The Voice UK 2013: battles round one – review

Ash Morgan, Cleo Higgins, Andrea Begley and Adam Barron were among the stand-out acts in the first battle show

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Jamie Bruce v LB Robinson
A manly start to the battles, as muscle mountain Jamie Bruce, who looks about 6’8″ and could lift a Range Rover above his head with just his voice, took on soul destroyer LB Robinson. Confidence, volume and testosterone were not in short supply as they duetted on When Love Comes to Town. “When LOVE comes to town,” growled Jamie, barbecuing furiously. “When LOOO-OOOVE comes to town,” replied LB, reversing one-handed into a tight space. “WHEN LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE COMES TO TOWN!” sang Jamie, tearing up a phone book in each hand. All three judges who didn’t have a say preferred the smoother tones of LB but Tom Jones, who was deciding, decided Jamie was the one he wanted on his team. That meant LB suffered the additional humiliation of the new format, under which the judges can “steal” contestants who lose battles by hitting their buttons. Nobody stole LB.

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Matt Henry v Jordan Lee Davies
“I’ve got to take away all the musical theatre stuff and do Stevie Wonder,” said Jordan aka “the high notes from Wales”, wearing a scarlet-collared shirt, thick eye make-up and a floral patterned suit that’s 75% off with interest-free credit this Bank Holiday Monday only. His opponent Matt at first declared himself too scared to sing Stevie Wonder songs, but soon brought an electric slide and his slightly pompous Marvin Gaye stylings to Do I Do. The song became a chaotic mosaic of slap-bass fonkiness, with Jordan and Matt honking and barking like two Pekinese in a dryer. Will.i.am eccentrically chose Jordan. He and Holly Willoughby both looked embarrassed by this, but it didn’t matter since Jessie and Tom both attempted to steal Matt. He chose Jessie.

Andrea Begley v Alice Barlow
A battle of singers overcoming adversity, as nearly-blind Andrea competed with former Hollyoaks actor Alice, who needed some hugs from Danny O’Donoghue before she could feel the emotion of People Help the People by Birdy. After a battle that was a respite from the overblown legato-pocalypses elsewhere, Danny patronised both contestants hugely – his comment to Alice boiled down to “well done on not being a robotic bimbo”, while his comment to Andrea was essentially “well done on facing the right way” – before deciding that Andrea made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up more. Alice then endured an obviously pointless dramatic pause before nobody stole her.

Sarah Cassidy v Katie Benbow
The tune of ET by Katy Perry had its lungs torn out and stamped on halfway through this high-pitched face-off between 31-year-old Sarah and 20-year-old Katie, each of whom had a very high note of their own devising that they were intent on singing at some stage. Katie sang hers. Sarah replied with hers. Katie dredged up another, even louder, even higher one. Sarah replied. The band trudged on in the background, with their opinion about which part of the song we were on being ignored by everyone. Jessie chose Sarah, reasoning that Katie has got more time in life to calm down and sing properly, and so had less to lose by going home.

Cleo Higgins v Nu-tarna
The girl-band survivor versus the four-legged attitude problem. Cleo and the more annoying one from Nu-tarna clashed in rehearsal and promised to ad lib all over each other’s ad libs during the performance of Finally by hilariously named soul star Ce Ce Peniston: they didn’t noticeably do that, but they did initiate a screaming match that Cleo easily won, particularly when Nu-tarna sang together without checking which notes each of them were supposed to be doing. After Cleo was announced by will.i.am as the winner, she very pointedly hugged only the less annoying one from Nu-tarna. The judges massively didn’t steal Nu-tarna and they went home, no doubt shouting at people annoyingly all the way home.

Ash Morgan v Adam Barron
By far the best battle of the night – and Ash looks like he might be quite a long way ahead of everyone else in the competition. He had decent competition from Adam, whose twin sources of power are his astonishing horsey hair and his fiancee, who is so enthusiastic she will simply kill weaker opponents with the intensity of her gaze. Ash was unruffled, belting out I Won’t Let You Go by James Morrison and sailing into Jessie’s team for the knockout stage. Two judges pressed their button for Adam and he chose to join Team Tom, earning himself a neck-breaking celebratory hug from the missus.

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