With the retirement of Dave Letterman, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson, the entire face of light night TV has changed.
In Australia we now get Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and James Corden nightly. I have given them some time to become accustomed, but I am afraid the updates are completely bug ridden to me.
All of the new guys seem to think that they are actors and song and dance men. I prefer my chat show hosts to be stand up comedians, who would rather leave the acting and singing to the acknowledged professionals.
This week I witnessed two of the un-funniest clips I have ever seen. Jimmy Fallon did a skit with Bryan Cranston where the entire joke was that they were hanging on wires and could not get close to each other. That went on for far too long, indeed the fact that it even started, was far too long.
Stephen Colbert matched that with a skit based on the computer game Candy Crush. Maybe this would have been improved if I had ever played Candy Crush, or ever had any interest in playing the game. Incredibly he persuaded Liam Neeson to play the other lead role in the sketch. Once again, laughs were notably absent, except from those taking part.
Who comes up with these ideas and how many insiders on the shows see them, without realising that they have no entertainment value whatsoever?
The constant references to video games in the Colbert show tend to indicate that I am not in the target market for this programme, but that would also exclude a lot of people who are still up and awake at the allocated time slot.
Letterman could never really be described as a hard hitting, journalistic interviewer, but Colbert‘s interviews are as shallow as they could be, with practically no new or interesting information, beyond whatever book or film the interviewee is there to promote.
With the exception of Craig Ferguson, I really only ever watched these shows for the guests, to see what they had to say when they were not acting or performing. But Colbert gives us none of that, as he tends to talk over them and the interviews are more about him than them.
I have little to say on Fallon, as I have never warmed to him and have probably never sat through an entire show. I do remember one episode where Jennifer Aniston was the guest and he roped her into some unfunny skit, on the Friends set and then rolled out Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow to join in. Jennifer Aniston was rolling her eyes at the pathetic premise and so was I… and no doubt most of the viewing audience.
James Corden was well known to me as a comic actor and writer, before he took over Craig Ferguson‘s Late, Late night spot. I’d also seen him do some very funny skits. The one he did for the UK’s Red Nose Day, as Smithy, from Gavin and Stacey, with the England football team, was hilarious.
But there has always been something about him that has seemed kind of fake to me and this is amplified in his chat show. In what I have seen of this one, Corden replaces Fallon‘s unfunny sketches with unfunny game shows.
All three of the replacement hosts suffer from making their shows far too much about them and their guests are mere pawns in their own self promotion.
The current king of TV chat shows, in my opinion, has been around for quite some time. He does not have the burden of trying to produce 5 shows a week. Instead he makes do with one quality show per week.
He usually has three chat guests and one musical guest each week, who appear on set together and the balance is almost always good.
There are no tiring, unamusing skits, but there is a Big Red Chair, from which members of the audience are tossed, if their stories do not meet muster.
I am, of course, talking about Graham Norton and any one of his shows would beat the entire output of Fallon, Colbert and Corden combined.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon currently airs about three times per day on ABC2
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert usually airs around 11:30 weeknights on Channel 11 and is followed by The Late Late Show with James Corden.
The Graham Norton Show airs on Channel 10 at 8:30 on Fridays with repeats on Channel 11, sometimes twice a week.
If you are more impressed with the current crop of late night men, you can pick up some of their extensive output by clicking the links below.
By Max Power
Tonight the Australian version of The Voice drew to its convoluted conclusion. With no offence intended to any of the finalists, it felt much less conclusive than in previous years. The coaches’ saves and altering of the format, meant that the public had far less of an influence on who made it into the final and resulted in one coach having no finalist.
Interestingly, the coaching team made up of twins, had two finalists. Coincidence, do you think?
As expected, the two hour and twenty minute show featured lots of throwback footage of the finalists’ path to get here. Indeed, the show kicked off with a film clip that was part interview, part performance, by Joe Moore, Liam Maihi, Nathan Hawes and Ellie Drennan, the final four title contenders. This culminated with an onstage performance, where they were backed by a choir of the last 12 competitors to be voted off.
In fact the performers voted off in recent weeks featured heavily all night, usually with Naomi Price grabbing most camera time, appearing front and centre whenever they were cut to and being the most animated.
So, after more clips and much more coaches chat, the four finalists were set to perform. Each of them would sing two songs, one solo and one as a duo, with their own coach.
Liam Maihi was first up and his cancer suffering mother was included in the rehearsal footage. As I have stated before here, I am not a fan of the emotional manipulation that these type of shows indulge in, with stories of sick and deceased relatives to tug on the heart strings. But it would be churlish in the extreme to begrudge Liam’s mum her time in the spotlight, for the support she has no doubt given him in his career so far.
Liam’s song was Fix You by Coldplay. Now to say I am not a fan of Coldplay would be a vast understatement, but this song suited Liam much better than one of my favourites, Never Tear Us Apart, that he performed last week. It was a great demonstration of his skills, connection and tones. I believe that it was one of his best performances on the show.
To mix it up, the first duet was up next. Jessie J and Ellie Drennan gave us Halo from Beyonce. This song has been done a lot on this show, so did we need another one?
My first impression was that there was way too much black eye shadow on Ellie’s face. This is a cute 16 year old, do they really need to make her look like a semi-goth?
The performance of the song was kind of what I expected. Jessie is not known for easing up and standing in anyone else’s shadow. Jessie was her normal impressive self, Ellie got better as the song went on. But I would have preferred a different song.
Nathan Hawes was the next soloist. The theme of the parents showing up in rehearsals was to continue throughout and I was OK with that. After all, this is a family show and when any young person succeeds in any field, be it music, sport or academia, there is most often supportive parents behind them, encouraging them both emotionally and practically.
We found out, from Nathan’s parents, that he first sang to them two years ago. But he was so shy and lacking in confidence, that he did it with his back to them.
Nathan’s solo piece tonight, was Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, from the one and only Bob Dylan. I am aware that my reviews of Nathan’s performances are very samey, but that is because the performances themselves are too. So let’s say, for the last time, that Nathan has very nice tones, plenty of talent and potential, but he needs more variety.
For this particular song, I did not feel that he connected with the lyrics at all. But that was hardly surprising. It was written and released over 30 years before he was born and the peace and love, globally aware, caring nature of the 60’s artists has long since been replaced by the consumerist culture of greed, for most people today.
In Joe Moore’s rehearsal, his parents were introduced only as ‘his family’ and for a while it was not clear exactly what part of his family. They actually looked so young, that I briefly thought that they may have been friends of his.
Joe’s final solo song was Scars from James Bay. I have to compare him to Nathan again, because they are similar. But Joe connects so much more with his cover songs and, although you can hear the echoes of the original artist, you could equally believe that they are his own songs. This was another top performance from my tip to take out the competition.
When he finished, both the Maddens and Delta Goodrem said that he was the most ready for what comes after the show and, for once, this was not just blowing smoke up the artist’s arse.
Liam Maihi and Ricky Martin’s duet was James Arthur’s You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You. Ricky seemed to be not directly on the mic at times, but then, he has always been more show than connection. The song suited Liam more than Ricky, to be fair. Liam looked stiff compared to Ricky, but didn’t sound it. This was his second excellent performance of the night.
Ellie Drennan’s solo song was Nothing Compares To You made famous by Sinead O’Connor, but written by Prince, who of course called it Nothing Compares 2 U. This was a nice version, but Sinead’s tore you apart. The performance ended with fake rain falling in front of Ellie. To truly honour the writer, it should have been Purple Rain.
Afterwards, Ellie admitted that she found it hard to connect with the song. Not surprising really! Some 16 year olds have felt that kind if passion, have you read Romeo and Juliet? But most haven’t.
Jessie J got very tongue tied in her response, but summed up with “the journey is more important than winning”, or words to that effect. .
So we had two more duets to come and they were both from the team that had two coaches. How very convenient!
It was decided that Benji Madden would sing with Nathan Hawes and Joel Madden would sing with Joe Moore.
Nathan and Benji gave us the 90’s classic Wonderwall from Oasis. The song hugely lifted when Benji came in, after the first verse. There was just more oomph in his parts. Nathan seemed to cut out when Benji was doing harmonies. However, it was still good and an enjoyable version.
Not having seen Benji sing with anyone but Joel before, this reminded me a little of my early thoughts about The Beatles. For many years I never knew which of them sang lead on any of their songs. But, in time, I realised that it was because they always sang harmonies and they all sounded quite similar.
A tip for young players, when listening to or watching The Beatles, the one singing lead is the one who wrote it. This was easy when George Harrison sang lead, as he always wrote alone, but all of Lennon and McCartney’s songs were credited to both of them, no matter whether they wrote them together or separately.
Joel and Joe’s duet was Demons by Imagine Dragons. There was a clip of a very casual and low key rehearsal, with a few mistakes. When they appeared on stage, it became apparent that Joe is about a foot taller than Joel. I wasn’t keen on the start of this one, but once again the harmonies took it somewhere else. Joe really led on this and while it was not as good a song as the last, I think I enjoyed it more.
Afterwards, Benji said that Joel’s been doing this for almost 20 years and Joe holds his own, but he actually does a little more than that.
With an hour to go, we had a halfway vote off, whereby two of the competitors would be eliminated.
Ellie was the first through and Liam was the first out. Joe went through next and Nathan had to sit with his coaches and watch clips of his journey on the show.
Joe and Ellie were now to perform original tracks.
Ellie Drennan’s song and first single is called Ghost. It sounded familiar, maybe because formula songwriters were employed to put it together. It repeatedly featured the line “just floating away” and that is what it did for me.
Joe Moore’s song was called Invincible and we were told that he co-wrote it, no doubt with the same writers of Ellie’s song. It also sounded familiar, but seemed to raise the crowd more than Ellie’s original. I liked it, but I thought it was a bit of a television song.
Afterwards the Maddens kept telling Joe that he’s the real deal.
So finally the votes were in and despite my wishes and belief that Joe gave the better performances all throughout the series, they gave it to Ellie. The girl is good, but I think Joe will be more popular, both immediately and in the long term. But we wish the best of luck to all who took part.
There was a promo for auditions for the next series of The Voice, but I have serious reservations about whether it will go ahead. There was so much fake in this series that you could no longer take anything on face value and as the old adage says, “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time“.
The Voice has already moved firmly into the ‘some of the people, some of the time’ category and that may not mean the end, but it certainly means that the fat lady is warming up in the wings.
By Max Power
PS We have added links below to some of the best songs performed tonight on The Voice. Just click on them for more information.
The first business of The Voice Live Show No. 4 was to give us the results of the week’s public voting. But before that, we needed to be told what we had been voting for, as this was never made clear last week, as far as I could see.
It was revealed that two of the four competitors in the vote would go through to the final, against the four saved performers from last week, but only after they had sung again for us.
Do you think that they make this stuff up on the fly?
So first up to sing again was Simi Vuata. But, prior to him getting on stage, there was an embarrassing pre-recorded clip of Simi and Jessie J singing at each other in an empty Allianz stadium.
Simi gave us another old funk classic, I Got You from James Brown. Although Simi does this stuff quite well, I don’t really think that it is his forte. I believe he really shines on the slower more soulful tunes. But the powers that be decided that this was to be his final bid to get into the final and he gave it all that he could. For me it did not have quite enough hard funk.
As the performance ended, Simi was lead away to join the saved performers from last week, who were all seen staring at and fiddling with their mobile phones. Like people need any more encouragement to do that.
The hiring of an empty Allianz stadium midweek must have been expensive, as it looked like we were going to get the same set up for all of the artists, when we saw Ricky Martin giving Naomi Price a pep talk on the ground and watching her previous performance on the big screen.
Naomi’s song was Abba’s The Winner Takes it All. This song is often trundled out for competitions, in the mistaken belief that it is some sort of victory celebration. But if you listen to the lyrics, it is actually about a divorce, where there is no winner and whatever either each party takes away, comes at a huge emotional cost.
You would not have got any of that from Naomi’s performance. She kind of shouted her way through it, in a cold, soulless, type of singing exercise.
But the reactions from Ricky Martin and Delta Goodrem never let on to any of that. They just fawned over the performance with a lot of untruths.
Caleb Jago-Ward was up next up, with Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 hit, Big Love.
They seemed to have stuck a guitar in Caleb’s hands to tone down his performance. It worked and the first part of it was very good, but then he slung the guitar behind his back and went into his big, camp, show time style.
This was a perfect illustration of what Jessie J was saying last week about him being part artist, part performer. Caleb has a lot of talent, but I feel he is more at home being showy, than most successful recording artists.
The last of the finals bidders was Nathan Hawes with Stevie Winwood’s Higher Love, from the same era as Caleb’s tune.
Once again Nathan gave us his nice tones, but I felt he took all of the swing out of the song. There is no doubt that Nathan has talent and appeal, but he has become a bit of a one trick pony on the show and will need to develop more variety in order to sell more than one record.
So the result of the voting was coming, with two to stay and two to go.
Personally I would keep Simi and Caleb, based on those performances.
To fill the counting time, Jessie J performed, with Benji Madden on guitar. Jessie once again illustrated the gap between the already successful and the wannabes. She sang, with her huge full voice, Do It Like It Ain’t Been Done, demonstrating her fantastic range and variety of skills.
After that the votes were in, Nathan Hawes was the first to go through. Simi was the first to go home.
Naomi was voted to stay; sometimes the public couldn’t be more wrong could they?
So, Caleb was the next out. He pulled things back a little tonight and I think he needs to keep going in that direction. He gave a great little speech about Delta.
Now we were going to get six more performances and two singers would be voted off by the end of the show.
Oh no! I’ve just realised, we gotta listen to Naomi again tonight.
Lyndall Wennekes was the first up of the saved artists. She gave us another pop song stripped back to a ballad. This featured more sliding around the notes and lots of sharp singing. It was really horrible. But once again the judge’s reactions tried to kid us that it was some sort of masterpiece.
Nathan Hawes appeared up to his knees in grass, to sing The Fire and Flood. I quite liked the song and instrumentation, but the parts that were not regular Nathan were kind of sharp. Oh I forgot to mention there was a major diversion from regular Nathan this week, he didn’t wear his hat.
Ellie Drennan gave us her arrangement of Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl. Guess what? She slowed it down to a ballad. I wish I’d kept count of how many times they did that this season, but I know how many times it worked. None!
Ellie appeared seated on a stall playing guitar; this proves that she is a real artist. She started out by punching the guitar strings. She gave it everything but the kitchen sink, I didn’t like it much, but it was better than the previous two routines.
Naomi was back with the Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic tune A House is Not a Home. She said it reminded her of her boyfriend, who she misses, even though he is in the audience every week.
This started out OK but soon got brash, abrupt and sharp, with none of the tender feeling it needed. Naomi said that she got so emotional that she cried at every performance. Listen to Luther Vandross‘ seminal recording of this song; that would make anyone cry.
The lady in the audience, heavily featured in this clip, is Dionne Warwick, who I believe originally recorded the song and was, the writers, Burt Bacharach and Hal David‘s favourite singer.
Liam Maihi’s big song had a mystery build up in rehearsals, but we would all know it on the first chords, we were told. Ricky also informed us that many had requested to sing it before, but no one else in the four previous seasons was ready to perform it. So, no pressure then, Liam.
They were right, we did recognise it in the first chords. It was INXS’s Never Tear Us Apart. It is a great song, but I don’t think it was a great performance. It was very good, but not great.
The Maddens informed us that it was sexy time for Joe. They believe that lots of girls will love Joe Moore and this was the song that was going to do it for him. It was Last Request from Paolo Nuitini.
I love Paolo Nuitini and I loved this from the first note. I was smiling wide by the chorus. Joe is so much more animated than Nathan. Once again, the only problem with Joe’s performance was that it felt too short.
Surely there is only going to be one winner. Joe is so far above everyone else.
So, for me, the top three should be Joe, Liam and Ellie
Nathan has talent, but I am afraid I have seen enough of the same thing. He needs to go away and work on more range and diversity, to get in the league of Joe.
I only really enjoyed one performance Lyndall’s. She has ability, but tries too hard and often fails, going sharp and sliding around too much. She’s not Mariah Carey and only someone with that ability should be attempting those things.
Naomi is not my cup of tea at all, but even for what she is, I think she lacks something. She has had impressive performances, but often devoid of subtlety.
Residents of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory were all excluded from selecting the finalists.
Apparently there was an online voting option, but that would have meant blind voting, excluding tonight’s performances, no TV cues and a level of dedication to the show that I would say is rare in the extreme.
Once again, while the tally was counted, we were given another performance by the coaches. This time all four gave us The Beatles classic Let It Be. There was way too much crowd noise, drowning out what was quite a nice version. I particularly liked The Madden Brothers harmonies.
First going through was Ellie Drennan and Joe Moore.
First going home was Naomi Price. In her farewell reel she said she was not sure who she is as a person, this is maybe because she keeps changing her hair colour every week. She had a good long three part speech prepared and would not let the host interrupt her until she had finished.
The third finalist was Nathan Hawes and Liam Maihi picked up the final spot.
Wow they actually got it right! I had no confidence that they would.
Lyndall did not have three part parting speech prepared, but said the same things as Naomi.
So, The Madden Brothers have two performers in the final, Jessie J and Ricky Martin have one each and Delta Goodrem has none. That’ll teach her to keep saving Lyndall won’t it?
Now you get to vote again, based on the same performances.
Make sure you get it right and put Joe first.
By Max Power
We have inlcuded links below to the originals of some of the best songs performed tonight. Just click on them for more information.
I stumbled across a fascinating documentary on Channel Nine last night. Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, broached the question, what happens when obsessive cleaners come up against obsessive hoarders?
A woman in the UK, who herself has a cleaning obsession, decided to recruit others with the same compulsion and see if they could help people with serious cleaning problems.
We met Penny, who was 44 years old, had a family and a full time job, but still managed to fit in 35 hours each week cleaning her house. As if that was not enough, she also set about cleaning her friends houses whenever she visited.
She was introduced to Elaine and Paul. Elaine has Multiple Sclerosis and Paul is a compulsive collector and hoarder of junk.
Every room of their house was full to brimming with, what most us would consider, rubbish. Paul’s favourite thing was shopping at car boot sales and continually adding more to the piles.
Elaine, with her condition, said that all she wanted, was to be able to walk in a straight line from one room to another. But even their kitchen and cooker was covered with Paul’s treasures and she had to prepare meals shuffling between three tiny areas of clear surface space.
Pride of place amongst Paul’s possessions seemed to go to some Homepride Men (plastic models of cartoon characters used in a 1960′s advertising campaign for flour) and an array of Star Wars toys, that had never been out of their boxes.
Paul seemed to believe that he was curating a valuable collection, as an inheritance for his children.
Meanwhile his house was so cluttered that there is no room for his grown up children to stay, when they come to visit and they have to sleep in a motor home out on the driveway.
One of his daughters was interviewed and while she appreciated that her father thought he was doing something for her and her siblings, she hated the prospect of having to clear the house and dispose of his riches, when he finally shuffled off of his mortal coil.
Penny set to work trying to clear and clean Elaine and Paul’s home. She spread three tarpaulins on the lawn and designated them stuff to sell, stuff to throw out and stuff to keep. After some time Paul had managed to dispose of very little. He came across a box of old audio cassettes, that he thought he could part with, but instead of dumping them all on the throw pile, he was compelled to separate the tapes, cases and cardboard inserts for separate recycling bins.
Penny was a on a schedule, no doubt set by the film crew. She had no time for this and was becoming very frustrated. She tried to explain to Paul what he was putting his sick wife through, by dragging his heels. But Paul’s justification was that his wife was one person and he was not prepared to sully the planet for the millions who came after, for her alone.
This highlighted a key difference in the two compulsions. While the hoarders are concerned by wider issues and have little realisation of the problems they are causing for themselves and the people close to them, the obsessive cleaners are causing damage to the environment that they have no concern for, as long as their immediate vicinity is spotless.
The following day, after his little spat with Penny, Paul took to his bed, unable to face the loss of any more of his junk. While he was there, Penny organised a Yard Sale and Elaine and her daughter sold nearly two hundred pounds worth of his treasures. But, although he could not emerge from his bedroom, Paul insisted he was called by phone on the price of every item, even though he was only about five metres away.
With Paul out of the way, Penny did manage to clear some of the house and the final shot we saw of the living room looked infinitely better than before she arrived.
Our second obsessive cleaner was Hayley. She spends up to 19 hours a day cleaning and 4 hours each day putting on make up. Obviously sleep does not loom very large in her life.
Hayley goes through two bottles of bleach each day and cleans in full make up and high heeled, platform shoes.
Her task was to clear the flat of Shereen, who was not in the least compelled to clean like Hayley.
Although Shereen’s flat was cluttered and dirty, this did not appear to be the result of hoarding, but more of a rebellion, after escaping a life that she was very unhappy with.
Shereen had been married to a man who compelled her to clean their home and when she left that marriage, she moved in totally the opposite direction. Space was at a premium in her flat and the floor and every other surface was covered in clothes and other items.
As a devout Muslim woman, the only place Shereen had to pray was a tiny area of cleared carpet, barely big enough for her to bow in, next to her bed.
Hayley was horrified when she saw the place. She doesn’t like flats, as they have no garden and nowhere to let the germs out, as she sees it.
Shereen’s religious views decreed that Hayley could only walk without shoes in the bedroom area, where she prays. Hayley’s germ phobia prevented her from doing this. They came to a compromise. Hayley covered her feet in plastic bags before entering.
Shereen appeared to be less attached to her junk than Paul, so cleaning the place caused less conflict, although she was literally choked by the amount of bleach that Hayley doused around the place. Not only was Hayley unconcerned about the environmental damage of the bleach, she seemed blissfully unaware of the harm that breathing in all of the fumes from those cleaning fluids was doing to her own health.
Shereen asked Hayley if she had any interests outside of her cleaning, as it consumes your life. She appeared not to and the question seemed to bring home some of the effect her compulsion was having on her life.
The end result, again, was a much cleaner, clearer living environment and Shereen’s parents were brought in to inspect. Her mother, who was previously unprepared to visit, was very pleased with the result.
So maybe these two extremes of a similar neurosis can help each other. The untidy got a better living space and the obsessive cleaners achieved some realisation of the toll it was taking on their lives and relationships.
But both really need to achieve some middle ground to find happiness.
There is plenty of help available. A first step may be 7 Tips for Good Mental Health. Which includes some simple guidelines for dealing with stresses, compulsions and phobias, as well as links to more avenues of assistance. If you, or anyone you know, suffers with OCD, hoarding, anxiety, depression or any other mental health issue, click on the link to check it out.
By Max Power
on The Voice?
The Voice Live Show No.3 was set to reveal who had made it through the public vote, but first we were to get performances from all of the surviving contestants, with their coaches. First up, Team Madden.
Team Madden led us off, with one of Good Charlotte’s earliest hits, Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous. This was a lot of fun, despite some timing issues and missed cues. Joel led the singing, while Benji and all three competitors, Joe Moore, Peta Evans-Taylor and Nathan Hawes, all played guitar while singing.
The public votes were in and Peta Evans-Taylor lost out to Joe Moore. There was a lot of thanks, commiserations and a memories reel, before the first competitive performance of the night.
Logically, Nathan Hawes was up first, as he had been back stage, while Joe was going through the voting results rigmarole. Nathan gave us Four Five Seconds, originally by Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney, although Macca never sang in the promotional video clip. There was a very annoying audience clap along, which was way too high in the mix. The performance had some interesting tones, but it was very similar to everything that Nathan has done before on the show.
Nathan has such an innocent looking, baby face, that the first line of “I think I’ve had enough. I might get a little drunk” was really unbelievable. The song was not really exciting and never went anywhere, but we were instantly told that 90% of Australia loved it.
As half the country never saw it live, how do they calculate that, and so quickly?
Joe Moore was given the REM classic, Everybody Hurts. I didn’t like the way it started out, but once it got to the chorus, it was pretty good from then on. Once again there was way too much crowd noise coming through our TVs. There was a dramatic shot of Delta Goodrem holding her chest and shaking her head, in a semi-religious fashion, to tell us how we should be feeling about this performance.
Despite the fact that we are now down to only two artists per team, the coaches still get to save one of them. The remaining competitor is up against those from the other teams in the vote. Although, exactly how many of them make it into the next round was never explained, as far as I recall.
So we did the rounds of coach’s opinions.
Ricky Martin wants to see more of Nathan. Jessie J opted for Joe and Delta gave us one of her long rambles, before also picking Joe.
Joel needs to see if Australia wants to keep Nathan, so saved Joe.
Ricky Martin’s Nobody Wants to be Lonely was his team’s song.
Gail Page‘s voice sounded deep and rich. Naomi Price sounded thin by comparison. In fact, Gail seemed to lead the song even more than Ricky.
Unbelievably, in the public vote, Gail lost out to Naomi. Bad Australia, very, very bad Australia.
So Liam Maihi was the first to perform solo from Team Ricky, with I Got a Love That Keeps Me Waiting. Like Joe Moore’s performance earlier, I really didn’t like the start, but the end was very good, with nice sounds from both Liam’s guitar and voice.
Naomi gave us Marry the Night from Lady Gaga. She was seated at a piano, surrounded by enough candles to burn her at stake, like Joan of Arc.
Naomi wore a dress with a huge collar, which was totally distracting. The song seemed to have very few lyrics, other than the title, which was repeated incessantly. There was a horrible, inappropriate big note. I can’t believe we lost Gail for this.
The judge’s comments turned into quite a heated discussion. Jessie J said how much Naomi had evolved, not as an artist, but as an entertainer, which, once again, was right on the money.
Ricky objected to this, believing that all performers are artists. But Joel Madden backed up Jessie.
Both Jessie J and Delta Goodrem picked Liam to go through. Joel Madden was excited to be there and practically ignored Naomi in his long spiel. He, of course, picked Liam too.
Ricky gave them both a big artist pep talk and also picked Liam.
It was very predictable who would get saved tonight, pretty much whoever didn’t get saved last week.
Last year’s winner, Anja Nissen, was back, to sing her new single Triumph. Once again the performance was practically drowned out by that awful audience clap along.
On first listen, this was a truly awful song.
I could practically hear the music business moguls saying things like “We want a Jessie J type song” and their team of formula songwriters duly obliging, without any feeling or soul.
The juges had a discussion earlier about artistry and this was the best example I could imagine of it being totally missing.
Delta’s song Sitting on Top of the World was her group’s song. Like so many tonight, this started out badly. But Rik-E‘s Ragga livened it up (Rik-E explained to me that what he does is not rapping, it’s Ragga). Delta herself was better after that too; in fact they all were. Lyndall Wennekes hit a very high note.
We were told that Delta’s team had the closest voting, with only 0.1% separating the winner. This was an obvious ploy to bring in more voting dollars.
Caleb Jago-Ward got the nod, so Rik-E-Ragga goes home and he may have shocked a few on the set as, while backing team Delta, he said his favourite performance was from Joe Moore.
Delta broke the night’s mould, by having the voting winner sing first. Caleb gave us The Darkness’ I believe in a Thing Called Love, as a slow ballad. This was apparently Delta Goodrem‘s arrangement that she created for her brother’s wedding. Caleb had some impressive high parts, but the whole thing was a little uneven.
In rehearsals, Delta talked to Lyndall Wennekes about being free on stage, but gave her another poor song. Lyndall sounded strained at times and following her best performance last week, this was one of her worst. All that sliding around the notes is a real turn off for me. There were more tricks than treats and none of them came off.
The Madden Brothers said tonight wasn’t her best performance, but they heart her and made no decision on who should be saved. Ricky picked Caleb, as he opened up. Jessie J said that she would not tell them ‘that was amazing’ and this is what they need. She said there were parts of Caleb that were real and part entertainer, then rattled on without saying much about Lyndall, although she did say people on Twitter and Facebook would be tougher.
On social media, I seem to have made myself unpopular with Lyndall and at least one of her fans. I really wish her nothing but the best.
But like Jessie, I think it is more constructive to be brutally honest, than to keep saying things are great, when they are not. My advice to Lyndall would be to be true to herself and to stick with more material like she performed last week. Rather than dancing around all over the place, trying to be more diverse than she is ready for.
Having said that, I am quite aware that the performers have little say in what songs they get to sing on The Voice, especially the younger ones, who are less confident in sticking up for themselves when confronted by the TV professionals.
Delta once again went against the grain, by giving Lyndall a consecutive save, which was really wrong. Caleb looked quite upset; injustice can do that to you.
Jessie J sang Flashlight with her team and everyone in the audience waved lights or their phones. I think it only worked when Jessie was singing, when the sound was really full. During her team’s parts it sounded thin without her.
Ellie Drennan went through on the public vote, which really disappointed me, as Amber Nichols is one of my favourites.
The man saved last week, Simi Vuata, gave us We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off. Jessie sang instructions at him in rehearsals.
They arranged this, originally up tempo number, as a slow ballad. This rarely works, as we have already seen in this season of The Voice.
As I said when Nathan Hawes slowed down Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, the lyrics come much more into focus in this format and often fail as a result. This song ended with the line “We can drink some Cherry Wine”. Hardly profound is it?
Jessie loved it, but it was apparently her decision and obviously I never saw what she did.
Ellie sang The Mamas and The Papas 60’s hit, California Dreaming. It did not sound good in rehearsal and Jessie didn’t think so either. But we were told it had been reworked numerous times. It was much better live.
Once again the crowd annoyed me, this time with an obvious cued up cheer on a big note. The whole thing was kind of milked and a bit too dramatic and over the top for me. So was Jessie J’s reaction and she thinks Ellie should win. So it was very obvious who she was going to save.
Delta told Ellie that she used the same lick over and over again, but still picked her. The Maddens and Ricky picked her too.
They dragged out the announcement, but of course Jessie saved Ellie, to leave Simi to the public vote, along with Nathan, Naomi and Caleb.
It is not clear to me how many get into the final. Is it just one of those four against the saved singers?
Tonight’s show was very disappointing to me on a number of levels. We lost some of my favourite performers in Gail Page, Rik-E-Ragga and Amber Nichols. While the saving seems to be based upon a certain demographic that the producers are aiming at.
Ellie Drennan and Lyndall Wennekes have been saved numerous times and they very much fit into the mould of last year’s winner, Anja Nissen.
Simi Vuata was one of my favourites from the outset, but I think he has suffered most from poor song selection. So I think I am backing Joe from here in as the most likely and deserved winner.
We learnt tonight that we can not trust the judges or the public to pick the right performers to progress, if indeed the public votes count for anything. We have no way of knowing. But we have come this far, so we may as well see how the final rounds pan out.
However, if many of the public are feeling the way I do, I can not see The Voice coming back for another season.
To compensate for some of the horribly slowed down versions of songs we have heard in this series, I have included links to the more lively originals below. Just click on them for more info.
By Max Power
Second Live Round
Sonia Kruger introduced the second of the The Voice live shows wearing a dress that appeared to be held on with yellow gaffa tape. Very rock and roll, but apart form the yellow strip, it was not a very punk era outfit.
The public got their first opportunity to vote last week and tonight we saw the results.
First of all from Team Jessie
As I expected, Cath Adams did not make the cut. Admittedly, that was what I was hoping for, but it takes nothing away from Cath, that girl can sing.
Simi Vuata was the first up to perform tonight and we saw Jessie J teaching him stage tricks in rehearsal.
In a complete turnaround, from what we have seen from Simi so far, he was given an up tempo, old soul classic, Land of a Thousand Dances.
When he did the slow down audience call, that we had seen him rehearsing, Jessie J got herself involved in the performance.
This song requires a lot of sass and although I thought Simi’s performance was good, I didn’t think it had it until then. So maybe he should have done that earlier.
Amber Nichols sang Sia’s Big Girls Cry. She once again demonstrated her tremendous ability to connect with a song and portray that emotion to the audience. This was probably her best performance since her blind audition. Ricky Martin and the Madden Brothers both said the same.
Ellie Drennan gave us Lean On, a Major Lazer track. Ellie is a very capable and talented singer and I could not fault this performance. But this song did nothing for me. It may appeal to a different audience and demographic. As a result, I don’t know if that will get her through to the next round.
Once again, the coaches get to save one contestant from the public vote and put them straight through to the next round.
Each of the coaches got to have a say before Jessie made her decision.
Delta Goodrem gave a very long appraisal of each of the artists and finally picked Simi to go through.
The Maddens said Elllie was the best and Ricky Martin said Amber felt right.
Jessie chose to save Simi which, once again, pleased me.
Nicholas Duquemin was voted off. He looked like he was going to cry. I thought it was a great pity to see him go, but many people can not seem to accept a man who sings like he does. Narrow minds, I think.
Rik-E-Ragga picked his own song for tonight’s performance, Bob Marley‘s I Shot the Sherrif. He had his own version of the I Threes on backing vocals. I thought this was much better than last week or anything he has done so far on the show. None of his range issues were on display and the rapping was good. It’s amazing what can happen, when an artist picks a song that they know they can give everything.
Caleb Jago-Ward sang Shut Up and Dance. Delta said she put too much pressure on him last week, but still put him on another pedestal this week.
This boy is very good and I think he deserves to go a long way in his field. I enjoyed this performance, but I still find it a bit sanitary for my tastes.
Lyndall Wennekes’ offering was Like I’m Gonna Lose You, from Meghan Trainor. This was, by far, the best performance we have seen from her. It was a nice, medium paced, country ballad. There was very little of the strangled vocals that I dislike from her and some very nice runs. She looked fantastic too.
It will be hard to see the back any of them, based on those performances.
The coaches had their say.
Jessie J, The Maddens and Ricky Martin all picked Lyndall, the onion artist, as she was described (because she has layers). So did Delta Goodrem, which is good, if we can get another performance like that from her.
Scott Newnham came bottom of the voting. Someone, I think it was Delta, let out a big shocked “Wow!”. But I’m afraid he was clearly a long way behind the other performers in his group last week. If Scott puts in the work, he could be up there with them, in time. The crew on the show seemed to be very disappointed to see him leave and genuinely liked him, so you can only wish him good luck.
Before any of Ricky’s team got to perform, we got a guest appearance from Demi Lavato.
She wore very short shorts and fishnets and sang Cool for the Summer, very unseasonal for Australia. She’s an attractive girl, but much more about presentation than content. I had a strong suspicion that the model looking people, we saw on stage, were not actually the ones playing the instruments.
Ricky Martin wanted more than goose bumps from Naomi Price this week. He wanted fire, which often stops you getting goose bumps. He gave her a jazz song and asked her to be hot and sexy.
Although Too Darned Hot has been used in movies and stage shows, I didn’t think Naomi’s musical theatre style captured the jazz at all. Despite all of the praise from the coaches, I thought that this missed the mark by quite some distance.
Naomi had performed on a huge platform, so high, that it took what seemed an age to get her down to do the post match interview. She said she is scared of heights, so props to her for having the nerve to dance in heels up there.
After getting his favourite song from his favourite singer last week, Liam Maihi said he doesn’t like Love Me Again from John Newman, which he was given tonight. So why make him do it?
Liam performed with no guitar for the first time and did really well. I liked the song, even if he didn’t. His dislike didn’t show in his performance. His movement was a bit stiff without the guitar, but everything in the song worked, especially as it got louder and faster.
Gail Page was given a controversial song choice. Strange Fruit is a huge song and quite odd for a white woman to sing, on such a commercial, lightweight programme
But, we found out that Gail has Aboriginal roots. Strange that Ricky hadn’t heard that before he gave her the song, dont you think?
For anyone that doesn’t know, Strange Fruit was first recorded by the great jazz singer, Billie Holiday, back when racial discrimination was at its worst and the Klu Klux Klan was very active. The Strange Fruit, refers to the bodies of the black men who had been lynched and left to hang in the trees.
Gail did a great version that really connected with many people in studio, although it only really captured me at the end. Maybe the intimacy of the performance requires closer proximity than the TV allows.
When it came to the coaches’ comments, there was a lot of rubbish talked about Naomi.
Jessie J showed off, singing happy birthday to Liam Maihi, who turned 24 and picked him, not just because it was his birthday, she said.
Delta gave another long analysis and also picked Liam.
The Maddens picked Gail, Benji wanted more.
Ricky gave Liam the pass, so let’s save Gail and see more of that connection.
The Maddens made it easier for us to tell them apart tonight. Benji wore no hat, for the first time and appears to have a tattooed head.
Tameaka Powell received the lowest public votes, which was only justice really. She has a pleasant voice, but is not great and she does not seem to have the passion that many of the others have.
Nathan Hawes got a song from an artist he likes, Ben Howard’s Only Love. The Maddens described him as ‘The Golden Boy’, wherever he surfs, dolphins appear, apparently.
Last weeks cello was replaced by a second guitarist, in a very similar stage set up. This was a better song than last week, but a very similar arrangement. I feel Nathan needs to do something different. I didn’t really connect with it.
I liked The Maddens comment though, that Nathan is not selling anything and Jessie J talked of his composure and authenticity.
Joe Moore gave us Believe from Mumford and Sons. Although Nathan has something, Joe Moore has more, more variety mostly. The problem with this performance was that it was too short and seemed to be cut off in its prime, just as it was really getting going.
I thought that The Maddens must really hate Peta Evans-Taylor, giving her a Celine Dion song. But it was actually All by Myself, which was written by Eric Carmen and a big hit for him over 20 years before Celine Dion. It has also been covered by Sheryl Crowe, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones, to name a few.
This was a much better performance from Peta than last week. Even though there was no fire, just smoke. I couldn’t fault it, but Jessie J didn’t like the arrangement.
When the coaches had their say about who should stay, Ricky Matin picked Nathan, Jessie J picked Peta, to see more and Delta picked Nathan
The Maddens saved Nathan.
The show closed out with a performance from the Australian judge, Delta Goodrem. So, let’s judge the judge.
There must have been a special on platforms at Bunnings this week, because everybody got one. Delta’s was a huge black one.
But what can you say about Delta?
She’s stunningly beautiful, technically an excellent singer, she writes her own songs, plays the piano and a big drum… apparently, and even though her music is not really my cup of tea, this was a great performance and really put Demi Lavato in the shade.
So who are your choices to go through in the public vote?
I think I will have to go with Amber Nichols over Ellie Drennan, Rik-E-Ragga over Caleb Jago-Ward, Joe Moore over Peta Evans-Taylor and most definitely Gail Page over Naomi Price.
Stay tuned to the The Voice next Sunday, for the third live round and to see who makes the cut.
We have added links below to some of the better songs performed tonight. Just click on them for more information.
By Max Power
It’s been another bad week for veteran British TV celebrities. Earlier in the week we heard that Cilla Black had died of a stroke, at her home in Spain. Cilla was originally a successful 60′s pop singer, but went on to present some of the most popular shows on British television. Recently Sheridan Smith played Cilla in a TV biopic of her early days, which serves as a great tribute to her. You can check it out by clicking here. RIP Cilla.
Now, we have heard of the passing of the great George Cole, another Great British institution.
George has over 125 film and television acting credits to his name, dating back to the early 1940′s, but he will always be remembered for his most popular role, as the very dodgy Arthur Daley in Minder.
Minder ran for 15 years on British TV and Arthur had two minders. Dennis Waterman helped George launch the series, in the title role, whose actual name was Terry McCann.
When Terry had finally had enough of Arthur getting him into scrapes and emigrated to Australia, Arthur discovered that his nephew Ray, played by Gary Webster, was pretty handy too and he became his new minder.
In recent years George took on fewer and fewer roles, but did meet up with his old sparring partner, in Dennis Waterman‘s series New Tricks. In that part he was a much more sinister sort of villain and had a much posher accent.
Arthur Daley was very much the ageing version of another legendary character that George Cole made his own, earlier in his career. ‘Flash’ Harry Cuthbert Edwards was the spiv who organised everything for the girls of St Trinians, in a series of hilarious films in the 1950′s and 60′s. Flash Harry would have been very pleased to have grown into the cigar smoking, vodka and tonic drinking, Jaguar driver, that was Arthur Daley.
The BBC writes the best eulogies, so here is a snippet of what they had to say about the great man.
Actor George Cole, best known for playing Arthur Daley in TV’s Minder, has died aged 90.
Cole played the Cockney wheeler dealer Daley for 16 years, between 1979 and 1994.
He also starred in a number of St Trinian’s films as shady businessman Flash Harry.
Agent Derek Webster said Cole had died at the Royal Berkshire hospital following a short illness, surrounded by his family.
Cole played opposite Dennis Waterman’s Terry McCann, an affable bodyguard, in ITV’s Minder for more than a decade.
Waterman said he had “the privilege of spending Tuesday afternoon with him and Penny and, although very frail, his wit was as evident as ever”.
“I am so sad to hear of George’s death. His family must be devastated, and I am absolutely certain that anybody who ever knew him, will feel the same.
“I’m so grateful to have been a friend of this wonderful man. We worked together for many years and my boast is that we laughed all day every day.
“He was an amazing man, a wonderful actor and besotted with his family. Farewell old friend.”
Arthur Daley became a TV legend as a small-time crook who was always dreaming of bigger things, with the series regularly drawing in audiences of 17 million.
Cole also played Flash Harry, a remarkably similar character, in four St Trinian’s films between 1954-66, starring alongside the likes of Terry Thomas, Joyce Grenfell and Sid James in the boarding school comedies.
It also allowed him to work with Alistair Sim, who had become his mentor after taking him into his home at the age of 15 alongside his adoptive mother.
They had such a close relationship that eventually Cole opted to build and live in a house next door to Sim and his wife, continuing to appear in a number of films together.
Cole began acting in the early 1940s, appearing with Lawrence Olivier in The Demi-Paradise, and taking a small role in Olivier’s star-studded Henry V.
He joined the war effort in 1944, joining the Royal Air Force, before resuming his acting career when the conflict ended.
He found himself consistently in work, on stage, television film and radio.
As well as the St Trinian’s films, he also starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra, and gothic horror The Vampire Lovers.
Cole was 70 when Minder finished but he still worked regularly, with guest roles in the likes of Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat and New Tricks, which also starred Waterman.
Tributes have rolled in from numerous actors that worked with George Cole, but one that springs to mind is from a popular single that charted during the hay days of Minder, “Arthur Daley, a little dodgy maybe, but underneath, he’s alright”. At least some of that is true of George.
RIP George Cole, you earned it.
By Max Power
No Gimmicks for the First Voice Live Show.
Two surprises kicked off the first Voice live show of this season. First of all there was no song from the coaches to launch the round, but we were told Delta Goodrem will be performing next time out. Tonight we had to suffer Adam Lambert.
The second surprise was Jessie J’s nose ring. I think I’ve seen her with it in pictures before, but it was still a bit of a shock, each time she appeared on screen. How can anyone believe that emulating a prize bull makes them look more attractive?
Anyhow, on with the show, which Team Jessie kicked off.
Ellie Drennan was first out of the blocks. Jessie J was seen going a little nuts in the recorded coaching clip. Ellie’s ‘live’ version of Lorde’s Team started with Ellie’s floating head, in a sort of middle eastern headdress, singing, what sounded like, the beginning of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. At the same time, she was standing still, hunched over the microphone, centre stage. It’s amazing what they can do live these days. Ellie demonstrated a lot of control and was good technically. I was not mad on the scream bit though and it was a bit of a dull song.
Cath Adams was given Aretha Franklin’s Think. We were told that it was rearranged in rehearsal and maybe that was a bad idea, because the slow talking intro didn’t suit her. I’m afraid Cath is far too white for that song and it was not in the least believable, even compared to Aretha’s famous version from the Blues Brothers movie and that was pretty stiff. Vocally Cath was good and showed a lot of range, but it was not a good song for her.
Simi Vuata was urged by Jessie to get angry in rehearsals. He gave us This Woman’s Work, a 1988 single from Kate Bush, that was featured in the film She’s Having a Baby. This was a pretty awesome performance. It was very high, very soulful and just incredible. I don’t think I have seen anything like it on The Voice before. But apparently the coaches were underwhelmed.
Jessie J said he can sing it better, Delta said she would save Simi, but also criticised his performance. But I thought it was just breath-taking and no criticism was justified, it should have just been appreciated.
Before the next song, Cath and Ellie were briefly interviewed by Sonia Kruger, but they had little to say and were not the least bit enthusiastic. They need a lot more grooming, to be ready for prime time.
In the lead up to her performance, Amber Nichols complained that her baby was crushing her diaphragm. On stage she appeared with blue hair and used an ultrasound image of her unborn child as a back drop. I thought that this sounded like a horrible, exploitive idea when Sonia Kruger announced that it was going to happen. But actually it was pretty good and worked well atmospherically. There were some very nice moments in Amber’s performance of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, but I felt it needed more oomph at the beginning. It finished bigger, but I expected a little more from Amber.
Jessie J said that she loves her tone and so do I. So if anyone is to go through it should be Simi and Amber.
The judges get to save one contestant in this round, before it goes to the public vote. So we did the rounds of the coaches before Jessie made her decision.
The Maddens did a little routine, alternating between Amber and Ellie. Delta chose Simi, and Ricky Martin also said Simi and was the only one who gave him the praise that he deserved.
Jessie picked Ellie to go straight through, which I was not happy about, because I don’t trust the public to pick Simi. Only one of them will leave though, so he has 66% chance of progressing.
Rik-E-Ragga was first up for Delta’s team. There was a lot of emphasis on his one genre speciality, which is interesting, because you rarely hear them say this about the opera singers. But then again, they always push them into singing musical theatre tunes. He was given Maroon 5’s One More Night, which is a very white, pop, reggae tune. Rik-E gave it a little more Jamaica and a little more street. It was very good and I enjoyed it, but I feel his vocal range frequently falls short of where it needs to go.
There was plenty of talk pre performance about Nicholas Duquemin’s unique voice. I hate to be a grammar Nazi, but I really wish people would stop misusing the word unique, in the media… and everywhere else. I think this was probably Nicholas’s best performance on the show. He needs to stay around.
Nicholas is very much portrayed as lacking confidence and everyone likes to give him a boost and I do too. He could do with a better song next time out. Even though this was better than a lot of the songs we’ve seen over the last few weeks, it was still a bit by the numbers formula.
Caleb Jago-Ward was told in rehearsals that he needed to be more vulnerable and that Delta wanted to see his softer side. But they presented him very theatrically, standing alone, in the spot light, in a white suit. In fact, it really couldn’t have been more theatrical, with choir fading in behind him. Caleb sang very well and a lot of people will like that, but it’s still a bit much for me. He faked a tear at the end, to show his softer side. He is a real actor, without a doubt.
We were then presented with an embarrassing array of tweets about the show, which are apparently going out while the show is on air. I have a strong suspicion that they are all made up by the Channel 9 publicity department. If not, the senders really need to get a life.
Lyndall Wennekes gave us Candy Man from Christina Aguilera, who Darren McMullen told us was one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. Really Darren? Really? It was a good confident performance from Lyndall… with tap dancing. But she has a sort of strangled quality about her voice that really doesn’t appeal to me.
So who to save? It has to be Nicholas, without a doubt.
As they all lined up on stage, waiting for the judge’s verdict, it became apparent that they were very much in costume.
The Maddens picked Rick-E-Ragga, Ricky Martin predictably picked Caleb. Jessie could not make her mind up and Delta saved Caleb. But he didn’t need it, as I think he will be very popular.
Adam Lambert was seen chatting to the contestants. It is rare to see a man who has had that much eyebrow work done, outside of a drag show.
When he appeared on stage to sing his new single, Ghost Town; my instant reaction was that it’s hard to make a connection with a man wearing so much hair and make up. The synthesiser sections of his song didn’t help. Adam spent his whole performance pulling shapes. He takes camp and theatrical to the extreme and makes Caleb look like a bricklayer by comparison.
Joe Moore’s intro featured a lot of fake concerns from The Maddens about his busking. Joe has always been one of the most connected performers of this year’s crop. He was once again tonight. The vocals are technically good and impressive, but it’s his tone and connection that puts him head and shoulders above everyone but Simi.
Joe was widely acknowledged by the judges as the best of the night.
Like Nicholas Duquemin, Tameaka Powell is painted as lacking in confidence. Joel keeps telling us how he likes country music and this was very, very country; with banjos, fiddles and cacti. Like Lyndall Wennekes, Tameaka has a somewhat strangled sound and is very restrained. This song needed all out rockin’ and she didn’t do that. The judges really hyped up their reactions, way beyond what the performance was.
I smell an agenda here. Country music is very popular in Australia and Tameaka is its only representative on The Voice this year, so they are going to keep her as long as possible, no matter what.
In Peta Evans-Taylor’s rehearsal footage, we found out that she was going to sing Melissa Ethridge’s Bring Me Some Water, which she already sings in her pub shows. She was warned that it could be boring. But why would a pub performance be boring? You still have to entertain the people who are there, or you don’t get asked back. That said, it was a much more restrained performance than it should have been. Once again, I thought the judge’s response was out of proportion to the act.
The Maddens stirred things up again with their song choice for Nathan Hawes. They gave him Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. A very strange choice. The song was completely rearranged into a slow ballad format. There really needs to be a more meaningful lyric in a song of that tempo and this just did not have it. It now became obvious that there had been a direction for everyone to overreact for this set of performances, especially when you compare it to the lack of reaction to Simi Vuata at the beginning of the show.
The Maddens saved Joe and it was well deserved. But I am concerned that Nathan could suffer from that very poor song choice.
Scott Newnham was first up for Team Ricky, with Cry Me a River, from Justin Timberlake. Ricky mentioned Scott’s lack of connection and he was very right about that. He tends to sing with a blank face and it did not improve in this performance. His dancing was a pretty stiff too. Afterwards Ricky said that he did it all right on stage, but he really didn’t.
Liam Maihi was very pleased with his allocated song; Let it Go by James Bay. He said it was his favourite song, from his favourite artist. This had all the connection that Scott lacked and a very nice tone. It was an excellent performance, right up there in the top three for the night.
Ricky Martin has appeared in Evita on Broadway. Not a huge stretch, to play a singing man with an Hispanic accent, I would think. So he asked Naomi Price to sing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. She was technically very good, but I felt the quiet parts lacked connection and the loud parts were a bit too aggressive. Once again, the coaches and crowd reaction seemed way too much to me.
I found it interesting that Gail Page was to close the show, as they usually save the best for last and I feel her abilities have often been played down before now. Gail shed a few tears in rehearsals. She sang You Don’t Own Me. I thought it was a poor song choice for her and typically theatrical for Ricky Martin. Gail gave it soul, but I’d like to see her do a song of her own choosing.
When the judges were asked who should be saved, Jessie J rattled on again, but could not make a decision. Delta picked Naomi, The Maddens chose Gail and Ricky picked Naomi.
If there’s any justice, Liam and Gail will get through on the public vote.
So who were your favourites tonight? For me it was Simi Vuata, Joe Moore and Liam Maihi. But there were a lot of good performances. It’s amazing what you can do with a song in two minutes that you can’t do in one.
A straight performance round with no gimmicks was refreshing, but I am certain that there will be a twist in the next round. So stay tuned and see what wacky idea they come up with next.
We have added links below to some of the most popular songs of The Voice Live Show No.1. Just click on them for further information.
By Max Power
The Voice surprised its regular viewers with another desperate format change this week. These changes do nothing to refresh the format. I am sure that, all but the most gullible, viewers can see that they are just ploys to court more controversy, create headlines and hopefully increase viewers.
The truth is, unless you have some quality entertainment on the show, anyone that tunes in because of the controversy, will soon tune out again and not come back.
The new round has been labelled Super Battles. Two contestants from each team were given a free pass, or a bye, for this round, by their coaches. The logic and reasons behind the passes was either nonsensical or astounding in most cases.
The battle format involved three contestants from each team pitching against one another, by performing very short snippets of songs; I believe they only had a minute each. Then that song would segue into the next contestant’s.
The Maddens were first up and gave their free passes to Tameaka Powell and Nathan Hawes, which totally belied Joel’s comment that neither Tameaka nor Mikhail Laxton deserved to go further, after their battle round.
So Peta Evans-Taylor, Nina Baumer and Jake Howden were matched in the first battle. Rehearsal footage showed a lot of Joel Madden talking, but no singing.
Nina Baumer sang She Wolf. This 17 year old looked even older and more mature than she had in previous rounds. The song was very low in her range, but she executed good control. This morphed into Take Me Home from Peta Evans-Taylor. It was hard to tell that the song had changed, but Peta did demonstrate more range than Nina.
Jake Howden sang Home. It had feeling, but nothing dynamic vocally.
I felt that all of the performances were really too short for anyone to judge. Jessie J said that they all had rough moments, but I never saw them. Jake was offered a consolation recording opportunity with the Maddens, so he was out. Joel told Nina that Benji had said she hadn’t nailed a performance yet. That simply wasn’t true. She did very well in her last two, despite some very ordinary songs.
The Maddens chose Peta to go through and I guess on those brief performances you would have had to. But I was astounded that they let a girl with Nina’s stage presence go so early. I really thought that Nina was a favourite to win this year.
Jessie J gave her free passes to Simi Vuata and Ellie Drennan. So Cath Adams, Jason Howell and Chris Hoskin, who had copped a lot of criticism in the regular battle round, lined up for Jessie’s first super battle.
Jason Howell sang Bitter Sweet Symphony. He started singing backstage, very well, but as he moved towards and onto the stage, I felt he lost it and it was quite shaky. I don’t think that this was a good song choice for him.
Across the Universe is a great song, but I was not mad on Chris Hoskin‘s version. It seemed kind of rushed, but then I guess it would be, if you only have a minute to sing it in.
Cath Adams closed out this battle with a horrible song, but undoubtedly the best performance.
The coaches all had a say in who they thought should go through. Delta Goodrem and the Maddens picked Jason. Ricky Martin picked Cath. Jessie J’s comments were pretty much the opposite of what I thought. She said it wasn’t Cath‘s best performance, but picked her anyway.
Delta Goodrem handed free passes to Lyndall Wennekes and Nicholas Duquemin, because they are the youngest. So that’s how it works, is it?
Incidentally, if these two are going to go anywhere in the business, I can see a surname change for both of them.
The first battle line up for Delta was Fem Belling, Stephen McCulloch and Caleb Jago-Ward.
Fem sang a very lively version of the jazz standard Stormy Monday, while playing a violin. Her outfit was far more glamorous than anything we had seen her in before and I liked everything about what she did. It was jazzy, gospelly (I think I just invented that word) and ballsy. This was head and shoulders above anything we had heard so far.
I also really liked Stephen McCulloch‘s version of Fire and Rain. He really connected with it.
Caleb sang We Are Young, with great enthusiasm. He’s very good at what he does, but it’s just not my thing.
None of them deserved to go home after those performances! They all made the most of their minute in the spotlight. Delta chose Caleb to go through and I was very disappointed to see the others go.
In the lead up to the ad break, we got a promotion for The Voice online video clips, including ‘The argument that stopped the nation’. This was the minor spat when Delta had a hissy fit and walked off the set and we had seen all of it in that promotion
Ricky Martin saved Liam Maihi and Gail Page from taking part in the Super Battles.
His first grouping was Aviida, Scott Newnham and Stewart Winchester. Apparently the battles had a theme, this one was jealousy.
Aviida definitely sounded best in the rehearsal footage that we saw. For Ricky, we found out, it is all about the goose bumps.
Paula Parore had her hair down and like Fem Belling before her, looked more glamorous than we had seen her before. Aviida sang Jealous Guy and I liked their version. Once again the harmonies were great. I would really like to see a whole set of these guys.
Scott sang Jealous. He had a much more modern look and musical style. It was pretty good, but not really polished.
Stewart Winchester sang a different song, but also called Jealous. He was a bit trembly and his performance was interrupted by the sound of the judges commenting. Although there were parts I liked, it was my least favourite of the three performances.
Ricky said Aviida were holding back and the same for Scott. So jealousy was not the only theme of this battle. Ricky picked Scott to go through and once again I was very disappointed to see Aviida go.
The Maddens second battle was Joe Moore, Renee Pounsett and Sarah Valentine
Joel sorted Joe out in rehearsals for closing his eyes while singing. Joel seems to regularly get on a theme and stick with it, despite little evidence to back it up.
Sarah Valentine looked good and had a lot of confidence. But the song and performance, to quote the cooking show that Channel Nine incessantly promotes during The Voice, were not to my palate
I am a big fan of Joe Moore. I like his tone. Once again he gave it everything in this performance.
I wasn’t keen on the start of Renee’s song, but the high parts and country feel were nice.
For me it was Joe and then daylight. Ricky and Jessie also opted for Joe, but Delta picked Sarah. Thankfully the Maddens had the important decision and also picked Joe.
Jessie J’s second run out featured Mahalate Teshome, Ethan Conway and Amber Nichols.
Mahalate is so good for someone with so little experience. Her performance started off very good, but I felt she lost it on many levels.
Ethan was given another so, so song and I wasn’t impressed with the performance, until the high parts. But it did not end well either.
Amber is another favourite of mine, but this was not her best performance in the show. However it would be a crime if she wasn’t the one Jessie picked. Joel agreed, saying she was the most ready and that the other two were flat, which they were. Jessie got on stage and got right in their faces to deliver her verdicts and decision, which was the right one.
Delta 2 battle was Grace Pitts, Mikhail Laxton and Rik-E Ragga. This one had a theme about love. Where do they come up with them?
Rik-E Ragga gave us Could You be Loved. It was a long way short of Bob Marley. He was much better on the rapping than the singing parts.
Grace Pitts looked great again, but I was not impressed with the song, or the audience clap along, which was just irritating. I warmed to it a little as it went on, but it was not her best performance.
Mikhail also seemed a bit flat and lacking connection and highlights. None of them really did anything for me, but I would pick Grace, as I think she has the potential to do much better. Unfortunately, for me, Delta picked Rick-E Ragga to progress.
Or should we say Team Opera?
The last battle was the most hyped and it pitted two opera singers against a musical theatre wallah. Tim Mccallum, Dione Baker and Naomi Price.
Tim sang You Raise Me Up. It is amazing how he manages to sing so much better than so many of the others, despite the restrictions.
Dione sang Climb Every Mountain. This was not Dione‘s best performance. I didn’t like the song sung so high and she missed the timing on a line.
Naomi‘s performance was faultless, but I didn’t like the song. So the winner was undoubtedly Tim for me. But Ricky chose Naomi. She looked genuinely shocked and burst into tears. So the opera team coach has now rejected all of his opera singers
Tim spoke very well about his experience on the show. Despite what we read about dubious contracts for the competitors and the undoubted manipulation of the show, all of the participants seem to really enjoy their experience.
So there is no more Voice this week and it goes live next Sunday. So far there has been no announcement about Jessie J, so hopefully that means she is fit to come back for the live rounds. Tune in next Sunday and you may even get a chance to vote, if you believe that influences the outcome.
As John Lennon featured heavily tonight, we have listed links below to both of his included songs, just click on them for more details.
By Max Power
Round three of The Voice Battle Rounds began with probably the best opening battle of the week. Nina Baumer and Nicholas Duquemin sang Empire. Nicholas has a rare and distinctive voice. The term unique was bandied about a great deal, but it is not unique. Guys with similar voices, it’s called contralto or countertenor, were very popular in the late 50′s and early 60′s. Check out Jimmy Smith(aka Little Jimmy Smith) and a Welshman, called Greg Pritchard, stunned the judges on Britain’s Got Talent a few years ago, with an even higher voice than Nicholas‘.
But Nina Baumer has looks, presentation and confidence well beyond her years. She sang so much better than her blind audition too. I think she could be a big chance to win the competition this year. Delta Goodrem picked Nicholas to stay on her team, but I was sure that this meant there was a steal coming… and there was, Joel Madden gave us the last minute steal.
Jessie J asked Laz Chester and Ethan Conway to sing Bloodstream and told them that Ed Sheeran was an old friend of hers. Lo and behold Ed turned up, to give them some tips and tell them that he had a major crush on Delta Goodrem when he was 13.
Both boys did well.The opening songs tonight were better than almost everything last night. I felt that Ethan‘s high end stuff stole it. Jessie struggled with a decision, but eventually picked Ethan.
Naomi Price and Lize Heerman are two very accomplished singers with huge stage presence, who gave us a very professional presentation of Break Free. There was not much between them, but I would have picked Naomi and so did Ricky Martin.
In the rehearsal footage for Mikhail Laxton and Tameaka Powell, we saw Joel Madden doing the tough love thing, that Jessie J has made herself famous for in this series. He came down a little hard on Tameaka when she said that she couldn’t do a harmony. They sang Hold Back the River. I thought it would be hard to find a song that suited both of these two, but they seemed to manage it.
There were some iffy patches, but mostly it was pretty good. I favoured Mikhail, his voice reminds me a little of Amos Leeand that’s a good thing. Tameaka is very similar to Stevie Nicks, but falls just short of her. Joel maintained his tough love stance, saying the performance didn’t warrant taking either of them through, which was not really justified and looked to me to be part of a theme for this segment. But he took Tameaka, as he wanted a country singer. Fortunately Delta stepped in and took Mikhail.
The Voice producers made the Chris Hoskin and Ollie Kirk preamble all about their dead friends and relatives. As I’ve said before, I don’t want to belittle anyone’s loss, but I hate it when these shows use that loss to define the artists. It is blatant emotional manipualtion of the audience.
They sang A Sky Full of Stars. It was kind of melancholy, but both boys sang well and it would be hard to pick between them. Delta, Ricky and Joel said that they believed Chris begrudged singing it. I did not see that in his performance. Then Jessie J apologised for giving them that song, which was justified, I wouldn’t give my worst enemy a Coldplay song.
There was a lot of discussion, with both singers chiming in that it was not a song or style that suited them. Jessie said that Ollie won the battle, but she decided to take Chris through, which wasn’t exactly what we were led to believe in all the promos. There were no Steals left, otherwise I am sure someone would have picked up Ollie.
Chantelle Morell and Renee Pounsett, took us further into mediocre song territory, Waiting All Night by Rudimentary, apparently. This battle was very busy and there was far too much going on. Both Ricky and the Maddens commented on this. They chose to take Renee through.
James Sieff got to sing another Randy Newman song, as he had done in his blind audition, in his battle with Stephen McCulloch. Feels Like Home was very nice and I thought both did well. I much preferred Stephen‘s performance though, but I suspected James would get the nod on the age bias, he’s 18 years younger than Stephen. But Delta surprised me and picked the old guy, well he hasn’t hit the big four oh yet.
The final battle, between wheelchair bound Tim McCallum and comeback kid Mark Steffanof, who actually came back from Broadway, had been plugged incessantly, with lots of previews. Ricky gave them The Impossible Dream, from the 1965 Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. It is an epic song, that has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra, through Elvis, to Luther Vandross. It was an excellent duet really. Tim is inspiring, what he achieves, despite his setbacks, is amazing, but on this performance I believe that Mark won. Ricky picked Tim to go through and I understand why and no one could blame him.
At the end of the show another change in format was announced for next week. We now have three cornered super battles. These battles have already been pre-recorded, so I guess we are going to have to wait, at least another week, before the public gets to have their say in things.
To celebrate the improvement in song quality in this battle round, we have links below to some of the best we heard. Just click on them for more info.
By Max Power