Firstly, a quick reminder of last week’s show. The overwhelming winner of the quarter-finals was Christina. Her YouTube figures are dwarfing the other contestants (if that has value re the outcome). Plus the Ricky-Christina love-in is sweet, and far removed from the creepiness that lingered over the Danny-Bo Bruce relationship in series 1.
Christina was one of the fast pass beneficiaries, alongside Jermain, Jamie and Sally, all worthy recipients of this double-edged sword. However, the public-vote winners – Sophie, Lee, Bizzi and Chris – have as a result built active support.
The public-vote losers were Iesher, Rachael, Georgia and Emily – four girls who performed get-the-party-started numbers, marred by blaring accompaniment, overbearing colour-vomity sets and the overuse of dancers. A pattern of the casualty list was DBDTD – Death by Dance Troupe Distraction.
What about this week?
The terrible standard set by the eliminated acts render evaluating the strength of the vote-winning acts a tricky business. I think Iesher was the best performer of the losers, which suggests that Sophie May is indeed a popular girl. Otherwise, the winners triumphed over precious little, though Lee knocked out the erstwhile third favourite for the entire competition.
Jamie Johnson 8/11
Lee Glasson 5/4
I see two quality acts and I think the market has it about right, with Jamie a slight favourite over Lee. Jamie is a very engaging, sweet, likeable, powerfully-voiced guy who consistently delivers excellent performances. Meanwhile, Lee delivered his best performance of the competition last Saturday, but I think he benefitted from a skilful song choice. Another helpful choice is critical to his chances.
On Saturday night’s results show Kylie confirmed that she would be singing with both her boys in a threesome, in addition to their solo songs. Jamie sings ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’; Lee sings London Grammar’s ‘Strong’.
Thus, Kylie’s chosen another inexplicably, slightly downbeat tune for the life-loving Jamie. I still say he holds the advantage, though. ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ needs a handsome singer to pull it off, otherwise the viewer retorts: too bloody right, you can’t! Jamie is better looking than Lee and I imagine he’ll be scooping up the majority of female votes with this emotional number.
Lee has been given a 2013 top 20 song from a group that will be unknown to a large swathe of The Voice viewership. ‘Strong’, like ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, carries a tone of disappointment. But the real problem with ‘Strong’ is the inner focus of the lyrics which may exacerbate Lee’s introspective style. I can imagine him shutting his eyes and ignoring the camera even more than usual.
Thus, there’s a smidgeon of value to be had in 8/11 favourite Jamie to win Team Kylie, and progress to the final.
Jermain Jackman 1/2
Sophie May Williiams 7/4
I would struggle to back Sophie at 7/4. There’s no evidence that she can sing anything very well other than Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’. (To be fair, her knock-out stage rendition of ‘Moon River’ was very nice and a bit of a return to form.) On their respective nights, I think both Cherri and Iesher deserved to go through over her.
Therefore, I think she’s ridden her luck for too long and that Jermain will win the day this time. Jermain is a handsome, fairly likeable guy, who has delivered top-notch performances on every appearance. He has terrific stage presence, alongside a voice with wonderful range and easy power.
Semi-final nerves shouldn’t be a problem for a young guy who won an international singing competition at the Apollo in Harlem, and at 17, beat over 4000 contenders to win the Spirit of London Award, which was handed to him at the 02 Arena. Additionally, as much as Will loves his ‘unicorn’, Sophie, I suspect he has enormous respect and admiration for Jermain.
Another factor against Sophie is that four young girls were eliminated from the competition on Saturday, while 20-year-old Christina Marie was being pimped to high heaven. Will has made it clear he wants to see a winner with commercial and global appeal, which Christina has more than Sophie.
At current prices, neither makes particular appeal to be Team Will’s final representative. Sophie is the epitome of hit-and-miss, but on a more basic level, she is a popular white Yorkshire lass pitted against a black Londoner.
Christina Marie 1/9
Chris Royal 8/1
In terms of relative value, I should have imagined that both Christina and Sally would be equal near-certainties to progress, so why there’s an offer of 1/9 for Christina is surprising (relative to the 1/25 for Sally). A case for Chris winning over Christina feels near-impossible to construct.
Christina has now delivered three consecutive wow vocal performances. The two most memorable visuals from the series are the looks of devastation from her teammates during her ‘Vision of Love’ performance, and the spectacle of the staging during ‘Everlong’. Should Christina reach the final as expected, I reckon she’ll receive priority in running order and staging help.
Sally Barker 1/25
Bizzi Dixon 12/1
The Sally vs Bizzi duel looks equally one-sided, and of more interest is the Christina vs Sally match for the overall title. Many Sofabet commenters are invested in a Sally win. She combines the unusual power to move you emotionally with her singing while maintaining her stiff British upper lip attitude (commenting on the aftermath of being made a widow: ‘The kids need you…so you do that’).
This can be contrasted with Christina, whose (partially endearing) needy emotionalism bursts through. Yet her singing moves the listener more with its incredible spectacle than by any emotional pull.
Like Christina, Sally has massive internet support, evidenced by YouTube numbers, closely comparable iTunes sales and so on. But you just feel in your bones that the elder BBC viewership will favour Sally over Christina. The former seems to be carrying formidable universal support across the age spectrum that could prove unstoppable.
If her main rival, Christina delivers a ‘rock chic’ performance that’s too goth, cheap-looking or shouty this Saturday, Sally may shorten again in the betting, going odds-on. The worst case scenario for Christina would be to deliver a performance that alienates older viewers, or an over-emotional aftermath (leading to more hugs from Ricky).
What are your thoughts on tonight’s show? Who will you be backing, if anyone, and who do you think will be departing this weekend? As ever, please continue the discussion below.