The second round of The Voice UK blind auditions reinforced a pattern I’ve noticed: The early singers get picked by the coaches, as do the late singers. Those that audition in the middle of the broadcast, though, don’t feel the love.
Is it because the show’s producers want to start the show with a great performance and end with a bang? Or because the coaches just want to pick everyone at the beginning and then calm down? I report; you decide.
It all started with 16-year-old Kade Smith, who got all four chairs to turn. His cover of Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding wasn’t particularly impressive…and then he started rapping. That got Olly Murs and Jennifer Hudson to turn their chairs. By the end, Tom and Will.i.am had turned, too. Olly told him “You’re a little star.” Kade looks so much like the coach thatOK magazine called him the “Mini-Me” of Olly. But Kade chose Will.i.am as his coach.
Next up was Belle Voci, a duo which I think shouldn’t be allowed to compete (go to The X Factor for that). Still, they have fantastic voices, performing the famous operatic Flower Duet. The coaches seemed impressed but didn’t want to turn, probably figuring a duo singing opera wouldn’t last very long on The Voice. Only Jennifer turned, showing either great optimism or foolishness, or both. Olly gave them a standing ovation — but didn’t turn his chair. If they had sung in the middle of the show, I bet no one would have turned.
Then came Ivy Paige, with the most bizarre performance of the night. A cabaret singer, she covered Why Don’t You Do Right by Peggy Lee in an achingly sexy style. Only Olly turned for her, and she rewarded him by squeezing into his chair and making a few family-friendly innuendos while he complimented her look and voice. “Just gather yourself!” huffed Jennifer after she’d had enough. So good luck to everyone else on Olly’s team who now has to fight for his attention.
Who had to follow that? Jade Williams, who gets extra points from me for performing Secret Smile by Semisonic, a criminally underappreciated turn-of-the-millennium band. Jade’s a former opera singer, but her voice seems like straightforward adult contemporary (she’s 32). Only Tom Jones turned for her, and only at the last moment. She’s just the second person to join his team.
Four singers, four successful auditions. Now we reach the middle of the show, where the performers don’t do so well.
Jacob Simpson, with a deep, hard-rock voice, who once had a band and a record deal? No turns. Benn Helm, a 42-year-old with a perfectly fine voice? Goodbye.
In-between came Jamie Gray. I think he only got attention because he auditioned last year, and everyone likes second-chance stories. Tom and Olly turned their chairs for him. A former contestant himself (on The X Factor UK), Olly told Jamie “I’ve been in your shoes,” and Jamie picked him.
For an interlude, Tom sang A Whole Lotta Shakin’. He’s still got it.
As often happens, the strongest performance of the night came at the end. 20-year-old Lucy Milburn was fantastic. Her cover of Colorblind by Amber Riley was strong and stirring. All four judges turned for her. Jennifer said her voice was “beautiful” and “captivating,” but Tom’s pitch was unbeatable: “If you don’t come with me, I’m leaving right now. You touched me.” Will admitted, “I don’t know how to compete with that.” So Lucy chose Tom.
How many of these singers will advance to the live shows? Stay tuned…