The Voice Betting: Popularity vs Talent
Joel will, no doubt, find it hard to go beyond Prinnie, a singer he has taken a major shine too...
Going into the second week of the next round of The Voice, Paul Bugeja can't deny he had some trepidations about committing to another episode...
Following last Monday's less-than-riveting show, something really needed to change to get me back on-board with The Voice this week.
It had to lose the heavy sense of singers laboring their way through song choices that denied their voices justice; the broadcast sound quality issues needed to be resolved; and that inane fake-sounding self-aware chatter between the judges in breaks between performers and crosses to "Twitter-Central" with the lady-formerly-known-as-Fuzzy needed to be seriously pared back.
Despite misgivings that the show this week would follow suit, there I sat, texting, tweeting and Facebook chatting as the show opened and the winners from the previous round were announced.
Regardless of whether it was going to be good or bad this week, The Voice had me in its grip once more.
And for a while, it stayed that way.
First up we had the announcement of the previous week's winners. Sanity prevailed, with generally the stronger or most interesting voices going through.
For Team Seal, Karise, although having slipped out a little from her absolute favouritism of last week to share it (@ Betfair odds of 4.50) this week, went through on the public vote (and recorded the greatest number of downloads from I-tunes). Number two in the popular vote was Emma Louise (8.2), leaving Seal to have to make his two choices - no surprises there, with Fatai (18.0) and Chris (65.0) easing on into the next round.
Team Delta saw Russian songstress Viktoria (34.0) and equal-favourite Rachael (4.50) go through, with Delta choosing her one-time back-up singer Glen (100.0) and the lady who continues to be my smokey, Dani (40.0), to go through.
A none-too-happy-looking Matt Hetherington skulked off in the wake of his booting.
The voting end of the night out of the way, it was time for some voices, and the headliner, Darren (8.2), blew everyone away with his warm, emotional rendition of Wherever I lay my hat.
The judges were generally effusive about him and the audience were right behind them.
From there on, it was a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
Prinnie (48.0), while having the look and energy, and being 'in the lane' as the judges put it, just didn't have the quality at the edges of her range to motor all the way home.
Adam (65.0), freed from a poor song choice of the week before, began to show something more as he connected with both the song and audience (another smokey maybe?)
Sarah (11.0) managed her song well but still feels a little underdone up against some other voices.
Jimmy (85.0), our 'daddy-rocker', after a competent if not roof-rocking Sweet Child O'Mine, was chewed out by Seal for not attending a rehearsal the day before due to illness (a comment which, I might add, Seal copped a bit of social-media battering for).
Ben (30.0), who certainly seems to have all the right ingredients of a 'pop star', and who Delta was 'allured' to (Freudian slip maybe?), took on a song (Lego House) that was sadly a pale imitation of the original by Ed Sheehran (compare it to ousted singer Mitchell Thompson's much stronger rendition of Sheehran's The A-team).
Taga Paa (95.0) sounded a little nervous to start with, and, while eventually gaining some firmer footing, maybe should have sung the original song his choice Fight for You was sampled from (the Toto classic Africa), minus the cutesie rappers.
Laura (55.0) had chosen for her a recent popular track in Gotye's Somebody that I used to know and, although Seal and Joel 'believed her', I'm not so sure the audience did...
Then came the surprise knockout of the night: Diana (14.0). Admittedly, I have had my reservations about her up until this point, but a new look and great song choice presented a screaming audience with a confident songstress ready to become 'The Voice'.
The judges agreed unanimously.
Possibly the greatest disappointment for the night came in the shape of Lakyn (7.0)
He may be sitting at second-favourite, no doubt a consequence of the screaming teenage girls who love his look and lackadaisical vocal tone and attitude, but his rendition of Forever Young might be labeled 'Forever Wrong'.
Lakyn clearly lacks confidence and has something of an introverted character, but up there on stage, other performers are shaking off their nerves, something he will have to do if he is to go forward. If he can't, he will become a one-trick pony, relying on his charm to get through, which one hopes won't be enough in a show that prides itself on getting the best voice through.
His performance also brought a little 'team-drama' into the night, with Seal and Joel squaring off over their different perspectives on him - Seal arguing Lakyn needs to connect with the audience and look like he cares about what he is seinging, Joel countering with the 'screaming girl factor' as the reason why Lakyn will continue in the competition (what was that about 'The Voice...' Joel...?)
Following this little bit of drama, Brittany (9.0) wrapped up the night with a sadly none-too memorable version of Different Worlds. She has been strong in previous rounds, but just didn't quite hit it this week.
So, who will go on for Team Keith and Team Joel?
If you believe the punters, it's Lakyn, Darren and Sarah who are through without any problems as all have large chunks of the betting pool laid down on them in the winner market.
And it seems fairly obvious that Lakyn and Sarah will go through on the popular vote, followed closely by Brittany and either Darren or Adam.
When it comes down to the judges choices, musically, for Team Keith Darren and Diana are shoe-ins, with Adam. In fact Keith is shaping up to having the strongest team, despite being at the longest odds (@3.55) in the Winning Judge market.
Joel will, no doubt, find it hard to go beyond Prinnie, a singer he has taken a major shine too (let's not call it a crush...), and depending on who makes it through the popular vote, either Ben or Sarah.
Hang in there, for in a week's time we will have our top-16, and be a step closer to understanding whether the show will live up to its name...or not.