At a nondescript tram stop in West Melbourne this morning, a motley crew of media types and competition winners waited longer than usual for a tram in the cold.
This was no ordinary tram, mind. For one morning only, The Voice's smooth-talking coach, Seal, had come to Melbourne with his sole remaining charge, Harrison Craig, the 18-year-old Chelsea boy favoured to win the live grand final on Monday night.
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Fishing for answers with Seal
Donna Demaio caught up with The Voice finalist Harrison Craig on a Melbourne tram Friday, but most questions were directed - unsurprisingly - at his coach Seal.
It's been a dramatic week for Seal. His fellow coach and “brother”, Joel Madden, was kicked out of a hotel at Sydney's The Star casino when a small amount of marijuana was allegedly found in his room last Sunday. Seal quickly took to Twitter to lambast the hotel and Australia's “trash media” for their handling of the situation. The tweets were later deleted from his account, and Seal backpedalled. “It's been almost 11 weeks away from my kids and me saying 'I can't wait to go home' was me missing being home with them,” he tweeted.
Today, on the tram, he didn't care to talk about any of that. “I think that this week is about one thing and one thing only - it's about the four finalists that have made their way to this point in the competition,” he said. Coach and artist flashed their pearly whites as they fielded questions about their “journey” and exchanged words of praise for each other.
“I do feel I'm privileged enough to be sitting next to the person who most deserves the title because of what he represents, not just as an artist but as a human being,” said Seal in his usual effusive style, as passengers munched on cupcakes decorated with pictures of Harrison's face.
Craig, who has a speech impediment, is currently occupying the top two spots on the Australian iTunes chart with the songs he performed on last week's show.
It's all going great guns now, but where does he see himself in a year's time? “My aspiration is to be a global recording artist, I'd love to be that, that's my dream,” he says.
History hasn't been kind to past winners of The Voice . Karise Eden, who won last year's debut Australian series coached by Seal, had initial success, followed by a quiet stretch. Her new single is currently sitting at No. 19 on the ARIA charts. The winner of last year's UK series is now singing at birthday parties, her debut album recently flopping, and none of the three US winners to date are known outside their own country.
That's not going to stop Seal campaigning hard for his charge. For all his talk of “being a winner already”, he takes every opportunity to urge the public to vote for Harrison.
At one point the tram stops and coach and artist alight for a photo opportunity with the driver at the top of Bourke Street. Schoolgirls waiting to cross the road call out to Seal, asking for a photo of their own. There's no time, the tram is taking off again, and the girls scream as Seal walks away. He turns around and smiles. “Don't forget to vote!”
Odds on favourite
One online bookmaker has already paid out on Victorian Harrison Craig taking the title. Craig is a red-hot favourite to win the second season of The Voice, which reaches its climax on Monday night.
Craig is up against folk singer Celia Pavey, former tenor Luke Kennedy and singer/songwriter Danny Ross in the grand final. Votes are awarded for iTunes downloads and via SMS.
Sportsbet.com.au spokesman Shaun Anderson said they have held more than $30,000 on The Voice and about half of the money has been wagered on Craig. They paid out the winning bets on Friday and then shortened Craig's odds to $1.03.
''The biggest individual win is $1,500,'' Anderson said. ''It has been more of a case of basically the majority of people betting on him rather than one massive bet going on him."
The bookmaker could still face a sizeable payout if Ross, an 80-1 shot, caused an upset. ''Our worst possible result will be Danny Ross,'' said Anderson. ''One punter put $100 on him at $126 for a win of $12,600.''
The Voice grand final starts at 7.30pm on Monday on the Nine Network.
- with AAP