Panel beaters ... from left, The Voice's Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem, Joel Madden and Seal.
“Welcome home, welcome home,” say a string of really, really, good looking people haloed by bright lights in hazy focus. They need no introduction. They are Seal, Delta, Joel and a bloke with pretty hair called Keef, and they are famous. They are also judges of The Voice, a show that is just about singing and not about anything else, not even looks. We know this because these beautiful people tell us so.
We know this because a guy who looks like, but isn’t, some guy from that Irish nineties pop band tells us so. We know this because we’re watching a segment of the show called ‘Blind Auditions’, and We know this because, dammit, Seal, Delta, Keef and Joel just wouldn’t be anywhere right now if it weren’t for their looks raw vocal talent. A recap of last night’s show episode shows Delta crying a river for a pair of sweaty armpits called Ben Bennett, and we know this is going to be good.
Which is why it’s so surprising that the first contestant in tonight’s sightless singing contest is nowhere near as really, really, ridiculously good looking as the girlfriend and the guy friend he’s bought along for moral support. Oh wait. Actually, he is. He is Sam Ludeman from Shepparton, and he is also dyslexic. Sam tells us dyslexia has almost been as hard to bear as his handsomeness, which is always getting in the way of things he wants. Like the respect of his mates who are tradies and don’t understand why he studied ‘Musical Theatre’ at uni. They probably wouldn’t understand why Seal is wearing neon-yellow nail polish either. But they’re not here tonight, oh no! Tonight is about Voices and Song and Expressing yourself!
So Sam from Shepparton sings Not Over You and truly-ruly means it. At least he thinks he does until the moment when Seal slams the manicured hand attached to a muscled forearm down on the big, red button before him, spins around, stands up, and stars thrusting his pelvis at all of Sam’s handsomness. Meanwhile Joel is confused about whether Sam is a guy or a girl, Keef is singing words happily to himself that clearly not the song’s lyrics, and Delta decides she’d like to dip her own manicured finger into Sam’s well baked Sheppardy-pie.
As Sam finishes and all the judges turn around and Joel asks his name and puzzles further about whether he meant 'Sam' in the girly sense, Delta tries to knock down Seal’s bid for mentorship using his past 'bad mistakes' by referencing her hot girlfriends. Shockingly, her siren call falls on deaf rocks, and Sam chooses Seal, and so chooses Life. Seal bursts forth from his chair, pelvis thrusting, and they hug and thrust, and make champion stance together before Sam is ushered into the winner's circle and Seal proffers his bum to Delta for a good ol’ spanking. Somewhere offstage, the progeny of a Russian bride is preparing to sexify song with all the glory of a Putin pin-up calendar. Yes. This is family television.
Cue Viktoria Bolonina. Viktoria is in love with Delta Goodrem who she says taught her English. Therefore she sings a song in her mother tongue while flashing Innocent Eyes that Delta loves enough to put fake-tan-orange-palm to buzzer. Your voice is 'interesting', Delta says as Keef twinkle-winkles his sparkly eyes and declares, profoundly, 'good job babe'. Well said Keef, well said. But there’s no time to stand on ceremony, not when the next contestant toddles on screen and we realise they even let working families on this show!
Meet Glenn Whitehall. Glenn is 33 years old. He is just a regular, working class man. He looks a bit like Russell Crowe but maybe not in a good way. He had a job that provided for his family, but he chucked it all in to pursue his dream and now he is singing for his wife, his life, and all those idiots who think he looks like Russell Crowe but not in a good way. And, lucky for Glenn, Keef and Delta both buzz him, and Joel thinks he looks like Russell Crowe. Probably not in a good way. Delta says she can make him fearless. Keef shakes his silky hair a lot and says how Glenn’s voice was beyewdiful, just beeeeyeewwdiiiifull and Glenn takes it in a good way and so chooses to become a Keefie-mentee. But who will be next? Baby-faced Mitchell Thompson, 18, from the North Shore of Sydney perhaps? We’ll have to muddle through some less fortunate auditions to find out! Oh the suspense is killing us all!
Cue 28-year-old high-school drop-out Dinan Rouvas, who just manages to scrape into Keef’s Team before we’re introduced to another old mature lady who’s a back-up singer, as well as a mystery singer Delta slams for being inconsistent —ah! The suspense hasn’t killed us yet!
And we’re back with baby-faced Mitchell Thompson who’s face we know has absolutely nothing to do with his role on the show save for the fact he tells us the pleasure he gets from singing is written all over it when he is singing and it’s been that way since he started singing in kindy because mummadehimrealisehowmuch he liked singing (gulps). Mitchell Thompson sings his little ditty and almost finishes before Seal buzzes. Seal will go on to tell Mitchell Thompson-18-North-Shore-of-Sydney that he is clearly an emotional person and that’s why he was buzzed, but all Mitchell Thompson will hear is the promise mum made earlier about how he could have sprinkles on his ice-cream IF he got a buzzer. #aww. We’re almost lulled into thinking the world really is a nice, safe place until something dreadful happens and a ‘colourful individual’ explodes onto our screens.
She is Esther Welch She has brought an Old Person called 'Mynan' with her. She also has orange hair and jazzy shoes. And face-art. This will not do. Esther Welsh sings Fell in love with a boy and everyone smiles through their teeth until it over and Delta can make her feel better by bonding over footwear and having ovaries. We cut to break by way of a brief grab about another pair of ovaries who is also ‘individual’ but fashionably so, and everyone feels comfortable again now Esther Welch floats into the realm of collective 'did that really just happen-ness'.
This pleasing sensation is further enhanced by the 'gutsy' performance of the ovaries belonging to Jaz Flowers, who has always felt maligned by her appearance. Happily, as we know, this show isn’t about what you look like, but how you sing, and so her slightly larger frame is absolutely no problem for Delta and Seal and Keef who all buzz in their support. Seal even pays her the ultimate compliment – she looks great and literally ‘sang her arse off’. Still, she chooses Keef, partly as a reward for him figuring out which button to push all by himself and we begin to look forward to the hot mess in tracksuit pants coming up right after this!
And we’re back! Welcome to The Shire, where ‘Karaoke King’ Kieran Fraser is teaching us a lesson about books and covers and judgement. Looking like a bogan, singing like the angel we just knew he would be, Kieran manages to dazzle Delta and Seal and Keef. They all turn around and clearly feel really good about their decisions. Joel, who did not buzz, feels good about telling Kieran he sounds like a James Blunt wannabe. Keef manages to read aloud all the words written on Kieran’s shirt and he feels even gooderer, and Kieran feels Seal will make the best voice coach, even if Seal doesn’t quite greet him with the same pelvic-thrusting enthusiasm he did when welcoming Shepparton’s own Sam Ludeman to his quivering flock.
The rest of the show plays out in quick succession. We whip through another battlin’ father, this time from the Gold Coast, who’s just trying to live his dream but can’t compete with a guy who looks like Russell Crowe even if it’s not in a good way. We all learn something about dreaming as Cory Hargreaves shuffles off to make way for a lounge singer from the Philippines and a back-up singer for John Farnham. To wit, ‘don’t dream’, unless you have friends who say they want to expose you to a lot of people so you can be touched like the friends of lounge-singing Jerson Trinidad say. It helps if your story involves singing in a talent contest for a bag of rice, especially when it comes to getting Delta Goodrem to push her button. “You’re in great hands with Delta’s hands,” Keef says after Jerson’s triumph. Well said Keef. Well said. And as the live studio audience digests this latest Urbanism, we at home are introduced to back-up vocalist Michelle Serret; always the bridesmaid, never The Voice.
Or at least until she auditioned for The Voice and managed a rendition of a Rihanna song that sent the judges into a spin. Or at least prompted Keef, Seal and Joel to put fist to button in one big, final, Blind Audition night cliffhanging final moment! Which is exacerbated when we discover that Michelle didn’t even want to be on any one of these teams anyway! She wanted to be on Delta’s – and Delta was the only judge who didn’t feel the love! OMG! The pressure is on for Michelle to make the right decision – an considering as Joel hasn’t gained a single mentee this whole episode, it’s a total shock when she picks him! OMG squared!
Still, we know this is one journey that is only just beginning. Who knows what’s in store for tomorrow night when The Voice returns for the last night of Totally Blind Auditions? Who will win the last few spots on the judges' teams? Who will crash and burn and suffer in their jocks? And who will be the one to make Seal say “I will teach you how to earn that every night,”?
We can only imagine.