The Voice – The F***ing Final

Well, there you go, Sofabettors. It happened. The show was called The Voice and we were repeatedly told that it was “all about The Voice.” Foolishly, most of us (and the rest of the viewing world) refused to believe that it could be true. “A show that’s ALL about The Voice?” we thought, “It’ll never work. Not in my lifetime.”

Well it did work, somehow, strangely. After the eliminations of J. Marie Cooper and Jaz Ellington, Leanne really was the only contestant capable of singing the fuck out of a song and never dropping a fraction of a tone out of place. She could belt, she could simper and her range was out of this world. Perhaps it was foolish to have underestimated her for so long but we’re all of us cynics and failed to see how a holiday entertainer nearing 30 could take the crown with a powerful but arguably indistinct voice. The public decided to play fair and The Voice won it on the night, possibly by quite a bit (Leanne came close to evens on Betfair during her final number. What a pity the Beeb will never publish results).

I’m sure some of you bet on Leanne for  Tom’s top act, probably before the arrival of Ruth Brown as I know Andrew did, but major kudos to anyone who bet on her for the win before now. Much like Tyler, she was floundering near the bottom of the leader board for a long time. In its latter stages, The Voice was not as predictable as it started out. Early favourites Jaz, Becky and Ruth walked the plank at the semi-final and later favourites Bo and Tyler landed short of the final prize. What a bugger that we’ll never know how they placed. I was convinced Tyler had it in the bag when he performed I’ll Be There but The Usher cover was truly appalling and I believe that was when his odds began to look like a dried up turd. Bo, essentially, was too samey and slightly self-indulgent whilst Leanne projected the wow factor and a sense of personal growth. There’s no simpler way to say it – she had The Voice.

A lot of lessons to be learned in preparation for next year’s series and that’s when I’ll think about putting my money where my mouth is. It’s been a rocky road of picking up the show’s style and working out it’s format, motivations and demographic.  Perhaps we should feel a little silly but, after all, we all thought the same. I thought it, the market thought it and 99% of our wonderful commenters thought it. High fives to the guys who championed Leanne during this week of her surprise ascension. I thought you were getting carried away.

We’ll be doing a proper post-mortem tomorrow and a more comprehensive look back on the series later in the week. Until then, may the odds be ever in your favour.

29 comments to The Voice – The F***ing Final

  • lolhart

    I was surprised by the result but looking back on tonight’s show it wasn’t that big a shock. If TPTB had not wanted Leanne to win, they would never have let her reprise Run to You (the performance that saw her knock out Ruth). Her number with Tom Jones also felt like a proper duet with the two singing together and smiling. Contrast this to the others where the act was either overpowered by their coach (Vince) or marred by some dodgy rapping/vocals (Danny & Tyler). Leanne also might have benefited from competing against acts who divided public opinion either because of their personalities or vocals. She was the nice girl with the nice voice who didn’t provoke a strong reaction, which can be a blessing in a show with middling ratings.

  • Andrew

    Quick initial take is that the show’s producers’ inadvertently let Leanne take the path to victory that they’d plotted out for Ruth. It ended up being the time-honoured reality show “ugly duckling” journey, the girl with the great voice who doesn’t believe in herself – the path trodden by Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke.

    Remember how in her VTs they had Ruth mumble not very convincingly about how confident she was becoming, and her sister testify to her pre-show shyness, and Tom Jones say “she’s stronger than even she knows”. Meanwhile, poor old Leanne just looked quietly delighted to still be there.

    It’s a classic illustration of the “show, don’t tell” advice. With Ruth they kept telling us that she didn’t believe in herself. And I think they probably didn’t realise they were simultaneously showing the same thing with Leanne – and in the end, the showing came across more powerfully than the telling.

    Or maybe this has all just been a massive headfake, with JAZRUTHJAZRUTH then BOBOBOBOBOBO cleverly distracting us from Leanne being deliberately flown under the radar all along. But somehow I doubt it. Anyway, delighted that she won, and not just for reasons financial! She does come across as a likeable person, she does have a great voice, and she did it all without the help of pimp slots, sonograms, ill or deceased relatives, etc etc etc.

  • eurovicious

    Can’t agree with generalisations like “we’re all of us cynics”, “we all thought the same”, “99% of our wonderful commenters thought it”. Especially after the semi, a lot of commenters (myself included) were saying “don’t underestimate Leanne”, but you continued to poo-poo her chances even in the preview of the final…

    • Sarah

      It’s called hyperbole, don’t take such offense.

      • eurovicious

        Not taking offence at all (and I know what hyperbole is, I’m not Natasha Bedingfield), just expressing my impression. There’s no shame in being wrong or in not spotting a winner, especially with a show as new and unpredictable as this one (I was wrong about Jonathan and Charlotte in BGT, and about Denmark, Iceland and Norway in Eurovision, and paid the financial price in all cases), but I think hiding behind three statements in one article along the lines of “we all thought the same” when that’s blatantly not the case is a bit weaselly. Especially from someone who only now says they never had any money on the show in the first place (if I’m to interpret the “money where my mouth is” comment correctly)! Frankly, it’s a bit rich: tipping the wrong person to go out most weeks, continually poo-pooing the ultimate winner right up to the final despite several commenters warning not to underestimate her, and then rounding off the coverage by revealing you never actually bet on the show?

        • Dug

          Hi Eurovicious. The generalisations were aimed at the general narrative of the show and public perception. Not trying to blame my own mistakes on the Sofabet community. Having said that, I’ve not heard a single person fancy Leanne’s chances before a week ago and in that sense her triumph was a huge surprise to everyone. I have never claimed to have bet on this series, in fact I have been very upfront about the challenge of guessing at it. Sofabet came into the x factor game after five years of the show. This has very much been an experiment. Hope you had some luck on the series.

          • Dug

            And I’ll be doing a post show review where I lay open the things I got wrong and the things I got right. Certainly not planning on weaselling out of anything.

          • Dug

            And as I said, major kudos to those who disagreed with me. As last year’s XF proved, we don’t have a crystal ball and sometimes the commenters catch on to a winner before the writers. That’s what makes Sofabet such a great interactive community.

          • Pauline

            Great article Dug. Perhaps Euro or should I call him vicious takes it and himself far too seriously.

  • Tim B

    One thing that struck me was the fact that Little Bo Peep got the dreaded “Whatever happens…” comment from HOLLY and a similar but just as damning “Win or lose, you’re going to be a star” comment from Danny. This contrasted massively with the emotional VTs and comments about her sick mum which could’ve possibly boosted her vote in a Misha B-type way. Confusing treatment, especially after pimping her massively at every other stage of the competition. I think the simplest explanation is that producers had a change of plan after Ruth’s surprise elimination, to make Leanne their preferred winner as she was the one contestant left who had “The Voice” at the end.

  • ross

    I’m probably naive as I’m relatively new to this but isn’t the obsession with “pimping” and how desperate the producers are for someone to win or not being over analysed ? I understand shows not wanting Wagner and Jedward type contestants to win as it makes it a farce but which one of 4 decent singers win, do they really care ? What are their incentives to make sure they pick the “right” winner? (not rhetorical, interested to know them !) I though tyler would win and didnt see the usher cover as “truly appalling” but I guess it did miss the “voice” element, a big clue in the title of the show! Not surprised we were put off the scent of looking for the best voice though, when danny, jessie and will are hardly challenging pavarotti, especially will who’s all about the performance and putting on a show.

    • lolhart

      I think on a show like The X Factor it’s clear from analysis that the pimp slot is a mechanism used by the producers. We can gather this from looking at the post show voting stats each week and their link to the running order coupled with the general treatment of acts. For me when it comes to The Voice the jury is still out. I think from a production point of point the acts they chose to close the show each time made sense. I know some people may think it’s unfair, but if I was a producer I would never have chosen any of Max’s performances for that slot.

    • Andrew

      Hi Ross, it’s a great question and I agree with lolhart – with the XF we can deduce a lot already but hard to know what to conclude re The Voice.

      One question, which Dug pointed out in a previous post, is that we know less about the relationship between The Voice producers and Universal (who sign the winner) than we do about the relationship between Syco and X Factor. So it seems pretty clear that we can interpret at least some pimping on XF as being about setting up acts for postshow commercial success, e.g. Cher and One Direction in 2010. Can we surmise from The Voice that Universal really wanted Jaz or Ruth and producers cocked up by overpromoting them? Who knows?

      The other reason acts seem to be pimped on other shows is when a winner is deemed to be good for the franchise, e.g. it’s easy to see why they might have wanted Little Mix breaking the groups hoodoo in XF 2011. I suspect there may be a lot of this in Leanne’s treatment last night – I agree with lolhart that letting her reprise Run To You was a clear sign they were comfortable with her winning, and with Tim B that it makes sense to conclude they had a change of heart after Ruth went and decided that she was the best winner for the franchise of the remaining four given the whole “The Voice” thing.

    • eurovicious

      Agree wholeheartedly, been meaning to post a similar comment. I think a lot of people in the TV betting community fall into the trap of focusing too much on a show’s “narrative”, the plan, “TPTB”, “the journey” etc, so much so that they risk overlooking public preferences and people simply voting for who they like and can relate to (Little Mix, Leanne) – and the show letting them. Or in fact discounting contestants for the very reason that the public respond to them – the “moist towelette” argument (combined with her voice) is precisely why Leanne won. The narrative approach is highly applicable to Cowell shows, where it does provide you with a handy guide for “reading” events, but others not so much. And it shouldn’t be used exclusively. These types of shows are only steered (and that to varying degrees), not predefined.

      • Andrew

        As we always say, eurovicious, ask what the show wants and ask if the public will play ball. It doesn’t make any sense to neglect either one or the other.

        I think it’s too early, though, to conclude that producer preferences play a lesser role in The Voice than in Cowell shows – especially after all the dead dad, sick mum and pregnant wife guff. I thought the final was creditably even-handed in comparison, but I don’t think we can necessarily conclude that producers were happy to let anyone win. If the semi vote was close, we could conclude that. But it may be that Leanne stormed the semi vote, and producers decided they couldn’t stop her if they wanted to. Or it may be that Bo stormed the semi vote and they thought she didn’t need their help.

        Unfortunately, the Beeb aren’t releasing the vote, so we’ll never know…

  • ross

    I’ll add with any other coach he’d have one thinking about it, bohemian rhapsody was bad song choice and then usher one, I’d be interested to know about the other series of the voice as will seemed to know about the U.S one, so if he chose an Usher song in the final of The voice, I take it the winner of the voice US wasn’t like leanne !

    • Andrew

      I thought that was a fascinating little comment from Will (something like “the winner of the US Voice hasn’t achieved anything, so the right person better win here – vote Tyler”). Biting the hand that feeds in format terms – I’d have been furious if I were John de Mol. But also breaking the spell that has to exist around these shows, the whole idea that it matters who the public vote for because they can wave their magic wand and bestow career success on their chosen winner. Will was basically saying that some of these other bozos have no chance of a career even if they win, so don’t waste your vote.

      And he’s right, of course, but you don’t say it out loud. It’d be like Louis Walsh saying “I want everyone to pick up the phone and vote for Little Mix, because Marcus would be even more of a commercial flop of a winner than Matt Cardle”. Impossible to imagine, which suggests the Beeb have got their judges on a looser leash than we assume is the case with XF.

  • Roach

    In a year when Adele is the biggest global music star in the world right now, you write off a girl like Leanne at your peril! Thought she NAILED Beyonce in Week 1 and hence was on her @ 7/2 for Tom’s group, and 25/1 for the win! As someone said here last week too, she was the one with the momentum coming into the final too of course. Well done Leanne!

  • Boki

    After the Ruth/Jazz disaster I skipped any involment in the final to keep my ‘no profit no loss’ and to take a break after esc. I guess the whole market took it wrong since, after beating Ruth, Leanne was still near the bottom. In this case I don’t get this: why she became the favorite last night during the show? She was belting the same way she did before, Bo was doing her thing with same big production etc. So why switch to Leanne happened last night and not after the semi?

  • Ronnie

    TPTB wanted a Bo win, no doubt. I believe they saw going first as an advantage due to the phone lines being opened after the first round of songs and again before they sung for the last time. Tyler singing last during the final round gave viewers a lot less time to make their vote post song.
    Also, did TPTB try and imitate a Cowell tactic? Here I’m thinking the Bo VT of her busking and being mobbed by a gang of adoring fans whilst Leanne was sat in an empty Ronnie Scott’s drinking a cup of coffee. It seemed like the old ‘sat in an empty pub’ trick used to cull Sophie Habibis.

    Anyway, I’m happy. Backed Leanne at 33s early in the series and again at 9s when the market reopened last Sunday – although wouldn’t blame you for thinking I was after timing here.

    • Andrew

      Great spot on Bo’s busking! I’d completely forgotten that part of the VT, having been too busy recovering from nausea after Danny’s concluding “she’s my inspiration”. But you’re absolutely right, Bo is the only one of the four who was seen as the centre of attention in the round of duet VTs. Leanne alone in a jazz club, also terrible visuals for Vince alone in Wembley Stadium, and Tyler gets pictured at a glamorous party at which he is clearly an outsider not the star attraction.

      In general, that was such a damning contrast with the XF final homecoming videos, wasn’t it? XF finalists get flown in a helicopter to be mobbed by excited children at their old school or give open-air concerts to thousands. The Voice finalists get to visit an empty Wembley or Ronnie Scott’s.

      Not sure on the running order. It makes sense in theory but it’s suggestive that XF seem to stick to the “favoured acts on late” model even when they open lines after one round of songs. I think there’s also some evidence from Eurovision (Junior Eurovision) that late acts do better even when lines are open throughout the show.

      • Ronnie

        Yes, the running order is very much a subjective theory, Andrew. You may well be right on this one.

        I think it’s also worth mentioning the number of times Ruth Brown was mentioned – was this meant to undermine Leanne? I felt sorry for Leanne that after belting out a tune-perfect song she would have to listen to how good Ruth was. Once would have been understandable but there were at least four mentions of Ruth.

        • Steven

          Yep – one in Leanne’s first VT, then Will and Jessie after that song, then Tom after the duet.

          During the show itself I thought it had been an attempt to depress her votes, but maybe it was just further setting up Ruth for a post-show career?

          Imagine Simon Cowell saying, “Yes, When We Collide was good. You know what else is good? One Direction!”

        • Andrew

          She was like Banquo’s ghost, wasn’t she?

          It also made me feel sorry for Leanne. So if we’re anything to go by, if it was intended to depress her vote then it probably backfired.

          Postshow career reasons? Maybe (and I actually can imagine Cowell saying that! :-)). But I’m not so sure it was planned – it may have been that they were all just still in shock and didn’t realise how disrespectful it sounded.

  • Rob44

    not sure, and i may be unfairly dissing x factor fans (sorry!), but i’m wondering if the bbc audience demographic is slightly more intelligent than the average itv viewer, and therefore less likely to fall for vt’s, pimping and running order.

    i have mixed feeling about not betting on this series, as i would have made good money on the sf but the winner was bottom of my list.

  • Dan

    I wasn’t prepared to put any money down on The Voice simply because I was unfamiliar with the format and it really would have been a stab in the dark.

    In retrospect, I’d say that the views of the commentators on the Daily Mail website were a fair barometer of public opinion. I’ve done nothing scientific but skimming through the comments, I’ve seen decent support for both Tyler and Leanne prior to the final in terms of those rated highly. Bo on the other hand didn’t seem to be particularly well liked and views on Vince were mixed. As Tyler’s performance in the final wasn’t his best (the duet was dreadful), Leanne put on an absolute belter and won it.
    In my view, the biggest factor in Leanne winning was that she is a very normal person with a good voice – that appealed to the demographic watching which I suspect differs from ITV and therefore X-Factor. Because of this, I also suspect that the audience was less open to manipulation so the old trick of a parade of dead mums/dads/friends was less effective. Add this to Leanne very obviously being the underdog, that she was shown as hard-working, and the only contestant who “went on a journey” beating the odds, and that’s how I reckon that she came out on top.

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