Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Voice - Semi Final Shocks! Or not?

*Adopts phrasing* So, like, we have our four finalists and let's be honest - they're not who we thought they would be, are they?

I would have put money on Jaz making it through but Tyler trumped him on the night. A beautiful vocal on a safe version of a classic song versus what was clearly an insane choice of Bohemian Rhapsody - who'd a thought it? Yet, with Let it Be bordering on repetitive and boring (the song, not Jaz, I love Jaz's voice) and Tyler injecting soul into a Queen song, suddenly it wasn't such a clear cut decision. And so the public went with the different, quirky Tyler rather than the soulful Jaz.

With all the semi finalists having their own style and all able to sing, it was always going to come down to song choice and delivery thereof. I was therefore a little concerned when Vince just sang Back to Back, sang it well, but it seemed a little well, ordinary, compared to normal. And then Becky, who I just haven't taken to, does Corinne Bailey Rae's Like A Star, quietly and without fuss, showing me a little of what it was I just wasn't getting before. And don't be too hard on Danny not knowing it - I've never heard of Charlie Brown. The song, not the bloke with Peanuts. But I think Vince could well have sung Agadoo and still made it through.

Max again came in for criticism, but again delivered Max, who I really like and hope we do hear more of;  Bo commanded the stage, even with so much going on around her and there were no surprises that she made it through - from what Max said, he probably voted for her too.

And then we have Tom's team, with Leanne totally sneaking under the radar, through the ground nets, up'n'over the big wall and through the muddy tunnel almost undetected into the final. I say almost, because whilst Ruth is raw and amazing and Get Here will be one of my all time favourite performances, Leanne's performance on the night was the only one to give me goosebumps. Her voice is so perfect, you can't fail to be moved; you hear every note, every word. So well done to Lovely Leanne - and I'll say it here and now: the Tom Jones and Leanne duet could be the winning performance on Saturday. I'm thinking Flack and Hathaway's Where is the Love or The Closer I Get To You, anything that they can really wrap their vocals around and smother us with sassy classiness. Can't wait.

If you missed the live semi, like me - duty called for the kid's footie presentation - see all the performances on the BBC official website here.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Katherine Jenkins scores perfectly for runners up spot on Dancing With The Stars

Team Kama had to be content with the runners up spot on Dancing With The Stars, losing out to American footballer Donald Driver in the final.

Both couples enjoyed perfect scores across the two night final, which saw actor William Levy come third.

Kama's dances included a Proper Paso Doble a properly proper Paso, always a favourite when the music is spot on, as in this, but the name escapes me - Foxy, help! Anyway, you don't need me to explain it, just watch Bruno!

and a bubbly, jumpin' jive ... 

... and their freestyle was a wonderful mix of lindyhop, jive, quickstep, tap - a Broadway number, if this was So You Think You Can Dance - same song as Matt&Charlotte's with Sing Sing Sing - which Kath did at the beginning. Joyous!

Katherine took to Twitter to thank her fans for all their support, and a "humongous" thank you to Mark for his patience and sense of humour. According to a US talk show host, she's won an army of fans in the country and should be well on her way to cracking it there. 

Well done Kama, it'e been a pleasure following you this series :)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Voice: Love songs send Bo and Vince through to semi-final

So now we know the top four with the viewers, as Bo and Vince join Jaz and Ruth in being voted straight through to the semi final.

Vince, with his summer reggae stylee swag on Whitney's My Love is Your Love was superb - a complete performance, vocally and visually, commanding the stage. His delivery of first Madonna, Elvis and now Whitney should have the others more than a little nervous. Add to that he's very likeable and Jessie could well be winning this first series.

Unless of course, Bo turns in another spine tingling performance. With the charisma and individuality to also command the stage, her unique voice brought a new dimension to Love the Way You Lie. I was concerned I'd find her a little too samey, but the opposite has happened; she knows how to grab your attention.

Danny's team was without doubt the toughest to call - I loved Max's performance and overall, was glad he went through. But I think Danny will be doing us all a disservice if he doesn't  put out a David Julien album, who grabbed She Will Be Loved with a  natural ease. Gorgeous voice. Aleks, well, personally, I enjoyed his mellow laid back performance of Better Together, his voice shone but he is clearly still a little immature. He loved being up there but was then totally knocked for six by the coaches comments and had no further interest thereafter, becoming a little, dare I say it, sulky. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree? I'd never heard of it, although by the end I was thinking I probably had. Couldn't tell you who it was by at the time, so had no idea if this was an original spin or not or a risky song choice - all I know is, it was another terrific performance by Max.

I don't know if there was a Jessie/Will pact going on but for them to criticise the song choices of Danny's team was a bit, well, rich. I'm all in favour of a coach playing to their singers strengths and letting them sing, rather than having to worry about peripherals like prancing around in the audience. Becky lost the vocal on more than one occasion and needs to not stomp. It isn't pretty. And apart from the guitar riff, it was pretty much the same performance as before. Toni, after giving us Tina Turner last time, gave us Shirley Bassey this time. Hardly risky song choices for her; her style is what it is - perhaps she should have done an Ed Sheeran song? Jaz is a soul man - how was At Last different or risky'? But I've no interest in hearing him attempt ACDC, thank you very much. And Tyler's performance of Sign Your Name sounded much the same as Terence Trent D'Arby to me. Maybe if he hadn't used the falsetto for a change, that would've been different? I'm just sayin' ...

Cassius was neat, it was his best performance but he just doesn't engage the audience, he seems to sing into the mic looking down all the time and I find that quite annoying. In fact, in their team performance I didn't even notice him.

Leanne and Ruth shook it out; I'd have liked something a little less shouty, which I got from Jaz and Tyler with Roxanne.

The semi final line up: Bo; Max; Ruth; Leanne; Vince; Becky; Jaz; Tyler.
Team Scatty has four left: Bo; Max; Vince; Jaz.

Fans of a certain style will have their favourites: Fragile Bo; GuitarMan Max; Raw Ruth; Classy Leanne; Bubbly Vince; Hyper Becky; SoulMan Jaz; Cool Tyler. All very different, vocally and personality wise and as long as they choose properly good songs, it will come down to how they deliver them, in their own particular style. And it will be The Neutrals, who hold off from voting till the latter stages of these shows, who decide their favourite on the night, that could turn things right around.

Check out the gossip and all of the weekend performances on the official BBC website here.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dancing With The Stars: Team Kama through to final

Katherine Jenkins and partner Mark Ballas made it through to the final of Dancing With the Stars - despite suffering an injury to Katherine's back at the very end of their performance.

They were nearing the end of their belly-dance themed salsa when the injury hit, bringing tears from Katherine as they messed up the final move. However, the judges reassured her they'd seen enough and awarded 27 out of 30 points, with Bruno saying: "You unleashed the harlot, which is good to see - handle with extreme care, because it bites - so don't worry about what happened, because it happens to everybody. Up to that point it was absolutely wonderful darling, so don't beat yourself up."

And Len Goodman added: "I just wrote, 'Katherine the great, the world's wonder woman'. You absolutely came out and gave that 100%."

Watch it here - it looks like Mark caught her leg as he turned and threw them both off balance, and heading up the stairs you can see she's taking them gingerly. Aside from that though - this was one totally wicked Beyonce-esque salsa! Forget the ballroom, Kath's next move should be Streetdance, the next sequel!

Katherine subsequently tweeted her concerned fans the following message: "Thank you for all your concerned tweets ... I'm with the doctor, he says it was a reflectorical spasm in my lower back."

Kama had earlier performed a quickstep, which scored 29 out of 30, giving them a combined score of 56. I saw the little stumble there, like Len, but really, her characterization and movement every week has been spot on.

In one of the closest semis ever, it was Derek Hough and Mania Menounos who missed out on the final, with William Levy & Cheryl Burke and Daniel Driver & Peta Murgatroyd going through with Team Kama.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Voice: Leanne casts her spell

Eight become four by the end of Saturday's show, as Ruth and Leanne, Jaz and Tyler won through to the  semi finals.

Respective coaches Tom and Will had some pressure taken off their shoulders, as the public vote saw Ruth and Jaz safely through.

Tom's second act pretty much chose itself, as Leanne dripped class and oozed sassiness, showcasing her staggeringly smooth and beautifully toned voice with I Put A Spell on You. Adam and Matt & Sueleen had no complaints as Tom sent her through to join Ruth, who's turning into a musician - drum playing? Whatever next! A soft and subtle start with Next To Me and then she exploded!

Lovely Leanne is quite possibly the nicest contestant on the whole show, she still seems completely gobsmacked every time she makes it through. Tom was like a proud new dad by the time she'd finished.

I thought Adam put in his strongest performance though, with High and Dry showing off his mellower style . Honest was the word, for once I'm not in full agreement with Danny. I wasn't so keen on the arrangement of Matt & Sueleen's version of Missing, but I'm pretty sure they will be in demand now their time on the show is over. People may mock, but folk music is actually pretty huge in the UK.

The group number with Tom, Hit the Road Jack, was very well harmonised, all four complemented each other and were the perfect foil for Tom. Will went for a different approach with I Got A Woman/Addicted to Love, showcasing the individuality of each artist. Jaz and Tyler stood out, Frances did well and, although it makes me sad to say it, Joelle didn't shine for me tonight.

Jaz delivered a terrific vocal, although some support may have come because of the emotion generated by the whole "we're having a baby boy" story! Aw.

From Will's comments, putting Tyler through with Jaz was a no-brainer. Joelle, considering she was in Team Scatty, failed to win me over in the end - she's so good but I think had to try a little too hard this week, resulting in a slightly manic vocal. Little Miss Frances, who dances and prances - wasn't Danny's impression of Will ace - I will miss and admit to being a little choked up when she wobbled.

On the whole, the right folk went through to form half of what will be an extremely close semi. Team Jessie sang Canned Heat with Vince the standout performer, both vocally and comfortability on stage. Team Danny, though, that's gonna be way too close to call I reckon - especially if Hannah's vote goes Max's way. Their group performance was very tight.

Till 6.30pm next week then, check out the clips and gossip on the BBC site in the meantime.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Snippets: DWTS (Katherine's trouser trouble) Ex-Strictly champs; aspiring theatre stars

Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas made it through to the semi final of Dancing With The Stars - despite the best efforts of a wardrobe malfunction!

A beautifully swirly and romantic Viennese Waltz netted them 26 points - I must admit the getting in and out of the floor lift detracted a bit for me too - but it was still a lovely VW with plenty of movement.

They then took on the challenge of a feisty triple cha cha with an interloper - starting in a suit which made way for the normal fringy number, one of the trouser legs wrapped itself around Kath's pin and refused to let go! How she managed to keep on the beat was brilliant and she picked her moment to kick it away perfectly. The judges scored them a  near perfect 29, excellent technique and sassiness, a cool head too.

Tom Chambers received the blessing of Fred Astaire's daughter, Ava, in his West End show Top Hat.

Kara and Artem will be taking part in the Jubilee Family Festival in London.

West End Kids will be running the WEK: Summer Intensive this summer, in London from 31st July -5th August, for young musical theatre performers in the UK, aspiring for professional careers within Musical Theatre, Dance and the performing arts.

The West End Kids reflect individual talent, hard work, training, athleticism, teamwork, dedication and dazzling performance skills to young performers aged 10-21 years.

Register now for Auditions in Manchester on Wednesday 6th June and in London on Thursday 7th June.

For further info call 020 8123 2025 or send an email to:

Purestar Productions Summer Workshop: Learn to dance like the stars of MTV with a workshop on Saturday, 25th August that will end in a showcase!

Open to all dancers: 7-10 yrs, 11-15 yrs and 16+.

Times: 9.30am to 6pm. Cost for day: £35.

Venue: Barrington Theatre, Ferndown, Dorset.

Features the Purestar Dance Team who have worked with artists such as Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Usher and Justin Timberlake.

For more info send an email to : or call 07886 969 713.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Voice: Crying a river; dreaming a dream

It was Team Jessie and Team Danny who hit the stage this week and it's quite bizarre how I like all of one team soooo much and yet only one person in the other.

A big YAY from me as Vince Kidd delivered a modern spin on an Elvis classic - was there a band playing? Was there? Fantastic production and thrilled he got through. But the others on Team Jessie really didn't do it for me. Toni has a great voice, lots of energy and confidence but was a bit too cabaret - it might just be that song. Ruth Ann with Cheryl Cole's Promise This and while I liked the arrangement, her vocal just isn't strong enough. When she's great, she's great but ...Cassius with Paradise still isn't convincing me, he just doesn't let himself go. And Becky, well, I like the smoky tone but it doesn't vary at all. And why not give her a cordless mic?

So, I was only going to end up gutted this week, as we had to lose one from Team Danny, all of whom I loved. I personally feel that Danny has done the best job overall with his acts - he played to their strengths while also being unexpected with the song choices: Max first with Free Falling, a Tom Petty song, was cool and simple, beautifully understated and forced to choose one performance of the night, this would be it. Pretty amazed he wound up in the bottom two but confident Danny would save him over anyone else, judging by his comments.

That did mean we lost Hannah though, who is such a great performer and did an excellent job with a mash up of the old and the new Cry Me A Rivers, London versus Timberlake, channelling Aguilera with some grinding. Then we had The Miniature Buble and who was ever going to resist Aleks? He completely won me over; that was quite a risk from Danny, giving him an old, crooner number like that. Watch him flirt outrageously with the camera, with the audience and with us at home. He's only five years older than my youngest, for crying out loud.

I am so loving Will, I am: "Knock knock"
Holly (eventually) "Who's there?"
"Michael Buble"
"Michael Buble who?"

David Julien with Sweet Disposition, a song I only knew vaguely, didn't pull me as much as I'd have liked but I'm looking forward to hearing him next week; Bo Bruce with her best vocal so far, Running Up That Hill, had already reduced Danny to tears in rehearsals, completed Team Danny's first night solos.

Thus my original ten are now down to seven : Jaz; Joelle; Adam; Max; Bo; Vince; Matt & Sueleen. Next week, we lose two acts from each team *EEK* Now that is going to be a major headache! Catch up with all the clips and gossip on the website and don't miss the start of the next episode - we're starting at 6.10pm.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Team Kama's classic rumba sees them through

Week 7 on Dancing With The Stars was Classical week, which, if you'd had a waltz or a paso was probably great. But a rumba? It was very strange. Watch it without sound and you'll see a beautifully interpreted rumba but I found the music very distracting. Kudos to Kama for delivering scores of 9 across the board, which put them joint second on the leader board.

However, I loved the attack and the energy from each couple in the team Tango, where the music allowed the professionals' creative choreography to shine. The team scored 27 and Kama duly sailed through to next week.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Snippets: Strictly Come Dancing; The Voice; Streetdance

What did I say before - and 30 people complained about The Voice's 'live' recorded results show. 30! And it's headlines all over the press. Pathetic, isn't it. 30, out of 10.3 million. I'm leaving it there ...

The final eight in The Voice will be touring in September, going it alone (with each other) but without their coaches. Check out the tour dates here.

The BBC have launched a FREE on line game, Strictly Keep Dancing, where you can learn to dance, check it out here. I may even have a little tickle at that myself! Pasha or Mark Ballas, that's the dilemma...

Tess Daly is in Hollywood, according to The Sun, hoping to turn her debut novel, The Camera Never Lies, into a film.

And, Alesha Dixon In Shock Return To BBC Because Obviously, Presenters and Actors Can't Do Different Programmes On Different Channels At The Same Time Because That Would Be Weird, Like Freelance Writers Writing For Different Publications Or Something. Oh.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Voice: Ruth Brown brings the house down!

I'm not even going to start on the god-awful dress they put Ruth in, or that Holly asked the same banal question of the judges three times each. Because I simply don't care - what I care about is that Ruth Brown gave the most raw, powerful, emotive and beautiful performance I've seen on my TV screen in a long long time. She has the vulnerability of Randy Crawford and the power of Aretha Franklin - for those that are banging on about her just being 'loud', listen again, because this performance sang it loud and sang it with fragility too - she can sing it anyway she likes. Even more respect to Tom for allowing her to do it her own way - that vocal was not taught or coached, it was given the freedom to just be. You only have to watch Will's reaction; blown away doesn't cover it. It was like the world faded away and there was just Ruth. 

Through all the usual talent shows I've lived in hope that I'd hear a voice to rival a huge soul star - and been eternally disappointed as promising auditionees were ruined by the judges (I'll give you Will Young and Alexandra Burke as exceptions, although I wouldn't say they both blew me out of the water). Firstly, out stepped Joelle, with a hugely difficult song - quite possibly the reason she ended up in the bottom two, that and soppy Will letting slip that she 'complained', sorry, 'was concerned' about going first. Vocally it was right up there with Mary J, Chaka and all other female soul stars. Stunning performance, animated and passionate, pitch perfect.

And then Jaz turned up big time, giving me that male vocal I've previously listened in vain for. Shades of Stevie and  Luther but ultimately all Jaz. Subtle, sincere, soulful, classy. Wonderful stuff.

But that's not to say the others weren't good, far from it, all of them turned in strong vocal performances - it came down to personal musical taste. Those I hadn't initially been keen on - Tyler and Frances, both impressed. They came across well, likeable - especially when Frances, bigging up coach Will said "he can even sing". Loved that! 

Sam, while having the voice for his own version of A Little Respect, didn't do it for me and seemed pretty high maintenance emotionally; Sophie, giving Titanium a good go, lacked the sparkle that saw her through the week before. I wasn't surprised to see them both in the bottom two and their coaches letting them go. They shouldn't take it personally - different songs could have easily brought about an alternative result.

Adam was a tad too rockified for me, but would certainly have satisfied the masses into that particular genre; Leanne so strong and making Pink's Who Knew her own. Matt and Sueleen seem to be the ones people are either loving or hating - I happen to enjoy them. Again, it's not what I'd normally listen too but I can appreciate the harmonies and Matt can rock it out well.

In the team Danny/Jessie group number, Aleks needs dance lessons, seriously, he was so uncomfortable, whereas David, Max and Hannah were all going for it. Bo tended to get a little swallowed up too. Jessie's team were much more even - no-one commanded my attention, in a good or bad way. 

Tom and Will can relax for a week now, the pressure's all on Danny and Jessie and whether their teams can match what we've already heard. To keep you going till Saturday, you can see clips of all Team Tom and Will's performances here