Anybody worrying that the chairs no longer spinning would mean the charm of The Voice would wear off can put their fears to rest – this show is a winner, and tonight in the first of the Battles rounds, it hit the ground running. One coach was in tears, and it’s only Week 5.
The Battle rounds meant each coach, having selected their 10 artists each, had to pair them up against each other for a sing-off, in a boxing-ring type arena, and the chance to sing in the live shows.
Five Star alumna Deniece Pearson had a lot to prove, but so did her opponent Ruth Brown, singing for her lost father. Even in rehearsal, her tears got Sir Tom going too, but he told her to channel it for the performance of Alicia Keys' No One.
Ruth ended up throwing poor Deniece on the ropes, vocally speaking, with the former pop star left doing some moves recognisable from her Top of the Pops days. Sir Tom had to reach for the hankies again, saying of Ruth, “every time she sings, she gives me chills.”
As fellow coach Danny summed up, the problem for all the four was, “there’s no one on my team I don’t want.”
Surprise of the night: Hosts Reggie and Holly doing some work
So what are the strategies? A cynic would say that each coach is pitting their strongest artists against their weakest ones, to increase their chances of triumphing in the live shows. Whatever the tactics, it made for some knockout duets, with not a dancing dog in sight…
The Irish minstrel had Paloma Faith to help him in the training sessions, a lady with a pet hate of motionless singers. So his first pair Max and Bill had to remember to swing while they were Beggin’. The charisma, the edgier voice, never mind the hat, carried it for Max, but it was a close thing, and it was an incredibly enjoyable duet. The good news for Bill’s fiancée is she can carry on planning the wedding that had been put on hold.
Vince and Bo were the first male-female sing-off, and Vince was in the self-conscious position of having to restrain his power for their U2 rendition. It was “dope” according to Will, and Sir Tom couldn’t choose between them. Danny had to, and he opted for Bo.
Jessie had Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters on hand to help craft the showmanship of Kirsten and Toni who came on to ‘Think’ like two “ninja assassin singers” according to Will. This was one of the hardest decisions of the night, but Jessie plumped for Toni. More tears, and Toni got the prize for most chuffed winner of the night.
Jessie’s other pair Vince and Jessica had a strange problem – they liked each other too much to do proper battle with We Found Love, and Jessie had similar problems, eventually plumping for Vince.
Fashion statement of the night: Will’s black round glasses
Sir Tom, with the help of Catatonia frontwoman Cerys Matthews, managed to overwhelm his protégé Sam even in the training session – “just to have this time with you, thankyou.” Aundrea and Sam channelled their inner Elvises, but her massive voice couldn’t compete with his quiff and enthusiasm.
And then it was the turn of Deniece and Ruth, singing Alicia Keys’ No One. As seen, it seems no one gets in the way of a young powerhouse, not even a former pop star.
Will’s training partner was Dante Santiago, his Black Eyed Peas mentor, who made Will.i.am - uber-producer and globe-conquering chart-topper look like a little cub standing next to a big lion.
When diva Joelle Moses stood up against blonde barmaid Jenny Jones. Will knew he’d done a good job, as they both belted out Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman. The bar was set incredibly high from the start, but Will eventually opted for the rich timbre of Joelle.
Will didn’t seem to be getting much love from Heshima in the rehearsals – “the most uncomfortable experience I’ve had” as Will reported it – and he fell by the wayside on the night, with Amy Winehouse’s friend Tyler James coming through with his version of Yeah 3X.
Meanwhile, Will’s stunning protégé Jaz was having problems with a chest infection, but Jay was still feeling like the underdog for their Marvin Gaye sing-off. Jay held his own, and it was clear Will knew he’d erred in putting them together – “Jay, I’ve worked with Justin Timberlake, and you’re better.”
But that wasn’t good enough (!) and Jaz was going through. What does it tell you about the talent on display when being better than Justin Timberlake doesn’t get you the gig? Keep it coming.
Here's a reminder of the finalists - who gets your vote to be the winning Voice?
The 17 year old heartthrob works as a part-time lifeguard. Blind Audition: Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
This bare-footed babe auditioned without his shoes on. Blind Audition: King's of Leon - Sex On Fire
Max's mother is the leading lady in a West End production and he once played the lead in Footloose. Audition: Mash up of Eminem - Lose Yourself and The Beatles - Come Together
Ed Sheeran has already shown support for the 24 year old, describing a cover he sang as 'sick'. Blind Audition: Plan B - She Said
His biggest fan is his dear old dad who never misses a gig. Blind Audition: The Script - Man That Can't Be Moved
This 33 year old has already had a taste for fame: his father is a rock star, his brother is in Waterloo Road and his band have supported Bon Jovi. Blind Audition: Eliza Doolittle - Pack Up
This cutie owns a company that organises music events for children. Blind Audition: Corrine Baile
At 47 years old, Murray has been working in the business for 30 years. Well, as the old saying goes - if at first you don't succeed... Blind Audition: James Morrison - You Give Me Something
Hannah was so star struck in her audition that she couldn't remember her mother's name. Blind Audition: Lady Gaga - You and I
This lovely Lady dropped her title in favour of...err...Bo. Blind Audition: Usher/ David Guetta - Without You
With over a million views on YouTube and this bow-tied laddie made all four judges turn their chairs
Wobbly audition or not, Jessie still turned her chair and that's what matters. Blind Audition: Leona Lewis - Run
Despite having a record deal with Sony at just 16 years old, the tragic loss of his brother meant Cassius' dreams never materialised. Now, he's back and ready to start again. Blind Audition: Neyo - Closer
The shy Welsh builder surprised us all with his sassy rendition of a Motown classic. Blind Audition: Stevie Wonder - Superstitious
A backing singer who's sung with the best of them, Kirsten fancies some limelight of her own. Blind Audition: Emile Sande - Heaven
This Guilford twosome do everything together, including sing and wow Jessie J. Blind Audition: P!nk - Perfect
This contestant claims he is constantly judged on his appearance, after such a swagtastic audition we bet his voice will be taking centre stage from now on. Blind Audition: Madonna - Like A Virgin
Team Jessie - Jessica Hammond Boldly singing one of the coaches' own songs clearly paid off for Jessica as she got all four to turn in their chairs
The 17 year old's audition moved Will.I.Am to tears. Blind Audition: John Legend - Ordinary People
After contracting alopecia, Toni's confidence ebbed away together with her dreams of pursuing a career in music. Lucky for us she's got her confidence back. Blind Audition: Will Young - Leave Right Now
This bright haired lady has a fear of auditions but has sung as a backing singer for R. Kelly and P.Diddy. Blind Audition: Gnarles Barkley - Crazy
One word: quiff. Blind Audition: Adele - Set Fire To The Rains
This 47 year old grandma from Falkirk has got a pretty big voice. Blind Audition: Rolling Stones - Wild Horses
This young man started a major name dropping battle between will.i.am and Tom Jones. Blind Audition: Stereophonics - Maybe Tomorrow
A singer at a holiday park, Leanne hopes to bring her talent to a wider audience. Blind Audition: Beyonce - If I Were A Boy
The 31 year old from Manchester finds any opportunity to sing, she has even lent her voice to a drum & bass album in Japan. Blind Audition: Sara Bareilles - Love Song
This couple famously flipped a coin to decide which judge to take. Blind Audition: The Beautiful South - A Little Time
Lindsey's mum egged her on to audition, and oh so very grateful we are. Her distinct country twang made Tom's head (and chair) turn. Blind Audition: Rod Stewart - I Don't Want To Talk About It
This 20 year old has always had music in her life and has even sung for the Prime Minister. Blind Audition: Kelly Rowland - When Love Takes Over
You might recognise this woman from '80s band Five Star. Then again, you might not. Anyway she misses the fame game and wants in again. Blind Audition: Christina Aguilera - Fighter
This singer, dancer, actor sang backing vocals for Amy Winehouse and made all four coaches turn. Blind Audition: Taio Cruz - Dynamite
Like another contestant on Will.I.Am's team, Tyler also has links with Amy Winehouse. Blind Audition: Otis Redding - Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay
Jenny Jones, who we might start calling Jenny J, began singing at church before hitting the pub circuit. Blind Audition: Duffy - Mercy
Joelle has already recorde backing vocals for the likes of Rihanna and Toni Braxton. Blind Audition: Adele - Rolling In The Deep
After singing one of Jessie's own songs, the pink haired singer made all four judges turned their chairs. Blind Audition: Jessie J - Mamma Knows Best
Sophie loves Danny O'Donoghue and has queued for eight hours to see him (twice). Shame he didn't turn around... Blind Audition: Estelle - American Boy
This tender 18 year old boldly sang a Black Eyed Peas' hit to catch the coaches' attention. It worked: Will.I.Am turn his chair. Blind Audition: Black Eyed Peas - Where Is The Love?
Jay landed himself a record deal 3 years ago, but unfortunately things didn't work out. Blind Audition: Aloe Blacc - I Need A Dollar
Everyone remembers this guy's audition, not only was Jaz the only person to sing two songs, but his rendition of Ordinary People made the coaches cry. Blind Audition: Ed Sheeran - A Team
The bespectacled lass' audition song choice was inspired by her mother. Blind Audition: Cyndi Lauper - True Colours