We've come so far in just five episodes, it's almost like we know the coaches now. Keith is the nice one that's overcome a dark history, Delta's the teary one that no one likes, Joel is the short one that everyone thinks is cute and Seal is a silver-tongued confusion machine.
We've seen some amazing singers be selected and some even more amazing ones get passed up. Tonight, there's only eight places left across the four teams - could one of these last contestants selected be The Voice? Could they win the competition? Could they have three arms and still put a smile of relief on a judge's face as they turn around to see who was behind those amazing vocal chords?
Unlikely, but let's go Voice-hunting anyways.
To reinforce that the coaches are looking for a special voice, we're subjected to a montage of past glories (after only five episodes, people) and the requisite navel gazing from the coaches reflecting on what they're looking for. "I just want someone who can sing good an' that," says a straight forward Keith. The teams are almost full: J-Mad has three spots to fill; Delts and the S-Banger two; while Kurban has but one. The pressure is palpable and atmosphere is electric... mainly due to the use of an un-earthed lighting rig, but when has that ever killed anyone?
First up tonight is Prinnie from Sydney. She's 31, has been singing for 20 years, likes long walks on the beach and only now is comfortable that she's ready. For what remains unclear, but she's here so give the girl a microphone. She's fine if she doesn't get selected but couldn't bear to see her young daughter's face if that's the case if only because her daughter ran her through those vocal chops time after time after time and she'll be damned if Mum messes them up tonight.
From the first lick of "Sweet Dreams" Prinnie has the coaches bopping in their seats - Seal's the first to turn around while the other coaches procrastinate and thump their chairs like that'll offer divine intervention.
At the very last minute Joel also spins around for Prinnie so he and Seal have to face off and put their case. Delta wants a "touch more to get me across the line", but as usual it's Seal who whips the crowd into a frenzy clapping and chanting Prinnie's name that makes the difference. "You hear that?" he says, "I want to teach you how to earn that every night." The other coaches are mightily impressed at this revelation, though Joel does offer to do "anything you want me to do, baby". Prinnie sides with J-Mad, and after an embrace is off-stage to hug her mum and daughter and seemingly ignore Darren.
31 year old bogan prince Anthony is next, and he tells us growing up he was put into the church choir so he's been singing from an early age and avoiding awkward situations since he was a boy. His wife thinks he has a tendency to be complacent - "some might call it a bit lazy" - and he needs a push and she's the woman to give it to him. His kids are called Elvis & Delilah. He's clearly got rockstar in his dreams. He's pretty smooth in delivering his cover of "Broadway", but isn't getting any attention from the coaches until the final bars of the song when Seal spins his chair as the only judge to pick him.
"I love that song, I was digging it, it came so close, and right at the final hurdle you gave it to me," says Seal. "I didn't know what I could do with it but you sang the shit out of that song," says Joel - or, as he really meant, "You were OK, you weren't my style, and I don't know how to finish this statement so I'm gonna throw in a swear." Delta speaks a lot though no one seems to care what she thinks.
At this rate, every singer is going to get picked tonight - there's only six spots left. To remind us all that the guy who is narrating this gig is actually the host, Darren is sent back in time to deliver an invitation to the blind auditions to a school-aged duo in Ashleigh & Jesse. He casually interrupts the class to tell the kids that Ashley & Jessie have to come with him up to Sydney in his time machine that's a DeLorean car to audition for The Voice, otherwise the space-time continuum will be forever borked and Biff will rule Hill Valley into the ground. Everyone, including the teacher looks uncomfortable at the interruption, but Ashleigh & Jesse leave with Doc Mullan nonetheless.
Nick from Melbourne, a dancer who can sing, is the third auditionee tonight, and he's brought a small representation of his family with him in seventeen people. Darren sits down to casually interview Nick and starts with, "So, are you nervous about tonight? Because you should be!" If Nick wasn't before, he is now - so much so he has to excuse himself and change his pants. Nick's not really expecting a judge to turn around, and as the cameras cut to his parents in the waiting room his father busts out a Rob Schneider impression no one wanted to see ("You can do eet!"). Mum punches Dad out of embarrassment.
Nick's accompanying himself on piano singing "Grenade" and there's some to-ing and fro-ing before Joel spins his chair around to have Nick join his team. Joel's glad he turned, and Keith thinks that Joel is the man to take away Nick's nerves and replace them with nerve. All that time in America and the only think Keith has learnt is how to deliver reality TV judge lines (oh, and the millions of albums, etc) - time well spent.
It's Virginia's turn. She's 42, wears leather pants, and has wanted to be a rock pig all her life. She's travelled a bit, spending 11 years performing in Germany, presumably learning everything she knows from the Hoff. "This is my chance to shine, especially given all the lights and my visible piercings," smiles Virginia. She launches herself into "Highway to Hell" and doesn't hold back, though the performance feels a little forced (it happens when you're putting everything you have into it sometimes, I guess). Rock-chick-strutting all over the stage gets her nowhere as not one of the coaches turns around for her.
"What happened?" is how Virginia greets the talented throng before her. Joel's really sorry he didn't push his button (not a euphemism), but "That's OK, that's the game," says Virginia reminding us all what we already know. She's moved into the fifth stage of grief already! She knows how to move on, so she'll be fine (despite her sad friends in the waiting room).
Tonight's PYT is Brittany, 19, from Sydney. She's a Hillsong girl so has been singing all her life also. Brittany's mum Darryle has already had her first cry. "At the end of the day I just want to make my parents proud of me," says Brittany.
Each of the coaches predictably fawn over Brittany, but in the end she chooses Keith - which means his team is now complete. Smiles, hugs and apologies and Keith leads her offstage to the waiting room as we get a recap of Keith's 12 singers... Adam, Jimmy, Cam, Brett, Kelsie, Taga, Abbie, Darren, Glenn, Diana, Jaz & now Brittany. Keith can sit back, put his feet up as the pressure is, and always has remained, on the contestants.
Matty is up next, telling us he was a shy kid and has spent a lot of time gigging and this has helped prepare him for this moment. He wants someone he respects to spin their chair and pick him. His rendition of "20 Good Reasons" is confident, but not exactly strong. He involves the crowd to try and overcome his nerves, but it's his last falsetto note that sinks it for Delta and she whacks her button and spins her chair for him. I can't seem him lasting beyond the battle rounds based solely on this performance. Matty's been overwhelmed by the response from the audience, and Keith applauds him for his Aussie rock threaded performance. By the time Delta finishes speaking, I think she's actually asked Matty out on a date. But now, Delts has only one spot left.
It's time to welcome Tamara. She's already released three albums, walked away from music, put on weight, walked back towards music, lost weight, had music run toward her such that she and music meet in the middle of frame and hug and spin like long lost lovers. But is that enough experience to communicate through her rendition of "Dumb Things" to convince the coaches? Seemingly not, as not one chair moves in a clockwise direction until after the song is over. Delta really wanted to press the button, but didn't, so anything she said is null and void. Keith loved it but his team's full, so tell your story walking sister.
A crack and spontaneously a car appears, and out pop Ashleigh & Jesse, ready to perform. Ashleigh goes to great pains to ensure that everyone knows she and Jesse are not dating - she already has a boyfriend. "Yeah, and he's big," agrees Jesse. The duo start into "Lucky"... and it's crickets from the coaches. Delta relents and picks the team about two thirds of the way into their piece - all the other coaches point out they could tell they haven't been singing together for too long. Delts loves a duo, though. She LOVES one. It means Delta's team is now full and we get a recap of her 12 (OK, 13) singers: Rachael, Matt, Peta, Danni, Adam, Ben, Sarah, Glenn, Viktoria, Jerson, Matty, and now Ashleigh/Jesse. "This is their big break, and I want to be their carrot," says Delta. Umm... what? Ohhh - "I want to make sure they're making it COUNT".
There's only two spots left, and Chris from Sydney has made it here via many Bon Jovi covers gigs hoping to pick one up. "Frankly, I can perform rings around a lot of other performers out there," says Chris. He's so confident - will he and his Rocky Balboa fascination get picked by coaches with spots remaining in Joel or Seal? Going with what he knows, Chris rocks out "Always" with the same bravado he showed off-stage. If only he'd convinced the band to do it in a key more friendly to his voice. In the very last bar Joel smashes his button, spins around and his team is complete.
Keith is stoked Chris is going with Joel because it means Chris isn't his problem. Though he has no say in it Chris tells Joel he wants him has his mentor - most redundant statement yet tonight. Delta didn't say anything so that's a safe bet. It does mean Joel's team is now full and we are reminded of his team via a montage: Yianna, Carmen, Sarah, Laura, Lakyn, Ben, Mahalia, Mali-Koa, Michelle, Prinnie, Nick & Chris. There's some great talent there, but one is head and shoulders above the others and we'll see that person rise to the top next week in the battle rounds. But first - Seal has one spot to fill and there's still 10 minutes of the show to go... will he do it!?
To help Seal find his winner, we see a couple of "no spins" in quick succession with very little back story (an easy sign you're editing fodder). "Not unique enough for me." "Not in tune enough for me." "Not good looking enough for me in my mind's eye." Talk about picky. But maybe Fatai can change his mind - she's 16 and has a strong church singing background that will play well for her as long as she's singing "Amazing Grace". Given how much time we're spending learning about Fatai, she's in... just get to the damn song & the spin already.
From the first strains of "Songbird" the coaches are hooked, but there's only one who can choose her and he's being all Noddy No-Spin until a searing vocal run hooks him in. Fatai's in, and Seal's team is complete. "You are the reason why we are on this show," says Seal. It's Fatai's rawness and honesty that resonated with Seal as that's what got him into music 26 years ago and he knows with his help she'll go far. If only Seal displayed a little confidence from time to time, his team might be in a better place. As Seal's team is now done, we are reminded who he's selected: Casey, Karise, Yshrael, Chris, Paula, Michael, Emma-Louise, Sam, Mitchell, Kieran, Anthony & finally, Fatai. "I'm very excited because I do feel I've got the greatest voices," says Seal. Hard to argue with the line-up we just montaged.
Next week, everything changes. Where it was a competition between the coaches, now it's a competition within teams as the Battle rounds pitch team mates in a sing-off duet that will see six from each team eliminated. It's tough, but that's showbiz, peeps. If you don't like it, go have a cry with Delta. Or possibly Joel (he looks like the teary type).