Powerhouse voice ... outstanding talent (and our overall winner) Anja Nissen. Photo: Channel Nine
It's the final semi-final before the final finals, and the pressure is on. Can the eight finalists bring that elusive 'it' to the stage?
Four will get on through, with one of the remainder being voted in by the public. And Darren McMullen gets to actually do some hosting for once, wearing a suit and bow tie that he will regret in years to come.
First up it's Team Kylie's people, Johnny Rollins and Kat Jade. And their duet is the Kylie and Robbie Williams duet Kids, which is an objectively great song and a bit of a stunt chosen to surprise their coach. Pity their styles don't particularly work together and that the song puts Kat at the bottom of her register and Johnny way at the top of his. They're fine, they're surrounded by dancers, and Kylie gets all excited.
Even the coaches are getting emotional now ... from left, The Voice's Joel Madden, Kylie Minogue, Ricky Martin and will.i.am. Photo: Channel Nine
And we have Team Ricky. Sabrina Batshon and Jackson Thomas ham it up with Bonnie Tyler's classic Total Eclipse of the Heart. Again, there's zero chemistry – I'm certainly not feeling like they're livin' in a powder keg and givin' off sparks – but they both show off their powerhouse voices.
Team Will.i.am's Anja Nissan and the duo of ZK (Zaachariaha Fielding and Kristal West) power through Goyte's Somebody That I Used To Know. And ZK are a bit off pitch but Anja belts through her parts flawlessly. Will is up dancing and looking like a stage parent, and he should do: Anja's got to be frontrunner for the crown, surely?
Then we're on to Team Joel, with Holly Tapp and Frank Lakoudis doing ... House of the Rising Sun? Seriously? And they're going for a graveyard theme on the stage for no reason that makes a lick of sense. Still, they both look good in black, and Frank rocks while Holly purrs. It's a strong performance.
So, that's the duets done. And now we have all their freakin' solo performances, plus doing some singing with contestants from The Voice Kids. It's a long job, you know, doing this.
Each of the final eight get matched with a vaguely similar smaller person. Frankly it looks awfully like the pair-ups are determined more by their ethnicity than their vocal styles. And it's all terribly variety show-ish as they grin and bop through an Imagine Dragon's On Top Of the World rather than the more appropriate Every Health Insurance Commercial Ever.
So now we get to the solo things. Jackson Thomas takes on Cold Chisel's When the War is Over and he gets a little bit wrongfooted when reaching for the big notes – specially when he pushes himself at the end and goes unpleasantly sharp – and fails to match Jimmy Barnes' growl. He is a charming presence, but it's not a winning performance.
Sabrina Batshon does Jessie J's Who You Are, and the arrangement leaps straight to her strong suit: ditch the verse and punch straight to the big choruses and the coda. It's her bread and butter and she nails it.
So who's the first grand finalist, according to the votes of the public? It's Jackson Thomas. People just love rural electricians.
And now it's Team Joel, and Frank's doing G'n'R's classic Sweet Child O' Mine. Naturally, he's doing it in a cage that's on fire so there's the excitement of knowing those big hand gestures could end in second degree burns – although the song is brutally edited down for length and you can almost hear the band's lead guitarist Chris Kamzelas dying a little every time they skip over a Slash break.
Holly Tapp gets Amy Winehouse's You Know I'm No Good, which is perfectly suited to her voice. She's got the right purr for the piece, although the staging – a circular bed, Holly in a mesh outfit, y'know, because she's a (sigh) “no good”, y'know – is a bit obvious. She looked far more comfortable in that gothic frock from the House of the Rising Sun.
And Australia votes for … Frank Lakoudis. Hard choice though. If there's any justice in the world, Holly's performance should have given the nation pause.
It's Team Kylie's turns, and Kat picks Memory from Cats – GET IT? BECAUSE HER NAME IS KAT AND SHE WEARS CAT EARS – which is impressively on-brand. And she does it sitting on a moon, surrounded by dry ice.
Given her “thing” has been quirky performances of interesting choices, doing a showtune while mostly sitting motionless a metre above the stage seems an oddly low-key way to potentially end her run on the show. But it successfully shows off her versatility, certainly, while Johnny Rollins goes with When a Man Loves a Woman and does it as soulfully and heartachingly as you'd expect.
They both give killer performances, and Kylie gets deservedly overemotional at her team. And the finalist is Johnny. So: nothing but chaps so far. Hmmm. Wonder if this perhaps indicates something about the voter demographic?
Team Will close it out with Anja Nissen doing Whitney Houston's I Have Nothing and belts it from atop a luminous box, surrounded by string players. Regardless of who wins, this woman has the voice of The Voice. Hands down. Bar none.
And then ZK come out and do an adequate but pitchy version of Journey's Don't Stop Believin' – or, as my better half said “oh great, that song from Glee”. Their voices just don't lock on this at all: their respective big moments are fine, but singing together they clash badly. It's kind of a bummer to end on, to be honest. And ZK is voted in, extraordinarily. Seriously, did all the solo women in this competition steal the nation's collective boyfriends or something?
One of them will be voted back in, but first Ricky Martin must perform his ghastly new single Vida with a stage full of capoeira dancers that fail to draw focus from his luminous white trousers and enormous sneakers.
And then we have the audience vote between the four performers who really should have all been the finalists. For 60 seconds it's a mini-Eurovision vote, and the final fifth saved-by-the-skin-of-their-teeth vote is … Anja. Good work, Australia. Right choice.
And thus we have our finalists - Jackson Thomas, Frank Lakoudis, Johnny Rollins, ZK and Anja Nissen. Who will win? Pfft, Anja is nature's winner, regardless. Finals, schminals.