The Voice 2015: Battle Rounds

With the conclusion of the Blind Auditions on Saturday we now know the line-up of acts aiming for a place in the live shows. Ahead of the Battle Rounds which start this weekend we’re taking a look at some of this year’s leading contenders.

The format is similar to last year, with the teams of twelve being reduced by half during the Battle Rounds. Each coach gets two steals to make up a new team of eight. In the Knockouts which follow, each coach will be choosing three acts to take through to the live shows.

Team Ricky
This year Ricky seems to have established the strongest team overall. As he says he’s got lots of girls in his team, but it’s a couple of the boys who are out in front.

Leading the field overall is Stevie McCrorie (5/2) who made his appearance in the pimp slot on week one. Stevie’s rendition of Kodaline’s “All I Want” has been one of the really standout performances during the audition rounds. With a favourable VT focusing on his job as a fireman and his young family, Stevie seems to have ticked most of the right boxes for a potential winner.

Another stand out performer in the team was Emmanuel Nwamadi (10/1), all the more so because of the striking difference between his speaking and singing voice. With a beautiful arrangement of Sade’s “The Sweetest Taboo” he showed he has great tone, range and skill.

If both seem destined for the live shows that makes competition even tougher for the rest of the team. Autumn Sarif (20/1) was the stand out act in the final round of Blind Auditions this weekend. Singing Katy B’s “Crying For No Reason” she made a tentative start, but got stronger as she grew in confidence. She has the most powerful vocal of the girls on Ricky’s team whilst clips on Youtube show how well she can perform. Hannah Symonds (20/1), who had hit song with band Templecloud, has a distinctive gritty tone. Her audition performing her own song “Powerless” was good, if slightly nervy. Nineteen year old Vikesh Champaneri (33/1) had a strong vocal and great tone and he may give the other two boys a run for their money.

Team Will
Will seems to have turned for fewer acts this year. It’s been a strategy which has produced mixed results. He has a number of strong acts but he’s also managed to pick up a few weaker ones along the way.

We’ve seen Sheena McHugh (4/1) previously on X Factor in 2013 where she made it through to the six chair challenge. She was criticized for her lack of stage presence, but that certainly wasn’t lacking in her performance of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home”. It wasn’t a perfect performance, perhaps slightly affected by nerves, but it was still one of the best from the audition rounds.

Esmee Denters (12/1) was a Youtube sensation who went on to get a record deal with Justin Timberlake. Her performance of “Yellow” by Coldplay was strong and confident. She sounds and looks the part, but her vocal seems to lack the distinctive quality which could really make her a contender.

Lucy O’Byrne (16/1) took the unusual approach of singing “Ebbenn Ne Andro Lontana” as she isn’t an opera singer. However she can certainly sing and as she can perform a wide range of styles Lucy may turn out to be one of the dark horses in this year’s competition.

Amongst the boys in Will’s team Jake Shakeshaft (20/1) gave a good performance of “Thinking Out Loud”. He must be impressing people as his is the most viewed of the audition performances on Youtube.

Will’s procrastinating cost him in the end, leaving the last place in his team to the final audition. He duly landed Tina Turner impersonator Andrew Marc – propping up the field at 100/1.

Team Rita
Rita’s plan seems to be to stick with what she knows. That means that she’s turned for the more current sounding acts, sometimes regardless of apparent merit, and mostly avoided anyone else. Again it’s resulted in a rather mixed bag but there are a few very good acts in there.

The bookmakers have placed Clark Carmody (8/1) as Rita’s top act. Whilst his performance of Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One” was nice enough it wasn’t entirely convincing. At times it was a bit uneven, so he’ll have to do better to really compete with the top acts. The same could be said for Joe Woolford (20/1) who gave us Ellie Goulding’s “Lights”. Again a generally strong performance was marred by going off pitch in places.

Amongst the girls Liss Jones (16/1) looked and sounded like a readymade pop star as she delivered a professional sounding version of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”. Olivia Lawson (25/1) performed an unusual take on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, although her breathy style may be more of an acquired taste rather than having general appeal. Karis Thomas (20/1) stood out with a great performance of Joss Stone’s “Right To Be Wrong”. Her vocal, with a slight edge to it, was one of the more distinctive from the audition rounds. Not perfect but she looks like she could do well if she can improve through the competition.

Team Tom
As ever Tom has assembled a rather eclectic team.

The bookmakers have Howard Rose (9/1) leading the way. His performance of “My Generation” was confident and probably one of the best technical performances of the audition rounds. If there is a criticism it is perhaps that for a rock song it sounded just a little too smooth and polished.

The same criticism cannot be levelled at Sasha Simone (12/1). Her audition, a mash up of “XO” and “Royals”, was probably as raw as you can get, and she certainly divided opinion. There’s no doubt that she has some talent, but can that be harnessed in the short timescale of the competition?

Irish singer Claudia Rose (12/1) made a big impression with a confident performance of “Love You I Do”. Tom was the only coach to turn for Lara Lee (25/1) despite a great jazzy take on “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”.

Sharon Murphy’s VT told us about her time in an orphanage and the racial abuse that she suffered as a child, experiences which had strongly affected her life. She put the emotion into her singing with a touching rendition of “Forever Young”. Of all the audition performances this was the one which seemed to move Tom the most.

That completes the rundown but have the bookmakers got it right? In the previous series no favourite has won, so can Stevie McCrorie break that trend by leading all the way from the first audition? Who is the strongest competition and are there any acts that have crept under the radar? Please add to the debate below.

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43 comments to The Voice 2015: Battle Rounds

  • Andy

    One slight fear surrounding Stevie McCrorie is the comment on his You tube song – Big World.

    This is a song I wrote during my time on the voice UK, it’s about my daughter, Bibi! she’s the light of my life and made me the man I am today. Recorded the day my blind audition on The Voice UK went live…

    during my time on the voice….???

  • Alex

    Right now I have money on Sheena McHugh (5/1) Karis Thomas (25/1) and Sasha Simone (20/1) When it comes down to it this part of the competition is irrelevant. In fact the whole competition is irrelevant until the final where literally anyone can win. As proved last year with Jermaine who never looked in the race until his final song. So I’ve decided to cover the three acts who I think will make up the final 4. I’ve not covered Stevie as of now due to number 1 his short price and number 2 the fact that in these sort of the competitions the long running favourite hardly ever wins.

  • David Cook

    After the weekends two hour marathon the twenty four acts competing were reduced down by just five acts as seven of the eight available steals were used up. Mostly they seemed to be wasted. We found this fairly hard going – even after viewing in two one hour parts. The best battles and acts were saved to the end, although surely many of the viewing public would have lost the will by the time they came round.
    I’m not too sure we actually learnt much more about the acts – as many seemed to progress as on the basis of the blinds as much as the actual battle performances.
    I’m still not convinced by Clark Carmordy, although this wasn’t helped by the totally unsuitable song choice, which in XF speak took him well outside his comfort zone. The choice may have favoured Olivia Lawson but she obviously found it difficult standing next to someone singing in a completely different style on alternate lines. This was a battle that didn’t work and showed the weakness of the format.
    The battle between Howard Rose and Stephanie Webber was one of the better battles. Stephanie can probably feel hard slightly hard done by – far worse contestants went through both by winning and through steals. However Howard probably deserved to win – he is a paragon of professionalism if a little anodyne.
    Although these two remain the betting favourites in their categories I can’t see either really troubling Stevie McCrorie should they be meeting in the final after Stevie put in another strong performance. Tim Arnold performer well, but vocally Stevie was by far the better of the two, and clearly won the battle.
    The final battle Between Lucy and Karl was easily the best of the night and it was very difficult to split. I preferred Lucy, although Karl was probably better technically. This was one steal well used as both deserved to go through. Lucy looks to be one of Will’s favourites this year.
    No-one else really shone at all – roll on next week.

  • Tom Ato

    Aside from Stevie another contestant I am keeping my eye on is Liss Jones. She has a very strong voice and she has the likeability factor. She could well be a dark horse. I think one of the classical singers from last weeks show will make it to the final, if that happens they could win, the public love an opera singer as seen in Britain’s Got Talent over the past few years.

  • Alex

    I think the only opera singer who could potentially make the final is Lucy from last week. But to make the final she’ll have to get past Sheena, a daunting task considering her blind audition and the fact Will loves her. Sheena’s backstory is quite powerful as well (car crash etc). Will normally backs one of his acts and sacrifices the others and I think he’ll back Sheena over Lucy. I could be wrong though.

    If I had to predict a final 4 right now I’d pick Stevie, Sasha, Karis, Sheena/Lucy. Rita’s team is weak but out of all of them Karis has the best backstory and based on interviews to the press Rita loves her to bits & is pushing her hard. I think when it comes down to the crunch she’d pick Karis over Clark or Liss.

  • David Cook

    The second battle round turned out to be as much of a mixed bag as last week. It started with the shout off between Leticia and Vikesh. Vikesh looked beaten before they had even started, as he worried quite correctly that he wasn’t as loud as Leticia. Ricky indeed took the loud option allowing Will to nip in and steal the better singer. Vikesh needs to boost his confidence if he is to progress.
    Jake Shakeshaft got through against Steven Cornwell, although he can probably count himself lucky. Both were a bit bland and Will didn’t seem overly impressed.
    Liss Jones didn’t do herself too many favours in the screech off with Vanesa Hunt, but managed to do enough to progress. On this evidence however she would struggle to beat Karis. Will Rita put both through to the live shows?
    Daniel Duke against Cai Williams was another of the evening’s mismatched pairings – Daniel progressing through with a smooth restrained vocal against Cai’s club singer style.
    Sheena McHugh and Hollie Barrie was another shout off – Sheena worrying that the song choice didn’t make the best of her vocals. She was right, but she was still the better singer and deserved to go through. Sheena is one of the favourites, but she needs better song choices from Will.
    Autumn Sharif and Hannah Wildes worked together as more of duet for their battle, and finally we got two good singing performances. Autumn shaded the battle, although the song choice favoured her vocal style. Rita used the final steal to get Hannah. Hannah may have slipped under the radar a bit, but as her Youtube channel shows, with the right songs she has a lot of potential. Two acts to watch.
    It was a short reprieve. Esmee Denters against Andrew Marc was almost painful to listen to. This may have seemed like a ‘free pass’ for Esmee but for some reason she was all over the place and it did her no favours at all. If the BBC wants to remain impartial Will telling us that he’s known Esmee for years can hardly have helped her cause either.
    Dtwins got through against The Mac Brothers. This was one of the closer battles, and Rita may have judge it as much on the twins style as the battle itself.
    Many will be questioning how on earth Sasha Simone got through against Lisa Ward, as Lisa almost had to carry Sasha through the battle such were her nerves. It seems that Tom simply prefers sasha’s soul style and believes he can do something with her. It seemed harsh on Lisa though.
    The battle between Karis Thomas and NK was another real mismatch. This was like two people singing completely different songs over each other. Painful doesn’t cover it. The song choice certainly didn’t help NK and he went out despite his better technical ability. Karis may not be perfect, but at sixteen she does seem to have a distinctive vocal and masses of potential. Singing the song solo it could have been a great performance.
    Lara Lee and Kim Alvord was another close battle and was one of the evenings better performances – again with the pair working better together. It was Lara that progressed through.
    As with the previous week the best battle was saved until last as Classical Reflection and Emmanuel Nwamadi battled for the final place. With no steals left it seemed unfair that one of the acts would have to go out, given some of the others that had progressed. Unfortunately for Classical Reflection the arrangement favoured Emmanuel – with the more powerful vocal he took the lead, they were more backing singers, and Ricky went with Emmanuel. Going into the knockouts next weekend he still seems to have the strongest team.

  • Tom Ato

    Watching the show there was just something about Karis that made me think she will become a serious contender. She definitely has the full backing of Rita as well, as Alex had mentioned earlier.

  • stoney

    Stevie is gonna be tough to beat. Had a little bit on vikesh at big odds but i think the favourite is about to win this series for the first time

  • Alex

    I don’t know why but I’m still not worried about Stevie. Probably because I have faith in the generic BBC voting audience to make a right cock up of deciding the rightful winner like they have over the past three series. Sorry to be so miserable Stoney but I just can’t see Vikesh getting past the first live show against Sheena & Lucy. I expect Will to fast pass Sheena & against Lucy I think the voters will go with the chilling operatic singer. Tonight’s episode also only added to my belief that Karis will beat Clark into the final 4.

  • stoney

    Vikesh was just a small punt at big odds. I don’t think he’ll win just liked the value. Stevie is on course to become the next David Sneddon. The scottish will make sure of that

  • Alex

    They’ve now changed the rules apparantly which see’s the top 4 best voted acts get through to the final rather than one on each team. I’d say the acts this benefits the most has to be Lucy and Emmanuel. Both now have realistic chances of getting the final and even winning it. It certainly changes things for sure.

  • stoney

    So far so good for stevie. Been topping up at 9/4 this weekend. Seems they quite fancy him as the winner this year and he should be easy enough to get over the line from this point

  • Alex

    Stevie looking very good, but they’re pushing the Scottish angle a lot for him to be fully comfortable in my opinion. If they actually have him wear a kilt next week it’ll do him more harm than good.

  • Alex

    Karis and Sasha both fast passed through by Tom and Rita. Sasha I think has been saved from a probable elimination there.

  • Natasha

    Ok so after a very unsuccessful last 2 years of betting on the voice I didn’t want to go there again however, temptation has drawn me in. I haven’t seen a single episode this series so will catch up on you tube and take note of comments on here. Lets hope this year is more predictable!!! Stoney called Steve from the very beginning if I remember rightly but as we know, the favourite and most likely winner has never triumphed, ever. Will all that change this year?

    • stoney

      You better be quick if you want to get stuck into stevie, he’ll more than likely be odds on by Sunday. I regret not getting stuck into him at 5/1 but i wanted to wait and see who else was going to enter the show. The only threat for me is Emmanuel.
      Oh by the way you gave me the wrong contact details in your farewell message :/

      • Natasha

        What about Lucy? Been reading up on this series all morning but havent watched anything yet, may have a punt on her based on previous winners being the most unlikely ones, the odds are very tempting too

        Sorry mate, did it in a rush, what your email and I’ll mail you

        • stoney

          Yeah lucy could be a threat as it goes. I think she would have done well I’m bgt. I just can’t see the scots vote getting beat. The x factor had to pull off the mother of stitch ups to stop nick mcdonald. Where as the voice seem to be pushing stevie for the win.
          In a rush haha you on the run again? Mcstoneyg@hotmail.com

  • David Cook

    The first round of live shows didn’t spring too many surprises other than the change to the voting format which made it an open vote between the eight acts facing the public vote. Apparently the same format applies to the coming weekend which will mean coaches aren’t guaranteed an act in the final. Whilst this does seem to be fairer it does leave to possibility that one coach may have to duet with more than one act, whilst another may not perform at all.
    Stevie seems to be well out in front with yet another strong performance. At the moment everything seems to be in his favour – he can sing very well, decent looks, job as a fireman, young family background and of course the regional vote – it looks like he’s going to be hard to beat.
    The strongest competition could be from within Team Ricky with Emmanuel also performing very well at the weekend. If anything Emmanuel’s performances are more distinctive than Stevie’s, and his unusual take on songs makes him stand out as something different. But that doesn’t necessarily transfer into votes and he clearly lacks the same level of backing as Stevie.
    There were strange goings on in Team Will – but it worked in that he got all three acts through to the semi-finals. Whether Vikesh can really benefit from being turned into a joke act remains to be seen. Lucy and Sheena both performed very well in their different genres. Will’s calculation seemed to be that it wasn’t worth risking Lucy in the public vote, whilst assuming that Sheena would sail through amongst those that were up for the vote. Going forward these two look very closely matched, but it may be difficult for both to make it into the final.
    It was difficult to judge beforehand which way Rita would go with the Fast Pass, in the end opting for Karis, who does appear to be getting strong support. The choice of an up tempo song may have been a risk as it didn’t really show case her vocals, and at times she pushed too hard, but given her age and inexperience she performed well and looks quite credible as an act with a bit more development. Joe has improved as the competition has progressed, and if there are any teenage votes to be gained he seems to be to most likely beneficiary. Karis looks the more likely to make the final, but with the new voting format it’s by no means certain.
    Based on the Knockouts it appeared that Tom favoured Sasha, leaving Lara and Howard looking exposed, as they seemed to have registered least on the public consciousness despite putting in good consistent performances. To be fair to Sasha her performance was a huge step up from the earlier rounds and she probably deserved her place on merit. Is it possible for her to step it up again this weekend and squeeze into the final?

  • Tom Ato

    Interesting how Karis has the highest Youtube views from last weeks performances, it’s only marginal but I really do think she is gathering interest. If she is to have any chance of winning she needs to have a moment this week and take that momentum into the final.

  • David Cook

    It promises to be an interesting night. Of the eight remaining acts it seems that Stevie is the only act that can be reasonably certain of making the final – if the polls and bookmakers odds are to be believed. Everyone else is at risk of going out, or has a chance of making it through.
    The song list has been released, but not who is singing what.
    The one that can be predicted is Lucy singing ‘O Mio Bambino Caro’, which has to be a great choice of song. If she gets it right it should go down well with the audience and should give her a good chance of making the final.
    Sheena has done a cover of ‘Jealous’ already so she may well be doing this. Her version is good and does show off a different side to her than we’ve seen previously, but with no real high points to the song it may just pass the audience by. If she is doing this then it may be a risk.

  • Tom Ato

    Can’t see Bleeding Love suiting Karis’ tone. I hope she’s singing Say You Love Me. I think she could have a moment with that.

  • stoney

    Vikesh getting jahmene’d tonight. An easy way to stop him picking up support. They obviously see him as a threat to win cos hes been thrown under the bus the last 2 weeks. He has a great voice but they have turned him into the joke act.
    Stevie being saved til last is good.

  • stoney

    Will looks set to lose a hat trick of contestants this week. Fully expect stevie and karis to join emmanuel and sasha in the final

  • stoney

    Bit of a shock there. My heart was racing then!

  • Alex

    Stevie, Emmanuel, Sasha and Lucy through. I’d say Stevie is still favourite but Lucy would be my dark horse. Never underestimate the power of an opera voice. Once again the female coach is out first haha

  • Andy

    Maroon 5, lost stars is the winners single.
    Right up Stevies street.

  • Sagand

    It’s not a Maroon 5 song, Adam Levine sang it in the film Begin Again, as did Keira Knightley. (In the film the Adam Levine version is criticized for being too commercialized and having the emotion sucked out; I assume that’ll be the version being covered.)

    Even then it’s more emotive than rocky and the Adam Levine version has lots of falsetto. I don’t see Stevie being strongest in a head to head with Emmanuel or Sasha (I can’t see an operatic version working well at all.)

    But by the sounds of it it’ll only be performed by the winner so won’t make any difference anyway.

  • Alex

    Sounds like the acts are not performing their favourite song from earlier in the competition like they did last year (which won it for Jermaine). That’s a blow for Stevie because if he got to do Kodaline again he’d have smashed everyone else out the park. Apparently the final two acts sing the winners single and then the public decide the winner.

  • David Cook

    Going into the final it looks all set for a Stevie win. Pimp slot again at the weekend, last on the One Show and a winner’s song that seems to favour him, the Beeb certainly seem happy to get him as the winner. We can only assume he topped the vote last week. A further week of heavy coverage north of the border can’t have hurt his chances. There are notes of discontent, not least on the DS forum, where the accusations of Stevie being a rather dull and predictable are coming to the fore. Looking at past series winners however that would seem to strengthen rather than hamper his chances of the win.
    Is there any chance of an upset? If there is I can’t see it coming from Emmaunuel – I just can’t see any way in which he can achieve the level of support to beat Stevie. Emmanuel has been one of the acts that strongly impressed at the Blind Auditions – his individual take on ‘The Sweetest Taboo’ was great, but he’s never really surpassed that performance. He may have been under the weather at the weekend, but his performance wasn’t so good, and it’s left a feeling that his chances may be on the wane.
    The opposite applies to Sasha – written off as a no-hoper by many at that start, she’s turned around many people’s opinions by managing to turn what seemed very raw talent into some great performances at the live shows. She’s clearly not the best technically, but she really manages to put the emotion into her performances. Her support is undoubtedly rising – albeit from a low base – but it may just be too late for her to really threaten Stevie unless she pulls something exceptional out of the bag at the weekend.
    Lucy has probably been the most consistent performer – she’s barely put a note wrong. Her performance of ‘O Mio Bambino Caro’ at the weekend seemed an inspired choice to catapult her into the final, but how can she top it this week? Performing the Flower Duet from Lakme perhaps? Is Will a soprano? The format seems to be a bit against Lucy, as does the choice of the winner’s song. However is there a chance that if she does make the final two she could pull out a game changer by not doing an operatic performance?

  • gwri78

    Spent much time thinking it over, and can really see Stevie drifting in running given song choices. On the one hand he still looks good value at above 1.8 to win, just because other favs lost doesn’t mean he will, with the Scottish vote behind him. On the other hand reading through previous year’s sofabet previews of the voice reminds me just how important tonight is for deciding outcome. looks like sasha has the best song choices early on, so have decided it’s safest to cover my Stevie stake on her outright. Good luck to all

  • Alex

    Lucy is such a danger. I just keep thinking of the old BBC demographic and falls right in line with Opera. With opera it doesn’t matter what song you sing, it still sounds good. The only act I’m quite certain won’t win is Emmanuel but with the Voice you never know. If Stevie gets to perform his audition song I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t win though.

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