You might recognise me from such other televisual talent shows as Britain’s Got Talent and…well, mostly just Britain’s Got Talent.
Well, there’s no doubt that the BBC is pulling out all the stops to try and get the ratings back to the peaks of last year: the show’s moved back to 8.20pm (that’s 8:20pm, I don’t know if you happened to notice any of the trailers going on and on and on about this, but 8:20PM, OKAY?), they’ve deployed a rusty knife in the edit room to get it down to a lean 60 minutes (well, a 60 minute slot, anyway – it overran it by about seven minutes), and just in case that wasn’t enough…
LASERS! That’s right, coaches, if Evil Moira Ross doesn’t like the decisions you’re making, she’ll activate those lasers and then you’ll have to spend the rest of the show dodging them unless you want to lose a digit. DANCE, COACHES, DANCE! MWAHAHAHAHAHA! And just in case that doesn’t work, she’s also trialling
new sentient chairs – now with all of the ability to turn around for talented singers, but 100% less waffle about what it’s like to be a female in the music industry. Hell, if that’s what series three looks like like, then count me in.
Voice of Reggie informs us that we’re at the halfway mark now (yep, six weeks of auditions, folks), so the decisions are getting tougher now, as the coaches have to think carefully about how to fill the remaining spots on their team. I’ve always thought this sounded rather like a serious built-in flaw in the format in terms of fairness to the contestants, as people who would’ve sailed through had they been on in show one are now going to struggle in show four, purely because of where they fell in the running order, which doesn’t sound very ALL ABOUT THE VOICE to me, but then I’m not really sure how much of my life I want to spend feeling sorry for people who audition for The Voice.
On to Audition #1:
Gosh, you look familiar.
The Voice is kind of off to an immediate disadvantage here, since Alice’s BGT audition aired last week, and since the BGT auditions are held later than The Voice‘s auditions, the fact that she turned up on the other show indicates right away that Alice’s The Voice journey is not going to be a long one. (Also, it kind of suggests that this show’s whole schtick about giving a chance to singers who’d never succeed on other shows is running pretty thin, but that’s a whole other argument that is probably best saved for another day.)
Alice is a beauty therapist, who likes to dress like a postcard from the 1950s.
Reggie and his tartan trousers tell Alice that they’re loving her look, not that such things are important on this show, but they have to talk about SOMETHING, don’t they? Alice tells us that vintage clothes are very flattering to a woman’s figure, and that she’s a big fan of Rita Hayworth, while ‘In The Mood’ plays on the soundtrack. But are the coaches going to be in the mood for Alice tonight? Sorry, I thought I was on Homes Under The Hammer for a minute there. Alice goes on to say that this will be the first time her family have seen her singing ever in her life.
Then Alice’s mum tells us that Alice was in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat when she was at school, so either Alice is exaggerating or her parents are awful people who don’t go to see their children in school plays. Hey, if the rest of us have to suffer, you do too. Alice says that her confidence has grown “loads” in the last few years, and she’s done some pub gigs and weddings, but this is going to be a whole other level. She describes it as a “win-win situation”, and if Britain’s Got Talent hadn’t already spoiled the outcome of Alice’s audition, I think Alice herself just has.
We’ll have to wait slightly longer to hear how Alice’s audition goes, as first we are introduced to the subject of Audition #2, part-time model Sarah Cassidy.
For some reason, Sarah is spared this show’s usual “BOO! HISS! BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!” act – perhaps because she’s over 30 and she has a broad Glaswegian accent, which means she can’t truly be a beautiful person, right? Sarah tells us that she likes getting glammed-up, and that she’s a bit of a poser.
She also came third in Miss Scotland when she was 24. Ahh, so that’s why she’s getting let off easily by this show: she’s not even the most beautiful woman in Scotland! Sarah loves modelling, but she wants to be the whole package, and she also doesn’t want to be patronised by Elle Macpherson, so she’s giving BintModel a wide berth and trying out for this instead.
Right, back to Alice’s Inevitable Rejection, then.
Despite all the harbingers of doom during her VT, the audition looks like the sort that ought to go well. Alice is having fun,
the coaches are enjoying it,
and while the whole thing’s a little stagey and affected, she’s clearly got a good voice with some potential (although there is one moment near the end where her voice cracks horribly). All the same…
Jessie tells Alice that she didn’t turn around because there’s a huge difference between “singing for singing”, and “singing to make people listen”. And if anyone should know about that, it’s Jessie J. So yeah, there’s
“hi, I’m over here, come and listen” and then there’s “tum-te-tum”, and Alice’s audition was too much like something Jessie might hear in a jazz bar. You know, for all this show maintains that even the singers who don’t get through receive really useful feedback from the coaches, sometimes they just get spoken at by Jessie J for 20 minutes and have to smile like any of it makes any sense. Danny felt it was “safe”, so that’s why he didn’t turn around, but on the bright side, he’d totally do her. William didn’t turn because he didn’t think she understood her instrument.
“Are you a trumpet? Are you a flute? Are you the Calrec Soundfield Microphone?” She needs to find out her position within this band, it seems. So it’s a no for Alice, and she has her obligatory
awkward hug with Jessie J, while thinking about how she’s far more interested in watching the homoerotic relationship between Simon Cowell and David Walliams anyway.
Alice exits, and Danny laments that she was “smokin’ hot”. Jessie J advises him to run and get her number, because it’s fine now because she’s not in the show any more.
Time for Sarah to head to the stage, saying “this is the first time in my life I won’t be judged on my looks.” I don’t think you really get to complain about that sort of thing if you’ve actively pursued a modelling career, dear.
Jessie turns for Sarah midway through the first verse, and then when Sarah starts to make some unpleasant noises during the chorus, Jessie gets to pull her patented
“shit, I turned too early again” face. Meanwhile, Danny continues to display a fundamental misunderstanding of the show’s concept while leading a bid to be the face of the Everyday Sexism campaign.
You’re really not helping the cause either, Jessie. Then Sarah unleashes a loud, high note so
obviously Tom turns, and finally Danny decides that he might want to fuck her after all.
Tom tells her that she’s very original and professional-sounding. William says that he feels like a dumbass for not turning, but he defends his choice by saying her voice sounded “small” at one point. Boo! Small voices! They’re almost as bad as pretty people! Danny tells her that she has an absolutely gorgeous talent (and by “talent”, he means…) and pulls the “I need you on my team, also this lot have people like you on their teams already” argument, leaving out the part where that’s because this is the series of nobody choosing Danny unless they’re being forced at gunpoint. Meanwhile, Jessie says “as a female” for the eleventy billionth time.
Tell us about it, William.
Jessie blathers on that this lot will never know what it feels like for a girl, in this world, for a girl, while Danny takes exception: “What’s the difference? It’s not like you’re a subspecies or anything.” This from the guy who wasn’t going to turn around until Jessie told him what Sarah looked like. Jessie tells Sarah that she thinks she’s destined to go far in the competition, while William straight up trolls her by constantly mouthing “Tom” at Sarah, and Jessie continues that this is not just a TV show, it’s SRS BSNS, and the audience starts laughing at her. Probably partially at William’s antix, admittedly, but that had to be a little bit about Jessie. Danny starts trying to plead his own case, while William
spells out “T-O-M” with his body. Tom’s all “never mind this girl, I need William on my team”. Never a truer word spoken. William asks if Sarah came on the show with a coach in mind, and it turns out she wanted William, because she’s been in a hip-hop group before and thought they’d work well together. Danny leaps on to this all “well, if you were going to pick William, pick me because we work together all the time and I’m totally just as black as he is.” Clearly tired of all this fuckery (as are we all), Sarah picks Jessie
thereby hopefully putting an end to the tedious “women are scared of Jessie’s vagina” meme forever. William continues to berate himself for not turning. My prediction: he’s going to steal her off Jessie’s team when Jessie dumps her during the battle rounds.
Audition #3 has clearly had her VT hacked into pieces in order to make the show fit its shorter timeslot, so we just get a couple of odd soundbites about her being worried that the coaches can’t see her (sigh) and her concerns that she sounds “like a middle-aged librarian” before she takes to the stage.
Apparently Emily thinks that middle-aged librarians all yelp like Diana Vickers and her troupe of Alpine guides falling down the south face of the Matterhorn. Her yodelly cover of ‘Common People’ starts out all earnest and acoustic until the end of the first voice, when the drums kick in and the tempo speeds up and somehow it gets worse than you ever expected it could be. Meanwhile, Emily’s family are backstage begging Danny to turn for her, which I think says everything you need to know about Emily, quite frankly. As much as I loathe Emily and her friends and everything they collectively stand for,
I really want that jumper that the guy standing next to Reggie is wearing. Back on stage, Emily yelps and hoots and changes the lyrics to “and then dance, and drink, it’s true”, and while Danny does not turn around for her,
so we’re stuck with her bullshit for at least one more round. Jessie’s all “well, I didn’t turn around, but William did, so there you go.” Tom tells her that he believed it when it was all slow and serious,
but then she started on all that uptempo nonsense and he wasn’t nearly as keen. Danny says he didn’t turn around because he’s an idiot. I think he was right not to turn around, so does that mean that therefore I think Danny is not an idiot? This show is MESSING WITH MY BRANE. He says he’d totally have turned around if he knew she was playing the guitar as well, because it’s so very hard to play the guitar and sing at the same time.
William tells her that she’s super-dope, and
Emily gets officially sworn in to Team William. Then there’s a brief VT dedicated to William’s tactics for this year, which basically involve
telling the contestants who to pick, or telling the other coaches who to turn for, and then advising the acts to pick them, which Jessie puts down to William “trying to get rid of people he doesn’t think is going to win”, and she thinks that Tom and Danny have both fallen for it. Not Jessie, though! Jessie only ever turns for people who are definitely going to win! That’s why she finished 4th last year. William concludes the VT by recycling the same “tactics”/”TicTacs” joke he made last year. I hope William is going to be all about the diminishing returns this year, because he’s about the only thing that keeps me watching.
Audition #4, then.
This is Nick, he has Tourette’s, and he finds that music is a good way to keep the tics at bay. As you might expect, he had a tough time of things at school, “because people in those days didn’t understand.” Whereas nowadays, of course, standing out from the crowd at school is a veritable utopia of tolerance. Nick finishes by sanguinely noting that Tourette’s makes him who he is, and he doesn’t want to get rid of it, and if people can’t accept that, WELL THEY CAN JUST…go and do so elsewhere, thank you kindly.
He starts out with a little bit of beatboxing, which gets William’s attention right away. Also, John Lithgow be damned, he’s singing ‘Footloose’ so people are going to be dancing.
Most noticeably Jessie J. The fact that this audition is a guy with a guitar means that pretty much everyone involved is expecting Danny to turn around, but
there is to be no turning for Nick. Jessie chirps that she was dancing, but that it wasn’t her cup of tea; she didn’t think she’d be the right coach for him and that’s why she was looking over to “Danny and William”. OH MY GOD, SHE CALLED HIM WILLIAM! SHE TOTALLY READS THE BLOG! HI JESSIE! Tom says that it’s hard to take on a song like that, and Nick says that he wanted to give it more of a country feel at first. Danny’s sage advice is “it was close, but today just wasn’t your day, mate.” THANKS DANNY. Jessie asks him to play a verse of something else on his guitar, so Nick obliges with a burst of ‘Another Day In Paradise’.
Well, that’s just adding insult to injury. Jessie gets temporarily possessed by the spirit of Randy Jackson and talks extensively about the importance of song choice, dawg, it was aight, this guy is IN IT TO WIN IT! Anyway, Jessie’s happy that he did that, because it’s a lesson learnt. Now Nick can go home and THINK ABOUT WHAT HE DID.
This prompts a montage of people who choose songs originally performed by the coaches in the hope of getting their attention.
This is a song by The Script, apparently.
And this is by Jessie J, obviously. The thing about this sort of transparent toadying is that it isn’t really going to help you that much unless you’re actually half decent in the first place, which neither of these two are.
The montage segues into #Audition 5, the introduction for which is basically “this man has a song and is going to sing it.”
I mean, fine, he’s giving us a bit of Tom Jones, so it fits in with the theme of the montage, but I think a bit more thought could’ve gone into that voiceover. Also, LB here has something over the other people featured in that montage, in that he actually delivers a pretty solid performance that hints that he could be a contender. There’s umming and ahhing from all the judges as to whether they’re going to turn, and in the final second
Tom declares his interest. LB tells us a bit more about himself, since he got no intro to speak of: he’s a support worker, working with the homeless, which earns him a standing ovation from Danny. Jessie says that she didn’t turn around because it started well, but then she got bored. LB explains that he was trying to make the song a bit different so it wasn’t a complete carbon copy of Tom Jones, and then endears himself to me immensely by being all “oh, I bored you, Jessie? SORRY ‘BOUT IT.”
Jessie tries to explain herself and LB continues, “you just said I bored you, bab, don’t try to backtrack now.” There’s nothing I like more than a bit of Midlands sass, so I am very much Team LB here. William is very sensibly all “well, you sounded great, but you were singing Tom Jones, so I figured you should be on Tom’s team.” Danny sees an excellent way out here and asks if LB would’ve gone with him had he turned around, and LB says that he wouldn’t, and Danny’s all “Exactly!”, like he’s just proved a point other than the fact that nobody ever chooses to be on Danny’s team. So LB is Team Tom, and before he leaves,
Tom decides it’s time to start coaching, and says that he liked how the song started out as a ballad and that’s where LB’s strength lies. I guess we’ll see more of that in the next round.
As we’re more or less at the halfway mark, we get this
reminder of how far each team is to completion, as if we can even remember who half these people are, and the reminder that there have been no new recruits to Team Danny so far tonight.
Audition #6, then?
The Hairy Bikers! Hopefully bringing us a nice curry or a sponge cake, this show’s been on for half an hour and I’m getting a little peckish.
They’ve clearly both had a good shave since the last time I saw them. Fine, I’ll stop there: they are in fact Barbara and Carla, who like singing and riding on motorbikes and SMASHING THE SYSTEM, because they don’t just want to stay at home and be mothers. Right on, ladies. Apparently appearing on the show was all Carla’s idea and Barbara took some convincing, but nonetheless, here they both are and they’re READY TO ROCK!
Oh. Still, this is a much better attempt at opera than last time, and William responds by turning on the very first note. Meanwhile, Jessie reminds us that she knows all about classical music:
Yes, Jessie, that’s why it’s called ‘The Flower Duet‘. Jessie and Danny both angst about the fact that they like what they’re hearing, but they don’t know what they could do for these people as coaches. It doesn’t take long, however, before they both cave, and Tom’s right behind them.
Although Jessie’s probably ruled herself out of the running from the off with that little comment. William tells Carla and Barbara that it was “love at first note” for him, and he thinks they can help to educate The Youth about classical music and real singing. I love it when William gets all socially-conscious. ❤
Tom loved it too, but admits that he doesn't know much about opera and suspects he isn't qualified to coach in that area. However, he'd love to have them on his team all the same. After that dazzling sales pitch, Danny jumps in and says that it was like hearing angels, but he's not sure how opera is going to fit into the pop world, and song choice is going to be key. Hang on a minute: since when was this The Pop Voice? I swear, the goalposts keep moving on this show every time I look away. Jessie admits that her push of the button was "purely selfish" (as opposed to all those time's she's pressed it out of undiluted altruism) because she just wanted to hear them sing more. William points out that the three of them are wearing matching jackets, and if they join his team, he will ensure that it remains that way. After briefly joking that they want all four of them, Barbara and Carla decide to join
Team William. Oh, this is going to be AMAZING, and I can't wait.
So, guess which of our mentors Audition #7 pretends to be for a living?
That's right: Jessie J. WE CAN DO IT LIKE THE MANDEM MANDEM SUGA SUGA SUG–
–oh. Boy, did I misread that one. He's been doing a Tom Jones tribute for many years, but never expected to get a chance to sing for the Welsh Wombat himself. And then this show happened, and made all his dreams come true!
Well, almost. There was some definite Tom Jones-ian intonation there in parts of the song, which probably didn't help his cause much. Jessie asks what his name is, and then mishears and starts calling him "Jamie", but he's fine about it: as he says, he's from Wigan, so he's bound to be hard to understand. She really enjoyed it, and there was one note that was so well-controlled that it went like this:
I think the technical term is the "invisible moustache note". Tom suggests to David that he learn to control the vibrato in the lower area (fnar), but that's all that he needs to work on. Just as the producers are tearing their hair out thinking that David might leave before revealing what he does for a living, Danny mentions that he sounded a bit like Tom, and David cops to being a Tom Jones tribute act. Danny asks David if he could do a bit of his act for them, and David
does not need to be asked twice. He doesn't seem too bothered that he's not through: he got to sing for Tom, and that was the main thing.
Audition #8 is wedding singer Laura Oakes:
She likes singing at weddings because it's someone else's big day and the focus isn't on her, but she's going to give the spotlight a go all the same. And for that matter, let's have a look at another shy girl, Audition #9:
So shy that she made the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent two years ago.
To be fair, Jessica admits that she’s entered “other singing competitions” before, and it “didn’t go as well as I’d hoped”. She used to be really confident, before she met that MEANIE SIMON COWELL, and she’s hoping this will give her her confidence back. We’ll have to wait a while to find out if that’s the case, though, because first we must return to Laura.
She starts off rather crackly and hesistant, but soon manages to get her Florence Welch on, only without the worrying white supremacist overtones. (I know that was a different song and video, but it’s still the first thing I think about nowadays whenever I hear Florence + The Machine.) Despite there being no sign of Laura attempting to play the guitar while she’s singing,
Danny decides he’s up for this challenge. He can always give her a guitar and let her work out the rest for herself, after all. William explains that he didn’t turn around because Danny was threatening him with GBH if he did. We don’t get to hear what anyone else thinks, because we’ve only got nine minutes left in this timeslot and we still have to more auditions to fit in.
So, with that in mind, let’s go back to Jessica.
Okay, first of all: editors, that is not what that song is called. And second of all: ack. I wanted to be on Jessica’s side because it does sound like she was screwed over a little bit by BGT (not least because she auditioned during the Michael McIntyre years, which everyone with any sense is trying to forget), but this is ghastly: a Frank-era Winehouse take on Human League, done without any appreciation for or understanding of the song, and without even really demonstrating that you have any capacity for originality other than “I’m going to take this song which was sung by somebody else and make it sound like a different person, who is also not me, might be singing it”. In fairness, sometimes that works, but on the other hand,
sometimes it does not. Mind you, this section did give us Danny O’Donoghue deploying the most risible reason for not turning around in the entire history of this format across all countries:
Jessie compliments Jessica on her name, and William says that there’s a very specific reason why he didn’t turn around, and then scrambles to think what that might be, exactly, before landing on “I’ve got someone else on my team already who’s too much like you, so I don’t know why THESE LOSERS didn’t turn”. Jessie asks what Jessica does for a living, and Jessica says that she teaches little kids to sing, and starts welling up. Jessie tells Jessica that she’s not ready, and then invokes the spirit of Alys The Great Returner to explain to Jessica that if she works on her breathing and diction and comes back next year, she’ll sail through. Tom liked what she did with the song, so anything else Tom has to say on the matter is irrelevant. And Danny, obviously, couldn’t turn around even if he wanted to, because he’d just been, and had to wait at least half an hour for his button to reactivate, or else he’d get cramp and drown. Oh, hang on, that’s swimming after eating – no, I have no idea why Danny couldn’t turn around, if he liked her as much as he claimed to. Jessica says she’s going to take it all on board and try to come back next year.
Audition #10, and they’ve saved the worst for last. Literally, The Actual Worst. Dial 999 and have a waambulance sent to Salford Quays, because we’re going to need it.
Karl gripes that people think that having a record deal means you’ve made it, BUT IT DOESN’T! (What’s the prize for winning this show again? Can somebody ring Leanne Mitchell and ask?) Six months ago, he was in the studio making an album, and then the studio pulled out, so he went from recording in a studio in NYC to cleaning windows in Earls Court.
Frankly, if this isn’t the build-up to a showstopping audition with some George Formby realness, then I have HAD IT. The sob story continues: “at 26, I should have a girlfriend and living in a house [sic], not living in a bedsit on my own.”
NOOOOO, NOT A BEDSIT! HAS EVER MAN FACED SUCH INDIGNITY AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE? AND HE’S NOT EVEN GETTING LAID OR ANYTHING! As he heads to his audition, Karl says that “everything’s at stake for me”. I would’ve thought the point of an “I’ve lost everything” tale of the sort he wants to spin here is that nothing’s at stake any more, unless failing at this audition is going to lose him his window-cleaning round and his bedsit as well. He needs to prove to himself and his family that he can do this! This is his last shot!
Just in case I wasn’t feeling antagonistic enough towards him already, he has to go and pick this song. YOU DON’T USE AN APOSTROPHE TO MAKE A PLURAL, MESSRS HUGHES AND FREEMAN! Karl pub-singers his way through it with terrible diction, and for reasons I will never be able to make sense of, somehow
this happens. Jessie asks him why he’s here, and in a perfect storm of bellendery, Karl gripes that he
“can’t seem to catch my break” (YOU HAD A RECORD CONTRACT AND WERE RECORDING IN NEW YORK SIX MONTHS AGO, YOU TWIT), and Jessie smarms that he’s in front of four people who know how that feels (YOU RELEASED YOUR DEBUT ALBUM AT THE AGE OF 23 AND IT WENT TRIPLE-PLATINUM, YOU ABSOLUTE GOON). Jessie tells him that she’s never worked with anybody with a voice like his, which is a good and a bad thing, and she can teach him what it’s like to be an artist right now. Tom likes the tone and style of the way Karl sings. Danny knows the struggle that Karl has been through (presumably the struggle that comes with knowing that you’re an utter cock and not being able to do anything about it), so he wants him on his team. William thinks Karl is very serious, and needs someone to fight for him, so he should pick either Danny or William. Karl admits that his hope, pre-audition, was to get either Danny or William, so Jessie turns to Tom all “well, we might as well go and get a coffee, then.” It’s time for Karl to decide, and he
picks Danny, because he’s just remembered he’s half-Irish.
Danny celebrates because “the Irish thing worked for once, and I never brought it up!”
Jessie, your face says more than words ever could.