The Voice – Blind Auditions 3

The Voice was back tonight. Back like a bad rash. I spent most of the last week applying probiotic yoghurt to sensitive areas in the hope that it would go away. It didn’t. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised this evening. I don’t know how many real contenders showed up but there was more emphasis on people that could actually sing. It wasn’t all guitars and folksy authenticity smokescreens.

First up was Joelle Moses – another poster child for the idea that backing singers need a chance to shine. It’s true, they do, because society judges every black female singer on whether they are as powerful as Beyonce or as pop as Rihanna. Joelle was obviously neither but she gave the most solid opening vocal of the series thus far. I liked her a lot but I don’t see her going all the way, despite the fact that Jessie J rewarded her performance with a choice dance move from Whigfield’s Saturday Night. Danny wanted to work on her breathing but she chose Will, who doesn’t seem to breathe much at all. Because he’s a robot. From the future.

Jessie J announced this evening that she’s really picky about the voices she writes for. Only unique talents, like Miley Cycrus, warrant that level of attention.

We were then introduced to a pizza spinning everyman, Jay Norton, who really needed a ‘dawler’, whatever than means. It’s perhaps a constituent part of a ‘ballid’. Jay looked like he’d bogwashed a few nerds in school and then realised that he’d pull more girls if he pretended to be sensitive. My immediate dislike of him told me that he might have a chance of impressing in the long term, despite his horrendous vocal affectations. Jessie thought his licks were clean, like a cat bath presumably. He chose Will.

The Voice’s next Last Chance Salooner was Alison Browne, who had previously won Best Unsigned Act at the MOBO awards. Keeping in with the theme thus far (ditching applicants with a certain level of success), The Voice rejected Alison and her voice. I wonder if this predictability can give us hope for accurate speculation in later rounds or if it might lull us all into a false sense of security. Holly reminded us, once again, that there were no second chances.

Leanne Mitchell, a holiday camp entertainer, was the first pleasant surprise of the evening; the first rhinestone in an otherwise floppy fedora; the first instalment in an evening that showcased more big voices and less angsty quirks than previous episodes. Tom Jones liked her timber. Not her timbre, but her timber. I, for one, liked her haberdashery. She was an awesome vocalist but I see her chances of making a beeline for the final at a zero. Leanne chose Tom, placing her very firmly in the ‘overs’ category. I don’t think she was even that old but she’s been branded as mumsy now.

Next up, Cassius Henry told us about the time he was nearly on Top Of The Pops. At this point, I feel that the idea of privilege and experience has become the main theme, rather than an exception in The Voice. Is it too wild to speculate that perhaps The Voice has a contestant or two lined up ‘for the win’ with substantial experience and the show wants to stamp the idea of unfairness out early? After a horribly cynical sob story involving a deceased brother, Cassius belted out NeYo’s sleaze anthem, Closer, in a suitably sleazy fashion. The judges talked about Cassius needing a second break and Cassius chose Jessie to tighten his ‘licks, trills and runs’. Also, Danny admitted that he was unqualified for vocal coaching.

It does feel sort of obvious at this point that The Voice is looking for a winning coach in either Jessie or Danny. The attention given to the other two (less cringe-inducing two) coaches has been minimal at best. I certainly agree with Andrew’s comment about Danny looking like the best price for a winning mentor.

We were then treated to a few clips of mediocre piano-bar singers that seemed to serve no purpose at all. There was some ‘old, smokey wisdom’. It was great.

Next up, we were treated (and I use that word without irony for once) to a performance by Hannah Berney. Her rendition of ‘You and I’ was certainly better than a certain Shoutelia Silly’s but it lacked the latter’s likeability and star quality. I don’t see Hannah as winning material but her voice was very good. Danny needs to keep his lips together during these auditions. We don’t need any more reminding that he’s, like, so ‘into’ the music, man.

Cris Grixti was the next lamb to the slaughter and seemed to solidify the point that odd looks don’t guarantee you a free pass on a blind singing context. His vocal was, I’m sorry, atrocious. Luckily, he wasn’t sent forward. Let’s be fair, though. A person of average height wouldn’t have even garnered a slot on the show with his voice.

Bill Downs was every republican mom’s dream and performed a rendition of Plan B’s ‘She Said’ in a way that was fairly reminiscent of the time that X Factor’s The Risk were good for exactly two minutes and three seconds. Perhaps Bill Downs will have limbs replaced during his run on The Voice and suffer for it. Or perhaps he will continue to stand as a reminder that getting married is what good people do. Am I supposed to give a flying lovemake that some guy from somewhere might have to move his wedding date in order to be on TV? Bill chose Danny and the nation hiccoughed in shock.

Next up was Kate Read who appeared to have a phobia of tunes by the way she dodged her way around committing to a single note during her performance of ‘True Colours’. Kate was, in my opinion, the words vocalist of the night and seemed to have styled herself in the theme of ‘people I picked on in school’. To me, she was another sad product of the Devlin factor – that need for The Voice to produce something Devlinesque in order to show up the debacle of last year’s X Factor. Having slagged her off, I have to wonder how Kate would do up against last week’s Frances.

After all that, Alys Williams popped up to warble with a Welsh accent and I actually found her quite endearing, nationalist undertones aside. The judges were mugs so they didn’t put her through.

It was hubris time next, as Nathan James sang his arrogant little heart out in an attempt to wow the judges and/or gain a roll alongside Justin Lee Collins in Rock Of Ages. Vocal ability must stand for very little in this competition if Nathan was overlooked. He was very accomplished as a singer but very unlikeable.

Next up was one of the gazillion people who have claimed being Amy Winehouse’s closest friend since her death. Despite a poor vocal, he turned a chair in Will – which only makes me doubt that coach’s winning potential even more. Tyler James didn’t sound like a winner to me.

Danny needs to stop miming along to people’s auditions. It makes my mouth dry up and shiver.

I looked at the clock at ten past eight and knew that it was time for one more ‘biggie’ to perform. That ‘biggie’ came in the form of relatively famous Bo Bruce, a aristocrat or something (Waissel anybody?). Will thought she sounded like miso soup. Danny had wanked over the same records as her. She sang very well but I fail to see how the British Public would ever see past her apparent privileges enough to get behind her.

Of the night’s performers, I’d pick out Leanne and Hannah as the strongest voices in a night that seemed to be a bit more about the girls. Jay and Bill both seem like they have a good chance of connecting with the public but, as ever, it feels to early to call any of the contestants as potential champions. A quick flick over to ITV and Britain’s Got Talent revealed the rather magnificent Chelsea Redfern. If I were to bet on anyone winning The Voice, it would be her. Sadly, she’s not even on the show. And neither is her magnificent nan.

16 comments to The Voice – Blind Auditions 3

  • Ronnie

    Right, my first post on this show.

    Firstly, well done Dug on getting the gig. Always took on board your points during X Factor and will do so on the Voice.

    Now the show itself. I am finding it a frustrating watch. A particular irritation is when no ‘coach’ pushes their button and they turn around and lavish high praise on the rejected wannabe who then justifiably asks ‘why didn’t you press your button, then?’ Why not just tell them straight with them?
    Also, what’s the point of holly Willobooby? She’s hardly said a word for three weeks. Perhaps they don’t want the presenters to outshine the acts but a flick over to ITV sees Ant and Dec showing how it should be done – at the end of the day it’s a Saturday night entertainment show.
    Another annoyance, the way producers drag out the decision making time of the auditionee. It can go on four four or fives minutes when we all know they’ll pick Will or Jessy unless they are old and large, in which case Tom appears to be the dumping ground.

    Despite all this, the standard of acts has been decent if unspectacular. At the moment I have two boys and two girls ahead of the rest.

    Firstly the girls; no prizes for putting outright favourite in most places, Jessica Hammond, at the top of the pile. Good voice, pretty enough for the boys to fancy but curvy enough for girls to like/relate to/not feel threatened by, plays guitar and other instruments, Jessy as coach, will have unwavering Irish support and, I feel, was put on right at the start of the series for a reason. Have backed at 14/1.
    Behind Jess I have Bo Bruce from yesterday’s show. Sounded like a cross between Dido and Florence ATM. Not sure what to make of her aristocratic background but not sure that will bother the BBC crowd. I was surprised only two judges turned round but think that has more to do with the fact that they have nearly filled their squads and are looking for a particular singer. Not yet backed as I missed the 25s so will wait to see how things pan out.

    The boys; I came close to backing Max Milner and whilst I still think there is potential there I thought Bill Downs outshone him last night. Another contestant who plays guitar (although he didn’t for his audition) I can see Bill becoming a favourite with the ladies – I only had to see the tougue hanging out of Mrs Ronnie’s mouth when he came on screen to realise this (I don’t think the marriage thing will put the girls off). I also thought he had a great tone to his voice, very smooth and I was impressed by his YouTube footage. Only worry is that Danny will be coaching both Bill and Max and they could be seen as being a little similar. Backed Bill at 50/1.
    Second guy is Vince Kidd. He offers that something a little bit different to the others and will stand out from the crowd. I think he could attract a bit of a cult following and will appeal to many for different reasons from voice to look to sexuality to originality – I can see him going far. Haven’t backed him yet but is on my watch list.

    At 4/1, Danny seems to be the value bet judge wise at the moment – still a long way to go though but thought I share a few early thoughts and get the conversation going.

    • Dug

      Hey Ronnie,

      Bo is a strange one. The market has reacted very favourably to her but I really don’t quite see it yet. Joelle Moses now rests around second place to Jessica Hammond with some bookmakers but I fear this is another overshout. In comparison, I still feel Max Milner is being overlooked somewhat – maybe the comparisons to James Michael from last year’s X Factor are too striking to ignore but I felt he out charisma’d most of the other guitar wielding men so far and he definitely wins out on the looks front (this may be a ‘blind’ contest but let’s not kid ourselves that a lot of people won’t still vote for who they fancy). I suppose the battle round will be our chance to see if Max, along with the rest, sinks or swims. Interestingly, Bo and Joelle opened and closed the show. Are their relatively short prices a better reflection of this than of their chances overall? We’re well aware that the Beeb pulls in a slightly different crowd but The Voice is still likely to share more audience with X Factor than Springwatch. I just can’t picture Joelle or Bo as potential winners.

  • R

    Hi Dug,
    Great article. I feel your pain although I do have one complaint. I clicked on the Miley Cyrus (Smiley Virus) link and ended up watching an ad for Justin Beiber’s new single. I’ll need more than probiotic yoghurt to soothe away that pain.

    I only watched a few acts on The Voice. Having missed Alison Brown,I mistakenly thought Cassius Henry was the Last Chance Salooner, so was surprised to see him go through. Good to know The Voice are keeping to “The Script” after all. I thought Cassius gave a decent account of himself but was nothing special.
    I must have fallen asleep or something as the next act I remember is Kate Read, mainly because she was so awful. For me, she is proof that the producers have already picked who will go through as there is no way she could have gone through on the strength of her vocal.
    The final act I remember from The Voice was Bo. I’d been watching BGT so missed her VT but I was impressed by her voice.
    BGT was pretty shoddy in my opinion. The Zimmers are already well known. They were put together by Marcus Bridgestock a few years ago during a show he did on BBC about the elderly. They have already had a chart hit and an album release.
    I thought Chelsea was on a par with Katy Read. The wrong song, the start was poor and then she shouted for a bit. She did get comments pointing to “confidence” & “growing as an individual”, suggesting an ongoing storyline.
    Act of the night was the dog.

    A couple of side notes: Ryan O’Shaughnessy may be forced to pull out of BGT as he was a finalist on Ireland’s The
    Voice and is contracted to them for the tour.

    Group of the week must be Epic Harmony!/EpicHarmonyUK. A group of XF fans who booked rooms in the same hotel as the XF tour and spent the weekend stalking the contestants.
    Funniest moments. When they did a Twitcam at the same time as Kitty but had 3 times as viewers. So Kitty gave up on hers and joined them.
    When Marcus Collins mentioned he’d missed his facial appointment and one of the girls told him not to cry about it.
    And when Janet’s biggest fan ignored Janet to get a pic with her mother.
    Pure Spinal Tap.

  • Andrew

    Finally feel like I’m starting to get the format. I’m totally with Ronnie about how frustrating it is when none of them turn around then they lavish high praise on the rejected act, who justifiably asks “why not turn around, then?” It makes the non-turning feel scripted and/or the lavish praise disingenuous.

    Thing is, there does appear to be a valid reason for this – if judges can choose only 10, then they obviously need to be selective about their button-pushes. (I’m interested to see how they handle it next week when two or three of the teams are full – will we see Will, Danny and Jessie drinking tea in the wings while Tom has to sustain 90 seconds of will-he-won’t-he tension all on his own?)

    What I don’t quite understand is why they’ve allowed us viewers to spend the first few episodes thinking “well, this is stupid, why didn’t they turn around if they thought they were good?” before this valid reason gradually emerges. Here are a couple of little format tweaks that I reckon could have made the blind auditions stage more compelling –

    – 100 preselected auditionees wait backstage, each with a number. They’re called to audition randomly, with numbers chosen by a National Lottery style machine. We see them waiting nervously to see if their number will come up. They know some won’t get to perform before all four teams are full. Tough luck. This would make everything feel a lot less scripted, I think, and allow tension to build as we check back on selected contestants over successive episodes – will they ever get their chance on stage?

    – this way we’d also know that the judges know from the start that there are 100 acts, and we’d see displayed somewhere on screen which number audition this is and how many acts each judge has so far. Then we can understand more clearly that the coaches don’t want to spunk their ten slots too early. This would make the agonising over whether to push or not to push, which so far I have found thoroughly tedious, seem a lot more believable – ditto the “I didn’t push even though I like you” moments.

    – if we see those waiting to audition watch the auditions and who goes on whose team, this would allow for (the appearance of) tactical choices of coach. Again, this would inject some tension into a stage of proceedings that I’ve found utterly unsuspenseful so far – for all their agonising, very few acts have given any kind of interesting reason for preferring one coach over another.

    So it’s one more week of auditions, then “battle rounds” – they’re like judges’ houses, right?

    • Dug

      The pool of 100 is a perfect idea. We should keep it in the dossier in preparation for the day that the Sofabet community takes over the reality genre in order to give it a well-deserved kick up the backside. Re: Bo Bruce, I recognised her even in the early trailers. I know she was a big deal in an Orange music competition but I’m pretty sure she’s been on TV before in a context that I can’t remember. I definitely already knew of her as a Lady before it was mentioned in connection with The Voice. Re: Tom Jones, I can picture him sitting in the chair well after the series ends sharing celebrity anecdotes with the crew as they strike the set. Having said that, I imagine things will have to pick up for him somewhat during the series as he commands more respect than, say, Louis Walsh and nobody will want to see him with too much egg on his face.

  • Pauline

    Dug, You are so funny man. Such a good read. Do rhinestones really go with floppy fedoras’ The mental picture a mouth shiver conjured up made us, here, snort with laughter. The Voice. I like the judges, but, wish Tom would stop this ‘All our yesterdays’, ‘Memory lane’ business. It’s so ‘Last of the summer wine’. Danny is fast becoming a guilty pleasure for many. Some of the contestants’, to me, appear to be very photocopy-ish with the photocopier not working quite right, if you get my drift. Nothing like an original. Nothing stands out to me so far. I guess I’ll have to wait until the heat is turned up. Andrew, yes, Aquinas is indeed a magnificent name. Love it.

  • taichou

    hey Dug! This weeks Voice was probably the best talent-wise but man why the so called coaches are “threatening” to press damn button… its like LOOK I MIGHT PRESS IT and then they dont.. i dont get it at all… do you think that thing is also scripted?

  • CS

    When the judges hover their hands over the button, it seems to be mainly to gauge the reaction of the live audience and see from their cheers how much they are rooting for an act.
    I love Andrew’s suggestion for changes to the show – would make it much more exciting!

  • Dug

    It is interesting to see that Max Milner’s odds have shortened somewhat in the past couple of days, along with a few others’. Anyone seen any interesting press stories for this or shall we assume that people are just getting a better gauge of public reaction? Aleks Josh on the other hand seems to be slipping away somewhat which seems remarkable given his charming bad boy persona. I’m surprised to see Joelle and Vince Kidd as short as they are, given what I see as a limited appeal for either. Any midweek thoughts, people?

  • Andrew

    Dug, here’s my thought for midweek – should our strategy perhaps be to look for the most likely (/least unlikely) on Team Tom?

    Here’s my reasoning. With the teams almost complete, I just did a quick calculation of their relative strength in the outright market. Danny’s acts average top odds of 33, Jessie 41, Will 42 and Tom 60. (Which, incidentally, backs up the feeling that Danny looks too long in the winning manager market.) But the format, as I understand it, guarantees Tom a horse in the final. So maybe there’s some mileage in looking for who that’s most likely to be?

    Here’s Team Tom

    At the prices, I reckon 50/1 about Leanne Mitchell (she of the “timber”) might be worth a sniff, especially with each-way terms (1/4 1-2-3 with Victor Chandler). The place part of the bet is effectively 12.5/1 about her getting to the final and not finishing last.

    She’s certainly been one of the most impressive vocalists so far, I think. They went to the trouble of filming her in her holiday camp. She seems likeable enough. And the “what would you like to do with me, Tom?” question hints that there may be some flirtatious mentor-mentee rapport to be created.

    Who is looking likelier than Leanne to be last act standing on Team Tom?

    • Dug

      Hey Andrew, your comment serves as a good reminder that I need to pick my words more carefully. I mentioned above that I saw Leanne’s chances of hitting the final at a zero but of course that didn’t factor in the idea of each coach having a finalist. I think I was just running out of different ways to say “has no chance of winning” which I don’t believe she has. So I need to retract my original statement sharpish – Leanne is one of Tom’s strongest contestants and could well make the final. Adam Isaac also looks likeable but I can’t imagine him making it to the later stages where he’d be in direct competition with the juggernaut of male acts on Team Danny. Barbara Bryceland could always turn out to be popular as the older contestant but I don’t quite think she has that underdog appeal. Then again, I feel we’re yet to see the best of Aundrea Nyle, although I struggle to see her appealing to a wide base.

    • Dug

      Another point about Team Danny at the moment is that it is absolutely miles ahead of the other teams in terms of fanciable men, who we all know pull votes. I know we’re supposed to believe that the BBC has a slightly more sophisticated target audience than ITV but realistically the sex factor plays a part in any competition and all the potential man candy is currently Chez O’Donoghue.

      • Andrew

        My thoughts exactly on Adam Isaac. And great point on Team Danny.

        I suppose in general one thing we should expect with this format is for the bond between coach and act to become more important than it is for XF. You would think that it makes most dramatic sense for Tom to bond with a somewhat mature woman (of whom his team, surely not coincidentally, is packed), and Danny with a bloke (ditto).

        According to Stu Heritage in the Graun today, the battle round phase will involve contestants singing at each other across an actual boxing ring. Let it be so –

        I wonder how they choose the matchups? Will there be some element of randomness to who sings against who, or will they just present us with the twosomes and thereby invite the impression that they’ve preselected the five they want?

  • mapps

    How useful is it to watch blind audtions now and look at the contestants?

    If you back someone in the outright it could already be a the battle rounds will see each team be reduced down to 5 people!!

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