It was in May 2011 that I wrote an article on NBC’s brand new talent show, The Voice. I was hugely impressed with the innovative format and incredibly talented contestants. I implied that The Voice had the power to bring truly remarkable sounds back into the American charts. Fast forward 12 months later and we finally have our very own version of the game changer in the UK!
When I initially found out that the BBC had commissioned the show, I was dubious to the kind of conservative format and diluted version we would probably get. I had nightmares of run down has-beens critiquing karaoke, pub style singers. However, before the show even aired I was swallowing down a generous slice of humble pie, spluttering over my own apprehension. The judges alone were forces to be reckoned with. Industry heavyweights that each defined their generation.
Before she was the phenomenal sensation that she is today, Justin Timberlake described Jessie J as one of the greatest female vocalists alive! While her records might be a bit too poppy for the average fan, her acoustic sets are spine tingling. Jessie has the kind of mind-blowing range, control and distinction that most artists would kill for. More than that her current status probably helped pull in a huge percentage of the viewers alone. Tom Jones is a living legend that needs no introduction, whether you like his music or not within 5 minutes of seeing him on the show you cant help but appreciate his lifetime of experience and wisdom. Enter Will.i.am, Black Eyed Peas extraordinaire and producer. Whatever this man touches good or bad will sell millions. Once his charisma and surprising sensitivity shone through on the show I even forgave him for inflicting ‘Check it out’ on the world. The guy from The Script is pretty cool too…
From the first episode of the UK auditions, it was blindingly obvious that The Voice in England had upped the ante! The hopefuls that appeared on the stage were already as good, if not better than most X Factor winners. The blind auditions that followed in the subsequent weeks showcased an immensely diverse, eclectic bunch of performers from all walks of life. From the teenage powerhouses to the last chance experts, these people came to take our breath away, and they really did.
Vocal teacher Jaz Ellington gave a beautiful version of John Legend’s ‘Ordainary People’ in his first audition, bringing some old school Boys II Men adlibs into the show. His silky effortless tones bought Jessie and Will.i.am to tears. The emotional moment was probably one of the highlights of the series so far.
17 year old Becky Hill already stands out as a serious contender for me. Her similarly mesmerizing rendition of John Legends ‘Ordainary People’ won her a place with Jessie J’s girls and she slaughtered her rivals in the sing off on the weekend. Viciously singing Beyonce’s ‘Irreplaceable’ you could almost feel the unbridled potential as she belted out “you must not know ‘bout me’. We don’t. but we will!
Similarly 19 year old Ruth Brown showed incredible bravery in competing in the show just four months after losing her father. She reduced Tom Jones to tears as she explained the deeply moving memory of her father she found in Alicia Keys hit ‘No-one’. Battling old hand Deneice Pearson, she sang the song with the kind of roaring intensity of a mini Jennifer Hudson. It was hard to comprehend so much passion and feeling pumped into a flimsy commercial sing along. She laced every note with her heart and deservedly went to the next round.
This competition has personally reinvigorated my faith and pride in captivating, home grown talent. With Adele paving the way for English vocalists in America (and One Direction too, strangely enough) it seems this country is bubbling with an abundance of powerful new artists. Despite it being the baby in the talent show family, The Voice UK has consistently amassed views as high as 9.9 million! Britain’s got Talent was forced to change their scheduled slot after repeatedly losing million of viewers to the BBC show. It can only get bigger and better.
But more then all this, I get my weekly fix of Reggie Yates, and for that I am truly grateful.