The Voice UK entered the third round of blind auditions, with performers ranging from shy to sassy to showy. Was the eventual champion among them? Let’s take a look.
Unlike The X Factor, The Voice UK doesn’t get many joke contestants. But this episode started with one in the form of Chris James, a sort of weak British version of Jack Black. He’s an audio-book narrator and something of a ham; to prove it, he sang Prince Ali from Aladdin. “Is this real?” Jennifer Hudson asked. To her (and everyone else’s) surprise, Chris actually got a chair to turn — Olly’s.
All the coaches gave him compliments afterwards. Tom wondered what Olly would have Chris do. “Oh, we are gonna go crazy!” I’m sure it will all be such fun until Chris is knocked out during the battle rounds.
Next was 18-year-old Tai, singing Move On Up by Curtis Mayfield. She had a unique look, with a shimmery jacket and enormous glasses. Not the greatest voice, though, and even to my untrained ear I could tell she was off-pitch at times. Will.i.am. and Tom Jones turned, but only at the last moment.
After the performance, Jennifer used the word “sass” twice; but she didn’t turn her chair, so I wonder if that’s a backhanded compliment. Will and Tom both talked about her “attitude.” Tai made the smart choice and goes with Will, who will probably understand her sound and style better than Tom would.
Then came Gemma Kalmakrian, who had a pretty strong voice and a good rendition of Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild — good enough to get one chair to turn, at least. But no one turned.
Next contestant: 18-year-old Ruti Olajugbagbe, singing Budapest by George Ezra and accompanying herself on guitar. She was very nervous at first. Tom called her voice “round” and “full” but wasn’t sure of her gender before turning his chair (the only coach to do so). She may have the voice of a star but she’ll have to work on her confidence.
Interlude: Olly Murs sang Dance With Me, sending the audience into a frenzy.
The next contestant was another duo, and I will say again I think The Voice should be for solo artists only. Anyway, this team, Ant & Ox (ugh) made of two 21-year-old guys, one white and one black. They sang the mellow Sunday Morning by Maroon 5. The guys may be dreamy, but their sound is generic. Still, Tom, Jennifer, and Olly all turned, so we got the first real “battle” of the night. Olly said he had performed in a duo; Tom reminded them his duo came in second last year; Jennifer chimed in that her team actually won that year. Ant & Ox chose Jennifer.
Is it worth taking the time to discuss the next two contestants, Mickey Cohen and Janel Antoneshia, who turned no chairs? No, it’s not.
Then came Mark Asari, singing Craig David’s Walking Away. He sounded professional. Will turned almost immediately. After a big sustained note, Tom turned as well. Only afterwards did Mark’s nervous stammer become apparent. Watching him struggle to speak was almost heartbreaking. He had so many problems that he sang some of his answers, since that uses a different part of the brain. Tom made a strong case but Mark chose Will.
The final contestant was 30-year-old Simon Davies, singing Sign of the Times by Harry Styles. His voice was ethereal with a strong falsetto, like Chris Martin’s. All four chairs turned for him. He sang like a pro but came across as a goof afterwards, an effect made worse by the producers playing the Forrest Gump theme while he spoke (no joke). All four coaches clearly wanted him, but there wasn’t time for the usual bargaining and pleading. Simon chose Tom.
Here are the line-ups after three weeks of auditions:
Ant & Ox