Saturday, 31 March 2012

Britain's Got Talent, But They're All On The Voice

A lot can change in a week. Jessie J has eased up the Child Catcher-chic she was rocking in the debut episode, adding a bold purple rinse to soften her edges. However, because this is pre-recorded, she's not yet revealed her current hairdo, which looks a partially washed set of net curtains. Danny O'Donaghue has spent the last few days trending on Twitter, admittedly with the hashtag #whothefuckis... And Tom Jones is busy learning his lines for the remake of Driving Miss Daisy. Last week The Voice got off to a storming start, showing up Britain's Got Talent as the mean-spirited freakshow that it so clearly is. So let's see what episode two has in store for us.

Tonight's first act is Heshima, a triple-threat who claims to be a singer, dancer and actor. He's already a BBC staple, having appeared on EastEnders, Spooks and Holby City. Ten seconds into his performance and Danny and Will have already turned around, which is lucky, because the moment they do, the dance beat kicks in and his vocals fall apart. bigs him up by telling him he's a global world-wide performer, which may seem a little premature. He chooses Will, who looks relieved that people are finally remembering that he's there.

Glasgow granny Barbara is wearing an electric blue evening gown, over a bra that must have been made in Scotland from girders. Her voice is powerful, but I get the feeling she's spent too long watching Bette Midler DVDs. Her microphone technique is also pretty ropey - at times it almost sounds as if she's bashing it against her uvula. Tom likes her, and she's more than happy to reciprocate, telling him that he's always been a legend in her house. Validation comes in all shapes and sizes. 

Kerry Ellis is a big West End star, and even recorded an album with Bryan May. Then again, so did Anita Dobson, so no need to hang out the bunting just yet. The album wasn't a big seller, so she's here to raise her profile. She's got an impressive set of pipes, but her song choice is woeful - as if the world needed another karaoke cover of Son Of A Preacher Man. It's about as subtle as her pleather leggings and red boots combo. The chairs don't turn, because the coaches are all busy scrambling for the Nurofen. Tom tells us that the hardest part is saying 'No' to people, "I mean, how many do you pick?" That would be ten, Tom, it's in your contract.

David is here to sing a song by The Script, so Danny will be pleased that at least one person in the studio didn't have to Google him. David works the night shift in a supermarket (sound the 'poor me' klaxon) and looks a lot like a chubby Matt Cardle. His voice is so good that Danny unwittingly gives us a disturbing peek at his vinegar strokes face. Will's playing his 'conquer the world' game again, whereas Danny stresses that it's all about the artistry. David umms and ahhs for a moment, but it's not exactly shocking when he picks The Script frontman.

Vince has nerves, and tells us that sometimes he thinks "Nah, I can't do this." Unfortunately, he didn't suffer such doubts when selecting his outfit. Picture a short, scruffy Billy Idol impersonator, with facial piercings seemingly placed at random. He's singing Like A Virgin, in a Prince-meets-Usher style, and it's just weird enough to be interesting. All four coaches pick him, and he starts to cry. Despite the fact that Tom's "I Want You Sign" is clearly illuminated, he hasn't realised that the Welsh wonder had turned his chair. I guess there'll be an empty place setting at South London's next MENSA meeting.

Shansel wants us to know that she "definitely ain't posh". As if we needed the prompt, having seen footage of her family at home, yelling "Keep it down gel, we're tryin' to watch the telly." So of course, it's a huge surprise when she comes out wearing a leopard-print dress and bursts into a rendition of Nessun Dorma. I know nothing about opera, but it certainly sounds good. Sadly, the coaches don't have a clue what to do with her, so no-one turns around. After the fact, Will is kicking himself for missing an opportunity to 'reinvent radio'. And I think that's something we're all hanging out for. After a couple more artists fail to spin anyone's chair, it becomes clear that this show's catchphrase is going to be I'm Kicking Myself. Now that's the kind of audience participation I could really get behind.

Vince has a handlebar moustache and Union Flag cowboy boots, which get ditched in favour of a barefoot performance. He tells us he's thrown everything he's got at being successful. So, glad that worked out then. The voice is good, but it's like watching an accountant trying to entertain colleagues with an impromptu number at the Christmas party. While we're on the subject, let's add Sex On Fire to the list of songs we need never here on a talent show again, along with anything Adele ever wrapped her ruptured chords around.

Oh dear, I'm having Frankie Cocozza flashbacks as we meet Aleks, a cocky little 'bad boy' lifeguard, who walks into the BBC acting as though the world owes him a living, and three hundred quid. His voice has a nice tone, but he doesn't have nearly enough ability to hit all the notes in the Jason Mraz song he's struggling to own. Jessie sits next to him while he attempts to articulate the fact that he would rather work with Danny, but she refuses to kiss him. Probably wise, who knows where he's been?

Frances is cute and from Wakefield, but she's wearing a bobble hat that suggests we're going to have to pick her out of a crowd in a picture book. She's singing Black Eyed Peas, and has what Cowell might describe as a 'commercial voice', but Will leaves it to the last note before turning around. Since he's the only coach to pick her, there's no need to make a sales pitch, which leaves him seeming oddly underwhelmed with his own selection. Anyone would think that this show was more about the coaches' egos than the performers. Perish the thought.

Matt and Sueleen are our first couple - he looks like a nudist who lives on a canal barge, and she's the swinger off Benidorm. They do a very weird folksy cover of a Beautiful South song, and Tom and Jessie swing their chairs around just in time for an awkward "Oh bollocks, one of us is going to have to work with them" moment. In the end, the performing duo flip a coin to decide that their fate rests with Tom Jones. He looks delighted.

Holly is 16 and has come dressed as half stripper, half crow. Preconceptions suggest that we're in for a Siouxsie Sioux tribute, but she actually goes for Ed Sheeran instead. She sings too much in her low register, so it's all pretty unremarkable. And I guess that's what Danny's referring to when he keeps pointing at the studio lights and saying "Go up." He tells her, "You took me to the limit but you didn't let me see the view." Helpful note for Danny's real estate agents there.

Deniece from Five Star is in the house. She's turned up with brother Stedman, who's almost completed his transformation into a genderless waxwork. The situation doesn't seem overly optimistic when she attempts to harmonise with an old Five Star record, and it sounds as though she couldn't find the note with both hands. On stage, things come together better as she tackles Christina Aguilera's Fighter, and sounds a lot like Nicole Scherzinger. Tom picks her, and as he gives her his feedback, it's clear that she's got her work cut out learning to be a humble beginner again.

Tonight's final contestant is a construction worker called David, who does a passable rendition of Superstition, which scores four yeses from the coaches. He even gets a standing ovation from them, which may have damaged the mechanism in those specially constructed fairground chairs. Please keep your hands and feet behind the safety bar at all times. He picks Jessie, and then Holly Willoughby's on hand to say nothing in particular about nothing specific. Well done BBC, that was money well spent.

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