The Voice recap

Hallelujah, I made it ... Karise Eden belts one out.

Hallelujah, I made it ... Karise Eden belts one out. Photo: Nine

You know, I would have enjoyed the Queen's Jubilee Concert last week much more if I could have voted off half the acts before the show began. And even better if the Queen had to gush about those she dismissed in the style of our very own Voice judge Joel Madden.

Our own Queen's Birthday semi-final began with a savage cull that swept four out of 12 acts off the stage before the first commercial break. Goodbye disco-queen Prinnie! See ya sulky choirboy Adam. Blondie Brittany was sent back to church. Joel Madden braved the murderous screams of the nation's teenage girls to dismiss Lakyn Heperi, sending him to the ignominy of a near certain talent contract,  if frowning handsomely can be considered a talent, and Robert Pattinson's career suggests that yes, it certainly can.

Finally, Seal must choose. It's a jungle out there, he warns them - always take insect repellent and maybe a mosquito net.  

The judges responded to the high seriousness of the penultimate sing-off through their costume choices. Keith was sober in more ways than one in a deep blue shirt to set off the depths of his sorrowful gaze; Delta channeled her inner priestess in a vest made of rare fish scales and a necklace made from the mangled remains of an endangered parrot; Joel wore a tasmanian Devil t-shirt to express his love for Ossies and dyed his underbrush to resemble those opal plaques sold in all good souvenir shops. All he was missing was the clip-on koala. But Seal rocked a chainmail turtleneck over tracky daks, like a knight who's only just laid down his helmet and picked up the TV remote. He, like the others, was ready for the tough choices when their remaining team-mates fought it out over the high notes for a slot in next week's grand final.

Knight in shining knitwear ... Seal ponders his decision.

Knight in shining knitwear ... Seal ponders his decision. Photo: Nine

SEAL hears Fatai:

The Voice is strong in this one, but she is young and not in control of her gift. "You ok, baby?" I croon. Fatai must let go of her conscious Voice and sing on instinct, I tell her. It's only when we're not thinking and we're just singing that we control our destiny. She nods nervously.

On stage, Fatai communes with my great personal friend Donna Summer through her wedge of disco hair and her bay pink silk jumpsuit. Even Delta can sense her purpose, gasping that "if you're going to walk to that side of the stage, you just walk to that side of the stage."

I am in awe of her talent for doing what she's bloody well told. if I could bottle it, I would sell it to every parent in Australia.

Taken to the edge, and left there ... Delta has Rachael Leahcar performing on the top of a staircase with no handrail.

Taken to the edge, and left there ... Delta has Rachael Leahcar performing on the top of a staircase with no handrail. Photo: Nine

DELTA hears Glenn:

My bashful backing singer will become a dazzling frontman if I have to drag him to it, demonstrating a few showboating tricks to pull focus from any lyrical meaning. Not that it matters with Bryan Adams' Heaven anyway. This is like a sports game, I insist, you arrive with your coach and your agent and your cheer squad and your physio and you aim to crush the opposition. Maybe not literally, that's not legal on reality TV yet, but you have to kick some wailing big-note goals, OK? Ok? Glenn, why are you wincing like this MOR ballad is in bad taste? Do you want to sing it as if you wished it were all over? You do?

JOEL hears Sarah:

Me and Sarah will be lifelong friends, you know, man, I really believe in her and I totally relate to her experiences. It doesn't matter that she keeps hinting about how awful her life used to be without explaining it, man. She's protecting herself and she's hiding a lot and that's okay, secrets should only be revealed to people you trust, man, like Woman's Day or something. I'm just so buzzed she'll use her pain to belt out Tiffany Taylor's Here's Where I Stand. It's so simple, so beautiful, just Sarah catching the reverb off her tongue piercing, just her and an orchestra and several dozen backup singers rising up behind her. She doesn't need me any more but I know she'll always been in touch.

KEITH hears Diana:

Hey, wow, she's just grown exponentially over the course of this show, y'know? She's still shorter than all the other contestants, but at least she's not performing in a baby's jumpsuit anymore. She's just a pro, a pro pro pro pro, and I mean that with the utmost respect. Unlike certain other judges, I select songs that suit my artists, which is why Diana gets to power through the old blues number Stormy Monday instead of some God awful autotune sample from the hit parade.

Seal is so impressed with her deep-south stylings, I can tell, and Joel says listening to her is like downing a bottle of Jack Daniels, which is probably a compliment. I tell her she's achieved the ultimate revenge on the guy who broke her heart by singing like that and then getting complimented on her singing by me, the sweetest heart throb in the country. I hope I've brought a moment of sickening shame to every man out there who ever dismissed their girlfriend's feelings.

DELTA hears Rachael:

Singing in Italian helps Rachael tap into her emotions and allows me to demonstrate my use of theatrical hand gestures during rehearsals. I've encouraged her to "go full out" with her bilingual version of Nights in White Satin, the sort of song her Nonna used to sing her, which seems weird, but then Rachael may well be young enough to have a Grandmother who might have gone to Woodstock.

She's too reserved, I need to take her to the edge. Why not do it literally by getting her to perform on the top of a staircase with no handrail - nothing like terror when you can't see the void in front of you to add an extra dimension to your high notes.

JOEL hears Ben:

I've got to tell ya, I didnt even like Ben when I somehow chose him, maybe I needed another boy on the team so the wife wouldn't be so mad at me for choosing all the sexpots. 'It's a blind audition, honey', I told her 'I can't see how hawt they all are!'

Anyways, some of the hot girls have disappeared but Ben's been creepin' and creepin' and creepin' through the weeks like a fan ignoring their intervention order, and here he is in the semi-final. I've no idea what the dude is saying most of the time in his Flight of the Conchords accent, but he's made it far beyond anything I would have preferred.... er, imagined. I gave him some Emile Sande power ballad, man, it's a little girly and he's signing it like he's kind of embarrassed about how it sounds on a farm boy.The leather jacket helps a little though. Even Keith is impressed by "the cry in his voice". Cry for help, man.

KEITH hears Darren:

Hey, dude, I've got A Song For You. Great, says Darren, what is it? A Song For You, brother, I tell him, as I clasp his hand in a manly fashion and thump him on the back. Yes, I know, he says as he gazes soulfully over the grand piano, but you have to tell me the title, what is the song for me?

It's a gift, he tells me eventually when he realises it's a chance to outsing a gravelly 1971 original. "I can sing it with all my heart."

We man hug yet again, passing soulful energy though out sensible cotton shirting, and then he sings it into submission even though he's apparently come down with flu. It's man flu so you know it was serious enough to force him to make different artistic choices about the notes to hit, and I so respect him for that.

SEAL hears Karise:

Karise, you must tame the beast. All your performances have been leading to this point, where you must tackle the most covered, most obvious, most abused song in reality television history and make it your own. Your voice is a weapon, my young warrior, capable of making the sound engineer weep for his mother and the bass player repent his alcopop habit.

No stupid backing dancers or massed choirs or purple confetti for you, Karise. You must sing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah with only a guitar to protect you. You must bash the cruel and clever wit from the lyrics to ensure no subtleties survive the onslaught of your mighty lungs. By the time you're finished, Leonard Cohen himself must be weeping for mercy and repeat-dialling the number to vote for you. Is that a tear in my eye? Perhaps. You have beat the audience into awestruck submission and our victory as this nation's vocal overlords is nearly here.

THE CHOICE

For some the choice is too easy. Delta blurts out Rachael's name with unseemly haste, before a quick montage of Glenn's headwear sends him on his way back to backing vocals. Joel spends maybe thirty seconds saying "I love you guys" before he picks Sarah. Byeeee Ben, better luck on The Voice NZ!

Keith has the toughest choice: swinging Diana or soulful Darren.  He wants to thank everyone who voted - individually, by name - before he makes his choice. "It's like Luther Vandross and Etta James, how do you pick? It's impossible."

Apparently Keith picks by throwing his dilemmas in the air and seeing how the stars land - in Hollywood, this may not be as ethereal as it sounds. Diana's grim face is the best clue that she too can read the play. She's out, Mr Percival plays to win.

Finally, Seal must choose. This, he tells his big-throated girls, is the moment he must let one of them go. He's tried to toughen them up, so they don't need him any more. It's a jungle out there, he warns them - always take insect repellent and maybe a mosquito net. He tells them they must trust their instincts always and go with their gut, and this time, he's going with his washboard-flat, chainmail-draped gut: it's...

Well, duh, it's Karise. Fatai has a powerful voice but she's all of 16, and good enough to come back for whatever the next big singing franchise is in a decade's time.

Will they bring back the swivel chair shtick next week? If they really wanted to find the best voice, this would be a radio show rather than TV, but then we would have missed out on Joel's hair, Delta's glasses, Keith's underwear and Seal's nail polish.