The Voice Betting: Who will be The Voice?
While she is the outsider, isn't Sarah the cool girl that half the females in the audience just want to be?
With the Grand Final of The Voice a week away, we are down to just four voices, all chosen by the judges, and Paul Bugeja wonders if they got it right...
And then there were four.
The realisation that The Voice is almost over caught me by surprise.
Unlike some of the other talent-based reality TV, this format is comparatively sharp and compact, and that aint such a bad thing! But is such a short time long enough to ensure the cream of the crop gets to the Grand Final?
I'm not so sure.
While I liked this particular reality format, with some contestants getting voted through and others being judge-selected, at the final hurdle last night, at least in my humble opinion, two of the judges got it wrong.
Fatei Veamatahau was first up first with Donna Summer's On the Radio, and as usual did a great job - remember this girl is just 17 years old!!
(side note for next series: do we really need 'the V room'? Answer - yes, because Vodafone sponsor the show...no because it's a waste of time and is boring...)
Glen Cunningham followed with a self-accompanied version of Brian Adams' Heaven . It was without a doubt his best performance of the competition, but after the boundlessness of Fatei's voice, the limitations that his coach Delta spoke of before he performed still seemed very much in place.
Sarah De Bono did what she does each time - a kind of poor man's Christina Aguilera - and while she has an interesting look and above-average voice, there has been no real growth in her during the show, something evident in her Here's Where I Stand.
Diana Rouvas did what she does best - performed her guts out. Stormy Monday was sung with a stormy voice and attitude, and she looked the goods to go all the way, especially following the audience and judge's reaction.
Rachael Leahcar performed a bi-lingual version of Knights in White Satin . Looking a little Barbie-doll-esque, with ballerina's flitting around behind her, while it was an emotional performance, Rachael struggled bravely through a cold and just didn't quite hit it.
The first of the two remaining men in the competition, Ben Hazlewood , was introduced in the same manner as he seemed to be every week, with a 'warning' to viewers that this was a very emotional song for him, which was getting a little worn as a crowd warmer for mine. His performance of My Kind of Love was similar to De Bono's - solid but with nothing particularly special about it and at times our of his range, almost to the point of sounding like a shout at the top end.
Number two male semi-finalist Darren Percival came on next with his own version of the Carpenter's Song for You. The guy has the goods and did a great job, but I must admit that when on stage, for all his honesty and talent, the way he performs was beginning to feel just a little self-possessed...
(side note two: Can we get a side-market going for the Voice 2013 as to which coach will be the most sickeningly effusive about a performance: by the end of the night, I was feeling slightly queasy at all the judge-love going on for every contestant.)
Last, but never least, is a 'girl with a guitar' who has captured the hearts and votes of many viewers. And once again, Karise Eden, with an honest, earnest rendition of Hallelujah brought Seal to tears...and, ok, me a little too.
With the performances done and dusted, it was up to the coaches to pick their favourite to go through to the Final...and, what seemed a fairly obvious set of choices, at least to me and the friends I was tweeting and texting with during the show, proved not so easy to obvious...
An upset was in the offing...it didn't come with the announcement from Joel about Sarah...there were a few maybe surprised when Delta didn't choose her ex-backman over Rachael (but, let's be cynical, the 'Rachael' story makes much better television for the show)...and Karise was always a shoe-in
But the way Diana Rouvas shook her head in disbelief as Keith chose Darren over her was no doubt echoed across the country.
Yes, Darren is talented and has a great voice, but Diana has something that transcends this, and would have been a massive smokie to tip Karise out of favouritism.
So, with who is left, who will win?
Karise @ Betfair odds of (2.04) surely will take out the comp. The girl has the voice, the humility and the personality that could see her becoming a huge star.
(side note three: and the 'winning team market reflects this, with Seal @ Betfair odds of (2.02).)
Rachael has had flashes of something other wordly about her voice(5.2), and she would not have gotten this far without talent, but she is dwarfed by Karise, and it's difficult to see her coming close.
Similarly, while I'm over the moon that an older performer in Darren got through to the Final (even if he pipped my favourite Diana!), given the aspirational nature of the show, and the demographic watching it, even though he is second favourite @ Betfair odds of (3.5), if there was a smokie it might be Sarah De Bono.
While she is the outsider @ Betfair odds of (6.0), isn't she the cool girl that half the females in the audience just want to be?
Come next Monday, all will be revealed and Australia will have it's first 'Voice'.
Without a doubt though, whoever takes out the competition, the biggest winner will be the Nine Network. With ratings somewhere in the stratosphere, network executives must be rubbing their hands with glee, already planning the next instalment in 2013.
(tune into The Voice on the Nine Network this Sunday and Monday at 7.30)