We’ve had the Blinds, we’ve had the Battles, now it’s time for the Showdowns. The Voice really does have a fascinating jargon all its own, an obscure language for which the Minogue family is the Rosetta stone.
A Showdown is a lot like a Battle, but it’s got a different name. Also there are, like, three people in it instead of two. The first showdown will involve Ricky’s team. Ricky has prepared for the Showdown by putting on an enormous scarf – somebody’s been getting some sneaky lovebites off-set.
Ricky’s contestants will be “mentored” by Havana Brown, because Ricky believes nobody can become a truly great singer without first being subjected to a viciously egregious professional insult. Havana has a lot of advice for Matthew, Thando and C Major, along the lines of “louder” and “sing with your mouth”. One thing is for sure: Havana Brown is able to identify when somebody is, technically, singing.
As the contestants rehearse, and Ricky and Havana struggle desperately to sound helpful, anticipation is building to a lukewarm pitch. Soon enough, though, it’s the big night, and that weird Scottish guy has got past security again. He announce C Major, who yelps, “Everybody get up”, an instruction nobody really wants to obey.
C Major’s performance of Blurred Lines can best be described as “sounding like someone who deliberately refers to himself as ‘C Major’”. Robin Thicke must be rolling over in his grave.
Up next is Thando, who is apparently “releasing her inner goddess”, according to Channel Nine’s Department of Cutting Random Words Out of Dictionaries and Pasting Them Onto Cue Cards.
Thando sings Sex On Fire, but never quite manages to convince me that hers really is. Still, she’s definitely got an innate ability to get a crowd to cheer at the exact moment that the “cheer” sign lights up, and that is something you just can’t teach, especially if you’re Havana Brown.
Thando is followed by Matthew, or to give him his stage name, Lydia the Tattooed Lady. Matthew’s sweet, clear voice quickly brings tears to C Major’s eyes, although maybe C Major is just listening to a playback of his own performance. Matthew seems to be the frontrunner at this stage – it’s not easy to pull off a Michael Crawford impersonation while looking like a Home and Away extra.
Ricky chooses C Major to go straight through to the finals, having been rendered completely deaf by a gas explosion last week. Thando is getting a second chance in the “sing-offs”, which are like the Battles and like the Showdowns but not. That means Matthew is out, because if you’re going have a show where people get mentored by Ricky Martin and Havana Brown, you gave up any pretence of the show being about singing ability a long time ago.
Which three of Will.i.am’s team members will be chosen for a Showdown? It’ll be Julian, Carly and Gabriel and Cecilia.
“This is going to be really hard,” says Will, referring to having to live in Australia for several months.
The voiceover tells us Will has brought in someone to help him get “a fresh perspective”, although since it’s Apl.de.ap from the Black Eyed Peas, it’s not particularly fresh. With Will and Apl collaborating on the mentorship, it seems unavoidable that all three contestants will have to sing with autotune. Although it’s rapidly becoming clear that none of the mentors is going to provide anyone with any information about singing at all.
Apl tells Julian he shouldn’t move so much. Will tells Carly that you never see a lion chasing another lion to eat a lion. Will is pretty hazy on where he is and what he does for a living at this stage.
Gabriel and Cecilia go first, doing their whiny duet thing. It kind of seems like cheating to have two people singing at once. Like having an extra man on the field in football. Anyway, they start off whining, then move into some really emotional whining, before reaching a crescendo of incredibly loud and whiny whining whininess. If Will.i.am is looking for a mixtape to give to Thom Yorke’s psychiatrist, they just might have a shot.
Next up is Julian, who never met a note he didn’t want to turn into three hundred notes. Will tells everyone that Julian just got married, and everyone cheers as if that’s some kind of achievement. Julian’s wife changes seats. Everyone cheers again. They’ve knocked back so much gin they don’t care what they cheer for. Julian sings Classic with what you’ve got admit is a pretty ballsy sense of irony.
Last is Carly, who is a lion chasing a lion or something. She sings Un-Break My Heart because ha, yeah, real original. Everyone cheers, or plays tapes of themselves cheering maybe.
Will has a very tough decision to make, but it’s probably made easier by the knowledge it doesn’t really matter. In order to make the decision, Will says “there are no rules when you’re with your wife”, and makes some squeaking noises.
Through the haze of hallucinogens, Will tells Gabriel and Cecilia they’re going through to the Whinals. He then tells Julian and Carly that Ricky’s team is going to murder them with sauce. He tells Julian he’s going to sing-offs, before passing out in a puddle of his own drool.
Now it’s time for Kylie’s team, who will be mentored by Kirk Pengilly, who you’ll remember as the guy from INXS who didn’t sing at all ever.
Kylie introduces Kirk as “an extremely accomplished…guy”, having totally blanked on what he actually does. The team responds to the revelation that they’ll be mentored by Kirk Pengilly in much the same way as Manchester United would respond to finding out their new manager is Colette Mann.
In the studio, Kirk is a real livewire. Hearing Candice sing Katy Perry’s Unconditionally, his facial muscles come incredibly close to moving. Kylie tells Kirk that Candice is the Australian karaoke champion. Kirk appreciates this, having played for over 15 years in an INXS cover band.
Things get tense when Kylie makes it clear that she only loves Lionel for his skirt. Things get even tenser when Lionel gets down on one knee. Or maybe not so much “tense” as “confusing”. Anyway I’m pretty sure Lionel and Kylie have been doing the Locomotion.
Candice’s choice of a Katy Perry song is revealed as a masterstroke – it is ALWAYS better to pick a song by someone who you can easily out-sing. Lionel’s choice of Georgia On My Mind, meanwhile, demonstrates that no song is so soulful and deep that it can’t be mangled beyond recognition into a screaming tacky mess. In fact, I’m only guessing that it was Georgia On My Mind – it could’ve been Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear for all that it resembled the original song. And John’s choice of singing a forgettable song forgettably demonstrates that he is quite forgettable. Whoever “John” is.
John’s song seems to go on for a ridiculously long time, but maybe I’m confusing his song with this show. Kylie chooses John Lingard to go straight through to the finals, as The Voice’s Opposite Day continues. She tells Candice she’s so proud of her, so Candice immediately knows she’s screwed. Lionel is going through to the sing-offs to slaughter another classic next week, and Candice’s facial expression indicates she knows exactly why Kylie is favouring Lionel.
It’s Team Joel’s turn. His mentor is Megan 'Freddy Boom Boom' Washington, who is an unusual choice as a Voice mentor in as much as she is a professional singer.
Rehearsals tell us a few things: Soli doesn’t know who Joel is; Frank is destined for a shining career in residency at the Dingley RSL; and Joel has a terrible fake laugh that he does when he’s trying to get into a female singer’s pants. Also I’m not sure Blake has ever actually sung a song before.
On the big night, Blake doesn’t sing harder than he has ever not-sung in his life, so probably Joel will pick him to go straight through. He’ll have stiff competition though, from Frank, who is just as adept at sounding dull, flat and ordinary in comparison to Jon Bon Jovi as he is at sounding dull, flat and ordinary in comparison to Robert Plant. And indeed Frank is chosen, because why should Joel care, he’s in Good Charlotte. And it’s actually Soli who gets to go to the sing-offs, so maybe having an actual singer as mentor rubbed off a little bit.
That brings us to the end of our first Showdown. I’m absolutely slobbering with excitement.