Battle Royale With Cheese.
So, the blind auditions are over, but we still have too many contestants in the field for the live shows to begin yet. How can the coaches possibly thin the herd while still making sure that they’re not just making shallow judgements based on appearances. There’s only one solution…
NOUGHTS AND CROSSES TO THE DEATH! Look at all the extra protection offered to the person who gets that coveted centre square. It’s got ropes around it and everything. Actually, apparently they’ve sorted out a different way of doing it – they’re going to pit pairs of contestants from the same team against each other, singing the same song, and only one will emerge victorious. A bit like this, except without one contender getting hopelessly starstruck and outmatched halfway through and spending the rest of the song just grinning gormlessly. At least, that’s the plan.
Except not yet, because first we have Reggie and Holly doing their first bit of proper hosting for the series, explaining how this works for us. Again. Holly explains that the people making the decisions over who goes home will be “four of the biggest names in music.”
The only time anyone has ever considered Danny O’Donoghue to be “a big name in music” was when they were trying to compose a tweet and realising they were over their character count. (Also, nice pit stains there, fella. You might want to look into this whole high-def thing and what it means for those in front of the cameras.) Anyway, all the coaches are introduced, and Danny and Tom stand up to vamp for the crowd, while Jessie J and William remain seated, fully secure in their sense of their own awesomeness, as is entirely fitting.
I’m so pleased this approach is continuing beyond the audition shows. I look forward to the “how the telephone works” VT when we actually get to cast our own votes for these people. Anyway, I might as well repeat this just so we all know what we’re in for in this episode: the mentors have paired up their acts to compete against each other, based on the fact that they have similar skill sets or fill the same niche, and definitely not by just randomly drawing names out of a fishbowl. Although I like the idea of it being like The Hunger Games. I can just picture Jessie J as Effie Trinket, can’t you? Anyway, before taking to the stage, each pair will be coached through their performance by their mentors:
I can only imagine what one of Tom’s mentoring sessions is like. “Be louder. No, louder. Look, you don’t understand; I’m going back to Pontypridd now and I want to be able to hear you when I get there, okay?” To be fair, the clips make it look like the “mentoring” part of the process is listening to the coach singing it and being told “right, do it like that”. Artistry! Oh, and for no real reason other than to make this process slightly more exotic, each coach has brought in a special Battle Advisor. Jessie has got
Ana Matronic, “lead singer of the Scissor Sisters” (sure, why not? Although if you’re going to make dubious claims like that, it’s probably not best to introduce her with the chorus of ‘Filthy/Gorgeous’, being sung by Jake Shears), who informs us that she’ll be looking for the contenders to perform the songs in a way that show their ownership of the material. Danny’s got
platinum-selling performer and celebrity nonagenarian Paloma Faith. She’s not looking for perfection, she wants character, personality and texture.
Presumably that’s the exact same thing she said to her hairdresser. Moving on, Tom’s brought in
Welsh person Cerys Matthews for added Welshness. She tells the contestants they’ve only got two minutes to sell themselves. I think she read that in the introductory speech for the 2012 Poledancer Olympics. And finally, William has got
Fergie’s buttocks. Sorry, “Dante from The Black Eyed Peas”.
Dante’s clearly seen the show before and jumps right in to the Namedropping Championships by telling us he’s worked with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, and wants to instil the knowledge he gained from them into the show’s contestants.
From there, Holly and Reggie explain that once the performance is over, the mentors must decide who goes through with them to the live shows, and whose journey ends here. Everybody is
very sombre about this, except Danny who’s just happy to still be on the telly. Also, can we please have a moment’s silence for those big red buttons? We hardly knew them, and now they’re already gone, so those chairs are now only about 10 per cent as cool as they were. There will be not one single second of chair-swivelling in tonight’s show. Just watch those ratings PLUMMET, I’m telling you.
Time for Battle #1, and up first, it’s Team William.
We’re reminded of Joelle’s audition with a clip of her being shockingly off-key during ‘Rolling In The Deep’, and yet this is supposed to explain why all four coaches turned around for her. Meanwhile, “barmaid” Jenny came to the auditions “hoping to make her passion her career”. I thought it already was her career? She toured with Basshunter and everything! Ugh, stupid internal inconsistencies. William tells them that he’s paired them up because they’re both “super-mega-divas”, something which they both privately protest in their individual interviews. The chemistry between them is already
electric. William talks a bit about how he won’t even set foot in a recording studio without Dante, because they’re total BFFs, and Dante says that you don’t need to be doing runs all the time – he’s looking for simplicity, like what Michael Jackson had. Ow! Chamone! Dante tells Joelle and Jenny that they’re “two of the illest singers in this whole thing”, and with pitch-perfect comic timing, someone (either William or the dude on the piano) coughs as he says that. They’re so ill, they’re infectious! Despite Dante’s earlier speech about simplicity
both of them howl and squawk their way through rehearsals. William points out that Jenny “projects loud” (I go back to check who turned for her, and am absolutely flabbergasted to learn that Tom did not) and that they really don’t want to get into some sort of fight for volume supremacy where they’re busting out their ranges. And by “they”, he means Joelle. Jenny tells us that she thinks Joelle might be scared of her.
Fear and loathing, it’s a potent combination. Just ask Hunter S Thompson. We get some clips of them both waiting backstage, talking about just how long they’ve waited for this moment, and how much they want to succeed. Jenny even says that she’s going to make this decision really easy for William,
serving Phil Keoghan realness as she does so. The “battle” styling of the show even goes to the extent of Holly and Reggie introducing the contestants separately as they make their way into the ring, like we’re watching the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Joelle opens
hideously off-key; Jenny is marginally better, but has a fairly low bar to clear. Joelle promises to “put fur inside of you”, which is quite interesting as threats go. I’m certainly making sure I know where my pets are at all times. The wheels come off the whole thing
once they start harmonising with each other, as they start doing exactly what William and Dante told them not to: battling to see who can be the loudest and do the most runs, dragging each other down into a cacophonous mess in the process. Whoever made the decision to put this duet on first was rather brave, because it’s not an auspicious start.
Holly arrives on the stage and
tells William he has a big decision to make, but first let’s hear what the other coaches thought of that performance, leaving the mentor to comment last. The format of the show creaks just a little bit as it hopes no one realises this is exactly what they do on The X Factor. Jessie makes some cat noises and says that Joelle came out strong straight away, while Jenny grew into it. I’d say the precise opposite of that happened, but what do I know? Nobody’s speculating about my sexual orientation in the tabloids. Tom thinks Jenny has a full voice, but he prefers “the edge” of Joelle’s. The “edge” he’s referring to there presumably being her approximate location in relation to the correct pitch. Danny,
looking more like Jack Whitehall with each passing minute, declares the singing “flawless” from both parties. I’m so pleased everyone’s just being blandly, vaguely positive about the performance and not giving any serious or constructive criticism. You’d never get this sort of expert counsel on one of those awful Cowell shows. Danny says that he can only go on his gut instinct of who he was watching the most. ALL ABOUT THE VOICE! Also, his gesturing here is
unfortunate, unless he genuinely is about to advise William to send Joelle AND Jenny home and take Holly’s tits through to the live shows. But yeah, based on the performance alone, he’d “tip it over to Joelle”. I bet he would, the cad. Holly tells William he’s in an unenviable position right now. Yeah, he’s sat next to Jessie J. William tells Joelle that at the piano rehearsals she came in like she had no competition, and you can say what you like about Holly as a presenter, but
she’s clearly already sensed which way the wind is blowing and is giving Jenny the comforting shoulder pat of the soon-to-be-doomed. Anyway, William continues that Jenny surprised her in rehearsals and made her think she probably WASN’T going to win. Poor Jenny; only getting spoken about in terms of how she relates to Joelle. This is the foregonniest of foregone conclusions. Holly tells William it’s time to decide, and William says that Joelle delivered a moment of power topped off with “a gentle note”, while Jenny was smashing and punching and knocking her out, but ultimately he can only pick one of them.
Joelle goes backstage to celebrate with her friends and family, while William consoles Jenny that his decision was not based on “the fact that you don’t have what it takes”. Very telling choice of words there. Jenny says that she feels blessed just to have been on the stage, and then heads backstage for commiserations from her loved ones as Rihanna’s ‘Take A Bow’ plays. Disappointingly, not the “you look so dumb right now” line. William explains that Joelle showed her control and range on the stage, and that’s why he picked her: because she listened to his advice from rehearsals. Eh, I think she was getting through whatever happened. If she was genuinely picked based on that dreadful vocal, then I may have to rethink my love for William a little bit.
Next up, it’s Team Danny and Battle #2.
Max apparently fitted that photoshoot in between cycle courier appointments. Max’s audition is shown, but not that of his EVIL GIRLFRIEND TWININGS TEA, who was rightly sent packing for daring to show up for auditions as an attractive female. Boo! Hiss! Down with this sort of thing! Meanwhile, Bill Getting Married was so committed to this show (/so ambivalent about his relationship) that he delayed his wedding to be a part of it. Danny says that he’s paired them together because he feels like they both fill the same role on his team. Considering that his team can effectively be divided into “boring white men with delusions of credibility” and “token females”, I think he may have had this problem a lot. I declare myself tentatively Team Max because he’s
already rolling his eyes at this douche. In rehearsals, Bill gets overexcited at the prospect of meeting Paloma Faith
while Max is wearing another nice t-shirt. Yeah, definitely Team Max. Danny casually refers to himself as a “vocal expert”, while Paloma is there to be a spare pair of eyes and ears. Paloma earns her fee straightaway by basically telling the two of them to properly square off with each other, or to put it another way: make the whole performance as homoerotic as possible. They go to rehearse in the ring where Max
perfects the art of subtly looking at another man’s package. I guess that’s one of the many things he picked up from his musical theatre training. Bill gets a bit worried about performing on the stage, because this is something that Max is more used to than he is. I’d be sympathetic, but: surely you must have known “performing to a large crowd” would come up at some point during the process?
They take to the stage, with Max being introduced as a “London cool kid” and wearing a hat, just to make him seem extra dislikable, while Bill arrives with
a tattoo he drew himself with a biro five minutes ago. They’re singing ‘Beggin” by Madcon, which means we’ve got some white boys rapping to look forward to. Actually, this duet isn’t too bad – it does kind of show up the whinier side to Bill’s voice while Max copes better with the necessary rasp, and they both make Paloma very happy by
gaying it up real nice. Post-performance, William declares the bout “dope” and “fresh”, calling Max “Maximum” and Bill “Billiam”. He would pick Billiam, if he had to choose. Jessie says it was “very entertaining”. Reggie asks Tom what he would do now if these were his artists. “I would have no idea,” Tom replies. We’ll see how just how accurate “no idea” is to Tom’s general approach later on in the show, by the way. Danny opines that the UK is probably looking at him and thinking “you’re an idiot for putting these two together.” The other coaches
seem to be very much of that opinion. Personally, I just stopped after the third word of that sentence. He’s seen a spark in Max throughout the whole thing, but Bill has developed in leaps and bounds. So who gets to advance to the live shows?
Bill says that this has been an incredible experience, as it’s only the second time he’s ever sung in front of a crowd without his guitar. He heads backstage where
the lovely Sasha momentarily tears herself away from registering at confetti.co.uk long enough to give him a hug, while Max goes away to party with his friends and family, hopefully to burn that awful hat forever.
Over to Team Tom now for Battle #3 and
this obvious trainwreck. Aundrea is “doing it for her daughters” (ALL ABOUT THE VOICE!) while Sam is doing it because he’s a Tom Jones fan. They both ended up on Team Tom because they’re loud and no one else was interested. Sam relays his feelings for Aundrea by saying “fabulous” eleventy times, and Aundrea squeals that she’s just so excited. Cerys arrives for the rehearsal and pulls
this face the entire time. Just look at that rictus gurn of terror. They’ve not even started singing yet – although when they do, Cerys practically tries to hide behind Tom. I don’t blame her. Meanwhile, Sam and Aundrea are cultivating your standard
fag-and-hag relationship. During Aundrea’s personal time with Tom, she expresses how much she wants this, and Tom warns her not to let that feeling lead her to overdoing it. Bit late for that warning, Tom. About ten years too late, I would think. Aundrea reminds us that she is DOING THIS FOR HER GIRLS.
ALL ABOUT THE VOICE. I mean, I’m sure you’re all getting tired of me saying that, but seriously. Don’t set out your stall as being above all of this manipulative backstory nonsense when you’re clearly not.
Sam and Aundrea take to the stage where it becomes clear that this song
is not in a key that either one of them can sing comfortably. Sam, in particular, sounds like this, singing right down the bottom of his range, while Aundrea is just shrieking. Clearly, whoever wins this one, we all lose. They spend most of it trying to
out-sass each other, which is probably the best strategy considering neither one is shining vocally, while William
can’t even contain his amusement at what a mess this is. It doesn’t even seem to have been portioned out particularly fairly – it ends with Sam falling over the “a little more bite and a little less bark, a little less fight and a little more spark” bit while Aundrea just goes “BLEH! BLEH!” repeatedly over the top. Danny gives them a standing ovation for reasons best known to himself. William tells them that they practically knocked his eyebrows right off,
and Jessie chortles, “Tom, what a choice you’ve got to make here!”
Frankly, both William and Jessie might just as well have said “LOLZ” and had done with it, really. Tom says that they’re both huge personalities, and he picked that song because Elvis was a huge personality. Such subtlety of subtext right here. Time to decide who goes through, because somebody has to.
Sam’s rendered completely insensible by this, and starts blathering on about how he and his friends have a thing about “the bees” (I assume one of his friends is Nicolas Cage) and how they always say “it’s the bee’s knees!” Does he…think they invented that, or something? Anyway, he feels like the bee’s knees right now: covered in pollen. Aundrea says she’s enjoyed the whole process “way too much”, and Tom tells her to follow her dream. Her dream of DOING IT FOR HER GIRLS. As Sam runs off to celebrate, Tom chuckles to Danny about how they’re both such characters, and Danny says that Sam just snipped it in the personality stakes. ALL ABOUT THE VOICE!
Finally, we come to Team Jessie and Battle #4:
Hands up anyone who even remembers seeing Kirsten before? Yeah, I thought not. Hers was one of the auditions that was kind of skipped over, and included in the montage of “people Jessie J picked, for some reason” alongside that Ruth-Ann girl who actually threw up her vocal chords onto the stage. Anyway, we revisit Kirsten’s audition as briefly as we did the first time, and Kirsten mentions that she’s a backing singer, and dreams of being at the front of the stage. And yet, she’s doomed to face a duet against Obvious Ringer Toni Warne. Guest mentor Ana Matronic tells us that she’s really good at performing, as the forces of hubris ensure that she is
upstaged by a train going past the window as she says this. WHEEEEEEEEEE! CHOO-CHOO! Sorry, where were we? They’re singing ‘Think’, and Ana explains to Kirsten and Toni that Aretha Franklin wrote this song about how fierce she is and how she was going to beat someone in a vocal battle on reality television. Or something. Jessie tells them they’re being too nice in their performance, and she wants to see them frontin’. Basically, it’s the same advice that was given to Max and Bill, only with less homoeroticism. Toni points out that now the blind auditions are over, she’ll be judged on the way she looks and that makes her feel vulnerable. Yeah, but you’ll also be judged on whether you fit the archetypal contestant mould for this show and whether the person you’re up against has had any screentime prior to this whatsoever, so you probably shouldn’t lose much sleep, love. Kirsten worries how she’s going to compete against Toni who’s got “all this going on”, ostensibly meaning the emotion of Toni’s performance but secretly meaning “alopecia”.
Toni worries that losing the battle will send her eradicate all of her new-found confidence, while Kirsten worries that Toni has “life experience” (and alopecia). Time for them to go through the motions to delay the obvious outcome for a few more minutes!
It starts with them yelling “think!” at each other for about a minute, like Winnie The Pooh trying to figure out how to get up the honey tree. Kirsten’s delivery is very nervy, while Toni’s is all exaggerated and Les Dawson-like. Kirsten comes across rather desperately in the whole thing, while Toni looks very assured, so it’s a lost cause for Kirsten however you look at it, but at least they’re both on-pitch for the most part, which is something we shouldn’t take for granted the way things are going. It gets a
standing ovation from the judges, with Jessie beaming with maternal pride. Everybody pretends that this is going to be a tough decision for Jessie, like this whole section of the programme didn’t just say “JESSIE PICKS THE BALD LADY” in the script. Once again, Tom says he wouldn’t know who to pick, while Danny says they were both outstanding, and they both kept one-upping each other. William thought he was hearing a choir, and that they were like “ninja-assassin singers”. There’s only room for one ASSASSINATOR on BBC1 right now, William,
and don’t you forget it. Jessie says that she’d be scared to sing with them, because there was not one note out of place, and she thinks they’re two of the best female voices she’s heard in the UK. She could hear the “pain and the passion” of the music in Toni’s heart, while Kirsten is “not a backing vocalist”. And yet this show continues to treat her like one. Time for Jessie to decide.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
Jessie tells Toni that her “light switched on” as Toni goes backstage to
discover that the reason we got no backstory on Kirsten is because she’s actually a serial killer who has just slaughtered all of Toni’s loved ones in retribution. Oh, my mistake, that’s just Toni’s “overcome with emotion” face. She wails that when she was out there, she really believed that she could do it. Confidence: it’s not just for people with hair any more! Literally no attention is given to Kirsten and how she is feeling at this point, because: well, why start now?
For Battle #5, we’re back to Team Danny.
Vince has unsightly facial hair and doesn’t wear shoes on stage, while Bo has that affected squeal of people who can’t actually sing but want us to think that they can and apparently had a title of some sort. It’s hard to know who to root against, isn’t it? Danny explains that he paired them together because they’ve got contrasting voices, and I officially give up trying to follow his logic. Not too far into rehearsals, Danny realises the problem of pairing a guy who’s been playing the clubs for years and a trustafarian who can’t sing.
In other words, Vince’s powerful bellow is drowning out Bo’s weakass squeaks for the entire duration of the song. Danny’s solution to this is…to tell Vince to pull it back in a bit. I really would never have expected Vince to be the contestant in this pair who’d be advised not to try so hard. Bo whines that she felt like Vince was “leading” the duet. Danny worries that Vince would be perceived as “trying to drown that girl out” if he didn’t do something about it. I think Danny vastly overestimates how much sympathy the viewing audience has for Bo right now.
As rehearsals continue, Vince visibly struggles at the effort required to restrict his volume so that Bo’s mouse-vocals can still be heard. He worries about winning, since he has no plan b. Danny continues to scold Vince for actually being able to sing, while coddling Bo and telling her not to be intimidated by Vince. God, Danny is the actual worst and this is so much bullshit right here. Danny asks Bo if she knows how good she is, and she gives the
abashed head-tilt for someone for whom the answer is “yes” but who wants you to think that it’s “no”.
Bo is introduced as “the girl with the unique style”, thereby cementing her status as this show’s answer to Katie Waissel, while Vince is introduced as having “powerful rock vocals”. Poor Vince. So doomed. They sing ‘With Or Without You’ and
Vince is barefoot again, which is making me start to doubt his claims of having been touring and playing the clubs for years, because you definitely don’t want to go without shoes in a lot of those places. Anyway, Vince actually reins it in to the point where Bo’s breathy nothingness is louder than him, because he’s been put in a situation where he doesn’t really have any other option, and Bo O’Riordans it up all over the place.
is clearly rather lost for words after that, and wonders whether to be honest or whether to spout some “BS to throw Danny off”. He decides to split the difference and go for some honest bullshit, telling Bo that hers was “like a Grammy performance”. Perhaps he means an actual grandmother, possibly after just climbing three flights of stairs. Vince clearly
knows the jig is up, but William gives him a Dave Matthews comparison to keep him sweet, and he and Jessie get excited about the barefoot thing. Reggie makes the mistake of asking Tom to make a hypothetical choice, AGAIN, and Tom sits on the fence, AGAIN. Danny, clearly a student of the Paula Abdul School Of Using The English Language Correctly When Judging A Reality Show, says that “the fragile nature of [Bo’s] performances can underestimate everybody to how good you are”, but when she opens up, magic happens. Meanwhile, he wanted Vince to tone it down a bit, and Vince did. So who’s Danny going to take onwards? He’s going to pick the person who he thinks will sell the most amount of records.
(Excuse me while I LOL at Danny’s decision making and the assumption that Bo’s going to sell records. I mean, neither one of these two was a great choice in that regard because one’s about 20 years out of date and the other one is entirely a fictional construct, but I can’t imagine much about the past five minutes will have endeared Bo to viewers. Then again, Janet Devlin won the public vote four weeks in a row on last year’s X Factor, so maybe there’s still an appetite for affected yelping. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve misjudged the public mood.)
Bo goes backstage to celebrate, while Reggie consoles Vince, who says that he learned a new vocal technique from working with Danny. Presumably the technique of “shut up and let yourself get beaten”. Vince departs, and Danny stands up, presumably to shake his hand, and Vince
gives him a wide berth, leaving Danny the Denied to have to awkwardly sit back down again. Oh, Danny. You had that one coming, you douche.
Battle #6 next, so we’re back to Team William.
Heshima was in Spooks: Code 9, while Tyler was friends with Amy Winehouse. I think that’s pretty much everything you need to know about either of them. This is Tyler’s reaction to being told that the song they’ll be singing is ‘Yeah 3x’ by Chris Brown.
He’s concerned that it’s a dance track and well out of his wheelhouse, which is indeed a valid concern, but I feel a more pressing objection would be the fact that Chris Brown is an unrepentantly violent fuckhead who does not merit exposure or celebration in any form. (Yeah, I said it. Come at me, Breezy defenders. I have RIGHTEOUSNESS on my side.) Tyler struggles in rehearsals, and William notices that both of them are fairly resistant to the song, but says that he threw them this “curveball” deliberately because he wants to see how they overcome obstacles. Tyler, sensibly, says that he respects William’s decision and that they’ll find a way of making it work. Clearly he’s got a brain underneath all that hair. Heshima merely says that it’s “cool” in a way that suggests it is probably not in fact cool and William picks up on this, saying that you can’t say it’s cool when
your face is saying something very different. Heshima peevishly responds, “I’m a big boy, I can talk.” Yeah, way to talk your way out of a place in the live shows there, Heshima. Sheesh. In an evening full of predetermined outcomes, I think this one just became the most clear one yet. He continues to dig himself a big pit by saying about how it’s a “work in progress” and he needs to understand “the energy of the piece” when the band comes in.
UNIMPRESSED WILLIAM IS UNIMPRESSED. William interviews that at first he thought Tyler had some stuff to work through, but he was clearly willing to give things a go, while Heshima
needs to drop the ‘tude already. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, Dante asks Heshima what’s holding him back when it comes to this song, and Heshima snaps back “is that a question?” Yikes. Heshima thinks that
nothing is holding him back, and then things get really awkward between him and William.
Fortunately for all concerned, Heshima gets some time with the band during studio rehearsals, and emerges feeling a lot more confident about his performance. Although, y’know, William has officially identified him as A Problem now so he pretty much needs to hope that Tyler misreads the filming schedule and forgets to turn up on the right day if he wants any chance at all of progressing. Meanwhile, Heshima talks about how it’s so hard for him to pretend to enjoy something if his heart’s not in it. Well, I guess that’s why the acting career’s on the backburner right now, then. William tells them both how uncomfortable the rehearsal was, but Tyler says that he thinks they’ve made it work now. Yeah, I don’t think that’s what William meant, Tyler.
Finally, we get to hear what they were working on, and
it’s awful. I mean, this song doesn’t suit Tyler at all, and it shows. He’s trying, and credit to him for that, but it’s a losing battle, while Heshima’s voice suits the song better, but his pitching is all over the place, and the overall effect of the performance is drunk karaoke from two people who may became besties after a couple of Jägerbombs but clearly never knew each other prior to this evening.
It’s over to Jessie to try and find something positive to say about the performance, so she goes for complimenting Tyler on putting his own spin on something outside of his genre. Heshima, meanwhile, she thinks crams too much in and can afford to hold back a bit, but gave amazing vocals, like, when you were going up? Asked who she would choose, Jessie says she’d pick Heshima. Tom thought the song suited both of them (furthering my theory that Tom nips out for a cup of tea during the actual performances and just pops back in to make up some comments as required) but he thought Tyler’s performance was more interesting, so if he had to choose, he would’ve gone for Tyler. William tells them both that he’s proud of them, because Tyler knocked him out with an amazing performance, while Heshima had some incredible licks. Gosh, I wonder who’s going through? William says he’s looking for someone who can “take an odd object” (FNAR) and own it.
TY AND MIGHTY!
William encourages Heshima to keep going because he has “everything the world needs in an artist”. Meanwhile, backstage
OH MY GOD TYLER HOW COULD YOU AMY’S NOT EVEN COLD YET! Back in the studio, William gets down to the T with Danny and Jessie
and tells them in no uncertain terms that Tyler worked with the band on that whole arrangement, and he was the real artist behind the whole thing. I wish I could have seen Heshima’s face when he saw that. I’m guessing it was not a happy face.
Battle #7 now, and we’re on Team Jessie.
Vince auditioned with a soft-porn rendition of ‘Like A Virgin’ while Jessica gave an earnest rendition of ‘Price Tag’ and tried not to listen to the raindrops telling her to KILL EVERYONE. Jessie explains to them that they’re paired up because they both gave fresh interpretations of existing songs for their auditions, and there’s a big mutual love-in as Vince tells Jessie that he thought no one could touch her DEFINITIVE VERSION OF ‘PRICE TAG’ but then Jessica did, and Jessica talks about how Vince is a lovely guy with a real love for music.
All right, sheesh, get a room. As Vince and Jessica rehearse their version of ‘We Found Love’ (going from Chris Brown to Rihanna? Stay classy, show), Jessie tells them that she loves what they’re doing, but is it a battle?
No. Ana points out that there’s a difference in their styles and asks if that’s been an issue, and Vince says that he feels they complement each other in their performances. Jessica adds that she feels better with someone else out there on stage with her, having her back. I think the “battle” part may have passed by her somewhat. There’s a lot of discussion about how they need to remember they’re fighting each other, and Jessie concludes that they need to “bring it dot com”. Alexandra Burke files a theft of intellectual property suit.
Time for the performance to begin in, and
aw, Vince, did no one tell you this was being filmed? Shame, you could’ve dressed up. Interestingly, they both begin with some flaws: Jessica’s a little too underpowered and her voice cracks, while Vince gets all mushmouthed and singing about “hasher shadows” or something. Jessica continues to struggle with the lower notes, but if it’s a match to see who can be more earnest,
I’d say it’s a dead heat. At least until the dance beat kicks in, at which point Jessica’s limitations really start to show, as she looks rather uncomfortable trying to throw some shapes. Vince, on the other hand, seems far more at home with it, and is kind of blowing her out of the water. Nonetheless, Jessie J is
very proud of both of them. Tom tells Jessie that he doesn’t envy her, having to make a decision, because she’s got two crackers there, but he thought the key was more suited to Vince, so he’d pick him. Danny tells Jessica that when she went into Jessie’s team he thought she was “going to get swallowed up, with all the good vocalists that she has”. So I’m guessing the auditions as we were shown them weren’t exactly in chronological order, then, since Jessica’s was the first audition we saw. Either that or Danny’s full of shit. Either’s possible. That said, he thinks she held her own tonight. Jessie loved them for putting their own spin on a song again, and she’s enjoyed working with both of them, but she can only carry on with one of them.
While Vince sweeps off to celebrate, Jessie tells Jessica that she’s very proud of her
and that now it’s time for her to go and step into the light. Wow, I didn’t realise that losing a battle came with a death penalty. This show really is hardcore.
Battle #8 brings us back to Team William for the One Letter Removed Bout For Supremacy:
Jaz, of course, took the final spot on the team last week, while Jaz was the pizza waiter with the unfortunate pit stains. Hey, maybe he and Danny should compare notes. William, clearly trolling us all once again, says that he put them up against each other because they’re both “Jedi Knight singers”. They rehearse ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and we actually get to hear William sing as he guides Jaz through a section that he’s struggling with. Jay, meanwhile,
is worried that Jaz has a high belt voice that could sink him, and correctly identifies himself as the underdog here. Jaz, meanwhile, is worried about being ill for the battle because he’s got a chest infection. Dante, ever ready to one-up any story he hears,
says that this one time, at band camp on tour, he had bronchitis AND pneumonia AND a fever of 102, AND Prince had come to see them that night, AND he overcame his sickness to do the show. (Look at William’s expression there. You just know he’s heard this story A LOT.) The moral of Dante’s story, by the way, is suck it up. As the rehearsals continue, William frets about having put the two of them up against each other, because they’re two fantastic singers and he doesn’t want to lose one. In the pre-performance backstage footage, Jaz does a sick voice that Kelly Rowland would be proud of to tell us all that he’s still REALLY UNWELL and it could go either way once he gets out there.
Like so many people have done tonight, Jay struggles a bit on his lower register starting out, but soon shifts up an octave and is clearly a lot more comfortable. Jaz’s illness does not appear to be causing him a problem after all, and this song is clearly suited to him, so it’s much less of a hard sell for him than it is for Jay. That said, Jay’s acquitting himself pretty well, but his is not a soul voice and there’s really no getting around that. He throws everything at his performance, though, doing lots of runs and making it clear that even if this is going to be a victory for Jaz, it’s not going to be an easy one.
WERK! They finish with some pretty neat harmonies, and Jessie J
approves of this, and declares that “television is not ready for the talent on this show”, adding that she can’t wait for people to “turn their TVs on and see people singing live, and doing it well”. And on the basis of most of tonight’s duets, she’s probably still waiting. Danny namedrops Boyz II Men and says that Jaz reminds him of Wanya Morris. Jay is just told that he “held his own” against Jaz, so the pattern of one-sided critiquing continues. William explains that he paired them because they’ve both got so much soul, and he’s proud of Jay for out-licking Jaz and really showing his range. William adds that he’s worked with Justin Timberlake before, and considers Jay to be better.
Jaz, meanwhile, hit a riff that made William’s head fly back and bang into his chair. William thinks that if that’s what Jaz sounds like with bronchitis, then SHAZAM. Time to decide who’s going through.
JAZPIRATIONAL! Not really a big surprise, though; it seems unlikely they would have shown him singing twice last week only to get booted now.
William declares that Jay is the kind of artist that you want to sign up right away, and he wishes he could sign him right now, but he can’t. Damn those contractual obligations.
Finally for this episode, it’s back to Team Tom for Battle #9.
Deniece fancies another crack at the fame game, while Ruth made a promise to her dad that she’d give it a go. Right away this pairing gets talked up as experience versus raw talent, and
I get the impression that Denise knows “experienced” is a backhanded compliment from the same family as “big personality”. In rehearsals, they’re both very keen to show what they can do, leading Deniece to make lots of crazy faces as she sings. Cerys asks if they feel pressure knowing that only one of them can get through, and Deniece is all “I don’t feel pressure; I believe in myself.” If this is a psychological game she’s playing, it’s a pretty good one. Of course, Ruth has a trump card up her sleeve, and in a development the likes of which we would definitely never see on The X Factor, it is announced that the lyrics of their song (‘No One’ by Alicia Keys) remind her of her dead father.
Apparently it’s specifically the line “everything’s gonna be all right”, because that’s what he always used to say. What are the odds? Tom gets a bit teary himself, and he and Cerys advise Ruth to transform these thoughts of her father into a new sense of strength. Tom warns Denise not to be too slick and overdo it, and Ruth not to let emotion destroy her performance. He’s not looking forward to having to pick one of them, but then he’s said that about just about everyone tonight, whether they were on his team or not. I think Tom’s a bit of a shilly-shally, you guys.
If this were The Outfit, it’d be no contest. Deniece would win on sheer force of gloves alone. They begin, and Ruth is looking nervous while
Deniece is emphatically not. However, I think Ruth’s been watching Tom closely, because she proper belts her lines out, and that level of volume is bound to grab his attention. Denise makes some
interesting decisions about where to hold her microphone in relation to her face, but her vocals here are definitely better than they were in her audition. She can’t match Ruth for volume, though, and while Ruth’s pitch is a little inexact, she’s blowing Deniece off the stage. It’s a shame for both of them that the performance ends with them both harmonising off-key, because there were moments within it that were pretty good, but hey, that’s showbiz.
Reggie tells Tom that he’s
got a tough decision to make. Danny declares it amazing, and says that he thinks he heard “every note that was ever created by music” in there. He thinks Deniece is a consummate professional, and then there’s Ruth, who was captivating right from the beginning. William says that Deniece reminds him of the strength and the height of the music industry, while Ruth has an old soul and a halo over her that oozes out stardom and music industry fabulousness. I don’t know what religion William belongs to, but sign me up. Reggie asks William who he’d put through, and he responds
“Pfft, that ain’t my problem.” ❤
Time for Tom to decide, and he says that he feels different kinds of soul from each of them: Deniece has experience and polish, while Ruth has an inbuilt talent. Also, she is loud. Who gets to go through?
Ruth’s first response is open-mouthed shock, followed quickly by maniacal cackling. I like that a lot; that makes sense to me as a reaction. Tom tells Ruth her father would be proud of her (AND THERE IT IS) and she dissolves into tears again. There’s just time for a quick word from Deniece
who is gracious in defeat and talks about what an honour it’s been to work with Sir Tom of Jones. As Ruth goes off to cheer and probably cry a bit more, the coaches discuss her inner pain, which is apparently very valuable to have in a performer. And possibly why so many of them end up having breakdowns.
That’s it for tonight’s show. Fancy a quick peek at what’s coming up in the second half of Battle Round?