Because the real reason the ratings nosedived in series one was due to the lack of a confusing, pointless and arbitrary interstice between the Battles and the Live Shows.
“The battles were amazing.”
“The performances were immense.”
“The decisions were heart-wrenching.”
“But now it’s the toughest test yet.”
Yes, it’s the round we’ve all been waiting for, if only to answer such questions as “what the heck is a Knockout Round?”, “aren’t the Battle Rounds basically Knockout Rounds, given that they involve two acts going into the ring and one of them being knocked out?”, and “have we got to the point where Jessie had her head shaved for charity yet?”
Holly and Reggie explain the set-up here via voiceovers: the contestants must now pick their own songs (and you thought you had a hard life), and the coaches must whittle their teams down from seven acts to three, which sounds like it’s going to be mathematically interesting even if not televisually. “But Monkseal!” we hear you cry. “How will this work? Seven is a prime number!” Well, the coaches have got this little gizmo up their sleeves:
Admittedly it sounds like something that allows you to pay for your shopping by just waving your Visa card in someone’s face, but presumably it’ll all make sense in context when we get there. Although I’ve been saying that in relation to this show for weeks now and I’ve been disappointed more often than not.
Anyway, do you want to see who’s playing tonight’s game?
…which means that tomorrow’s episode is going to be all Jessie and Danny. No, it’s no good, I can’t take it any longer, I’m throwing myself out the window.
*brief yelp, dull thud*
I think that might have worked better if I didn’t live on the ground floor. Well, fine. My slightly bruised shin and I will carry on. Tom informs us that there are “no more steals, no more second chances”. But evidently there will still be a number of incomprehensible format mechanics.
I assumed The Knockouts would be The Voice’s Evil Twin: a singing competition based entirely on your appearance. Coming to ITV in 2014! Anyway, it appears that The Knockouts is going to be superdupermegafun.
I think they’ve just bussed the contestants from the next series of Take Me Out in for a bit of atmosphere, actually.
She’s going to be the one who leaves her light on for everybody, never gets picked, becomes a “character” and has a production-plant bachelor brought on for the last episode of the series with the specific mission of picking her.
Meanwhile, Holly and Reggie appear to be dry-running their Halloween costumes. She’s Elvira: Mistress Down The Park and he’s a set of vampire dentures. Oh, and regarding question three from earlier:
Jessie has still got hair. And a giant horseshoe around her neck, because why not? Also, William reveals his secret weapon.
He’s actually been pressing those into the tops of everyone’s panini before they go in the toaster in an attempt at subliminal advertising. Unfortunately he accidentally did them all upside down, so while everyone at Fountain Studios was wandering around bleating “L3VW MITT” all afternoon, no one knows why or what for. Better luck next time, eh?
So, who’s on first?
Oh, it’s Team Tom.
Right, so we’re getting straight to that Fast Pass thing, which is where Tom picks the
loudest Welshest best act from his group for a guaranteed spot in the finals without having to participate in this round of the competition.
God, I hope I get it. I hope I get it. How many people does he need, etc. Zach — sorry, Tom — fills for a bit by talking about how the recipient of the Fast Pass is the person who really feels their artistry in their soul and doesn’t listen to what their peers are doing but just does what they know is right for them, yadayada. The artist who will be getting Tom’s Fast Pass is:
Holly promises that Mike will sing for us later in an entirely non-competitive way, but in the meantime he’ll be leaving the stage and enjoying far less clammy palms than his teammates.
With that part of the proceedings dispensed with, it’s time for Tom to reveal which three acts will be taking part in the first Knockout Round. So essentially this is another luck-of-the-draw situation, because god knows we didn’t get enough of THAT during the Battles. The first group will consist of Jamie, Cherelle and Alys.
That’s the face Jamie pulls when Tom announces that Alys will be in his group. WELP. Meanwhile, in the background,
Adam and Ragsy are all “so, we’re losing to Joseph then? Fair enough.” Nobody’s going to be doing any singing yet though, because first we need to see
“how they got here”. Isn’t that what iPlayer and YouTube are there for? We’re reminded of Alys’s liquid gold story in that she auditioned last year, didn’t get past the Blind Auditions, but TOOK ON BOARD ALL OF THE EXCELLENT CRITIQUES SHE WAS GIVEN BY THIS PANEL OF ESTEEMED MUSIC INDUSTRY VETERANS and thus came back for series two more ready than anyone has ever been. Aside from her total lack of readiness to make a decision about which team to join, obviously. Apparently the pep-talk for this round is taking place in some sort of library-slash-bar
-slash-Nigel-Farage’s-house. Hey, with all the free publicity the BBC keeps giving him, he felt it was the least he could do. Alys has chosen to sing ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometimes’, which she thinks is a brilliant song.
*gratuitous shot of Alys’s formidable cleavage for this blog’s small-but-valued readership of heterosexual men, gay women and any passing bisexualists*
Alys says that she thinks she can put her own spin on this song, and then promptly messes up her rehearsal and yells “SHIT!”
I think you’ll find that’s more like BECKY SMASH!’s spin, Alys. I’m all for contestants finding a gimmick to help me tell you all apart, but try not to recycle one that’s already been used on this show. Besides, “nervous Welsh woman” was serving you perfectly fine up to now. Alys admits that her rehearsal with the band didn’t go well, and Tom says that there’s a chance for Alys to have a real moment with the song, but she’s going to have to really commit to making it happen.
Cherelle, meanwhile, got here via a bafflingly terrible audition and then managed to be slightly less awful than Josie from Fresh Meat during the Battle Rounds. Tom confirms that she’s basically still around because she has the mythical “great tone” to her voice that seemingly allows coaches to throw all sense and logic out of the window. See St Luce, Ruth-Ann, Buchanan, Alex or Sueleen, Matt and for further examples. Cherelle tells Tom that she’s chosen ‘1+1’ by Beyoncé for this round.
Looks like Tom’s mental arithmetic skills aren’t what they used to be. Cherelle admits that singing Beyoncé is a big risk and that she’s going to have to bring out the big guns. I think Alys already beat you to it, Chez.
Surely if you’re covering your own ears during your rehearsal, it’s not the best of signs? Cherelle reveals that during the band rehearsal, she went for a big note and got it very wrong, which was embarrassing. She wails, “you don’t want to flop in front of Tom Jones!” I think that’s advice that woman have been passing on to their daughters since the mid-Sixties. Cherelle gets a bit weepy following her vocal misstep, which Tom thinks is a sign that she feels very strongly about the way she performs.
I think it’s a sign that she needs a tougher skin. You didn’t see Sarah Harding bursting into tears on GMTV that time, did you? No you did not.
Finally we have Jamie, who is a very tall soul singer, and Tom thinks it’s uncommon for that sort of voice to come out of a big man. Yep, if there’s one universally-accepted truth about the music industry, it’s that it’s LITTERED with successful short skinny soul singers. Jamie tells Tom that he’s going to sing ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’, which Tom informs us is a song with three sections.
Thanks, Tom! Jamie appears to have no major issues in his band rehearsal and tells us that he thrives under pressure.
I have, therefore, never been so sure of someone’s imminent departure. Tom thinks that the song is a tall order, but it’s fine because Jamie is a tall person. I think that’s a flawed theory, because I know lots of short people who can’t bake shortbread.
After that, it appears to be finally time for some singing, so we’re back in the studio, and Jamie’s up first.
The staging for this is basically the same as the Battles but without the “ropes”, and given that only one person performs at any given time, the other two are left to lurk in the background either scowling
or shuffling awkwardly on the dancefloor like the designated driver on a hen weekend.
As for Jamie, it starts out well enough, but after the first chorus, he shifts into an upper register that’s apparently as uncomfortable to produce as it is to listen to.
When Jamie finishes, he heads to Cherelle’s corner and tags her in, so she makes her way to centre stage only to be greeted by some
supremely unflattering lighting. Cherelle makes a valiant stab at her song, but she’s hampered by several factors, one being that ‘1+1’ is really not a Yonce classic by any stretch of the imagination, and another being that her voice isn’t really up to the challenge either. She’s supremely off-key for a large chunk of the song, but what she lacks in pitch accuracy she definitely makes up for with
pointing. Lots and lots of pointing. Should’ve done some Pointer Sisters really. Or maybe some Point Break. At the end of the performance, Danny asks “did something happen there?” and Tom replies, “she went out of tune.” I guess those astute performance analyses are why these guys are earning the big bucks. Cherelle heads over to tag Alys in and wishes her good luck in an “I’m clearly screwed so I’m throwing my support behind you instead” sort of way. To his credit, Jamie calls over to Alys to “smash it” as well. This lot are all disappointingly friendly for what we were led to believe would be a MUSICAL FIGHT TO THE DEATH. They wouldn’t last five minutes in West Side Story.
Alys immediately benefits from
much friendlier lighting than Cherelle got. It’s a shame the same attention-to-detail was not given to the on-screen captions.
“Got To”. “Sometime”. It took me under a minute to check that, jsyk. Alice is going for a haunting, Celtic take on the song, all yelps and held, echoey notes, and doing much of it with her eyes closed.
Then she throws in some scales and Jessie J CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS RIGHT NOW.
I feel like if this were a true Knockout Round, they’d just stop the whole thing right now and declare Alys the winner, but they allow her to continue right to the end of the song anyway, which turns out to be for the best because Tom promised Alys A Moment and
A Moment is what she has. Holly asks us to give the trio a big hand, and then asks Tom what he thought of “your three arses up here on the stage.” Teehee. Tom thinks that Jamie just did Jamie tonight, which is basically reality TV shorthand for “I didn’t like what you did but would prefer not to say so on television”. Heavily truncated soundbites from the judges include: Jessie saying that Jamie was throwing riffs all over the place, Danny and Tom telling Cherelle that she was about as close to the tune as Leanne Mitchell is to the Top 40 album chart, and Alys being newly-gifted with the hallowed “beautiful tone”. William goes on an extended Alice In Wonderland allusion involving the Mad Hatter, prompting Danny to heckle “you are the Mad Hatter!”
Now Tom must decide who wins, and despite everything we’ve just seen, Tom insists it’s a difficult decision. It really isn’t. And it certainly isn’t “the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life.” I doubt it’s the hardest thing he’s done since breakfast. Anyway, the winner is Alys, duh.
Alys tells Holly that while she’s still a Nervous Nellie, she believes that with each stage she advances to in the competition, she’s becoming a better performer. Meanwhile Tom
looks on proudly/creepily. Oh, and that’s it for Jamie and Cherelle. No last-minute interventions, just the long walk to the stage door.
Alys gleefully bounds off and Tom returns to his seat, while Jessie decides that she really isn’t getting enough screentime in this episode and starts shouting “WELL DONE, TOM! I KNOW, IT’S HARD, ISN’T IT?”
I thought perhaps we might go over to Team William now just for a bit of variation, but no.
We’re sticking with Team Tom. Oh well, at least we’re getting it over with one way or another. Tom tells us that Joseph has everything: heart, soul, a fantastic voice and a comically overbearing mother (who, aside from a few audience cutaways, has been cruelly underused since the auditions, if you ask me). Joseph will be singing ‘A Song For You’.
Blee. Joseph explains that he picked this song because he wants to showcase not just his range but also his tone. Oh good, more stuff about tone. I only got about four hours’ sleep last night, so I’m just going to have a little nap while Tom and Joseph talk about tone.
After his band rehearsal, Joseph reminds us that he’s shy, and that we shouldn’t look at him dustbusting and nutbushing. He asks Tom if he has any tips for shy people.
Tom replies, “well, up until June of last year there was Diana King, but she’s off the table now.”
Meanwhile, Ragsy is here after thieving the place that rightfully belongs to Colin Chisholm. Ragsy tells Tom that his song choice for this round is ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’ by Stereophonics.
In a related incident, Ragsy’s performance will now not be recapped, and neither will the rest of his bit of this VT. I’m sorry, there are few things I wouldn’t do for this blog, but I draw the line at Stereophonics.
Finally, we have Adam, who’s Tom’s steal. And possibly also his steel. Tom likes Adam because he’s a wonderful singer and he’s very confident. I like Adam because
The Fiancée. Tom tells Adam that he thought his performance at the Battle was stronger than his Blind Audition. Adam has picked ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ by Paul McCartney & Wings for his Knockout song.
During band rehearsals, Tom advises Adam to smile more, and Adam says that the problem is that he’s used to singing to an audience, and not Sir Tom Jones
…’s crotch, apparently. Adam admits that, as the sole recipient of Sir Tom’s steal, he feels the pressure to deliver and prove that he deserves to be here.
First to sing is Adam.
Phew, there she is. I was starting to worry. I don’t know if ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ is really the best song for Adam here – there’s something far too precise and measured about the way he sings the first two lines, like he’s right at the bottom of his range and concentrating very hard on getting every syllable out without cracking. When he moves up an octave or two, it’s definitely more in his comfort zone, but I think he’s overdoing it. It’s too loud, for one thing – not that you’ll ever hear anyone admitting that on this show. I like Adam and his rocker schtick generally, but I just don’t think it works here at all.
I am a little bit in love with that shirt though. And I’m probably the only person in the entire world who feels like this, but I will never tire of him singing everything directly to The Fiancée, completely ignoring the rest of the audience.
Okay, maybe I’m not the ONLY person. Adam finishes, and Tom remarks to Jessie that he’s a “West End singer” and Jessie agrees. Oh well. BYE ADAM! Adam tags himself out, and after The Performance That Shall Not Be Recapped, we have Joseph, and a welcome cameo from Joseph’s mum:
Once again, the third performance is so clearly streets ahead of the other two that the whole thing seems fairly academic anyway, but we go along with the plan because those 70 minutes of airtime have got to be filled somehow.
Plus I get some nice pictures out of it, so when you think about it, really everybody wins. Admittedly, Joseph’s last note is a little iffy, but by that point it’s beyond irrelevant. He wins this round because he was clearly always going to win this round. The song finishes, the audience are on their feet, William is yelling Joseph’s name and it’s all very cute.
Tom congratulates himself on picking such a great team, but adds that he’s made it difficult for himself because they’re all so very individual.
Although I would argue that one aspect in which they’re all alike is that you could drop any one of them into a TV show set in the 1970s and none of them would look out of place, the way they’re all dressed right now. Tom reiterates that he and Jessie think Adam should be in the West End, and this gets applauded because apparently at some point between the Blind Auditions and now, being in the West End became a good thing. This show moves the goalposts more often than Travel Subbuteo.
Jessie thinks Adam’s performance was the most “believable” of the three, even though she has used “West End” and “believable” as antonyms in this very series. William shouts “Joseph, we love you!” in an offensive-sounding accent, and saying that he sang with soul, and that when you add “soul” to “Filipino”, you get “holla-pino”. You can generally chart my level of interest in this show at any given moment by how entertaining I find William, and right now I’m finding him exhausting.
Jessie is going to be tough on Joseph, because she didn’t think he was hitting the notes at the “top”
(of the water-spout that Incy Wincy Spider was climbing up, apparently), and that’s because he’s not “owning it”. Look, I’m far from the sort of people who believes this show is a serious contest for serious singers, but at least try to maintain the illusion that you’re providing constructive feedback and not just doling out meaningless banalities. Otherwise you could dramatically reduce this show’s budget by not bothering to have any coaches at all and just splicing in Paula Abdul’s American Idol highlights reel as required. Tom agrees that this wasn’t Joseph’s best performance, but he knows what his potential is. The same applies here: give specifics. Show your working. Cite your references. SAY SOMETHING USEFUL.
Anyway, it’s time to pick a winner.
It’s Joseph. Reggie asks Joseph how proud he thinks his mother must be right now. On a scale of one to The Fiancée,
I think that’s at least a seven. Adam and Ragsy have their parting moment, and Adam says that he considers himself grateful to have worked with “two of the greatest stars that this country produced”.
Joseph and Ragsy are all “oh, thanks!” Then Adam and Ragsy are dismissed, with Adam managing to fit in one final hair-flip before he goes. FIERCE. Joseph steps down for his debriefing with the mentors, and Jessie tells him to BELIEVE in himself and USE HIS FACE.
Like that, presumably. So, time for Team William now? WRONG. Because now they’re going to parade Mike out again to sing, to demonstrate why he got sent straight through to the final. This really makes no sense. If you’re going to make all seven of them sing anyway, why not just make all seven sing, and pick three to go through? Why bother with this stupid “Knockout” format of capricious match-ups? Why is this episode not even halfway over yet?
Anyway, here’s Mike, who Tom likes because he’s a country singer, he’s young and he’s good-looking, even though that shouldn’t matter because deedle-dee-doodle-doo THIS IS THE VOICE, but I think pointing out the hypocrisies of this series is a task fit only for a masochist at this point, so
DRINK IT IN, LADIES (AND SOME GENTLEMEN). Meanwhile, Tom goes on once more about Britain’s convenient lack of home-grown country singers (the ones who have already been rejected by this very show notwithstanding), as usual without wondering why that might be, and not taking into account the questionable post-show success rates of The Voice UK contestants even when they’re working in commercially viable genres. Well, if Mike’s career bombs when this is all over, it won’t be from a lack of adequate warning on my part. I’m prepared to waive my standard consultancy fee on this particular occasion.
Anyway, here’s Mike.
And here is what’s left of Team Tom.
It’s so sparse at this point that it feels more like a Gathering than a Team.
Right, is it finally? Is it time? Is it…
IT IS! First up, it’s the pointless Fast Pass. William is apparently basing his decision on trust, open-mindedness, and being the best artist he’s witnessed coming out of the UK in the history of forever, it’s
Leah. Sure, why not? I mean, I remember literally nothing about her Blind Audition or her Battle Round, but at least that means I have nothing to criticise, and that’s essentially an endorsement, right? William explains that he picked Leah because each time she sang her Knockout Round song, he was just
“whuuuuuut, question mark face”. See, this is why the Fast Pass doesn’t work for me. If it’s a decision being made on how well they’ve been singing the song they’re using for this round, it’s counterintuitive to put them through before the audience gets a chance to hear it. I mean, looking at the way things went for Team Tom on the night, it’s ludicrous to me that Mike got the Fast Pass ahead of, say, Alice, but then nothing’s really been explained about how the Fast Pass gets handed out. Is it based on performance throughout the whole competition to date? Based on performance in this round? Based on the person that coach just really likes? It’s all so vague and unsatisfying, which I can’t help feeling is going to make it harder to really connect with these people when the live shows come around and we’re expected to vote to keep them around.
Time for Will to pick who’s competing in the first Knockout, and he makes a real meal of it, all “ummmm” and “let’s see”, and…do they honestly expect us to buy that the coaches make this decision on the spur of the moment? I mean, I’m willing to accept that the contestants don’t know until this point, however true that may actually be, but to suggest that actual grouping-up decision is made right there in the room feels like a step too far. Anyway, here are our subteams:
Round one is Moni against Jordan against Leanne, which means round two is Lem against Cleo against John. I am quite enjoying John’s “oh, so it’s going THAT way? Awwwright…” expression right there. I am enjoying Moni’s two-tone leopardprint top and red trousers significantly less.
So Leanne got here in that Battle with Barbara & Carla which I think we’re all trying to forget as quickly as possible. William’s pep-talk room is a bit more pimped-out than Tom’s was.
I’m impressed that they found somewhere to hold this pow-wow where Leanne’s hair actually managed to be the most subtle use of pink in the room. Leanne has chosen ‘Hurt’ by Christina Aguilera for her song, but William is concerned. Not because he remembers Alesha’s rumba on Strictly Come Dancing and is therefore aware of how easy it is to butcher this song, but also because Leanne looks a bit like Christina Aguilera (about 12 years ago, if you squint), and so if someone doesn’t know Leanne, but looks at her and hears her singing a Christina Aguilera song, they’re just going to assume it’s Christina Aguilera.
I think that’s rather an extreme extrapolation of this potential scenario, but I can see his point. This is not The One And Only (more’s the pity, Team Rude German Madonna 4lyf) and it’s probably best to avoid being too copycatty if you actually want to forge some sort of professional identity out of it. So by the next rehearsal, Leanne has changed her mind and decided to sing ‘Alone’ by Heart.
After a few quick bursts, everyone’s feeling much more confident about Leanne’s chances. Including me, because I love this song and if she performs it well, she might actually win me over. Hey, I’m just saying, I have no real investment in the outcome of this series right now, so technically my votes are still up for grabs. Frankly I’m willing to throw all my votes Team William’s way if he promises next to wear a gold lamé bow tie ever again.
Shudder. William has a few notes for Leanne, most of which involve not making this face when stretching down for those lower notes.
Perhaps this is just me not taking the show as seriously as I perhaps should do, but I think I’m more likely to vote for someone who makes faces like that. That’s part of the reason I wanted Alyssa Edwards to win RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Jordan next: he won a controversial Battle because William was playing tactics, and now he’s here. He also would like to follow up that “GEEK” t-shirt he wore to the auditions with this hilarious and inventive offering.
Presumably he goes to the same shops as Sally, Doon and Fiona. Jordan wants to sing ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’ by Meat Loaf/Celine Dion, but William’s concerned it might be too theatrical. “You want to be poppin’,” he warns Jordan. “Not Mary Poppins.” Sure enough, in rehearsals, Jordan gets very Barrowmanesque about it all, causing William to turn into Hans Moleman.
Jordan says that he wants to prove to William that he can tone down the Zeta-Jonesness of his performance and prove to Will that he can be a pop singer. That they appear to have underscored this particular bit with Mika suggests that the editors don’t believe him.
Moni got through by being super-cute and doing the Snoopy Dance in his Battle. William declares that Moni is the best male vocalist in the competition, which…I mean, I like Moni a lot, but even I wouldn’t go that far. For his Knockout song, Moni has opted for “a bit of reggae with the Stevie vibe” – ‘Master Blaster’, in other words.
Again, I suspect I’ve found Moni’s white-guy-soul schtick more endearing than most people have, but I think this might be the point where I’m going to hit saturation with it. (Ew, not like that.) His reasoning is that Stevie Wonder and reggae are two of his favourite things, so putting them together ought to work really well. William, however, is not convinced.
Since, you know, it’s basically what Moni did in his audition. To be fair, his audition was Bob Marley, but yeah, still not a million miles away. William tells Moni that it’s a lazy choice, and Moni admits that made him doubt himself.
Incidentally, he’s also sort of copying his outfit from the Blinds here as well, but it works, so I’m not complaining. Back on track, Moni ultimately sticks to his guns and William decides, after hearing Moni sing it through, that he was wrong to doubt him, because his execution was flawless. And then they both do the Snoopy Dance together.
I’m so confused right now, but I think I ship it. Moni says that this is his big chance, so he really has to bring it.
In the studio, Moni’s up first, and now we truly get to see the horror of that outfit.
I know this is The Voice and not The Outfit, but this is the greatest sartorial offence on this show since those hats that Max Milner kept insisting on wearing. I mean, how does he expect to be heard, wearing clothes that loud? Vocally it starts out okay, but once the beat behind him kicks in and he starts running around it all starts to sound a bit scratchy and rushed and strained. He throws in some runs that make Jessie do her “could be impressed, could just as easily be masking disgust” face:
It’s fun, I guess, but it isn’t really as good as he needs it to be at this point. Anyway, Moni finishes and tags in
La Roux, apparently. It would appear from the outset that all of William’s notes about trying to rein in the theatricality have gone straight out the window, because Jordan’s delivering this like it’s the eleven o’clock number in Les Misérables.
It’s well-sung, but it’s not a pop performance, and since that was what they were aiming for, it’s a failure. I think the biggest giveaway that it’s gone the wrong way is
this girl sitting behind Tom, who’s lip-synching along and giving it full drama hands as she does so. Jordan shifts into falsetto for the last few notes, which sends his family leaping to their feet but seems to leave the rest of the audience unmoved.
Performance completed, Jordan leaves to storm the barricades, and tags Leanne in.
How very European. As Leanne heads centre stage, Moni shouts “gwan, gyal! Gwan, gyal!” Now let us never speak of that again.
Leanne starts to sing and I realise that she does resemble a famous Christina, but it’s not so much Aguilera as it is
Applegate. She isn’t doing anything particularly new with the song; indeed, there are parts where she sounds almost note-for-note like Carrie Underwood’s version from American Idol, but the vocal tricks she throws in are well-judged, and the performance is neatly controlled. I realise that sounds like damning with faint praise, but considering how many of these performances over the last couple of weeks have been like runaway trains, it’s nice seeing someone who does seem to know when to let loose and when to pull back. She also does well to make the performance sound as epic as it does considering there are parts when it sounds like she’s being accompanied by a battery-powered Casio mini keyboard.
Looks like someone’s just made her dad very proud. Her dad Eddie from Hustle, apparently.
Jessie tells Leanne that she’s a great singer and really showed her range, but she doesn’t think the song was interesting enough. This from the woman who (SPOILER) makes one of her contestants sing ‘True Colours’ tomorrow. William applauds Leanne for taking on board everything he said in rehearsals, including keeping her face under control. Danny tells Jordan that “music theatre” is his calling, and we’re back to that being a criticism again. Jordan retorts that “musical theatre people are some of the most diverse people in the world, and it doesn’t mean that they can just do musical theatre.”
Yeah, but can they PLAY THE GUITAR, eh? William tells Moni that he was amazing, but that he was also “one katrillion times better in rehearsal”. Eep.
So who gets to go through? Will admits that coming in tonight, he wanted Moni to go through, but now…
he’s picking Leanne. That one actually was a tough round, I think, because they were all viable contenders in one way or another, but I think William made the right call out of those three.
Possibly Danny feels differently. Holly garbles something about “the level of standard being so high” when it means we have to lose acts like Moni and Jordan at this stage.
I think you can make a case for it certainly being a sign of the quality of William’s Team, because as much as I didn’t particularly care for Jordan I think everyone in this particular round was better than everyone in the entire first half of the show. It’s almost as if there’s something to be said for picking the coach whose skills lie on the producing side of things rather than the singing really loudly/holding a guitar side.
After Moni and Jordan leave, Leanne hugs William and thanks him for keeping her around. William rewards her gratitude by doing a voiceover saying that he still would’ve preferred to save Moni, but Moni was worse than his rehearsal while everyone else was better, so he went with Plan B instead.
So we come to the final competitive round of the evening: John vs Cleo vs Lem.
Lem is on William’s team after the Battles because Jessie J found that map of the sewer system leading to her basement in his backpack and decided that it was best for all concerned if she kept Lem at arm’s length from now on, so William grabbed him instead. In the pink pimpin’ room, Lem tells William that he’s going to sing the acoustic version of ‘As Long As You Love Me’ by Justin Bieber.
“Why did you pick that song?” asks William, his face and tone of voice suggesting an admonishment rather than a question. Lem explains to William that he’s singing this because his friends and family have stuck by him throughout life’s ups and downs, and since this is not very interesting I’m going to focus instead on the way Lem’s giant hair partially obstructs the lighting in the room and leaves him looking like he has a halo.
He’ll be more than happy to relay any messages you might have for The Man Upstairs. (By which he means Danny, who’s currently in the bathroom at Mentor Manor having a nice relaxing soak and re-reading Anna Karenina. Not really, he’s watching The Commitments and having a crywank.)
Lem’s rehearsal problem, like so many before him, is being believable.
William thinks that Lem has abandonment issues at not being taken through by Jessie, presumably because he found Lem’s secret Tumblr, which has only two posts, one saying “JESSIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and the other saying “WHY?????????????????????“.
Cleo’s Battle Round with Brantano was an apocalyptic devastation from which few of us emerged alive. I have yet to establish whether my affection for Cleo is based entirely on her pop career of yesteryear, or if in fact she’s done anything worth bothering with since she’s been on the show.
Cleo announces to William that she’s going to sing ‘Leave Me Alone’ by Michael Jackson, all the way gradually sliding closer to him like the evil brunette in a Taylor Swift video. Cleo explains that she chose the song because she sang a Michael Jackson song when she was in Cleopatra
and they were like the Jackson Five in many ways. Like how there were three of them. And there weren’t any boys. And how none of them went on to launch a successful solo career. William opines that taking on a Michael Jackson song is a real task, like climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. Eh, Fearne Cotton’s done it, how hard can it be? (Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, I mean, not singing a Michael Jackson song. Sadly we never got to experience that during her brief run on Comic Relief Does Fame Academy.) In rehearsals, Cleo vamps all around the stage and generally gets all up in William’s cheese fries.
Cleo herself admits it’s a risky strategy, because as a big MJ fan herself whenever she hears someone trying to do one of his songs on a talent show she’s all
Finally there’s John, who William tells us has a voice like a sports car. Although some of those noises he was making during the Battles sounded more like a sports bar to me. John’s presence in this round was the prompt for JessieJhasnosavesgate last week, but William explains that he put him through because he can sing low and high, with the unspoken subtext that Liam needed to just STOP WITH THE DAMN FALSETTO ALREADY. John is singing ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’, which is perfect because everything about him screams Hipster Gene Pitney.
Seriously. Tell me I’m wrong. (NB. Do not tell me I am wrong.) John feels under some sort of mysterious obligation to prove to the other coaches that William was right to keep him around. I’m not really sure why; it’s not like they’ve got any say in his progress on the show at this point, so he really wouldn’t have anything to lose if he told them all to suck it. It’d certainly make for far more satisfying television.
Now, I’ve had my issues with John’s sense of style in the past, but he has never looked better or hotter than he looks right here.
His singing’s a bit in-the-club-style and he has an annoying habit of swallowing his consonants, but there’s still something very charming about this performance. He’s found a song that works really well for his voice, and he’s doing a decent job with it. Perhaps it’s because the bar has been set rather low in this episode, but that’s more than enough for me. He finishes and tags in Cleo with a kiss on the cheek.
Cleo, sporting a tree from Super Mario 64 on her head
slinks her way through a jazzed-down version of ‘Leave Me Alone’. Her performance is about 87% showmanship, 6% wardrobe, 5% vocals and 2% Lem Knights in the background trying to look comfortable and relaxed. Cleo feels very much like your archetypal The Voice contestant – it’s all about volume and throwing in as many vocal tricks as she can without enough thought being given to whether the end result is going to be pleasant to listen to. Although she does the scat section in the middle pretty well, I’ll give her that much.
Lem takes the final spot centre-stage and brings a stool with him.
Far be it from me to deny him his artistic choices, but a man sitting on a stool and preparing to sing an acoustic version of a Justin Bieber song does not exactly scream “good time about to be had by all”. In the brief lull between the audience’s applause dying down and the music starting, Jessie says “pull yourself together, come on” to him, having still not grasped that “pull yourself together” is about the last thing that people who need to pull themselves together want to hear. So basically if he fucks up now, it’s entirely Jessie’s fault. Again.
Despite the song and the staging, Lem’s voice actually sounds pretty good, as illustrated by this screenshot, obviously.
He does appear to have picked up all of those unfortunate faces that Alice jettisoned earlier on, though, and when he gets up from the stool he looks a bit scared and alone up there. It’s a tricky one – in the true spirit of the show he should probably go through, but I’m just not sure he can learn what he needs to learn about stage presence in the next three weeks. Also, he goes a bit off at the end when he starts freestyling, which is another thing on his ‘to do’ list which I’m concerned is already too long.
William thinks they were all brilliant. Jessie thinks all three of them have the strengths to go through to the live rounds, but Lem in particular was amazing. She knows she didn’t pick him in the Battles, but she’s so proud that he got a chance to show what he’s capable of on Team William, and in honour of that she’s going to disable her panic room for the next two nights. Danny says that he understands now why John got through: “as far as unique voice, I think you’ve got a great unique voice.” Thanks for that, Danny. The only person to not get a glowing write-up is Cleo, who both Jessie and Danny think underperformed this week. William tells both of them to cram it with jammy dodgers, because he thinks she was flawless.
So who goes through?
Cleo. Gotta love William’s dedication to trolling his fellow coaches.
I can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve for the semi-final in two week’s time. Jessie’s going to be eating her own face by that point.
Lem and John step down, and Jessie tells Lem that he “should’ve gone through”. Gosh, if only Jessie J had had the power at some point to ensure that happened? Backstage, Lem’s sad but quietly optimistic about the future, and John tries to cheer him up with a big hug.
Rule 34, folks. Rule 34.
Reggie asks Cleo if she has anything she’d like to say to William,
and Cleo tells him that she didn’t expect him to go with an all-female Top 3, but she hoped she might at least entertain the audience.
Yeah, well, not this audience anyway. JESSIE J HAIR FLIP OF DISDAIN! Cleo leaves, and Jessie is UNABLE TO LET IT GO. “Danny, Danny, who would you have gone with? I’d have gone with Lem. What about you, Tom? Yeah, Lem. Yeah, me too. Lem Lem Lem Lem.” I have defended Jessie J a lot on this show, but she really seems dedicated to working my last damn nerve in this round. And she hasn’t even had her own team on stage yet.
So, y’all remember Leah?
William thinks she’s ready for the recording studio right now, and that’s why she got the Fast Pass. And now she’s back to sing for us again.
That might be the best combination of lighting and wardrobe on this show so far. It makes her look like the Sword in the Stone. The song that so impressed William during rehearsals was ‘Lovin’ You’ by Minnie Ripperton, which Leah proceeds to sing breathily and kind of sharp. I’ve long held a theory about this song, which is that you can wreak whatever atrocities you like on the majority of it because the only bit anyone will pay attention to is that high sliding scale, and if you at least come close to getting that right, it’ll be considered a good performance. That’s basically what Leah does: the performance is never less than competent, but it flirts with general ropiness on several occasions, though she nails those high notes and the audience goes mad for ’em.
I’m reasonably confident she could’ve remained entirely silent throughout the rest of the song, but as long as she hit the whistle notes, not a soul would’ve noticed. Instead, of course, Leah opted to throw every hoot and whistle in her repertoire into the mixture, and you know who is totally up for that?
So here’s William’s Gathering:
VAGINAPALOOZA! Next up:
Make sure you bring some Nurofen. You’re going to need it.