The Voice Australia: Season 5, The Super Battles

The only thing I’ll say about this episode is that this is the most I’ve enjoyed watching The Voice this season. Even though it was hard to keep up writing this recap, it was great to have consistently amazing back to back performances with little fodder.

Let’s get recapping!

Team Jessie: The King of Pop | Mikaela and Jack go through

  1. Ashleigh Marshall (Michael Jackson’s Ben): This was a really pretty, sweet vocal. There was more authenticity in this performance, than there were in both of her past performances combined. However, there was still a pageanty essence to her delivery though that kept me at an arm’s distance.
  2. Jack Pellow (Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean): I thought the arrangement in the verse was really cool and had a bluesy/rock vibe. There was a nice tension and intensity in his delivery. But when he hit that random falsetto note going into the chorus, it kind of fell apart. It just seemed like he wasn’t really invested in the performance anymore. The arrangement in the chorus wasn’t my favourite either.
  3. The Koi Boys (Michael Jackson’s P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)): This was another fun performance, with their signature great harmonies and synchronized dance moves. While it was still great, it just wasn’t their best work. When you start off as a frontrunner, if your level of performance dips even slightly, it’s really amplified. Sad to see their journey ending!
  4. Mikaela Dean (Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us): Like with Jack’s performance, there was a great intensity and tension in her delivery. However, she needed to either project more, or sing into the mic, because the back up singers and the band were overpowering her. Consequently, she was semi-inaudible for the majority of her performance. However, it still sounded like a great vocal, so I’m not mad she went through.

Team Madden: Girls And Boys | Andrew and Aaliyah go through.

  1. Nazzereene Taleb (The Weeknd’s Earned It): One of my favourites in the Battle Rounds, I was really hoping Nazzereene wouldn’t lose her momentum, and she definitely didn’t. Her vocal was by far my favourite of the 4. It was really smooth, with her pretty (and accurately pitched) head voice contrasting the sensual energy of her performance. And man, those whistle notes!!!!!!!!!!! How did she not make it through? Well at least she ended on a high note – literally!
  2. Blake Morgan (Katy Perry’s Dark Horse): The start of his performance was really nice, using his cool smokey tone to capture the dark energy of this re-arrangement. I only wished he ramped up his vocal on the chorus.
  3. Aaliyah Warren (Lukas Graham’s 7 Years): Coming off the back of an (arguably undeserved) steal, she had a lot to prove. This was by far her best and most passionate vocal. However, the affected quaver she puts into every line is really offputting. Okay maybe I’m just mad she was put through over Nazzereene…
  4. Andrew Loadman (Major Lazer & DJ Snake ft. MØ’s Lean On): Having already mentioned how much I hate the weird accent (and the subsequent enunciation issues) he adopts when he sings, I’ll instead bring up some other complaints. Firstly, he was nearly yelling in the latter half of his Lean On cover. Also, why was there a standing O? Not to mention descriptions of his performance included ‘animalistic’ and ‘beast’ – yeah in a lion ripping off a gazelle leg kind of way. His guitar playing was good though!

Team Delta: Stage And Screen | Elle and Adam go through.

  1. Elle Murphy (Adele’s Skyfall): At the start of the performance, I thought Elle was onto a winner. However, in the chorus, there was a strident and offputting quality to her tone as she hit the highest notes of Skyfall. Each time she veered off pitch at the end of the phrase. Her octave jump at the end of the chorus was really nice though, but I thought it was just too late. Apparently not… If you want to check out a great cover of this song, check out Amber Carrington’s from The Voice U.S. Season 4!
  2. Shirin Majd (Habanera from Carmen): This was a much needed improvement over her performance in the Battles. She brought dead-on pitch and dynamics and no odd pronunciation! The only thing that was missing was the sensual energy this song really requires.
  3. Maryann Wright (I Don’t Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar): Maryann also gets points for pitch and working with dynamics, but her delivery was really bland. When the camera did a close up of her face, she was just dead behind the eyes. I still would have picked her over Elle, though.
  4. Adam Ladell (Taylor Swift ft. The Civil Wars’ Safe And Sound): One of my favourite songs from the cinema, Adam gave a really pretty but haunting performance, really capturing the essence of the song. While I did want a bit more darkness and more risk taking with the melody, Adam didn’t need to do much to rank as the best of this quartet. Showing improvement at the right time, with the push he’s getting from the producers, could seal his victory.

Team Ronan: Songs of Ireland | Emad and Georgia Wiggins go through.

  1. Georgia Carey (Hozier’s Someone New): I really liked her approach to this song. She didn’t push her voice too hard, like she did in the Battles, and infused her great tone into her performance. This wasn’t really a good showcase of her voice though. There wasn’t much of a range, and there wasn’t really a sense of ebb and flow.
  2. Nina Ferro (U2’s With Or Without You): One of my favourite contestants this season, Nina had a real conversational quality in the beginning of her performance. She really took her time, while never forgetting to put emotion into every lyric she delivered. When it was time to be powerful, she was, contrasting the soft beauty of her performance with her phenomenal belt. I’m sad to see her go!
  3. Georgia Wiggins (The Cranberries’ Zombie): Another contestant with an odd performance-only accent and pronunciation, it is starting to wear thin on me. However, the blame is not all on her. Ronan/the Voice producers shouldn’t have given her a song from The Cranberries – especially Zombie. With a voice already quite similar to Dolores O’Riordan’s, Georgia just came off as a poor man’s version of the band’s lead singer. Additionally, her vocal didn’t quite pack the punch that Dolores’ does – if they did have to pick a single from them, Dreams or Linger probably would have been a better choice.
  4. Emad Younan (Danny Boy): This performance was nothing short of beautiful. His quiet approach and great guitar playing only added to the beauty of his delivery. The only negative was that when hitting the higher notes of the song, he went a little flat. However, this was definitely still in the better two performances in this Super Battle.

Team Madden: American Anthems | Lane and Lexi go through.

  1. Carmel Rodrigues (Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love): This came off as more Rock Of Ages than rock n roll. Carmel just doesn’t have enough life experience nor the vocal horsepower required for this anthemic song. She didn’t really bring any passion, and her delivery was very dead behind the eyes. Granted, this song doesn’t benefit from being cut into a minute snippet.
  2. Talia Giancaspro (Dolly Parton’s Jolene): Talia’s unbridled anger and passion were really big ticks in what has an overall pretty good performance. She gave us a great vocal, but there wasn’t really a moment of explosion. She seemed to build up a lot of tension but didn’t really do anything with it.
  3. Lexi Clark (The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army): I could have taken either Lexi or Talia in the second spot to move forward from this Super Battle to the live shows, so I wasn’t upset Lexi was chosen, based on the nice vocal she gave. That being said, she needs to work on her enunciation if she wants to survive the first few weeks of voting.
  4. Lane Sinclair (Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire): While there were definitely some hinky notes in the mix, I think Lane’s just more concerned with getting lost in the performance than technique. While it would be great if she kept her pitch steady, I can’t really complain if she keeps giving us beautiful moments like this. She looked beautiful, and her intriguing tone matched the storytelling quality of her performance. Out of the 4, she was the one that needed to go through.

Team Delta: Homegrown Hits | Alfie and Kim go through

  1. Kim Sheehy (Missy Higgin’s Everyone’s Waiting): Going into this Super Battle, I didn’t realize how many great contestants Delta has on her Team, so this was going to break my heart no matter which way the wind went. While I wasn’t a fan of her performance in the Battles, I knew she had something special going on, based on her Blind Audition. She had a really pure, conversational overtone to her performance, and included some really pretty licks and showcased much more control than she did in her Battle.
  2. Calvin Swart (Conrad Sewell’s Remind Me): If I closed my eyes, I could have really gotten behind Calvin’s performance. He had a really great, beautiful vocal, but the double whammy of his odd double-layered longline outfit and his weird hunched-over posture was not exactly pleasing to the eye. Still, it hurt a little to see him go.
  3. Marcia Howard (Hunters & Collectors Throw Your Arms Around Me): This performance could only be described as amazing. She was captivating and dug deep into the song’s lyric as a storyteller. She never compromised her beautifully rich tone when belting. Another contestant I was sad to see eliminated.
  4. Alfie Arcuri (Daniel Merriweather’s Red): Alfie is without a doubt, my favourite contestant in the competition. His ability to deliver so much emotion is breathtaking, and his beautiful tone is just a pleasure to hear every performance. Had he not gone through, I’d stage a protest outside the Channel 9 headquarters until he was allowed to come back into the competition.

Team Ronan: Legends and Legacies | Tash and Mitch go through

  1. Mitch Gardiner (The Beatles’ Blackbird): Putting the song’s beautiful lyrics at the fore front of this performance, Mitch did a great job at weaving a little bit of emotion and his inherent magic into every phrase. His vocal was simple, but in an elegant and beautiful way.
  2. Kayleigh Killick (Amy Winehouse’ Tears Dry On Their Own): Firstly, I did not care for Ronan having a go at her in the rehearsal footage – it was HELLA awkward. Kayleigh’s actual performance was great. As per usual, her pitch was on point and signature runs were amazing, and it was really great to see her comfortable. She seemed to be enjoying herself while working the stage.
  3. Tash Lockhart (David Bowie’s Heroes): Narrowly dodging the elimination bullet in the Battles, Tash needed to really bring it. And boy did she! This was one of the moments of the Super Battles that will be remembered. It was a beautiful performance. I really like this organic sound for her. It was emotional, captivating and dynamic. Listening to her delivering this song, it felt like a punch in the gut – in the best way possible. If she can keep this up, she could be a strong contender to make it to the finale!
  4. Sam Trenwith (James Brown’s It’s A Man’s World): I was really glad Ronan asked him to rein it in for this performance. However, this was an odd song choice for Sam, who has been performing pop rock songs. This was a pretty good vocal. I just wish he had varied it up a bit – some runs would have been nice to complement all the straight tones.

Team Jessie: Battle Of The Brits | Brianna and Ellen go through.

  1. Nada-Leigh & Jasmine Jade Nasser (Little Mix’s Wings): This kind of just felt like a more happy version of their Battle. Their vocals and harmonies were really great, but it just felt like Jasmine was made the ‘Michelle’ in this new-found duo.
  2. Maddison McNamara (Labrinth’s Jealous): One of the more plaintive performances of the night, Maddison showcased a whole of range of emotion – anger at some points, sadness in others, and of course jealousy. I really felt it. This was beautiful.
  3. Brianna Holm (Coldplay’s The Scientist): Brianna is my favourite out of all the many young contestants this season. A combination of her perfect pitch on a nearly a cappella arrangement, her stunning head voice, clear-as-a-bell belt and her adult-level emotion really made her a must-have for Team Jessie.
  4. Ellen Reed (Jess Glynne’s Hold My Hand): A nice shake-up from the many ballads from tonight, Ellen really captured the infectious joy of this song. She worked the stage like a boss, but never missed a beat; she never compromised her vocals, while also having fun. Ellen nailed this difficult song with her monstrous range and unbridled power. I definitely stood up with the Coaches and gave her a standing O right from my living room.

TEAM RANKINGS (based on a combination of their performances, body of work and my taste!):

Team Delta:

  1. Alfie Arcuri
  2. Kim Sheehy
  3. Adam Ladell
  4. Elle Murphy

Team Madden:

  1. Nazzereene Taleb Lane Sinclair
  2. Lexi Clark
  3. Aaliyah Warren
  4. Andrew Loadsman

Team Jessie:

  1. Ellen Reed / Brianna Holm
  2. Jack Pellow (only because his Battle was one of my favourites, but this was very close)
  3. Mikaela Dean

Team Ronan:

  1. Tash Lockhart
  2. Emad Younan
  3. Mitch Gardiner
  4. Georgia Wiggins

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