It’s been a good 2013 for short-priced favourites in TV talent show contests. We’ve had odds-on shots Denmark win Eurovision and Attraction take Britain’s Got Talent. Leah McFall attempts a hat-trick in tonight’s climax to The Voice. She’s a best price 1-3 at the time of going to press.
Her main rivals are Mike Ward and Andrea Begley. Neither offer stellar vocals but have a good backstory and other things going for them. The field is completed by outsider Matt Henry, who does have a reasonable soul voice and an engaging personality but is perhaps a little too bland to trouble the top.
The two main questions of the night are: is Leah home and dry already; and if not, who is most likely to beat her to the prize?
I should start by saying that unlike her mentor will.i.am, I don’t find her to be “the second coming”. In fact, whilst she does have an amazing range I think she (over)sings like she’s about to give birth. Plenty clearly disagree with me, taking her quarter-final version of ‘I Will Survive’ into the UK top ten.
But Sofabet commenters such as Tish are also less impressed. Guildo Horn Forever and Stoney felt that she was out-performed by her semi-final opponent Cleo, and I can’t disagree with that. Whilst it’s clear that the show is attempting to push her as its most credible winner, that doesn’t discourage our Guildo, who takes heart that The Powers That Be didn’t get the result they wanted last year, when the vocal affectations of favourite Bo proved less popular than middle-of-the-road solid Leanne Mitchell.
This leads me to gwri78’s comment that the “BBC will do all they can to push her but the youth vote they want might just not exist, worth finding out at 1.4.” The respective percentages of gran-baiting opera duo Richard & Adam (15.4%) against the heavily-hyped Luminites (6.8%) in Britain’s Got Talent remind us that appealing to a youth demographic alone doesn’t get you as far as having grey appeal too.
Leah may be the most likely winner, but I’m not sure she’s home and dry. At current prices, it’s worth looking for value elsewhere.
Which brings us to Mike Ward and Andrea Begley. Neither put up particularly impressive vocal performances in the semi-final, which is a shame as this was something Leanne Mitchell had on her side in last year’s final. 6-1 second-favourite Mike is the rough diamond who’s been Eliza Doolittled into the humble pretty boy coping with a family bereavement, under the wing of father figure Tom Jones. That’s got to hoover up certain swathes of female demographic.
I don’t have a problem with the incongruity of a northern lad trying Country – it worked for Jimmy Nail with ‘Crocodile Shoes‘ – though I do wish that he was stronger in the genre. But as Andy pointed out, his mooted song choices tonight should delight the demographic. Singing ‘Green Green Grass of Home’ with Tom Jones may prove an inspired choice that could move the market on the night.
Andrea gets me every time and not just because she’s partially sighted. It’s also the straightforward way she deals with it and enjoys performing. Like Andy, I’m not sure her duet with mentor Danny will be her strong moment tonight, but I’m hopeful for her Evanescence number and for the reprise of her audition piece, Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Angel’.
As with Mike, Andrea is capable of creating an emotional moment tonight that could see her move in the market from a current best price of 8-1. Clearly, this article isn’t going to end up suggesting Leah should be backed at current prices. But if you do think tonight is a walkover for her no matter what, waiting for her price to drift in-running, just as it did in the semi-final, could be your best option.
The field is finished off by 20-1 outsider Matt Henry, who is a perfectly good singer and has the likeable, happy personality of a Blue Peter presenter. I don’t think that will be enough tonight, despite springing a semi-final shock over Ash Morgan.
In conclusion, there’s the potential for some market swings tonight. Considering he’s doing an Elvis track as well as a Tom Jones duet, the 6-1 about Mike Ward with Stan James could look big around halfway through the show. For that reason, I’m having a little interest on him at that value price. If you agree with much of the article but don’t think Mike is vocally strong enough, then I wouldn’t put you off 8-1 Andrea.
What are your thoughts on tonight’s final? Do let us know below.