If last week’s episode of The Voice UK was tough, this week’s was positively brutal. Four singers failed to get any coaches to turn; four others got only one coach to turn. With just tonight and next week left in the blind auditions, the coaches aren’t turning unless they really love what they hear.
Let’s start with the bad news. Michael Harrison (Last Request by Paolo Nutini), Keilah Miller (What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes), Jodie Knight (Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls), and Jess Herring (You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman by Carole King) all failed to pique the curiosity of any coach. Now that you know their names, you can forget them, because they won’t be part of the show.
Now for the one-turners:
18-year-old Bailey Nelsen sang There’s Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendes. Not bad, though he was a little pitchy. He seemed bashful and hesitant. No one wanted to turn, but Tom Jones and Jennifer Hudson gave Olly Murs signals to turn his chair. Finally, he did. Olly said he was worried that Bailey sang the song too much like Shawn Mendes, but was confident the kid could be coached.
I was a bigger fan of 36-year-old Wesu Wallace from Barbados. He sang Sam Smith’s I’m Not the Only One with a lovely voice and intriguing falsetto. Still, the coaches were reluctant to turn. At the last moment, Will.i.am. punched his button. Despite that hesitation, he said Wesu was “an awesome singer” and said “I couldn’t not turn for you.” I don’t think Wesu is the kind of performer who wins The Voice, unfortunately, but I’m rooting for him.
Maybe Courtney O’Neil has a better chance. She likes country! She named Voice starmaker Blake Shelton among her favorite artists. To prove it, she sang Keith Whitley’s When You Say Nothing At All. Her voice was sort of cartoonish, in the vein of Gwen Stefani. There were little flaws throughout her performance (Will said as much), but Tom turned his chair. He may be as close to country as any coach gets. A blonde British girl singing country? She could go far on The Voice UK.
Jennifer has been quiet over the past few weeks, but she finally turned for Jilly Riley, 35, who sang All Right Now by Free. Jilly’s a Bohemian type — she performed barefoot and makes her own instruments. I’m surprised only Jennifer turned for her. Her acousti performance showed a unique style along with a polished voice. I’m not surprised that Jilly already sells music and posts videos on her very robust website. Tom said he would have turned if he had had more room on his team. Maybe he can steal Jilly later.
The big winner of the night was 32-year-old Tesni Jones, the only performer to get two coaches to turn for her — Tom and Will. She sang AC/DC’s classic Highway to Hell in the perfect rock growl. She could totally make it through several rounds of this show. Tom argued that they were both Welsh; Jennifer talked about being a working mom like Tesni, who has a 3-year-old son. Tesni chose Jennifer.
With only one more week of blind auditions to go, here are the team counts for the four coaches on The Voice UK:
Team Will.i.am (9 singers, 1 slot left): Donel Mangena, Kade Smith, Tai, Mark Asari, Loaded Sista, Anna Willison Holt, Paige Young, Rihanna Abrey, Wesu Wallace
Team Tom (9 singers, 1 slot left): Chloe Jones, Jade Williams, Lucy Milburn, Ruti Olajugbagbe, Simon Davies, Eliza Gutteridge, Saskia Eng, Wayne Ellington, Courtney O’Neil
Team Olly (9 singers, 1 slot left): Lauren Bannon, RYT, Ivy Paige, Jamie Gray, Chris James, Kirby Frost, Holly Ellison, Shane McCormack, Bailey Nelsen
Team Jennifer (8 singers, 2 slots left): Jake Benson, Jason Nicholson-Porter, Belle Voci, Ant & Ox, Gayatri Nair, Ross Anderson, Jilly Riley, Tesni Jones