The Voice Australia: Season 5, Battle Rounds Night 1

I went into the episode not particularly excited about any of the pairings tonight on paper. At the end of the episode, I wasn’t very excited either. There were just wayyyyy too many steals (5 steals in the one episode!), especially when most of them were very undeserved. There was also some terrible decision-making on the part of the coaches, especially in the pairings and choice of winners after a lot of the Battles.

Speaking of terrible decisions – the producers have decided to bring back those stupid Super Battles this season… Let’s make a compromise then: you can have them, but please don’t let the Coaches ‘fast pass’ a contestant each week like last season.

Let’s get recapping!


Team Ronan: Sam Trenwith vs. Mikaela Dean (Maroon 5’s Harder To Breathe) | Sam picked as winner; Mikaela stolen by Jessie

Multiple swear words on national TV during prime time? I wonder what the Channel 9 executives thought about Mikaela and the Maddens’ interesting wording… Speaking of interesting… I was very intrigued by Mikaela and Sam’s outfits during their Battle (not necessarily in a good way). Now to talk about the actual performance. While Sam nailed the opening line to this Maroon 5 with such ferocity, his vocal kind of just stayed the same throughout the performance, and he didn’t deviate too far from the song’s original melody but give a pretty solid vocal (I could’ve also gone without that shimmy at the end of the Battle). Mikaela, on the other hand, brought some nice melodic tweaks and runs, but didn’t really bring any fire to her performance. I think I still would have gone with her over Sam, but don’t think I would have used one of my two steals to save her.


Team Jessie: Carmel Rodrigues vs. Ashleigh Marshall (Colours of the Wind from Pocahontas) | Ashleigh picked as winner; Carmel stolen by The Maddens

I don’t understand the incessant hype this Battle received. Could the Voice producers be more cliche than to pair the two 16-year-old girls who performed Disney songs for their Blind Auditions in a “Battle of the Disney Princesses”? Yikes. There was just too much pageanty delivery, too much drama, and too many iffy notes and wonky runs from Carmel to justify her getting a steal. Consequently, I think Jessie was right in declaring Ashleigh the winner, who definitely was the better and more passionate of the two (she did nail that run that led into the climax of the song).


Team Delta: Elle Murphy vs. Tash Lockhart (Florence + The Machine’s What Kind Of Man; ) | Elle picked as winner; Tash stolen by Ronan

Honestly, I was nervous about two teenage belters tackling the mighty Florence Welch – Florence + The Machine covers rarely turn out well on these shows (apart from maybe Sarah Valentine performing Shake It Out in her Battle last season). However, both of these girls were pretty great in their performance. The start sounded like it was a little too low for Elle, who’s diction suffered a little as a result. I personally would’ve given the win to Tash, who showcased a nice lower register and strutted the stage like a boss. I also enjoyed her anger-infused performance slightly more than Elle’s more desperate one.

Sidenote: I wonder if the producers made Elle squeeze out a few tears to make her cry on camera to make Delta look caring…


Team Madden: Blake Morgan vs. Don Leaton (Shawn Mendes’ Stitches) | Blake picked as winner

While the two definitely were definitely better in their actual Battle than in what looked like a rehearsal that turned into a trainwreck. In their performance, both of them were very pitchy, with Don hitting more dubious notes than Blake. However, I enjoyed his tone, more interesting melodic choices and more dynamic and passionate approach to the song. On the other hand, Blake probably hit more of his notes, but only by sticking pretty true to the song’s melody and serving up a tinny Shawn Mendes impression. Either way, I don’t think either of these boys would have made it much further in the competition though.


Team Ronan: Nina Ferro vs. Nic Jeffries (Adele’s All I Ask) | Nina picked as winner; NIC NOT STOLEN???!!!

Jessie, shut up. “I didn’t feel anything!”. Ugh. The only reason why she might have done this was to please the producers, who are clearly storyboarding a narrative with a young winner and want\\ed to get rid of one of the older contestants who posed a threat to Adam Ladell and Co. Honestly though, Jessie, shame on you for giving tougher feedback to Nina and Nic than to anyone else. These two both showcased silky tones and pitch perfection in their equally beautiful, soulful, dynamic and emotionally connected performances. As soon as I though Nic had the edge with his falsetto, Nine comes and nails the key change. I honestly don’t know who I would’ve picked to go through, but I definitely think both of them deserved to make it through, especially when lesser contestants throughout the episode got stolen.


Team Jessie: Jack Pellow vs. Calvin Swart (Eurhythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)) | Jack picked as winner; Calvin stolen by Delta

I won’t lie. I was a little scared that Calvin and Jack were going to strip away the groove and energy of the original song and turn it into a boring stripped back performance. However, what I wasn’t expecting was for them to give it a whole new vibe and gave it a cool Americana blues/rock arrangement. I thought Calvin had the clear win at the start, with his smoother, more sensual take. When the arrangement ramped up, however, I think Jack’s rock edge suited it more, with Calvin sounding a little tinny at the top of his range. That being said, both guys really gave great vocals and performance and deserve to go through. Finally a good Steal!!


Team Delta: Natasha Hoeberigs vs. Maryann Wright (Memory from Cats) | Maryann picked as winner

I don’t understand why some of the coaches thought Natasha was better in this Battle than Maryann, who I thought wiped the floor. Maryann had great diction, a fuller tone in her belting and brought more yin to what is a pretty dark song (what was that outfit, though?). I was glad Natasha reined it in from her vocally hectic Blind Audition, but she hit some iffy notes, and had a very displeasing/sharp sound when she swung for the fences in accessing the upper regions of her voice.

Side note to Jessie J: Of course this is going to be ‘caricatured’ – it’s a song from Cats. And I thought you were a fan of caricature, being the Coach that put together the ‘Disney Princess’ Battle from earlier on in the evening…


Team Madden: Georgia Wiggins vs. Lane Sinclair (Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule World) | Lane picked as winner; Georgia stolen by Ronan

This was quite an odd pairing for me. The dark, heavy arrangement clearly favoured the sandpaper edge in Lane’s voice, with Georgia’s bright tone being weighed down by it. That’s not to say that there were things to enjoy about both girls’ performances, each with their own negatives as well: Lane showed more commitment and drama, and the brilliance of her tone shone through in this particularly song, but she had some weird movements on stage; Georgia’s pitch and enunciation need some work, but showcased heretofore unseen darkness in her and seemed to be more centred in her approach. While I think Lane deserved the win, I still think Georgia could make it deeper into the season.


Ranking of contestants who made it through, based on their performances (and my taste!):

  1. Nina Ferro
  2. Jack Pellow
  3. Calvin Swart
  4. Tash Lockhart
  5. Lane Sinclair
  6. Maryann Wright
  7. Mikaela Dean
  8. Elle Murphy
  9. Georgia Wiggins
  10. Sam Trenwith
  11. Ashleigh Marshall
  12. Blake Morgan
  13. Carmel Rodrigues
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