The Voice UK 2012: week three review

The singers are still all the same - leaving BBC1's big talent show in the smooth hands of Danny O'Donoghue

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In case you’ve missed it: The Voice revolutionises talent contests by rewarding talent only, via brilliantly innovative blind auditions. HERE’S HOW IT WORKS.

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The show’s producers, who can see the applicants, handpick a selection to sing for the coaches, who can’t see them but often make assumptions about what they might look like. If the coaches like what they hear, they turn round. If more than two coaches turn, they pitch their mentoring services, less enthusiastically if they don’t like the look of the contestant. Soon the coaches will have to eliminate half their own acts – all of whom they can still see, unless the twist is that they have their brains erased with mind rubbers.

Basically, it’s all about that tiny window where the judges can’t see the singers. That makes all the difference. Somehow.

Week three of this head-scratcher focused more than ever on the judges during that 30-second burst. Three of the four don’t do much: Tom Jones and will.i.am listen impassively, while Jessie J mouths the words to her own, better version of every song. So Danny O’Donoghue, singer with footling indie moaners the Script, is the driver.

Danny embodies the way The Voice is relentlessly positive about everyone even if they’re no good. As soon as someone starts up, Danny’s in pleasurable agony at the sheer beauty and power of their vocal, closing his eyes and fidgeting like he’s had a bidet installed in his chair.

“He’s so dope,” said Danny about Jay Norton, although he was so busy looking over to see how impressed will.i.am was by this cutting-edge ghetto slang that he wasn’t listening to Jay any more. “You have a great voice,” Danny told Allyson Brown. She’d just been eliminated, but in The Voice everyone kindly ignores this.

Danny deserves double money for distracting from the contestants, contrary to the whole idea of the show as that may be. The archetypal Voice entrant is an unengaging soul singer who starts well but then loses it horribly on the big notes. Weirdly, the louder and more out-of-tune they get, the more likely the judges are to do an aroused/constipated face and turn round, although this week Jessie J gave it to one contestant straight: “Your licks aren’t hugely clean.”

This wasn’t as insulting as it sounds. She just meant they were adding too many twiddly notes.

They’re all the same: earnest, slightly kooky-looking and offering a weak sob story. Cris Grixti worried that he was too short to succeed, despite being a solo singer who is on stage by himself with nobody standing next to him; Kate Read almost broke down in tears when she revealed that her mum is slightly overweight.

Only two stood out. Alys Williams’s heavily Welsh-accented version of Adele’s Someone like You was lovely (I know, anyone doing that song should instantly be harpooned and dragged off the stage, but still), although the real reason she’s memorable is that she inexplicably didn’t go through.

Saved for last was Lady Catherine Anna Brudenell-Bruce, the daughter of the Earl of Cardigan. Her stage name is Bo Bruce – pretending not to be an aristocrat is her prerogative, but the bigger mystery is why she would pretend to be Irish. Her slow version of Usher/David Guetta’s Without You was in exactly that breathy Dolores O’Riordan whine previously used by Diana Vickers and Janet Devlin. Why do people do that?

“You have a unique voice!” said Danny.

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