Who will be The Voice?
Whether these battle rounds ended in the ‘best’ singers going through is a matter of opinion for all those armchair judges who tuned in...
Video may have killed the radio star, but TV is about to make someone famous again, and Paul Bugeja thinks it will be Nine's latest offering The Voice where this will happen.
Australia has a new 'winner' on the TV front in the Nine Network's ratings blockbuster The Voice.
Since this latest installment in the talent-reality format hit the screens less than a month ago, it has taken no prisoners, wiping the other network's offerings with the floor, and then some. Scaling the ratings heights of between 1.5 and up to 3 million per show, happy little Nine execs are no doubt rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of the advertising revenue coming in and the focus that the show is bringing back to the network at a time Seven has been reigning supreme.
For those who haven't seen the show yet, The Voice is unique from other shows of a similar nature in that the initial judging was performed 'blind', with the four celebrity musician judges-Seal, Joel Madden, Keith Urban and Delta Goodrem-sitting with their backs to contestants, only turning to 'choose' them for their team on the simple merits of their voice.
Great concept, especially the moment where the judges were faced with Rachael Leahcar (5.0), and the haunting Piaf-esque tone to her voice...who happened to be, to the surprise of a teary Goodrem, legally blind herself.
The blind auditions provided enough singing fodder to fill each 'team' with 12 contestants, some of whom were already professional singers or from big singing families, such as Mahalia Barnes, daughter of Jimmy, (who, despite a massive voice, didn't make it through) and Chris Sebastian, brother of Guy, (who, it must be said, only just scraped through).
These lucky 48 moved on to 'the battle rounds'.
During these battle rounds, each judge had to whittle their side down to half by matching up six pairs of singers and setting them to battle against one another in front of an audience, with the somewhat unenviable task afterwards of having to choose who to take on into the live part of the competition.
Whether these battle rounds ended in the 'best' singers going through is a matter of opinion for all those armchair judges who tuned in, but there can be no doubt that from the 24 contestants remaining, there is some outstanding talent...and a good chunk of it is only just able to hold a driver's licence!
Take Lakyn Heperi.
The nineteen year-old skater boy from Melbourne seems already a well-deserved favourite (3.0), both for his raw emotionally-laden vocal tones and from the screams he constantly receives from the adoring females in the audience.
Another Melbournite with the voice of an angel is sixteen-year-old Fatai Veamatahau (6.6) , who only narrowly beat another incredibly talented singer in Mitchell Thompson. While Fatai did deserve the win, watch out for Mitch - you will hear this sublime talent again, have little doubt, even if his time with The Voice is over.
Then there's second favourite (3.8) and another teen just shy of twenty, Karise Eden, from the Central Coast of NSW. Coming up against formidable Kiwi performer Paula Parore, Karise, with a voice that somehow channels a combination of Billy Holliday and Anastasia, took the crowd with her rendition of Back to Black.
It's not all about youth, however.
At the 'other end' are a batch of seasoned over-thirties who have done the hard yards and hope the biggest break of all might come in the form of The Voice: Jimmy Cupples (30.0), Matt Hetherington (32.0) and Darren Percival (5.1), all of whom it could be argued beat their rivals in the battle rounds because of the life experience they enriched their performances with - and the passionate desire that burns in each of them after years in the industry to sing their way through their lives.
Buried in amongst them all are my two roughies, both from Sydney: Carmen Smith (10.5), a twenty-eight-year-old with a bouncing halo of bright red curls and big sassy voice, and Danni da Ros (10.5), a year older, who has put aside starting a family in favour of a smoking voice reminiscent of Lulu on steroids.
Given the vote now opens up to the public, who wins each week lays in the hands of the punters...and one can only hope that the show remains true to its title - that the best voice wins, and not simply the most popular.
Tune into The Voice @7.30 Monday nights on the Nine Network.