Film, Music, News & Commentary

The Voice: who would you turn for?

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Enjoying The Voice yet? The Blind Auditions is always the most interesting segment of the series. Not that the singers become less “authentic” when they get coached, but here they are in their starter state — self-taught, partially realised or fully flowered. Before they are dressed to compress and primped by make-up.

My highlights so far:
Tim McCallum, in the wheelchair. I thought his rendition of Nessun Dorma was okay, fine, but in the context it was astounding — McCallum broke his neck in a swimming accident and lost all control below his chest, including his diaphragm. This is a perfect example of the human interest creating a dramatic focus beyond talent. Paul Potts famously did this in the first season of Britain’s Got Talent, also delivering Nessun Dorma.
Pott’s story is terrible though much less terrible than McCallum’s, but his version of Dorma knocked it out of the park. And the expression on Pott’s face after the last note — world-weary, resigned in his £35 Tesco suit, wrung dry from nerves and giving it his all — is without price. Which is why that youtube is at 137 million hits and counting.
Tim McCallum’s response to three of the four coach-chairs turning was very happy but not utterly surprised, giving a capable narrative of his tragic circumstance.
Jessie J was moved to tears: ‘I’m a bit gutted I didn’t turn around.’ Benji Madden was funniest, in response to Delta‘s name drop of Andrea Bocelli: ‘I’ve never sung with (hesitation) Bo-celli, but I think I ate there once.’ And of course Ricky won Tim over by having performed twice with the great Pavarotti.
Jessie J and Delta, and Blake Galera Holliss, the retro love hippie who sang the Titanic theme, My Heart Will Go On, famously a female ballad. And he sang it flat, too. But it provoked what had been promoted for days as a “catfight” / “smackdown” between Jessie J and Delta.
Mamamia nailed it: ‘I find this whole attempt to set them up against each other way too predictable. Delta Goodrem and Jessie J are not cats. They are women. And they are not fighting like animals. They are having disagreements and differences of opinion just like any other human adults do every day.’
Nathan Hawes and Grace Pitts, (pictured top) good friends and consecutive auditions. At 17 and 18, extraordinary in their physical beauty, they were both performance perfect in their way: richly felt, delicate and not straining for effect. Gorgeous and mesmerising. As Joel Madden remarked: ‘What is it with all these beautiful Australians? We just had a beautiful boy version of you.’

Fem Belling, the 36 year old azz chanteuse who belted out Bye Bye Blackbird. Hers was a knockout, scat-embellished, fully accomplished performance. As she swung — she jumped, she jived —  through her number I wondered, what could any of these coaches offer her? She knows this genre and could sing rings around any of them, and she evidently has no intention of quitting jazz. In the end, and only at the end, all four coach-chairs rotated.
Belling’s face was a cartoon jaw drop: ‘Are you kidding me!? Get out of town!’ It was Jessie J who voiced my passing thought: ‘I love jazz music, and I can mimic jazz singers but you really know how to sing jazz songs.’

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