The Voice 2014 finalists (from left): ZK (Kristal West and Zaachariahs Fielding), Johnny Rollins, Jackson Thomas, Anja Nissen and Frank Lakoudis. Photo: Channel Nine
Fans of reality TV contest The Voice have questioned whether the viewer vote is biased against women after only one female soloist made it through to the grand final.
All three male soloists progressed, while R&B singer Kristal West advanced with Zaachariaha Fielding as the duo ZK (mentored by will.i.am). All four female soloists were left to fight for a single reprieve.
Agonising wait: Sabrina Batshon, Holly Tapp, Kat Jade and Anja Nissen ahead of the result of the live viewer vote. Photo: Channel Nine
Channel Nine defended the final five, saying they reflected the tastes of a more fickle than usual voting audience.
Heavy metal singer Frank Lakoudis (mentored by Joel Madden), R&B artist Johnny Rollins (Kylie Minogue) and the classically trained Jackson Thomas (Ricky Martin) knocked out female singers to progress to the grand final.
If not for a fifth grand final spot, introduced this season, the competition would have been left without a female soloist.
In the evening's final vote, Anja Nissen, an 18-year-old balladeer, clung on against Kat Jade, Sabrina Batshon and Holly Tapp with her rendition of Whitney Houston's I Have Nothing.
Many on Twitter complained about having to choose only one of the women.
And lo, the 'voting' once again hands the short end of the stick to female artists. Sad deja vu! #TheVoiceAu— Virat Nehru (@6thrat) July 14, 2014
Sigh, can't believe we now have to choose between the female artists whilst all the guys got in #TheVoiceAU— Liam Payne (@BerryPayneful) July 14, 2014
Many saw a skew towards male singers coming from a largely young and female voting audience.
"I thought the girls this year were much better singers and yet none of them got through except Anja ... it makes me think that most of the voting is done by young girls for all the wrong reasons," Tricia Besgrove posted on Facebook.
Mark S. suggested a weighted poll would correct bias.
Female singers should get 1.5 votes per text to counteract all the young girls running up their parents phone bills #TheVoiceAu— Mark S. (@mr_marky_mark) July 14, 2014
So sad to see all the quality female artists voted out, as usual #TheVoiceAu— Mark S. (@mr_marky_mark) July 14, 2014
Nine executive producer Adrian Swift said the show did not gather demographic information on voters but that teenage girls were not a core part of the audience.
"We certainly don't have a rusted-on audience of young girls," he said.
Mr Swift said while a more even gender split would have been preferable from a television perspective, the show respected the choices of voters.
"Unlike earlier years where some people just had a rock solid vote... this year people have moved around a lot," he said.
The result of the head-to-head contests on Monday night had already been determined by voting throughout the week.
But the final 60-second vote that saved Nissen was live and decided by users of the show's HomeCoach app.