“To hear a voice that really connects can stop you dead in your tracks”
“You can’t explain it till you hear it”
“But it’s just a feeling you get, you just know”
“Somewhere, out there, is the winner of The Voice”
“All we have to do now is find them”
Thus was the script as our four beloved and fearsome alien overlords were beamed down from their home planet of genuine, honest, gimmick-free musical artistry. We were briefly reminded of the mindblowingness of the contestants from last week as well as a brief rundown of the rules.
First up for round 2 (ding ding) of blind auditions was 30 year old fitness trainer Trevor from Romford. Already a professional backing singer for acts as huge as Florence and the Machine, Trevor was ready to carve out his own niche as a soloist.
Pulled by the magnetic power of Trevor’s booming soul voice on ‘Change is Gonna Come’, Jessie turned around almost immediately. Pulled by the power of Jessie, Danny shortly followed suit. Tom and the incredibly cyborg pulled up the rear. Gimmicks and fake drama aside, one has to marvel at how utterly rude it is for the coaches to scream, dance and interact throughout these auditions.
Trevor was undeniably fantastic at singing, with a voice that harked back to the great Motown era. Problematically, I think the music industry, wider society and thus perhaps TV audiences still devalue this kind of singer, hence the enormous proportion of powerhouse black soloists who do end up as backing singers. The last of such voices to come anywhere near to winning in any TV singing contest was X Factor’s runner up and Eurovision flop Andy Abraham.
Trevor chose Jessie and heralded the patronising response, “I really appreciate your belief in me.”
Next up was 18 year old beauty consultant and relative straggler, Emma Jade, continuing in the recent trend of country singer on British reality TV. I can’t imagine that her dream to get “back to Nashville” will inspire many British votes should she make the later stages. Emma ‘Jade’ (betcha fifty that’s a middle name) sounded a little off-kilter and yodelly to this listener’s ears but to be fair so do most country singers.
‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ struck me as a bizarre song choice by current second favourite, Alex Buchanan. It also seemed more than a little out of tune and Alex’s spiky style and musical theatre persona felt much more apt to early Pop Idol than to 2013. The market strongly disagrees with me, as did Danny ‘from one male vocalist to another’ O’Donoghue. If any of you lovely people can shed any light on his chances we would be eternally appreciative.
Danny’s joy was to continue as Valley boy Ragsy burst onto the scene with a box of biscuits and an acoustic guitar. The first twangs of a mistuned Coldplay cover were enough to make the Script frontman leap up in his seat and spunk into his own eye whilst screaming “ROCKING ROLL” over the rest of the song.
Look, Ragsy wasn’t bad – I’m not saying he was – but visit my local on any weeknight and you can catch several Ragsies in quick succession on an open mic. Visit any King’s Head and Ragsy is ten a penny. Perhaps that could help his chances and turn him into an unlikely everyman and people’s champ. You never know. But The Voice he ain’t.
The first double act to progress was 19 year old couple, Smith and Jones from Gloucestershire. The insipid pair were sountracked by Ed Sheeran and set up as rather daft in their VT, in which they cooed, “when we sing there’s an immediate connection and it makes us stronger as a couple.”
As double acts go, Smith and Jones hardly have the pulling power of Charlotte and Jonathan and odds in the 50s looks realistic for the sickly pair. However, on a pure ‘lol’ level, I’m looking forward to seeing more of them. I might even go as far as to call them my favourite, provided they promise a saccharine cover of ‘Something Stupid’ with cartoon birds.
Next up was current market leader, another West End Star, 27 year old Liam Tamne, AKA Les Miserables’ Enjorlas. Liam was humble and smiley in a vaguely Reverend Marcus Sunshine way but also had a DEAD NAN TO CRY ABOUT!
“I can finally put my nan at rest”
Whilst I can’t cast aspersions on how genuinely Liam meant this, it was for me a real nadir in televised entertainment’s milking of dead family members.
Singing another reality staple, ‘This Woman’s Work’, Liam was undeniably fantastic and I can see how he’s running as short as 6 with some firms, especially/despite the uncomfortably exploitative sob story.
34 year old Nadeem Leigh was next under Danny’s love boat with his baker boy hat and acoustic guitar. The middle-to-frontrunner brought with him another sob story in the form of addictions brought on by the death of his mother as a teenager (this is starting to compete with the X Factor hobo-gate epidemic of 2012) and a U2 / Damien Rice mashup.
Obviously Danny HATED it (not). In actual fact, the hairs on his arms and scrotum were so instantly erect that he felt the need to call the boys in U2 and tell them all about it immediately. I miss the X Factor. Hell, I miss Gary Barlow.
In the final rejection segment of the evening, the coaches bafflingly drove home the point about the flaws in their own format after rejecting a 16 year old due to a miscalculation of his age. And then it was time for the final singer of the night, 25 year old rejectee from season 1, Alys Williams.
Singing ‘The Cave’, Alys was sweet with a distinct yet not overbearing Welsh lilt to her voice but all in all she felt a little like another Leanne Mitchell 2.0, a comparison only solidified by her selection of Tom as mentor after 23 minutes of deliberation.
So the current market leaders are now two slightly dated, humble musical theatre stars who have been working so very hard for this all their lovely lives. Is that the kind of winner the Beeb wants for The Voice 2013? No doubt they will want something as different as possible from last year but how much will they be willing to interfere?
As ever, your wonderful thoughts are always welcome.