The Voice Australia: Season 5, Episode 5

Oh I was so surprised that Delta just happened to decide to have a definitely not pre-prepared, extremely ‘impromptu’ duet with a contestant who sang her song (in case the sarcasm didn’t come through, that was indeed sarcasm). I guess Delta felt a little left out and wanted to have a duet, which her fellow coaches have already done.

Also, these Blind Auditions seem to be dragging on and on and on (the coaches’ teams are barely half filled). No I am not suggesting that they start montaging contestants like they do on The Voice U.S., nor that they should just not air some of the performances (like they did with two of the Battles in Season 3), but I am getting pretty bored. Maybe that’s why this season is making me cranky already. Let’s just hope that Season 5 picks up when the Battles and Live rounds start.

Don Leaton (Kodaline’s High Hopes; Team Madden)

Out of the myriad WGWGs (white guys with guitars)/indie singer-songwriter types this season, I think Don is up there as one of my favourites. He really brought a raw desperation in his vocal that complemented his multi-faceted tone that was smokey at some points and shredding in others. He needs some work with pitch and enunciation though (especially in his lower register), as he tended to mumble a bit when not completely belting. Let’s hope the Maddens can help him cultivate the magic in his voice and help to improve his lower register.

Susan Songsuk (Jennifer Holliday’s One Night Only; no chairs turned)

Due The Voice’s track record with Asian contestants (or lack thereof), I sort of knew she wouldn’t make it through. I won’t play the race card though because there were definitely some issues in her performance. Something about her tone and phrasing was a little offputting, owing to her very widely opened mouth. Add that to a vocally solid (in terms of pitch, power and vibrato) but ultimately pageanty performance, and I can see why none of the coaches wanted to turn.

Ashleigh Marshall (Christina Aguilera’s Reflection; Team Jessie)

The umpteenth teen pop diva belter, there were some pretty parts to Ashleigh’s Xtina cover, such as her head voice and tone when belting. However, she shouldn’t have tackled an Xtina song (much less one as treacly as Reflections), and I think she should’ve waited a few years to audition for The Voice. She came off as extremely underbaked and her pitch issues didn’t help either. I hope Jessie J avoids more Disney princess pageant ballads in the upcoming rounds.

Bella Maree (Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind*; no chairs turned)

*Check out Kelly Clarkson and Koryn Hawthorne’s amazing duet from The Voice U.S. Season 8!

Much like her boots, Bella’s performance was just too much, but also with not enough substance. By that I mean WAYYYY too much vibrato and WAYYY too many notes out of tune; at the same time, there just wasn’t enough life experience to pull off this mature, soulful Etta James track. Honestly, with all the crazy chair turning decisions, I was half expecting one of the coaches to turn around though.

Emad Younan (Yazoo’s Only You; Team Ronan)

Without a doubt, Emad joins Alfie and Brianna as my top 3 contestants for this season. Have The Voice producers not realized after 4 seasons that older contestants are just so much better than their younger counterparts? They have so much more emotion and life experience to draw from in their singing, usually with better technique from more on stage experience. The soft-spoken lawyer’s restrained, engaging and beautiful performance puts him at the top of my list of the many indie singer/songwriters (with better diction and pitch, might I add). He really knows the art of drawing the audience in to listen and connect with him – something the younger WGWGs of this season haven’t quite mastered. And just when I thought I couldn’t love him more, his performance of his late brother’s original song actually made me (and Sonia Kruger) cry.

Emily Markham (Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5*; no chairs turned)

*Check out Emily Ann Roberts’ performance from The Voice U.S. Season 9!

I have to preface this by saying that I love country music and that I’m always excited for country singers on The Voice (and Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5 is my pre-work pump up jam). Unfortunately, country singers never really do well on The Voice Australia (she should try out for The Voice U.S. though!). Add that to the fact that she’s a little older, and I knew that she wouldn’t get any chairs turning in a hurry. I dd love that she really got into the groove of the song and brought fun and uptempo to the stage. Although there were some pitch and breathing issues, she was still better than a decent percentage of the contestants who have made it through.

Maxon (Delta Goodrem’s Wings; Team Delta)

See what I mean about older contestants? The intriguingly unimonikered Maxon showed great control and tone on her interesting arrangement of Delta’s hit. While I did wish that she raised the key of the song or at least varied the melody a bit to take the performance to another place, overall I can’t complain. I’m not exactly sure if I’ll remember going into the Battles though.

Ilisavani Cava (Sam Smith’s I’m Not The Only One*; Team Jessie)

*Check out Ryan Quinn’s cover from The Voice U.S. Season 10, Simi Vuata and Stewart Winchester’s Battle from The Voice Australia Season 4, and Rayvon Owen’s cover from American Idol Season 14!

Ronan, please. “Is it a girl?”. Pfft. Anyway, I quite enjoyed Ilisavani’s Sam Smith cover. He showed off a soulful, gritty tone, a great falsetto and range for days. The one thing I wished he had done was made it a little more tender. The song doesn’t exactly warrant growling and belting, but more of a subtle approach. Moving forward, I hope Jessie doesn’t coach him into oversinging and helps him to be more vulnerable in his performances.

Ranking of contestants from this evening (purely my taste!):

  1. Emad Younan
  2. Ilisavani Cava
  3. Maxon / Don Leaton
  4. Ashleigh Marshall
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