Cassius Henry v David Faulkner
A proper battle! Cassius and David stayed coy in rehearsals, both of them realising there was no point showing their hand. Jessie J implored them to be more aggressive, but they ignored her - until they got in the ring. Yes, they were shouting Beat It, but they were hitting the notes harder and harder and it was worth arguing on the sofa over who should win. Jessie went for Cassius.
Barbara Bryceland v Leanne Mitchell
Experienced belter Barbara took on plucky young belter Leanne as they tried to volume each other off the stage singing Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga. An epic encounter ended with a fairly obvious winner: Leanne could probably benefit from reining herself in a bit but, if Barbara wanted to make it a test of who could sing at or beyond the maximum decibel level attainable by humans, that was fine by Leanne. You could tell when Barbara was wobbling, because she started resorting to a Bonnie Tyler growl. Leanne remained firm and Tom Jones chose her.
Frances Wood v Kate Read
The poison that is Alanis Morissette’s timelessly awful Ironic spread far and wide through this one. Kate had squeaked through the auditions with a mannered version of True Colours by Cyndi Lauper but, rather than tell her to sing it straighter, will.i.am encouraged her to be like that but more so. Ironic is enough of a cutesy, eyebrow-waggling embarrassment already (don’t you think?), but these two cranked up the kook, with Frances joining in and the pair variously sounding like Max Headroom, Daffy Duck and Bo from The Voice. Frances, the better singer, almost blew it by getting involved in this nonsense, but not quite.
Aleks Josh v Emmy J Mac
The rehearsal was more important than the battle here. It was all about Aleks being so awful he was putting Emmy J off; when they got to the performance, Aleks was still significantly out of tune but was helped by an arrangement that almost never asked them to sing separately, which is surely kind of essential. Aleks then went through because Danny O'Donoghue thought he should “nurture talent that needs it and I think he needs it”, which sounds dangerously close to admitting you picked the weaker singer. Odd.
Ruth-Ann St Luce v Ben Kelly
Some contestants can hold single notes for longer than the entire time these two were on screen. With 11 battles to get through in the same amount of time as we saw nine in last night, somebody had to be squeezed and these two were squished almost completely. Ruth-Ann had been bang off-key in the blind auditions, whereas Ben had been proficient but jarringly wacky in his trademark bow tie. From what little we saw of them this time, both struggled so badly with I Wanna Dance with Somebody that at the end it sounded like they were daringly employing medieval modal harmonies. Jessie J chose Ruth-Ann quickly. Then the whole thing was hushed up like a Russian election.
Lindsey Butler v Matt & Sueleen
Probably the biggest upset of the weekend, as classy Lindsey lost to the oddball duo who must be enormous outsiders in the live shows. The stylist hadn’t done Lindsey a lot of favours, under-dressing her in a simple black frock and not-there makeup, compared to M&S in their “Sonny and Cher go to the rodeo” gear. Singing Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, however, Lindsey looked and sounded like a pro, joking with the band, geeing up the audience and singing along off-mic with the other two when it wasn’t her turn. Tom Jones chose Matt & Sueleen and Lindsey took it magnanimously, but this result was inexplicable.
Murray Hockridge v Hannah Berney
“Murray’s a lovely guy. He’s the same age as my dad.” An unsettling battle with the look of an illustration from a Roald Dahl book, as tiny Hannah tried her best to concentrate on Kids by Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue, ignoring the enormous man in the beret who was stomping around behind her. Obviously it’s hard to make a stone-cold classic song like that your own and these two didn’t, but Hannah was clearly better and Danny made no mistake.
Indie & Pixie v Becky Hill
Possibly we’ve seen the series winner here. Before Becky romped to victory there were highly entertaining dagger looks at rehearsal, as Indie & Pixie moaned about not getting any of the best bits of Irreplaceable by Beyonce, and Becky looked at them like they’d just farted in unison without even harmonising. In the ring, Becky unleashed a rasping soul voice that belied her stroppy teen image, while Indie and Pixie had a disagreement with the tune. A massacre.
Adam Isaac v Denise Morgan
Another 0-0 draw, edited down to the bare bones like Stoke v Sunderland in a mid-February Match of the Day. Adam and Denise, both of whom have an unfortunate condition where reaching for notes makes them do a big ugly-face, honked around a bit roughly in the style of Use Somebody by Kings of Leon. Tom Jones quickly put through Adam and everyone dispassionately moved on.
Sophie Griffin v J Marie Cooper
We’ve all done it at karaoke: got halfway through the first verse and then thought, erk. I’ve just remembered this has got some big stuff in it. Hey ho, no going back now. Faced with Firework by Katy Perry, young Sophie and experienced, last-chance-grasping J Marie gritted their teeth and it was J Marie who managed to scream fewer wrong notes. But we could see, as soon as will.i.am put on his faraway philosophical face, that it wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Sophie and J Marie represented him at different stages of his life, he said, and he preferred his 17-year-old self, so Sophie was home. Explicit BBC ageism! J Marie’s tribunal starts tomorrow.
David Julien v John James Newman
Two men with light beards duetting on a Stereophonics cover: the Beeb's still hep, daddio! Crooner/charmer John James is the one whose brother is in Waterloo Road, so for a proper tenuous-celebrity smackdown he really should have been paired with the woman who was in Five Star 25 years ago. Instead he faced his less assured, slightly damp near-doppelganger David. They stood and grizzled out Dakota in similar styles and light, comfy leisurewear. “This is honestly the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my entire life,” said Danny before picking David. Tea or coffee, Dan? Tell you what, never mind, I’ll just do you a tea.