The Voice Australia: Season 5, Top 16 Performances

I’d like to start off this recap by asking everyone to keep Christina Grimmie and those killed in the Orlando attacks over this weekend in their thoughts. Christina herself was a contestant on The Voice U.S. Season 6, and came third. She was one of my favourite contestants across the seasons and by all accounts was a lovely person. If you can, please donate to help support her family (follow this link). If anything, take some time and watch some of Christina’s performances:

Now about the show. I have a few bones to pick with The Voice Australia. The producers have decided to bring back the same godawful elimination process from last season. Basically, one contestant from each team gets saved by their Coach, with the rest up for the public vote. At the top of next week’s show one contestant is eliminated. This is wrong on so many levels:

  • The format obviously lets the producers meddle with the show’s narrative by favouring particular contestants. As a primary example, last season’s winner Ellie Drennan was saved 3 out of a possible 4 times by Jessie J – even as far into the competition as the Top 8.
  • This is totally unfair for the other contestants who don’t get saved.
  • Viewers should have all the decision in who goes through and who doesn’t based on their performances.
  • This elimination is also based around the teams. It should be the bottom x number of contestants going home regardless of team, so that the best talent remains.
  • Speaking of which, it’s absurd that 4 go home every week!
  • The Coaches have made some stupid decisions already this season, and we don’t need them to make more.
  • Of course, it’s rude to just cut a contestant before they even get to sing the following show. At least give them the courtesy of letting them perform the song they’ve been working on all week!
  • And if you’re going treat them like crap, at least give them good songs to perform (‘Down Under’ for Mitch? ‘Be The One’ for Tash? ‘Hide Away’ for Georgia?). Producers, if you’re behind these terrible choices, check out my latest post for some better ones.

Angry rant over. Let’s get recapping!


TEAM JESSIE

Ellen Reed (Ella Henderson’s Ghost)

Starting off in the death spot, I was nervous for Ellen. To be fair, she’s been the final performance of each round until now though. However, it didn’t change the fact that Ellen once again gave us another showstopper. Starting in the depths of her range, she showcased a really full, rich sound. As always, she throws in a few melodic tweaks to keep it fresh while effortlessly navigating through the song. She was commanding and powerful when she needed to be, and that crazy note leading into the final chorus had me waving my gospel hand in the air. That being said, the arrangement in the second half was a little strange – not quite the stripped back downtempo piano arrangement at the start, but not really uptempo either. Ellen should easily make it into next week, even in spite of her placement at the top of the show.

Brianna Holm (Regina Spektor’s Samson*)

*Check out this amazing Battle between Korin Bukowski and Chase Kerby (The Voice U.S. Season 10) and this Blind Audition from Casey Withoos (The Voice Australia Season 1)

Brianna never fails to convey so much emotion in a song, despite being one of the youngest contestants. She was lost in the moment and I loved that. Yes, there were a few bum notes here and there, but that didn’t stop me from being on the verge of tears at the end. Her performance of Samson was tender, conversational and utterly beautiful. Everything from the lilt in her transition from her chest to head voice to her elegant phrasing was sublime. Well not everything. What was that set piece? It reminded me of the clutch of clownfish eggs at the start of Finding Nemo

Side note: Regina Spektor was my first ever concert!

Jack Pellow (George Ezra’s Blame It On Me)

In the verses, Jack had some enunciation issues that never plagued him earlier in the competition. His scratchy tone made a comeback in the choruses though, and that was a good thing. He looked down a lot, not really engaging with the audience. Nor did he vary the song’s repetitive melody. Speaking of which, a bluegrass/folk song was an interesting choice for him. He really excelled in angsty blues/rock infused performances in the earlier rounds, so I’m not sure what direction he’s going to go in. If I had to make a prediction, because the Team Jessie girls all had great moments, Jack will be the one to go next week.

Mikaela Dean (Jess Glynne’s Take Me Home)

After a series of more uptempo/energetic performances, I really loved this stripped back moment from Mikaela. She showcased a strong emotional connection, and had me engaged with her the whole time. Showing a lot of restraint, her pitch was spot on and head voice was stunning. The stripped back arrangement allowed her to infuse her beautiful tone on the melody and executed some CRAZY runs. I hope her and Jessie work more in this direction with her future performances. A definite game changer for her.


TEAM MADDEN

Lexi Clark (Adele’s Rumour Has It)

There were a few issues with what was a pretty good performance. Lexi’s pitch was a bit all over the shop in the opening verse. Her enunciation in the bridge was a little had to comprehend though. However, there was a cool vibe to her performance. I really loved how she played with tempo in arranging the song – it was really engaging and kept us as viewers on our toes. It really built up the tension to that final chorus. She really sang her face off and worked that chorus like a beast! However, with Aaliyah saved and Lane and Andrew getting more hype, I think Lexi will be going home.

Aaliyah Warren (My Chemical Romance’s Welcome To The Black Parade)

Like with Lexi, Aaliyah had some pitch issues in the opening third of her performance. And that affected quaver she does crept into the mix as well. However, dare I say, the last half of her performance was actually pretty good. She was engaging, connected and she lost the aforementioned habits that have plagued her in the earlier rounds, and even at the start of this performance. The song ended abruptly though, which felt a little weird. Additionally, she’s improving at the right time which could work in her favour.

Andrew Loadsman (A Great Big World’s Say Something*)

*Check out this Battle between Ddendyl and Deja Hall from The Voice U.S. Season 6

So I’ve accepted that his singing-only accent is a thing. Nevertheless, it was good to hear a tender moment from him. The upper parts of his range were really nice and had a full sound; he was never screaming like he was in his previous performances (and they were also the only parts unaffected by his strange accent). Yes, some of his phrasing was weird and his some of the falsetto moments went a little awry but there were some pretty parts in their. If he can avoid more alt-rock songs and continue keep singing tender, heartfelt ballads, I could come to accept him. Also, his jacket was pretty nice as well.

Lane Sinclair (Lana Del Rey’s Video Games)

Lane never fails to bring a heaping plate of drama to The Voice stage. It was dark and heavy, yet still captivating and entrancing. She showcased much more control than she was in some of her other performances. Her pitch was on point and her tone was stunning. In an odd way, it felt like her delivery was deadpan and jeering – but in a good way? It was hands down, the best performance on Team Madden.


TEAM RONAN

Tash Lockhart (Dua Lipa’s Be The One)

After a stand out performance in the Super Battles, I was admittedly a little disappointed in this one. While it was mostly the flimsy pop song that was picked for her, the problem was also in that she didn’t really change it up too much besides stripping back the arrangement. She didn’t shake up the song’s repetitive melody, and frequently dropped out of sound in the lower parts of her range. Tash still brought her lovely tone and her pitch was rock solid, but I think she needs another moment like she had with Heroes to cement herself as a front runner.

Mitch Gardiner (Men At Work’s Down Under)

Even more of a weird song choice than Tash singing Be The One, I can’t believe that Mitch was saddle with this one. Sure it’s a great song and an Aussie classic. But not for a singing competition! The starry backdrop and the campfire set only added to the cheesiness. I’ll just say he sounded and looked as excited as he could on the song. I’m glad Mitch has the chance to make it into next week, so he can at least end his journey performing a decent song.

Georgia Wiggins (Daya’s Hide Away)

Georgia’s had some pretty solid performances before this, and I think she might make it into next week. However, this was probably her worst performance yet. I didn’t mind her lilt at first, but it’s starting to wear thin on me now she’s including it at the end of EVERY phrase. Not only this, but she was consistently under the pitch throughout the performance and poor Georgia struggled as the electronic arrangement overpowered her voice. That being said, a lot of this could have come from lack of hearing over the busy musical production as well as the poor song choice that did no favours for her beautiful voice. If she does get through the elimination, I hope she can go back to a more organic sound like in her Blind Audition.

Emad Younan (Don McLean’s Vincent (Starry Starry Night))

Emad is without a doubt, the clear stand out from Team Ronan. He is always so captivating in his approach in telling us a story through the song’s lyrics. It was a beautiful a moment, with so much emotion behind it. No gimmicks – just him playing his guitar, with his bell-clear tone and wonderful conversation quality. While I did wish he opened his eyes a little, this performance was a nice palate cleanser from all the craziness going on the show, and in the world at the moment.


TEAM DELTA

Elle Murphy (Jefferson Airplane’s Somebody To Love*)

* Check out this cover from American Idol’s Jess Meuse (Season 13)

First an alternative take on INXS. Then a more pop-sounding Florence + The Machine cover. Then she tackled Adele’s soulful Skyfall. Now a rock song? I’m not sure where she’s going in her artistry. And I don’t think it’s this… Her performance was solid, but quite bland. She didn’t really shake up the melody, nor was her voice commanding enough to stand out from the band. It wasn’t particularly bad, but not otherworldly. Honestly, I think the only thing I’ll remember about this a week from now was the weird deep V-cut sequined jumpsuit she was wearing.

Kim Sheehy’s (Gotye’s Heart’s A Mess)

This was a true moment for Kim. Everything about this worked. The production (especially the cool lighting effects at the start) were on point, but Kim held up her end of the bargain too. She was honest, with the clarity in her tone working to convey the song’s intensity. There was so much drama in her delivery as she tapped into anger, all while showing off her incredible range. Kim has earned a spot as a front runner with back-to-back great performances.

Alfie Arcuri (Zayn’s Pillowtalk*)

* Check out The Voice U.S. contestant Brian Bautista’s cover (Season 10)

Starting off the intro package exchange between Alfie and Delta was pretty hilarious, contrasting the performance to come. There is no denying Alfie is my favourite contestant in the competition, but for good reason. He nailed the shifting tempos in the song, especially the challenge syncopated cadence in the verse, while never falling off the pitch. His smooth-as-silk tone only served to add to the sensual vibe of the song, with the production helping to add a dark energy to the mix.

Adam Ladell (John Lennon’s Imagine*)

* Watch David Archuleta’s amazing performance from American Idol Season 7

Imagine is a beautiful song, that means a lot to everyone. I appreciate him dedicating the song to the victims of the Orlando shootings – and he definitely got a few extra votes for saying that. His performance was plaintive and his bright tone was as great as ever. The production really got behind him, especially with the backing choir in the background. I did wish he played with the melody a little though, to take it into another place. I hope him and Delta can work with dynamics for next week, but he isn’t going anywhere.


Team Rankings based on overall body of work and tonight’s performances (and my taste!):

Team Jessie | Mikaela saved

  1. Ellen Reed / Brianna Holm / Mikaela Dean (I couldn’t pick! I loved them all!)
  2. Jack Pellow

Team Madden | Aaliyah saved

  1. Lane Sinclair
  2. Lexi Clark
  3. Andrew Loadsman / Aaliyah Warren

Team Ronan | Mitch saved

  1. Emad Younan
  2. Tash Lockhart (narrowly, based on her Super Battle performance
  3. Mitch Gardiner
  4. Georgia Wiggins

Team Delta | Alfie saved

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