Heavily tattooed Launceston 24-year-old Matthew Garwood completes Ricky's team. Photo: The Voice
It's the first of the two final nights of blind auditions and the judges are filling the last slots in their respective posses. And that means the pressure is presumably on to ensure there's a solid audience for When Love Comes to Town, Nine's new reality dating show. Oh, and there's a singing thing on too.
All of the judges have the bulk of their teams in place and are looking for the final voices to fill the roster out. Joel Madden needs some female singers, Kylie Minogue needs one of each gender, and Ricky Martin and Will.I.Am need a single one each.
Therefore the problem that all these singers have at this point is that they're either the right person for the teams or they're not. Being good is no longer enough: they have to be that perfect thing that the judges are looking for. “It's not a game anymore,” says Ricky. “It's about strategy.” Um, yeah. That actually does means it's a game, surely?
“J-Dog, what's up. Talk to me.” Melbourne dancer Courtney Hale was by far – by far – the most charismatic person to take the stage this evening, if not necessarily the strongest singer. Photo: The Voice
West Australian lip piercing enthusiast Brodi Owen opens with Panic! At the Disco's I Write Sins Not Tragedies, and isn't quite nailing the ends of his lines, and really loses it in the big notes. No turns for him, but at least Will gave him plenty of opportunities to plug his band.
Sydney beach girl Laura Leigh-Smith ambitiously goes for Christina Aguilera's Reflection and pulls of the wobbly vibrato, and has a pleasant husky stress-edge to her voice. Joel turns around.” I'm glad I turned around … I can coach you.” It reads as creepy as it sounded, and she's the first win of the night.
Geelong railway electrician Jackson Thomas, 24, explains that “The guys at work always tell me to be quiet,” which is not the greatest vote of confidence. That being said, his choice of Lorde's Royals is, if nothing else, pretty damn ambitious. It's also right at the top of his range – but Kylie hears something, because she turns around at the beginning of the first chorus. He looks terrified and embarrassed, leaving Kylie to ask “Do you think he's going to get excited?” to his departing back.
Incidentally, how do those backstage doors work? The concerned-looking blonde staffer just pushes one side and both open simultaneously. Is it a pressure system?
Sutherland Shire mother of two Kylie Stephens is next, and her daughter enthuses “she sounds like a beautiful bird”. She accompanies herself on piano and plays Carole King's So Far Away, and she's definitely going to get some hotel bookings out of this, even as she fails to get a single turn – though Joel and Ricky seem to have some moments of doubt. And she keeps her game face on.
Maybe the backstage door just has really loose hinges. But then it would just slam back closed, surely?
Gold Coast 26-year-old Nyssa Berger also fails to seduce with Chantal Kreviazuk's Feels Like Home from The Notebook. Her pitch is, again, not great, but she hits her stride on the big notes, and it hits Kylie right in the feels. But it doesn't prompt her – or any of the other judges – to actually turn around. The same fate befalls Scottie Paulo, a forklift driver-slash-professional-wrestler from Sydney's western suburbs, despite his lusty, crowd-pleasing rendition of Bruno Mars' Treasure.
Hmm. Maybe there are people on the other side who pull the stage door open out of camera range? Or maybe it's pulleys or something. Either way, that's some amazing door work.
Heavyset 19-year-old Melburnian Steven Rossitto already has an ARIA nomination for his jazz album, so the kid has some chops. “I think it's good that the judges can't see me,” he says, correctly. But really, Ol' Man River? That's the choice? He doesn't have the bass to pull it off. “I don't know what I'd do with him,” Joel shrugs.
Courtney Hale, a 23-year-old Melbourne dancer, is all about the giggles and charm. And her choice – Britney Spears' Toxic – get a strong early reaction from the judges. Joel spins on the chorus, Kylie waits until the very last second.
Plus, Hale and the judges get some banter going: “J-Dog, what's up. Talk to me.” Kylie focuses on their shared love of sparkle, and but she goes with Joel. And she's by far – by far – the most charismatic person to take the stage this evening, if not necessarily the strongest singer.
The other star is heavily tattooed Launceston 24-year-old Matthew Garwood, who comes out with All I Ask Of You from Phantom of the Opera, and it works a treat – Ricky spins his chair, filling his team.
So that's Martin done – he can have a bit of a snooze tomorrow while the rest scramble to fill out their teams. Will Treasurer Joe Hockey perform as strongly on Q&A later tonight? Rumour has it he's going with Cat Stevens' The First Cut is the Deepest…