Friday, 22 June 2012

Snippets: Strictly Come Dancing; Dancing on Ice; The Voice; Jesus Christ Superstar

Strictly Shocking - Katya Virshilas has been axed from the pro dancer line up in favour of some other lady pro the producers hope will shake things up. Katya has only been with the show for three seasons, partnering Phil Tufnell, Gavin Henson and Dan Lobb, finishing 5th with Gavin in 2010. Good luck to her and whatever projects she pursues next. *UPDATE* According to The Sun, the new pro is Karen Hauer, a So You Think You Can Dance alumni and Mambo world champion, currently touring with Burn The Floor.

According to most of the press, ex-England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has signed up for the next series. However, according to the Metro, he's denied this. Slow news day? Expect a lot more like that before September.

Christine Bleakley is shocked, shocked, I say, at how competitive the athletes taking part in the Dancing On Ice challenge are. That's the thing about those pesky competitive athlete types, always wanting to be the best and win stuff. I dunno *facepalm*

The Voice has cancelled its live tour due to poor ticket sales. Trying to run before they could walk, is all this is. SCD, DOI and X-F didn't begin their tours straight away: Reggie is right in saying it's unfair to compare the new show with the established giants. As for Leanne not having a hit: One word - demographics. I loved her, but I don't do downloads. The audience for The Voice and the audiences for X-Factor and BGT are completely different, bar a few sad souls like me. So let's just all calm down and allow The Voice to grow naturally. By the way, gave half a million quid of his fee to the Princes Trust. So, no pressure X-Factor judges ...

Andrew Lloyd-Webber begins the hunt for his Jesus Christ Superstar lead on ITV1 next month. Which is fab cos I've been wondering what to blog about till Strictly begins.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Lovely Leanne is The Voice!

Team Tom won the inaugural series of The Voice, with Leanne Mitchell blowing away the opposition.

It wasn't so much that the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood up, it's that they were holding candles and swaying too. Leanne, as I thought, performed a cracking version of It's a Man's World, followed with Mama Told Me Not To Come, more than holding her own with the original Voice himself, Sir Tom, and then somehow managed to improve on last week's performance of Run To You.

You see, as I said before - the bookies haven't got a clue, they're completely out of touch with how we view these shows. Bo and Tyler made the mistake of Wanting To Win So Badly After A Difficult Year - the public don't respond to that in the final rounds, not like they do during the early stages. It's the humble and likeable Someone Who Doesn't Know How Good They Are that we like. The trouble being, we all have crap years and many, many people go through the same s***. So if you're going to revamp, Auntie, that's the stuff you need to cut out.

As it happens, I'm not swayed on either count - other than believing Leanne to be the loveliest, most normal contestant ever, in any reality show, with the gift of a voice bestowed by elves and angels - I really liked Bo, Tyler and Vince too. All so different and will all - if their coaches are to be believed - now get a real leg-up into the industry.

On the night, apart from Leanne, Bo also impressed (it was 3-2 from me votes wise) with a strong and emotional Nothing Compares 2U. The risky duet of Read All About It totally worked, with Danny giving Bo centre stage and a huge finish - the energy generated could have powered the whole lighting rig. Probably. Then a repeat of Charlie Brown and it was only this v Run To You which split them for me. Still a great performance but, well, see above.

Tyler did a great job with I'll Be There and here's the thing - I prefer his full voice, I actually don't like the falsetto much, which has stopped him becoming a favourite of mine. I'm not convinced, as it doesn't sound particularly pure to me. But I enjoyed the grooviness of OMG and the subtlety of Higher Love. Nicely done, but not winners.

Vince, sadly, didn't deliver the emotional performance I was expecting from Many Rivers to Cross. Still a great vocal but no candle waving arm hairs. And unfortunately for him, the duet with Jessie had far too much Jessieness in it: what he did, he did well but he was lost beside Jessie. That's a compliment to Jessie, by the way, not a criticism - although if back next year, she may want to think like Danny and do something not associated with her, to temper her input. I'm wondering what song Vince would have sung if he'd made it through to the final bit - I would like to hear Like A Virgin again, so maybe that'll be on the album!

What is it with a man and guitar? Ed Sheeran had us all in tears, unless you're a robot, with Small Bump. Such a beautiful, sad song. Maroon 5 had me dancing in the armchair as did the coaches with their greatest hits medley of It's Not Unusual/Breakeven/Price Tag/Where is the Love. And then we had our winner announced and I'm left wondering why the hell I hadn't got Leanne in my top 10 to begin with ...

So now the inquest has begun into how they can improve the show. Personally, I loved the combination and rapport of the judges, and I don't see a need to change the format as such. The viewers dropped when they brought the time forward - post 7pm is the way to go, please, as those of us with kids to feed end up watching on I-player. And Holly - love her to bits, but for god's sake give her something to say instead of repeating the same 'how do you feel' questions. Let the judges and contestants say it in a VT so we don't get the ums and ah's or in Will's case, nothing. We don't need filler - we're quite happy for the show to be half an hour shorter, really. If you must have some filler, give us a blooper reel, or a TV Burp type effort, with a comedian providing a commentary (Hugh Dennis, I'm looking at you.) There you go Danny, sorted :)

Catch all the performances again on the official BBC website here. Apply for Series 2 here!

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Voice: The Fantastic Final Four Song Choices

Those lovely people over at the Beeb have let us know what songs our final four will be singing individually and with their coaches tomorrow.

So (I'm sorry, I just can't help it. Blame Will) from left to right:

Tyler will sing Michael Jackson's I'll Be There and follow up with Will on OMG (Usher feat. - I'm expecting the falsetto then, with maybe the dip into the full voice in the solo - listening to it there, I'm already looking forward to it. A good combination, with the duet ultra modern and uptempo.

Vince opts for a huge reggae ballad which could be a show stopper: Many Rivers to Cross by Jimmy Cliff, is something he can seriously show off his fabulous voice with, either as it is or with a Vince slant. The duet with Jessie is on her own 'Nobody's Perfect' track (NOTE: Swearing alert!) Again, a combo of old and new - it'll be interesting to see if she allowed Vince to muck about with her song!

Lovely Leanne is going BIG but soulful - James Brown It's A Man's World - I'm getting shivers already! There's no Flack and Hathaway for the duet but again, big and soulful with The Stereophonics featuring Tom Mama Told Me Not To Come. It'll give Leanne the chance to get the audience on their feet again, this time to dance. I've no doubt they'll be standing after the solo.

Bo is also going for the big emotionally charged solo, with the iconic Prince-written Nothing Compares 2U by Sinead O'Connor. Fabulous choice. I can see and hear her now. Danny is the only coach not duetting on one of his own songs - the only risky choice, I think, being Read All About It for him and Bo. Which could actually be a stroke of genius. Especially since most voters already have their favourite and others will make the call on the solo. The few left over floaters could well be swayed by the unexpected. And Danny rapping ...

Apparently, the favourite with the bookies is Bo, but we know they ain't got a clue half the time - I'd say, looking a these choices, listening to them and thinking of how the finalists could perform them, it'll be much closer than anticipated. A brilliant set of songs and I'm properly excited now!

View the epic trailer over on the official BBC site to get you in the mood! 7.20pm, BBC One.
Photo: BBC