In which four contestants face the public vote for the very first time. IN THE SEMI FINAL.
Please accept my apologies for both the lateness of this recap and the comparitively low-res screenshots. Apparently the BBC couldn’t be bothered to put the show up on iPlayer in any particular hurry (also I was in Manchester for half the week after it did go up), and they CERTAINLY couldn’t be faffed with uploading it in HD. Just pretend it’s 1994 and you’re watching this on Aol or something.
Anyway, opening the show for the second week in a row, because it’s clearly her destiny to finish fourth AGAIN this year:
Jessie took Ash and Matt to the Capital FM Summertime Ball to “inspire” them as to the sort of things that might be in their future after that impending glorious fourth-place finish for one or the other of them. *scans this year’s set list for any mention of Vince Kidd’s name, comes up entirely empty-handed* Also, Jessie introduced them to some actual famous people like JLS and Robbie Williams, but mostly in that sense where your boss introduces you to the regional manager at the Christmas party and they have to pretend they hadn’t mistaken you for a cater-waiter for the last five minutes. Jessie adds that she “wanted them to see how hard it is”, which for some reason was intercut with them stealing trays of free food and having their pictures taken with fans. Sometimes I feel like this show hates Jessie J almost as much as everyone else does. Anyway, back in the studio they performed ‘Stay’ by Rihanna and we learned just how much Jessie has moulded these two in her image, by encouraging them to insert as many unnecessary notes as possible, to reach for notes even when they’re clearly below your vocal range, and to wobble one’s chins like Pat Butcher throughout. And the straw that really broke the camel’s back was the fact that they got all the way through on the first attempt. Where the hell was the abrupt restart? Where was the “it’s live TV! This is how Team Jessie does it?” It’s like this show has no respect for its own traditions.
Scenes from the judging panel : Jessie thought she was amazing.
Ash is the first of many contestants we’ll hear tonight fretting about facing the public vote for the first time. He is also at the point where he has realised this programme is “not about the voice” but about building relationships with his fans. Yes, and I understand that an excellent way to foster that sort of relationship with the viewing public is to not require them to actually have to vote to save a particular singer or engage with their survival in this process until the penultimate episode of the series. Doesn’t that just SCREAM longevity to you? Jessie thinks that Ash has got his confidence back through the process of being on the show and is now ready to fly, though at least he’s not the poor sod who’s drawn the short straw of actually having to sing ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ tonight. Instead, he’s singing ‘Ex-Factor’ by Lauryn Hill – or, to use the official terminology of The Voice UK, singing ‘Other Singing Shows’ by Lauryn Hill. For some reason, Jessie in her infinite wisdom decided that the best possible staging for this raw, emotional track would be that of a low-budget touring production of Avenue Q. I assume Ash is playing Brian, but I really don’t want to think about who they’ve got playing Christmas Eve. (It’s Tom, isn’t it?) The other masterstroke of the performance was to give the song a smooth-jazz arrangement that made it all feel rather level, which robbed it of all the passion and made it abundantly clear when Ash lost control of his breathing halfway through.
Scenes from the judging panel : This is one of Jessie’s favourite songs ever, so she’s so pleased that someone she admires got to sing it to her while she was in the front row, because heaven forfend this show not be entirely about Jessie J at any point; William is apparently wearing cardboard 3D glasses this week; Danny warns Ash about Matt coming up the slope behind him (OOH PARDON!); Tom thinks that Ash could’ve been on a street corner in Abercynon, though I believe we’re saving the official “The Voice saved me from rent boy hell” backstory for series three.
Results : Eliminated by the public vote. Yeah, probably should’ve started work on cultivating that fanbase a little bit earlier than the semi-finals, eh?
Matt would just like to remind us all that he opened the show last week, for any of us who might have missed the few subtle references to that. After her scene-stealing apparence in last week’s show, Matt’s mum returned to complete her transformation into Jaz Ellington’s Pregnant Wife as Matt decided to dedicate this week’s performance to her, complete with a VT that was so overwhelmingly celebratory of one woman’s strength and determination against the odds that it was practically a country song. I hear Mike Ward is thinking of singing it in the final next week (SPOILER!). He’s singing ‘Girl On Fire’, and obviously we’d all rather it had been this version, but since this show only has one way of rearranging tracks (which basically amounts to setting all phasers to LIVE LOUNGE), that shall remain a pipe dream. While the arrangement was regrettably soporific, Matt’s committed performance and strong vocals were impressive, even though the bit where the backing track straight-up turned into the theme from Hill Street Blues at one point.
Scenes from the judging panel : Jessie J proving she should be paid as a sound technician as well as a coach for running onto the stage the second the song finish to reattach Matt’s mic pack which had been circling around his hips for the last half of the song; William’s so bored he’s now just reading out his tweets, and also reminding us that Matt USED TO BE ON HIS TEAM; Danny sang his feedback because he’s a bellend, and also said “on fire” a lot because he is this show’s Louis Walsh; Tom has nothing to offer but bland platitudes; Jessie J loved this so much that it made the tiny shaven hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
Results : Advanced to the final, in one of the few (but very welcome) surprise outcomes of the night.
This week Danny dressed up as Lisa Loeb and then took Karl and Andrea to the pub as a CLEVER RUSE to disguise the fact that he was really taking them to Radio 1, where they would be meeting “the people that are going to get your songs onto radio”. Actually, I’m fairly certain that will be the pluggers at Universal Records, Danny. Karl’s “surprise” at this development is Kelly Rowland faking-a-cold levels of unconvincing, while Andrea just cackles, thereby cementing Andrea’s role as the most normal, likeable person on this entire show. I know, I didn’t expect that to happen either. Outside Radio 1, a girl gets Karl to sign her arm – a dedication that will last about as long as Karl will remain on the show. (SPOILER!) At Radio 1, they talk to some irrelevant goon with a microphone, and also Scott Mills (in unrelated news, this week’s “spot the difference” competition had no winning entry, so the prize will roll over to next week) and Andrea continued to sass Danny O’Donoghue.
Then in the studio Team Danny sang ‘Let Her Go’, because of course they did. Danny was not wearing a bowler hat or an expression of abject misery and did not have an apple dangling in front of his face, so this performance was doomed before it started, quite frankly. Meanwhile, the wardrobe department continued to play cruel jokes on Andrea by dressing her as a novelty Mad Madam Mim toilet brush cover, and Karl wasn’t really required to much other than say “ooh” or “ahh” occasionally.
Scenes from the judging panel : Danny announced that he was SURE it was more of a privilege for him to perform with Karl and Andrea than it was for them to perform with him. Which sounds very humble until you realise that the syntax here implies he still believes it’s a privilege to perform alongside him, and therefore Danny’s still a bellend.
Just like we’re not going to be allowed to forget that Matt opened last week’s show in a hurry, this show is still not done reminding us that KARL MICHAEL NEARLY STOPPED DOING A MUSICS. Danny tells Karl that he didn’t give the Fast Pass to him or Mitchell because “I needed to know out of the two of yous which one the UK’s voting for.” Dude, up until that point, the UK hadn’t been voting for either of them, because it had not had the chance. Just like it still hasn’t actually had the chance to vote for Andrea yet. Anyway, Karl announces that this week’s lesson is that he mustn’t keep doubting himself, like he did all those times when he talked about how he was far too talented an artist to be a window cleaner. Since it’s so important for Karl to believe in himself, Danny wants him to sing ‘I Believe I Can Fly’.
Danny has rearranged the song so that it’s basically just Karl and some scattered guitars. Presumably his intention was to turn it into a vocal showcase for Karl, but in reality the effect was that it just reminded us all how asinine the lyrics are. To be fair, by this show’s standards it barely fucked with the song at all, but on the other hand, ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ is a sort that ideally requires as much interference as possible. Preferably the sort of interference that floods out of the speakers and prevents it from being heard at all.
Scenes from the judging panel : Danny has seen Karl really turn around on this show, just like Aleks Josh did last year. (Oh come on, this is in all likelihood my last-ever recap of this show, you have to permit me one last Danny-wants-to-bum-Aleks joke.) Jessie believes that Karl can fly, that she can fly, and that everyone else can fly, because she is on the good shit right now. William believes that Karl can sang, he believes he can do his thang. Tom likes that Karl put his own stamp on the song, even though we’ve all just been explicitly told it was Danny’s stamp.
Results : Eliminated by the public vote. Let’s hope he hasn’t thrown out that bucket o’ suds.
After all those “hay u guise, Andrea is BLIND” VTs, it’s only right we now have one that goes “oh, and also, Andrea is IRISH”, just so the show can be sure to maximise all possible revenue streams. Of course, it also came as part of a package on how Andrea is a really great role model for partially-sighted people, but: baby steps, eh? Andrea is (say it with me) nervous about facing the public vote for the first time. Sensibly, she’s decided not to rock the boat too dramatically and is singing ‘One Of Us’ by Joan Osbourne. (I briefly got excited thinking that she was going to sing ‘One Of Us’ by Abba, but as IF this show would ever go to that well.) The alterations to the song were fairly minor: a note here, a note there, an entirely different melody on “trying to make his way home”, but I doubt the tinkering with the tune would’ve cost Andrea many votes, because it ended up sounding uncannily like a Military Wives album track, and I’d imagine the Andrea/Gareth Malone appreciation crossover is fairly substantial. Honestly, if this show aired closer to Christmas and if anyone actually cared, this could’ve been a number one.
Scenes from the judging panel : Tom thinks Andrea touches him, but really he’s just touching himself and doesn’t realise because he’s Vitamin B12 deficient and can’t feel his hand any more. William has had his mind blown by the possibility that God might indeed be one of us. (Imagine if God was Holly Willoughby. THINK ON THAT.) Danny wants us all to know that Andrea plays guitar and writes her own material, and it’s nearly impossible to find existing material that matches the quality of what Andrea writes for herself. (Then why not have her sing one of those? I mean, you can sing original songs on The X Factor, of all shows, nowadays, so if The Voice won’t let you do it despite all of its artistic wankery, something is very wrong.) Jessie had to just take a moment because she’s just so moved right now.
Results : Advanced to the final on public vote.
Team William is the only all-female team on the show. Team William’s VT was all about GOING SHOPPING FOR SHOES!!!!!!!!!!!1111!!!!! However casually stereotypical that might feel, it’s arguably a lot less distressing than eavesdropping on the rehearsals for, or indeed the performance of, Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ that Team William inflicted on us. The original is a murky, wobbly, messy melody that even Debbie Harry just barely manages to navigate, and most of that is purely by virtue of the inherent awesomeness that comes with being Debbie Harry. Leah performs the whole thing like she’s gargling with an Ariel Liquitab and I don’t think a single note of the entire song is anywhere within Cleo’s range. And if you thought they were off individually, their attempts at harmonising were horrific. I haven’t seen two people work together so ineffectively since Zoe Beresford and Susan Ma. The only redemptive factor was William spray-painting the backdrop during the song and also actually referring to it as “Team William” during rehearsals. Oh, and William did some breakdancing. Teedle-dee-teedle-dee THIS IS THE V–oh, what’s the point?
Scenes from the judging panel : William learnt through this performance that if he trusts in himself, he can achieve anything. I think it would have been less painful all around if someone had just bought him a Lisa Lionheart doll.
Despite the AURAL ABOMINATION that was her take on ‘I Will Survive’, Leah somehow managed to make it to Number 3 in the iTunes charts (and, eventually, number 8 in the Official UK Charts. I bet Leanne Mitchell is NOT BEST PLEASED). Actually, I’m fairly certain that several BBC editorial guidelines were violated in the number of times “iTunes” was said in the general context of Leah. Obviously this meant that we didn’t really get any “welp, what if the public don’t like me?” moments from Leah, because DUH, so instead we got William scolding us into not assuming that Leah would be safe, except he decided to use a simile wherein Leah is the hot girl at school who doesn’t get asked to the prom because all the guys assume she’s out of their league. That’s right, The Voice just tried to make you feel sorry for pretty people. THIS FORMAT IS BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR. In a somewhat paradoxical move, Leah took a huge risk by playing it safe and doing a fairly faithful cover of ‘Killing Me Softly (With His Song)’ – albeit the Fugees version, natch. ONE TIME! It’s a solid idea because it’s fairly unlikely to alienate the Saturday teatime audience, but it’s also a risk because it flies in the face of everything that the people who like Leah like about her. Basically, this is the sort of performance that everyone else should be doing, but probably not the performance that Leah should be doing. I liked it, though, because I’ve long since tired of Leah leaping strenuously from note to note like Yoshi’s Island.
Scenes from the judging panel : iTunes iTunes iTunes. Tom reminds us that Wyclef Jean is a friend of his. iTunes iTunes iTunes. Danny hopes it came across as well on television as it did in the room. Jessie iTUNES iTUNES iTUNES iTUNES. Also, Jessie thinks Leah should be riskier than that. This from the woman who not half an hour ago wholeheartedly endorsed a performance of ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. William wants to remind us that Leanne Mitchell was a LOL FLOPASAURUS and if this show is to retain its credibility (AHAHAHAHA NO STOP PLEASE MY SIDES) then it’s going to need to produce winners that can actually have hit records, like Leah just had before the show’s even over.
Results : Advanced to the final on public vote. DUH.
Cleo is at least genre-savvy enough not to know that the chances of the British public voting for an opinionated black women were fairly slim, so she was delighted and surprised when she actually got through last week. The show takes this opportunity to point out THE TERRIBLE VERBAL ATTACKS CLEO WAS SUBJECTED TO ONLINE AND IN THE PRESS, presumably in a parallel world where anyone at all writes about this show in the press outside of the TV listings pages. Still, at least William is cool and sensible about it, and points out that the haters will always be loud, but that doesn’t mean they outnumber the supporters. I actually love Cleo’s approach to this week, which basically amounts to “fuck it, even *I* am voting for Leah to win, so I’m just going to go absolutely balls-out on this last performance and make sure that my last night on this show is fun for me.” Good for her. She did a rocked-up, very dramatic version of En Vogue’s ‘Don’t Let Go (Love)’, which was a little rough around the edges, but I enjoyed it because of the spectacle and Cleo’s commitment to it. It’s a shame this show is so humourless, because the better performances seem to come from those who are willing to loosen up a bit and not take themselves entirely seriously.
Scenes from the judging panel : Jessie likes that Cleo refused to give in without a fight. William thinks Cleo just demonstrated like a swordsmith, and also iTUNES. Tom thinks Cleopatra was COMIN ATCHA tonight. (No, honestly, he really did say that.) Danny’s opinion is not sought, which obviously I will always appreciate, but it does seem ridiculous that in a 130-minute show that only technically needs to incorporate eight two-minute performances and a set of results, they somehow still can’t find enough time to speak to all the judges.
Results : Eliminated in the public vote, to the surprise of literally no one.
Tom’s worried that Joseph and Mike are both shy, and this show is nothing if not painfully aware of the problems of having a shy winner, so this week was all about how to GET CONFIDENT, STUPID! Tom’s main technique for eliminating that problem was a surprise visit to The One Show, where they’d learn to be charming, witty, effervescent and telegenic while Alex Jones quizzed them about which Moshi Monster they like best, UGH NOT SCRUMPY, LADY MEOWFORD IS SO MUCH BETTER! The results of this interview seemed to amount to Joseph droning that Tom’s a really nice guy, and Mike droning that he’s a country singer who’s going to stay a country singer, so…well, they’re not shy any more, but they probably need to work a bit harder on not being boring. Speaking of which, Tom eschewed the idea that you need to be modern or edgy on this show and decided they should all sing ‘Games People Play’, a song that I think I’d only ever heard on an advert about 20 years ago. Joseph stumbled over his words, Mike was blandly present, and Tom only seemed to barely notice there were other people on stage with him.
Scenes from the judging panel : Tom says he’s got a soul man and a country boy, “so who knows which way it’s going to go?” Well, soul and country, I’d imagine.
This week Joseph went back to Mid-Kent College (south-east pride!) where his hipster friends on his Music course talked about how proud they are of him. And they actually seemed proud, so they’re probably not THAT hipster. But they’re still young, they’ll grow to be bored of everything, given time. In rehearsals, Joseph got the giggles because he was nervous, and that gave Tom the giggles as well. I bet the hours just flew by. This week, Joseph sang ‘End Of The Road’ by Boyz II Men (foreshadowing!) in a fairly soporific fashion, despite his best attempts to liven it up with a bit of ad libbed scatting. There was also the moment where he went for what was intended to be a really big note, only it came out as a Sarah Harding note. He just didn’t seem to really be on the right level with the melody or the temple, and the whole thing just felt a bit…forced.
Scenes from the judging panel : Apparently singing this song is basically a thing that Filipino people do, at least according to William and the Filipino parties that Apl takes him to. Tom reminds us that there are four of Boyz II Men and only one Joseph, but that was more than enough. I agree, but probably not for the same reasons that Tom does. Jessie and Danny’s opinions are likely to remain a mystery, unless the show releases them as extra DLC.
Results : Eliminated by the public vote. Still, at least he got to meet Chris Evans.
Apparently Mike’s grandma passed away a few weeks back. Surely that sort of life event is bread-and-butter for an aspiring country music star? It’s the music of PAIN, after all. Still, apparently the best cure for grief is being on stage on this show, because Mike reckons it lifted a lot of stress on him. Maybe they can prescribe it on the NHS? This week Mike sang ‘Picking Up The Pieces’, so clearly when this blog campaigned for Paloma Faith to have a greater presence on this show, we should’ve been a bit more specific. Of course, he sang it in a country style, but no attempt whatsoever seems to have been made to adapt the arrangement of the song into that genre, so he just sort of growled his way through it sounding like he was doing drunk Elvis karaoke and not really caring that much which notes he hit. In short, nothing about it worked, no matter how much they got Holly Willoughby to scream ‘YEE-HAH!’ immediately afterwards and remark on how moist Mike’s voice makes her.
Scenes from the judging panel : Jessie is going to watch that back and enjoy it again and again, with a box of tissues close to hand. William is still hung up on the OH MY GOD YOU SOUND COUNTRY AND YOU’RE NOT EVEN AMERICAN side of things. Danny likes how Mike turns “really current songs into country songs”, as though the two are mutually exclusive. Clearly someone hasn’t been watching Nashville. (You should, Danny, you’d like it. Everyone plays the guitar and writes their own songs. And two guys kissed a couple of weeks back.) Tom thinks EVERYONE IN SALFORD IS GOING TO BE SO PROUD OF MIKE. Wow, this show turned into The X Factor so gradually I didn’t even notice. Also, Tom thinks Mike isn’t copying anybody, which is correct: he is in fact copying everybody, on the country music scene at least. He is offering nothing distinctive other than his background.
Results : He’s a handsome young man singing about how he’s going to make you feel better after that other rotter broke your heart. Of course he’s in the final.