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The Voice: Battles 1 – 8

Having missed all the excitement in the team-building, chair-turning rounds, I am tuning in expecting to – at the very least – be seduced by Keith Urban, amused by a Madden (or two), captivated by Seal and… well… bored by Delta. I know there has been speculation as to how engaging the show will be now the auditions are over, but it’s got to be rolled-gold compared to the fool’s gold challenge I caught due to The Block running overtime. Eeek.

So it seems we have battle rounds – where teams will be cut from 12 members to 6 by their coaches – but first! The Voice’s own version of Il Divo, with the coaches showing off their pipes in a cover of Mary J Blige’s version of U2’s “One”. Darren McMullen tells us this is aimed at inspiring their charges. I give this round to Keith.

Seal gives his crew the “who wants it more?” speech, then pairs Paula and Karise to sing “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse. Seal asks Karise to tame that thing that scares the crap out of him and he wants to hear Paula’s pain. (She explains that it’s taken her years to let go of the pain, so… yeah.) Ricky-Lee as mentor doesn’t get a lot of screen time. The song was well-chosen for these two voices. In their just-for-the-hell-of-it, non-binding assessments, Joel, Delta and Keith give the song to Karise, but it’s all up to coach Seal.  He decides to keep Karise on the team. (Props to Paula who was a very gracious – and in my opinion, unlucky – loser in that match up.)

Because it’s all about THE VOICE, Joel makes sure we know he has a very good looking team. He matches Ben to Chris and wants them singing “The Only Exception” by Paramore. Benji advises Chris to give the song a chance, which is necessary as he is really bludgeoning it in rehearsal. Ben is struggling to deal with memories of his brother, which are being brought up by the song, but he decides to channel that in his performance. Delta and Keith both call it for Ben by a whisker, and Seal gives it to Chris. Joel keeps Ben on his team. Hopefully he and Benji can work on Ben’s boy-band-hands.

Delta pairs her former backing-singer Glenn with Matty and they are going to be doing Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”. Darren Hayes gives Matty some advice to help him through one of the “difficult runs” and Matty cops it like a true fan. Both guys bring it on the stage and I join the judges in seat-bouncing. Keith finds it hard to pick a winner, but gives it to Glenn, as does Seal, who sensed a lack of confidence in Matty. Joel leans towards Matty and Delta takes a time-out to check with Darren. She handballs the decision to Darren and he chooses Glenn.  Is she being indecisive, or did she feel her connection with Glenn compromised her objectivity?

Over in team Keith, Jaz will battle Diana with “Mr Know It All” (the Kelly Clarkson one, not the Stevie Wonder song). They both have “sassy out the wazoo”, according to Keith. Heh. Megan Washington is worried that Jaz is belting the whole thing, which could work in Diana’s favour if she doesn’t dial it back. Just as I remark “it’s a bit lacking in energy”, Diana lifts it in the second verse, and Jaz seems to rise to that challenge. Seal gives Diana the “accessibility” vote, but Delta likes the power in Jaz’s voice. Joel worries about Jaz’s theatrical instincts overwhelming a more natural performance, so sides with Seal. Diana joins team Keith.

Seal’s second battle is Mitchell versus Fatai, singing Eminem’s (and Rihanna’s) “Love the Way You Lie”. Fatai is unnerved by how much Mitchell improves through rehearsal. (And I have just realised where I have seen Seal’s edge-of-sanity intensity before: Marco Pierre White.) Joel goes with Fatai, Delta with Mitchell. Keith felt Fatai dominated with emotion but Mitchell was the star. Seal seeks Ricki-Lee’s advice and Fatai is the keeper.

Delta pairs Rachael and Adam for the Eva Cassidy version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I’m wondering why she specifies the version (and I have to admit to being totally clueless as to what this particular version entails. Now, if it were David Cassidy…). Adam sounds awful in the initial rehearsal and Rachael admits to a strategic “holding back” so as not to show her hand. Delta and Darren fall for it. Okay, now maybe it’s the Eva Cassidy version rather than the performances, but I found it a complete snorefest. Delta’s interjection of “beautiful” during one of Adam’s parts made me question her judgement. I am clearly an outlier here, because Keith found it beautiful and ethereal and celestial and angelic… and goes with Rachael. Seal is usually annoyed when people mess around with perfectly fine songs, but he doesn’t mind Adam doing it. Joel finds another heavenly metaphor – a shooting star – and gives it to Rachael. Delta keeps Rachael’s hopes alive for another week or so and I wonder whether her deliberate lowering of expectations at rehearsal worked in her favour.

Adam is going up against Abbie and Keith has chosen a Fray song, “Heartbeat”, for them.  Poor guys.  I mean, the Fray? “Don’t pass out” is excellent advice from Megan, as she notes that Abbie isn’t taking a breath in her first bit. I’m surprised at how under-confident Adam seems about this song, as the Fray seems much closer to his comfort zone than to Abbie’s. Seal didn’t feel any connection from either performer, which I get, but in my opinion the song was the true liability. Still, he gives it to Abbie on how he judges who “wanted” it more. Joel can’t pick between the two, and Delta goes with Adam, but the judges energy matches the performers across the board. The A that stays is Adam.

The final battle pits Mahalia against Prinnie. Joel wants to see what they will do with Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”, which is definitely an eccentric choice for those voices. I like Prinnie’s attack during rehearsal. It was a good decision to show more of the one-on-one performance notes from Benji and Joel to the singers for this match-up. I’m sure it’s happened for all pairings, but it worked particularly well for this battle, given that they have a friendship outside the competition. Prinnie really Lady Marmalade-s it up on stage. Delta goes with Mahalia on vocals but gives it to Prinnie on overall performance. Keith thinks Mahalia took it, and Seal thinks Prinnie’s ego gets her the win. After a time out, and and ad break, and some more agonising (hell, we’re only 20 minutes over time on a 2 hour show), Joel says goodbye to Mahalia.

This is a tough competition. I think it’s amazing how well the “battlers” worked together in their songs. I enjoyed (most of) the performances as duets, which is a tough tightrope to walk – trying to shine as an individual but make it work as a song. Despite the fact that it is only the coach whose opinion counts, I didn’t mind hearing what the others thought of each match-up and I like the fact that we get snippets of the judges’ group reactions to the decisions, too, as it gives more insight into what it is they are looking for.

42 comments

1 Joanne { 04.30.12 at 10:25 pm }

Seal = Marco Pierre White? GOLD

2 Injera { 05.01.12 at 8:41 am }

Joanna – he doesn’t have quite the menace, though (yet! Here’s hoping!).

3 Creaser { 04.30.12 at 10:42 pm }

Well, well, well… Im hook line and sintered on this show!! My friend is fast forwarding the coaching and watching the contestants whilst I am fast forwarding the contestants (well some of them) and watching the coaching. WOW!! Who would have thought that Madden guy was so authentic, genuine and has the best morals. He gets my vote! What a sensational and interested coach and role model (apart from the foul mouth and piercings maybe…) He should write a book – his narrative comments in the show are so insightful, honest and ‘ford focus’. Love that pun!! The Madden boys are on my list of people Id love to have for dinner!! xx

4 Injera { 05.01.12 at 8:43 am }

Creaser, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, too. Strong performances and constructive comments from coach/judges and mentors. I was hoping that Randy Jackson would somehow make an appearance to tell Chris that he was “pitchy, dawg!”.

5 Arr { 04.30.12 at 10:49 pm }

I thought their rendition of Tainted Love was awful– easily the worst of the night for me. It seemed like Mahalia was just screaming at the end. I thought Mitchell should have gone through as well.

6 Injera { 05.01.12 at 8:45 am }

Arr, it must be the old Chisels fan within me, but I really loved that performance!

7 Ruby { 04.30.12 at 11:07 pm }

Joel was blinded by the hotpants.

8 Injera { 05.01.12 at 8:46 am }

Ruby, he was spruiking the good looks of his team, after all! 😉

9 Georgie { 04.30.12 at 11:35 pm }

And it’s no longer ‘all about the voice’.

10 Alana { 05.01.12 at 12:15 am }

Am I the only one who thought that Rachel shouldn’t have been picked? She is a very average singer when it all comes down to it, and I do think she is getting the sympathy vote.

11 Injera { 05.01.12 at 8:40 am }

Alana, I’m one of the probably three Australians who hadn’t seen her sing before, but I’d heard about the audition hype. To be honest, I wasn’t blown away by either of the two singing in that match-up, but I thought the arrangement of the song was a total hindrance.

12 Chunks { 05.01.12 at 12:23 am }

lol @ boyband hands. Totally. He sang beautifully though.

I think this is a great show so far. Can’t believe how many excellent voices there are and really hope that some of the losers tonight go on to have careers in music. Didn’t much enjoy Tainted Love. Too much screeching and wailing. It reminded me of Fast Forward or Full Frontal one of those shows doing a comedy send up of Tina Turner and Barnesy singing Simply the Best.

Don’t know if you’re doing a recap of The Block RR but seriously, how painful it was tonight, a total waste of time promoting some stupid tourist village AND having to endure more of that awkward bimbo from Funniest Home Videos. Just cringe-worthy and only relieved by Dan’s sponsorship deal with King-Gee shorts.

13 Injera { 05.01.12 at 8:39 am }

True, Chunks, he sang beautifully. I couldn’t help but remember one of the Noel Gallagher interviews from “Live Forever”, though, which prompted the boy-band hands thing. Link here (NSFW or kids – language warning!)

14 Kaz { 05.01.12 at 6:59 am }

I love Rachael’s voice, I brought her audition song from itunes – wish I could sing like that. I couldn’t see what was so wonderful about Adam, I don’t even understand how he got through. Is the song on Itunes with only Rachael singing or with them both?

I wasn’t picking the first couple of rounds, as much as I admire Karise on how she has picked her self up from a horrible childhood I don’t like her singing to raspy for my liking. And I enjoyed Matty over Glenn too but thought Delta went for him because of there history.

Loved Mitchell and Fatai wish they both could have stayed. Was surprised that Mahalia didn’t get picked, only because of who her dad is, but then I agree with the choice.

It did go on for way to long? How many episodes are there in the Battle rounds?

15 Injera { 05.01.12 at 8:44 am }

Waaaaaaaay too long, I agree Kaz! I’m guessing four eps in the Battle rounds as we had 8 go through last night and apparently only four matchups tonight, so that’s 12 out of the 24 in this week’s batches. I would have liked Mitchell to stay, too.

16 Amy { 05.01.12 at 8:52 am }

Ughhhh this show is wayyyy too long. I do not have the attention span (or the time!) for a 2+ hour show! They should have cut it in half. By the end I didn’t give a shit who won each round and wasn’t really paying attention.

17 Joseph Skyrim { 05.01.12 at 9:00 am }

Still interesting but too much talking and coaching for me. Basically when they practice I was zoning out until they started the actual “battle”. I don’t need to hear the rehearsal, or their back story – all I want to see is their talent. Too much to ask?

Good to see some gamesmanship from the blind girl which reinforces my belief that she is actually manipulative and evil like her coach Delta who basically threw Adam to the dogs there. It didn’t matter how well he performed, he was always gone. Even sub-coach Darren Hayes was like “she has some competition now, I didn’t expect that! I thought for sure he was gonna suck!” Ok they cut out that last part and for the record he messed with the melody too much for my liking anyway.

As always there were people that went through that made me go “huh, but … but … the other person was better!”. Apparently the judges like boys that sing softly to themselves looking at their feet while having seizures on stage. That’s the only reason I can see they kept him as opposed to the Kate Perry wannabe.

Mahalia and Hot Pants sang equally for me, so like Joel – if your voices are even I would definitely go with the “hotter” one, as they are more “sellable”. Joel’s a pimp like that. 😛

Speaking of hot, damn Ricki Lee is looking fine. Last I saw her she looked more like a balloon and now she actually looks better than Delta (for me at least). Megan Washington is also incredibly cute when she wants to be (like, when she’s not wearing boys clothes).

18 Daze { 05.01.12 at 9:01 am }

Amy – don’t know why you are bothering then, to write on here? So negative and you weren’t paying attention but yet you post?

19 Picnic { 05.01.12 at 10:09 am }

I think Rikki Lee looked liked a chipmunk or that weird alien face! I hope they dont call her Seal’s mentor, she really hasnt done much – I could not stand her last song, way too much wailing

20 Me Here { 05.01.12 at 10:16 am }

Can the guy with the spoilers please come back? I would love to hear some behind the scenes goss.

21 Ruby { 05.01.12 at 10:34 am }

Injera – love your American Idol reference. Is anyone out there obsessed with the show this year. I am (kinda). I always swear before each season that I won’t be, & there I am stuck infront of the TV when it’s on & getting edgy, trying to find out on blogs who gets kicked off before the show airs here.

22 Ruby { 05.01.12 at 10:42 am }

Goes to show that Mahalia should not have been ‘loyal’ & should have gone with Keith. Joel pleaded with her, begged her to pick him, claiming friendship & being ‘almost family’. He didn’t even listen to his own twin bro’s recommendation. As soon as he saw Beyonce Mark 2 & those thighs, he threw Mahalia & her kaftan under the bus. And as for the song he chose for them to sing – please ! That performance must have made Mark Almond bleed eye liner. Mahalia should be wailing ‘I cannot stand the way you tease’ to good friend Joel. I can still hear him saying to her ‘We can win this’. With friends like him who needs enemies !!!!!

23 Injera { 05.01.12 at 10:45 am }

Joseph, I agree that it is a bit lengthy, so was surprised to see that tonight’s is also two hours, as I thought they said it was only four match-ups not eight. Aaargh!

Ruby, I always get sucked into Idol and this year is no exception (and, like you, I try to get the skinny on who’s rejected before the interminable results show airs here). Might pop a post up after this week’s performances, time permitting.

24 Ruby { 05.01.12 at 10:51 am }

Matty’s ears were mesmerising. BDD was right – ‘Prince Charles’. Love the Rikki Lee comments from Picnic. I am not really liking the battle rounds. One song might suit another better or the artificial scenario might be overly intimidating. Not a true indication of their talent. Shame to see some who are good having to leave like this.

25 Ruby { 05.01.12 at 10:56 am }

Who are you going for on Idol, Injera? The performances have been of quite a high standard. I like the Top 5, but am bored with Jessica.

26 Joseph Skyrim { 05.01.12 at 12:22 pm }

@Injera- Another 2 hours tonight!? They’d better put 8 matches up there and not just 4 with a ton of recaps and backstory. Hmm, I wonder if they are trying to speed it up to the public vote stage before MC starts?

Also, lol @ Picnic. I guess I find alien chipmunks attractive. Yeah I’m wierd. 😛

Will be interesting to see who joins last night’s “winners”: troubled chick, boy band boy, hat man, georgie parker, church girl, blind girl, seziure boy and hot pants.

If blind girl makes it to public voting stage BDD (i think it was him) is probably right in that she’s gonna win.

27 Chunks { 05.01.12 at 12:29 pm }

Is Idol on?

28 Injera { 05.01.12 at 12:30 pm }

Ruby, I missed the audition eps so didn’t know Mahalia had been encouraged so heavily to go with Joel. Hmmmm. As for Idol, agree that the performances have been pretty good this year, but really none of the remaining contestants are my cup of tea. Still enjoying it, though!

Joseph, I’m judging from the EPG, which says tonight goes from 8pm until 10pm. And, of course, I’ve added a +20 because it WILL go overtime, right? 😉

29 Injera { 05.01.12 at 12:31 pm }

Chunks – American Idol is down to the final weeks. On Fox8 on Thursdays (performances) and Fridays (results).

30 Alana { 05.01.12 at 12:33 pm }

I definitely think the song was picked to give Racheal the advantage. Slow songs that aim to pull on the heartstrings seem to be her forte, which Delta obviously knew. I can’t imagine how much backlash she would have had if she had chosen to eliminate her, so letting the Australian public decide her fate in the live rounds was probably strategic.

31 Chunks { 05.01.12 at 1:15 pm }

I agree with Alana. They are milking this for all it’s worth. She won’t win. Still blown away by how many great voices there are out there.

32 Picnic { 05.01.12 at 1:18 pm }

Hey Joseph, I love the Georgie Parker reference! Great summation of who is who, I will remember those references better than their names

33 brain dead dave { 05.01.12 at 1:19 pm }

Spot on to point out the mindless gold challenge on The Block, Injera. Off to bad start with ch 9 last night.

I thought Mahowlia Barnes’ name and Ch 9 connections might get through but good on Joel for giving her the flick, I thought Prinnie was better.

Rachael’s battle went the way I expected. Ch 9 if they could have ,would have matched her with a tone deaf stool pigeon to keep her in.
Yes ,Joseph I tipped her to “win” from day one but like Lemmy from Motorhead says”gamblin’ is for fools”.

Injera, that Eva Cassidy version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. may be to differentiate the arrangement from Billy Thorpe , Judy Garland or whoever.

The other battles were a bit of a yawn.It gets bad when there are two duds in the ring ie. the delusional Prince Charles and Glenn( Moves Like Jagger?) and Abbie and Keith(Fray cover).

The judges should have the power to fire two turds with one stone in battles with duds.

34 kess { 05.01.12 at 1:23 pm }

Loved the battles, very entertaining. And loved all the choices bar 2, the guy with jug ears I liked better thanthe bland session guy; and I can’t stand Karise and that shrieking/swallowing something sound she makes – I hate Janis Joplin too.
Negative point – had to endure some Block crap waiting for this. OMG that show is hideous, these people seem like rejects from community theatre.

35 brain dead dave { 05.01.12 at 1:37 pm }

I’m told that the legendary judges bungled lyrics during their ham fisted butchering of “One’, as well. Delta was a standout here.

36 Injera { 05.01.12 at 1:56 pm }

BDD, gotta love a Lemmy reference in a comment on The Voice! I missed the bungled lyrics in “One”. I wonder if there will be another inspirational performance for tonights battles… I like the “two turds with one stone” idea – although that might backfire on contestants who’ve been given stinker songs to deliver *cough*TheFray*cough*

Kess – I would rather watch community theatre!

37 Me Here { 05.01.12 at 3:03 pm }

If only they could have eliminated Keith’s yawn fest dual (can’t remember their names) and bring back Mahalia and Mitchell.

38 littlepetal { 05.01.12 at 3:33 pm }

Maybe Channel Nine has changed their airing schedules. Initially they may have 8 rounds each night and battle rounds will finish on Mon. Because of the Voice, Channel 10 has rescheduled the airing of TBL finale from Mon to Tue, so not to clash with The Voice.

Now Channel Nine may have rescheduled again to have only 4 rounds to make this last as long as possible. LOL as Channel Ten rescheduled didn’t work.

39 brain dead dave { 05.01.12 at 3:45 pm }

Watch Fatai or Fatties? What a choice.

40 jord { 05.01.12 at 8:03 pm }

I am loving this show but was totally underwhelmed by that battle round, I’m hoping tonight’s will be much better.

41 Injera { 05.01.12 at 8:10 pm }

When it eventually starts, Jord… grrr…! Hate over-running shows!

42 jord { 05.01.12 at 10:56 pm }

I was a lot more impressed with that round. My money is on Lakyn for the win but for some reason I am totally charmed by Chris Sebastian, he is not the best looking nor does he have the best voice but I really, really like him :)