The Voice Australia: Season 5, Episode 9

“The Blind Auditions are wrapped”, Jessie J exclaimed after turning her chair for the final contestant Ellen Reed, and I couldn’t be happier. The promo for the Battle Rounds has gotten me excited and optimistic for this season, and I can’t wait to see the contestants duke it out. Hopefully The Voice Australia producers have decided to include The Knockouts (my favourite round on The Voice U.S.) as well this year, instead of bringing back those stupid Judge’s Fast Passes and Super Battles from last season. To bring it back to this episode, we were introduced to 3 pretty strong contenders who could make it pretty far into the competition – I just wish they were joining a deeper bench in terms of talent this season, but I hope this is rectified during the oncoming rounds.

Let’s get recapping!

Natasha Hoeberigs (Julie London’s Cry Me A River; Team Delta)

Oh my. What just happened? I really don’t know. Okay, so this former cast member of the Hello Kitty musical in Japan’s performance was ALL bad. She has range for days and the start was quite pretty. I wish Natasha had lowered the key a few notches so that she wasn’t sounding shrieky throughout most of her performance, especially since her tone was quite thin in the higher parts of her range. I also wish she had dialed back on the drama and machine gun vibrato that she served up in spades.

Beau Lamshed (David Guetta ft. Sam Martin’s Dangerous; no chairs turned)

I knew right from the top of this Christian youth pastor/new father/longline t-shirt wearer’s Blind Audition, that he wouldn’t be making it through. While some contestants have missed their cues in the past and have gotten a chair or two to turn, he never really recovered and consequently didn’t get any of the coaches’ ‘I Want You’ signs to light up. Despite hitting his stride in the chorus and showcasing some cool facets to his voice, there was just an underlying sense of discomfort throughout Beau’s performance.

Sarah Browne (Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love*; Team Ronan)

*Check out covers from The Voice U.S. contestants Holly Tucker (Season 4), Corey Kent-White (Season 8) and Amy Vachal (Season 9), and American Idol Season 8 champion Kris Allen!

I was admittedly a little deterred by the umpteenth use of the “I’m shy” intro package (they actually referred to her as “Shy girl Sarah Browne”…), but she totally changed my mind within 0.0001 seconds of her Blind Audition. She showcased a strong soulful tone, emotional depth and careful restraint singing one of my favourite songs. She also really took the time to give a great vocal seated at the piano, so I was very annoyed at Delta using the “I’ve only got girls” card. Maybe if you hadn’t been so trigger/button-happy at the start, you’d have room for this absolute gem! And don’t even get me started on the fact that she happily turned around for much lesser talents throughout the Blind Audition process. Nevertheless, I am very happy that Sarah is progressing further in the competition with Ronan.

Billie Court (Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary*; no chairs turned)

*Check out covers from Mahalia Barnes (The Voice Australia Season 1), Jessica Sanchez (American Idol Season 11) and La’Porsha Renae (American Idol Season 15)!

So the slew of underbaked (and even crappy in some cases) teen pop divas and indie singer-songwriters have all had the coaches turning their red chairs without a care in the world, and this PHENOMENAL lady couldn’t get one?!?! This is a true definition of ‘robbery’. When she transformed that infectious smile into a stormy snarl, I about lost my mind. I gave a stank face to that bluesy rock voice of hers and threw my hands in the air during the uptempo portion of her Blind Audition. She brought the house down, all while working the stage like a boss and showing off her whopping range and power. If there were anyone to complete your team with, Jessie and Delta, it was Billie.

Nick Tabone (Ed Sheeran & Rudimental’s Bloodstream; no chairs turned)

Just like his family, I was left “absolutely spewing” when Nick didn’t get a chair to turn. While his enunciation in the lower portions of his range needs some work, he has a great upper register. His dark, moody performance really commanded the stage and that run at the end of his performance was sublime. Compared to the other WGWGs this season, he definitely would have fared quite well in the competition if not for his placement this late in the audition process. Come back next season Nick!

Andrew McKinnon (Matt Corby’s Resolution*; Team Delta)

*Check out Jackson Thomas‘ cover on The Voice Australia Season 3!

A worthy book end to Alfie on Team Delta*, Andrew showcased a solid sense of pitch and a nice tone on Resolution. He really built the song up to that soaring chorus and showed off his range and command of dynamics in the process. He even almost wiped away the indignation I had after Billie and Nick were robbed of a place on a team. Almost – a little less vibrato on his part would be great. Also, are longline button-up shirts a thing now, too? No bueno.

*Yes, the Voice producers are so terribly predictable that they have paired the only two guys on Team Delta in the same Battle, as well as matching up the two Nasser sisters from last night’s episode…

Victor Johl (Robin Thicke’s When I Get You Alone; no chairs turned)

We all know that Victor clearly wouldn’t be making it through, as there was still 20 minutes left for the broadcast. I was also taken aback at this Jessie J/netball fan’s decision to quit his job, riding on the slim chance of fame from The Voice Australia (even the winners fade into obscurity, Victor!). I enjoyed the sound of his upper register, but he needs a bit of work on his pitch, keeping in the pocket and shifts in dynamics throughout his performance.

Ellen Reed (Sia’s Chandelier*; Team Jessie)

*Check out other amazing covers from X Factor’s Reigan Derry (Season 6), American Idol Season 15 champ Trent Harmon, The Voice Australia’s Sabrina Batshon (Season 3), The Voice U.S.’s Kat Perkins (Season 6), Jean Kelley (Season 7), Jordan Smith (Season 9), and The Voice U.K. Season 5 winner Kevin Simm.

While I was taken aback by her interpretation of Chandelier as a “fighter’s song” (pretty sure it’s a song about getting drunk and letting go of inhibitions), she imbued her performance with so much emotion and darkness that I didn’t even care anymore. While I wish she had spent more time working up to Sia’s climactic soaring chorus, I can’t complain because she showcased such crazy vocal horsepower, very accurate pitch (even when she was crying) and the perfect amount of theatricality and drama in her performance, which is all I’ve ever wanted in a Blind Audition. She’s joining Team Jessie, a team stacked with some great talent, but I’m optimistic that she’ll make it deep into this season.

Ranking of contestants who made it through (purely based on my taste!):

  1. Sarah Browne / Ellen Reed
  2. Andrew McKinnon
  3. Natasha Hoeberigs
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