot of Leanne Mitchell. Her hair flows all around her and she wears a floor-length purple gown, the very picture of a blooming flower. Her eyes are forward; her left hand pulls up from her side and joins the other in a double grip on her microphone

LEANNE

I know, that when you look at me…

26th May, semi-final: Leanne averts her eyes and shakes her head. She looks like she might cry.

LEANNE

There’s so much that you just don’t see.

(Subtext: you’ve never given me a bloody chance. I wish I wasn’t going home)

2nd June, final: Leanne locks her eyes on the camera lens. For a moment she closes her eyes as she feels a particularly poignant pang of emotion.

LEANNE

There’s so much that you just don’t see.

(Subtext: There’s a lot more to me than a holiday camp entertainer. I’m fierce).

Looking back on Leanne’s surprise win, it’s quite possible to imagine that her whole story pivoted on a single song choice. Of course, we’ll never know the exact velocity of her ascension to championship but we know at least that she had to be saved by Sir Tom in week 3 of the lives shows and that she never merited much attention before that. Her voice was incredible in her blind audition and her vocal performances have been tighter than a squirrel’s bumhole throughout the series. How then, did ‘Run To You’, which looked to be her swansong, become the thing that catapulted Leanne across the finish line? Let’s take a look at the lyrics.

I know / That when you look at me
There’s so much / That you just don’t see
But if / You would only take the time
I know in my heart you’d find

A girl is scared sometimes / Who isn’t always strong
Can’t you see the hurt in me / I feel so all alone

I wanna run to you / But If I come to you
Tell me / Will you stay / Will you run away?

I need you here / I need you here to wipe away my tears

To kiss away my fears / If you only knew how much

I wanna run to you / But if I come to you
Tell me / Will you stay / Will you run away?

And therein lie the clues. The song couldn’t have fared better with lyrics like “If only kind voters would think of a girl like me” or “it’s not easy being an underdog” or even “I’ve grown so much, don’t let it be for nothing.” The lyrics are possibly the most perfect appeal for votes ever rolled out on TV. I want to run to you, I want to give you everything I have but I’m terrified that you haven’t even noticed me. Can’t you see what I have to offer? Give me a bloody chance!

Whether this was the initial intention of producers is something we’ll probably never know. Perhaps Ruth’s early performance of “The Voice Within” in the semi-final was a show of confidence that backfired. Perhaps Run To You was intended to knock Ruth out in order to offer Bo or Tyler a better chance of winning. Perhaps The Voice was happy enough with its 8 semi-finalists to ease off in the manipulation stakes and just let nature take its course. I highly doubt the last explanation but I suppose anything is possible.

Whatever the answer, Leanne came into the final as a likeable underdog and if producers had a problem with her winning, they surely wouldn’t have allowed her to sing both ‘Man’s World’ and ‘Run To You’. If it were time to bump the holiday entertainer off, ‘The Birdie Song’ and ‘I Put A Spell On You’ would have been much better choices. Lolhart observes this well and also notes that Leanne’s duet felt the warmest of all. Tyler’s number with Will was awkward and Danny’s rapping over Bo was excruciating. Regardless of whether the win was intentional or not, Leanne’s story was presented as a journey in which she overcame impossible obstacles. Whilst Tyler, Bo and Vince all had some level of professional experience and industry connections and all spent time near the top of the betting markets, Leanne had been singing her heart out in holiday camps like her life depended on it and slowly climbing the leaderboard. The great British Public loves an underdog and a grafter. As Andrew pointed out, it was the classic Leona Lewis ugly duckling narrative. Leanne was the people’s champion.

Sofabet’s journey on The Voice has been a rocky one but that was to be expected. I’ve stated in many posts that I have neither Dandrew’s years of betting experience nor any kind of formbook to go on, as is the case with X Factor. It is for that reason that I have avoided giving any ‘tips’ in the traditional sense and have treated The Voice’s virgin voyage as a test-drive in order to gather little acorns of information in preparation for the future of the franchise. You’ll hopefully have noticed that the majority of Sofabet posts on The Voice have leaned more towards the acerbic than the knowingly confident and The Egg of Damocles has been a major feature in many elimination weekends. Guessing at the series has been, as Dan puts it, something of a “stab in the dark”.

Some things we can ascertain in preparation for the next series: BBC viewers are potentially less likely to ‘play ball’ than those of ITV. As Rob 44 puts it, they are perhaps a little more “intelligent” or just less prone to manipulation. The ‘dead dad’ and ‘sick mum’ backstories don’t hold up forever, as Andrew points out. Voters are happy to back a candidate if they feel that person ‘deserves’ to win, and not just because they demonstrate star quality – how much can we really imagine Leanne as the next Adele? Of course if Leanne does flop massively, as I suspect she will, it’s entirely possible that The Voice will change its tactics next year and push more chart-worthy contestants for the win. Until then, congratulations to Leanne and to anyone who bet on her at long odds before her sudden ascension in the final week. Equally, well done to those of you who saw her triumph over Ruth Brown as a sign that she could take the crown at the last minute. It’s been a highly enjoyable journey for the most part and we thank you, our wonderful commenters, for your wonderful insights. A toast then, to Leanne, and to getting it right next year!

Finally, as national treasure Sir Tom Jones so emphatically put it, in the end, it really was all about The Voice.

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20 comments to The Voice – How Did She Do It?

  • Pauline

    Good article Dug. Wish I had your acerbic wit. Leanne is indeed a voice as apposed to a performer. I’m tired of performers, swinging in, swirling in, jumping in, thrusting and prancing, with strange things on their head etc. So am very glad a singer won the voice. What is a “squirrel’s bumhome”? 😀

    • Dug

      Nicely spotted, Pauline. Amended now. Me, I love a good prancer. It’s not just that though, it’s the thing X Factor always harp on about, the ‘recording voice’. I’m just not sure Leanne has a distinctive enough tone to shift albums. I thought the same about Jaz. I don’t think the Adele comparisons are justified because Adele has a particularly distinctive gravelly tone you can hear a mile off. To me, Leanne is a session singer and I fear that Universal Republic will struggle to find a niche for her and that she may just end up back where she began, at Butlins.

      • Andrew

        I wonder how hard Universal will try with Leanne? On the face of it, she has “rushed out album of covers then quietly forgotten” written all over her, but it wouldn’t help efforts to promote season 2 if season 1’s winner is already back in the holiday camp. Then again, if – as has been reported – the Beeb are planning to ditch all four judges and reboot anyway, maybe they’ll be happy enough for the entire first series to consigned to the memory hole.

        • Donald

          You got a point Andrew, to be a roster priority at Universal is probably more difficult than Syco!

          Hard to know what BBC will do. Their programming ethic is probably strained with a show like The Voice.

          Some new rules on X Factor this year and acts with 3rd party management allowed… Auditions been bit of a farce really by all accounts.

          • Andrew

            Hi Donald, just catching up on Google and I see Melanie McCabe is back! Ah, the memories 🙂
            http://tellymix.co.uk/reality-tv/the-x-factor/91376-x-factor-2012-melanie-mccabe-returns-to-manchester-auditons.html

          • Donald

            Yes indeed Andrew, any few more back as well reading that. Memories indeed, best left alone I think.

            There is some guy from Dublin who I spotted a top stylist mention on Twitter but twitter so busy and I didn’t want to fav’ from account I was in. I will go back and check their timeline, it’s a while ago. I sort of though ah! must watch him.

            Jade Richards might be worth an early punt though to make the TV shows? That’s if she doesn’t “scare” her mentor with the Goth carry on at judges house again! (That happened)

            Hearing about allot of heavyweight Pop management with acts some good some crap, including Beyonce Dad.

            Lets try keep close eye on this and Sony historical connections both publishing and release. Just a hunch, I have sort of noticed a few things on the show past few seasons that it might be worth the effort.

            Early days, that other group going west despite producers urgings! Question is why??

    • Pauline

      * as opposed to. Correction.

  • jj

    Yes indeed miss McCabe is back with avengeance it would seem. The twitter scape is full of praise for her audition. ‘Bridge over troubled waters’ in manchester. If the comments are to be believed she took the roof off. Standing O’s and all that. If karma is undeed a force then an outside bet on her making the lives might not be a bad punt.

    • eurovicious

      Apparently Joe Fox and Jade Richards (yay!) are back too. The latter is certainly one to watch.

    • Andrew

      Didn’t Mel also get the full standing O treatment last year, before largely ending up on the cutting room floor? I wonder if this is finally her year, or they just enjoy messing with her 😉

      And Jade Richards. Ha! Are they making the 2012 series into the 2011 one from a parallel universe?!

      • Donald

        Yes Andrew,

        but look at the overall messing they did with that category last year maybe more of the same on the way…

        Judges houses still few weeks away. They may have new plan for filming the outcome this year.

        Does anyone remember the young girl who sang There You’ll Be few years ago? I wonder if she’s back?

        • R

          I was just thinking Jade could be a good early punt a few days ago. She has the second highest number of Youtube hits from the 2011 auditions, a lot of disgruntled fans ready to vote like crazy, and the tartan army supporting her every step of the way. The alternative of course is, if they want to make sure she doesn’t win, they will need to dump her at judges’ houses again.
          Will the show risk making themselves look stupid if someone they dumped last year wins this year?

          I think it’s the turn of a young male to win again, or an “edgy” boyband who would be the hip alternative to One Direction.

          • Andrew

            Hi R, Don’t forget that was Kelly’s category last year and she’s not coming back, so the show would be able to heap all the blame on her for dumping Jade (or indeed Mel McC :-))

          • eurovicious

            I love Jade, the question is whether she has sufficient versatility to make it though all the live shows.

            I think the boyband market is relatively saturated, though I can see them dragging back The Mend or TLR from BGT. Don’t think either would win though.

          • R

            Hi Andrew,
            Good point. Kelly already receives a lot of the blame for the treatment of the girls last year so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
            It will be interesting to see who the new judge is. With Demi Lovato and Britney being recruited for the US show, it will have to be someone with better credentials than Tulisa.

          • Daniel

            It’s been reported today that Syco have signed The Loveable Rogues so there’ll be no need for them to go on X-Factor.

          • Tim B

            I disagree, R. Surely it’s time for a solo female to win? In 8 seasons only 2 have won, and the last was Alexandra Burke way back in 2008.

          • R

            Hi Tim,
            I think Janet was due to be that solo female last year. But the show still got its female win quota through the Mix girls.
            It is all still wild conjecture at this stage of course. Anything is possible and the plan can always change, as we saw last year.

  • Donald

    Interesting interview here especially from 44:45 with regards to this years X-Factor artist management.

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