Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Voice: Hold it hold it hold it EXPLODE IT!

Our finalists are chosen! Sally, Jermain, Jamie and Christina Marie will contest next week's final, which promises to be a hugely diverse affair as all four are so completely different.

Due to family life overtaking me again last week - one child with broken toes and the other with a day off school - Mum's Taxi Service was on call and that, coupled with normal work, means last week was never blogged. So here's a quick recap:

Team Will: Jermain went through on the fast pass with an old skool proper version of Treasure - I too thought it was an old Luther song, not Bruno Mars. Sophie May grabbed the second spot on the public vote, showing off her range with Moondance, an old song made fresh. Iesher lost out with the uptempo R'n'B of I'd Rather Be, a little weak at the start.

Team Kylie: Jamie has seriously grown on me - I knew I should've been more loyal and kept the local lad in my team - and took the fast pass with A Thousand Miles, which was so strong. Lee surprised me with a quite traditional yet unique and passionate Help Me Make it Through The Night, so honest and haunting (happy, Emma?) and went through on the public vote. It was Rachael who sadly couldn't capture the magic of her first audition with an accomplished, confident performance of a quite frankly, so so pop song.

Team Tom: Sally had Tom in tears again, with To Love Somebody and a fast pass for her was a no-brainer. Looks like there's a West Ham fan there too, as an added bonus. Very moving, she takes me all the way up the A2 to welling ... Bizzie got the public on his side with Stevie Wonder's If You Really Love Me, I still don't think this was the best we've heard him. Georgia was given Money on My Mind and I think Will was probably the only person who actually liked it.

Team Ricky: He's clearly rooting for Christina Marie and it was no surprise the fast pass took her through, with the Everlong power ballad. Yes, she's got a big voice, but she fails to move me. Chris with One Day Like This deservedly went through on the public vote, it showed off his lovely voice, although I didn't think the song was particularly challenging. And Emily, who could so easily have done the power ballad number, or an Etta James track or anything, was also given an uptempo R&B track, although strong, it felt more karaoke.

It's no coincidence that the four girls who lost out did so with uptempo songs that didn't give them the opportunity to show what they could really do. I personally feel Emily, Georgia, Iesher and Rachael were all royally stitched up: Those tracks are all production numbers - I bet if you looked at the lyrics on paper, they wouldn't make sense - you'd wonder where to begin, they're so dependent on the other components in the track, like the backing vocals. So the girls weren't really able to wrap their tonsils around them. Still, Emily did get the consolation of a cuddle sandwich with Ricky and Marvin.

So we're down to two per team and it's Team Tom out first: Sally with Whole of the Moon, as wonderful as ever, rocking it out a bit this time. Bizzi's song is a favourite of mine, Everything Must Change and improved to an awesome ending. Part of me was wishing Jermain had sung it though. Dancing in the Streets with Tom got everyone on their feet, and my vote is still with Sally.

Team Ricky began with Christine Marie with Bang Bang. I find her too shouty. Just not a fan. Chris's version of Smile though, I loved and was very impressed at the way he didn't just cope with the technical malfunctions, but didn't falter for a split second. Poignant, modern spin on a classic and getting better all the time - I'm surprised he didn't get the nod over Christina actually. Loved You Really Got Me with Ricky, Chris kept my vote.

Lee was up first for Team Kylie and started off a bit mumbly for me with Strong, although he got better. Naughty Will was told off by him mum for saying a four letter word. In context though, it was good sh1t. In Jamie's yellow mini with Kylie as roadie, and I can't help wondering if Kylie will reference the Inbetweeners again if they pass a bus stop ... I Can't Make You Love Me showed further improvement, so strong and emotive. A real WOW. I wasn't overly impressed with Into the Blue with Kylie, although I was a bit concerned that they may have been wearing hot pants (the boys) during the VT trailer. My vote remains with Jamie.

The toughest choice of the night for me was always going to be Team Will, with two of my original team choices battling it out. I wasn't overly keen on Jermain's version of Without You, but I can't deny his voice, and Sophie May will have to pull out something ultra-special to get my vote. Which she only went and did, with Royals! So confident and so smooth and also down to earth. But, my vote switched back to Jermain during their Let's Dance number with Will, when he was note perfect and awesome. So that team I left to the die hard fans of each artist to decide.

The coaches quite rightly refused to say who should go through before voting closed, and I'm sure if asked afterwards, would have remained reticent. Who on earth thought to ask that in the first place?

The Big One then, next Saturday, BBC One at 7pm. See ya there x

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Voice: Knockouts

The major culling is done! The coaches jettisoned over half their teams this weekend and no-one was safe. Except, of course, their absolute favourites - they must have had them, as they got to know each singer and find out who the divas are and who's easy to work with - it's got to have an influence, hasn't it?

Team Kylie: Leo first,with I Wanna Know What Love Is which I wasn't a fan of, but that was very very good, fantastic falsetto - well done. Handing onto Jai, with Take Your Mama, she has terrific presence but I'm just not a fan of the voice. Jade next with Blue Moon, lovely tone but maybe a bit too understated? Lee made Careless Whisper all kinds of Gothic and I can't decide if I like it or not; Femi ... California Dreaming, first one to really grab me *biased* love watching him as well as hearing him, so smiley ... Rachael the best of the girls with New York, which would have seen my three from here as her, Leo and Femi ... and then up stepped Jamie with a great performance with Sex on Fire. Will and Tom in agreement: Three from Jamie, Leo, Femi and Rachael; Ricky says the boys were better than the girls. Kylie's first choice is Lee!! Shocker? Jamie safely chosen but one of my two will lose out. It's Rachael who gets the final spot. And Femi is gone *sad face*. Let's enjoy him one more time.

Team Tom: Celestine kicks them off with You Might Need Somebody, showing off her powerful voice but it went awry a couple of times. I admired the challenge of jazzing up I Love Rock'n'Roll by Melissa but it didn't work for me. Accomplished and polished, I do like Gary's soulfulness but don't think Freedom was particularly challenging. Bizzi I felt could have also chosen something more akin to the soulful Hey Jude - something he could get his tonsils stuck into - When I Need You a bit bland. Georgia surprised me with a interesting and lively version of Three Little Birds - best so far. Steven followed with another quite bonkers performance with Grace Kelly. And then came Sally with Walk on By. I'm stealing her. Utterly captivating - you only had to look at everyone else watching her, spellbound. And Tom choking back tears. A complete no brainer that she was his first choice with very little preamble. Loved how she told him he looked fantastic. A good call with Georgia next and the final spot going to Bizzi.

Team Ricky: A brave choice and a gutsy performance from Jessica but the vocal wasn't strong. Enigmatic Chris with Over the Rainbow built it up beautifully - and I didn't hate the falsetto either! Beth definitely has a future - she's fearless on stage, confident in delivering Teenage Dirtbag. Christina Marie made Visions of Love seem effortless. Jazz - my favourite so far - with a Beyonce song, Work it Out, a great package, presence and vocal. Max advised by Ricky to "show us your eyes a little bit - girls love that" never a truer word, Ricky *swoons* Home was his most complete performance yet. Unique sound. Emily with Slip - like that she's brave, and she left nothing on stage. Jessica looks close to tears already and the coaches general consensus is for Chris and Christina Marie, and Ricky duly puts them through. Major trauma for him though, choosing between Emily and Jazz. Both were picks of mine and I'd have gone with Jazz, but Ricky plumps for Emily. Two power female singers though - Jazz would've given him something a little different.

Team Will: So this is where I lose four of my team potentially! James out first with Love Hurts and it's not his best, sadly, seemed a bit strained. Iesher with Try It On My Own and while I'm still not a fan of her voice, she seems very sweet and more confidence means she's more expressive too. Callum reins in his dancing to give a good performance of Sound of the Underground. Jermain didn't need the music - A House Is Not A Home melted everyone. I'll park his album right next to my Gregory Porter. Anna's dad (I presume) was blubbing by the time she finished her soft yet strong version of Autumn. Nomakhosi has great energy and I love her voice but the song choice didn't do her any favours really. Sophie May has that fragile quality that made Moon River fresh while retaining that vintage feel. Everyone is in agreement re Jermain but Will picks Iesher first, then Jermain and then ... Sophie May bags the final spot.

I'm wondering if the coaches chose the running order or if it's just coincidence that the final singer got through in every team ... 

Team Scatty: Jermain; Emily; Sally; Sophie May; Rachael. See the coaches live round ready teams here and tune in BBC1 at 6.45pm for the live quarter final. TTFN x 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dancing on Ice: The Final Final

The final time I'll have to eat my roast whilst dodging my head around the kids' heads to see the telly on a Sunday evening. Bliss. 

Oh, and a beautiful, final televised Bolero from T&D in this final ever final for Dancing on Ice. Never quite reaching the heights of Strictly obsession-dom in the country, it nevertheless entertained us for nine series, and I'm full of admiration for the celebrities who put themselves through it - knowing how difficult it is to stand these days, let alone skate around without any tricks!

Our ultimate champion was Ray Quinn - the DOI voters have always come to their senses and picked the best skater to win, although both Hayley and Beth ran him close. Hayliel's Jai Ho was performance of the night for me, it's just so spot on in every aspect, with fantastic detail, but Maray's overall skating ability and performance skill meant he got my votes.

Bethasz was on top form, with a sparky-coming-out-fighting Run the World cheerleader romp giving Jason his long awaited performance (though I didn't think it worth 40, not enough skating) and re-visiting the Highland Fling, a firm favourite. Hayliel tango'd to Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps, with great timing, neat tricks, good skating and no jazz hands - but I don't remember her being so sickly in the VTs. 

Maray's Beach Boys medley gave us an enormous back flip, as well as some ultra cool surfing on ice, followed by the intricate and majestic Flamenco - still those flying lunges grab me and he's so quick and smooth in the dance. The Spanish influence of course was there again in their lyrical Bolero, along with the splits and some gorgeous armography, while Hayliel's version was quite lovely and understated. I still think they could have allowed third placed Bethasz the opportunity to do theirs though *grumpy face*.

I wondered what we were going to do for another twenty minutes. Show highlights, obviously and everyone is welling up after Chris' final VT words. In fact, the emotion of The End was making the Winner Announcement seem quite an anti-climax!

Torvill and Dean have been heroes since 1981 - Mack and Mabel will always be my favourite - and I'll cling to the rumours of a proper stint on Strictly for them.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Voice: Battle Rounds 2 - Stop, look and listen to Femi

Another five through for me sees my team up to 10! I'm quite chuffed at only losing 3, although two of my top picks did end up having to be steals. And how Kylie teased us so ...

In a moment of pure reality TV drama (no, even I'm not going to liken it to proper drama), I decided to share my live thought jottings of the Femi/Iesha showdown with Stop, Look, Listen.

"I definitely didn't see her audition - must've got home late. His voice just flows over you; hers cuts through you. You really get so much more emotion from him. She really is quite blank, isn't she? Will and Emma have swapped places; Will's going to ip dip ...and chooses screechy Iesha. Balls. Come on Kylie, please steal Femi. But we're not near the end of the show yet, so I don't think she will. Balls. Awesome, he's serenading her, making it up but still she doesn't ...OMG YES SHE DOES, whoop - bloody excellent bit of telly. Take that, X-Factor."

And then she tells us he was always her no.1 target! 6/13.

So anyway, onwards... with no more steals. 

Team Ricky: Chris versus Jamie - Rolling in the Deep. Serious soul versus rock'n'roll, and both worked well with the song. Intense, I was chopping and changing between them, loved Jamie rocking it out, not keen on Chris' falsetto but loved his softer soul. He got Ricky's vote. Still 6/13

Team Kylie: Rachael versus Amelia - Holy Grail. Both well out of their comfort zones, so potential car wreck - but no! Gorgeous vocals from both made it a very tough call. Had I not been biased towards Rachael, I may have actually chosen Amelia. But Kylie likes that indefinable quality in Rachael's voice too. 7/13

Team Will: Kiki versus James - Because the Night. For me, Kiki was performing; James was being. I'll be gutted if Will doesn't choose him. Where's he going? What is Will on? Will he come back? #where'swilly said the producer's on screen hashtag. Let's talk amongst ourselves for a bit *hums* Can I go now, asks Ricky. No, you can hold it, says Marv. Will returns and James takes the spot. 8/13

Team Tom: Melissa versus Vicky - Just Give Me A Reason. Melissa has a nice tone but Vicky just edged that for me, a little more raw and she grew in confidence throughout. Tom opts for Melissa though. 

Team Ricky: Myles versus Max - Eleanor Rigby. So different, but nothing to choose between them. There was one high note from Myles that was very sweet and swayed me over Max's quite unusual vocal. Ricky goes for the unconventional risky rock of Max who sounds different every time.

Team Will: Sophie-May versus Cherie - Love Cats. Scatting alert in a jazz battle - which didn't ignite, really, but I prefer Sophie May's voice - we heard a different sound to her audition - and I'm glad she got through. 9/13

Team Kylie: Jamie versus Joe - Counting Stars. Two of my original choice who were culled, some great moments from both, some not so. I think I'd edge towards Jamie, he is the local lad after all. In the most emotional battle of the night, it's he who gets the nod.

Team Tom: Leverne versus Georgia - 22. They don't like each other much, do they? Although, I don't think I like Georgia much either. Not fussed by either vocal and would say Georgia was better; Tom agreed. Leverne gutted at the song choice not showing her off as much. Distinctly underwhelmed, both of us.

Team Kylie: Gemyni versus Jade - Baby One More Time. Quite ordinary, Jade with the edge and gets the nod.

Team Tom: Gary versus Elesha - Caught Up. Understated but full of quality moments. I thought Elesha but Tom hasn't got many men, has he? The 'run' seems to have been key for Gary.

Team Ricky: Luciee-Marie versus Jazz - Grenade. Oh, please Ricky, choose Jazz. I don't think I could stand listening to Lucieeeeee more, it's, like, all the worst like, teenagers evah - and very screechy. Jazz earthy and real but I think can do much better than that - the key seemed a bit too low. Praise the Lord Soul and his Jazz Disciples, Ricky puts Jazz through. That makes it 10/13.

Team Scatty: Beth; Jazz; Emily (Team Ricky); Femi; Rachael (Team Kylie); James; Sophie-May; Nomakhosi; Jermain, Anna (Team Will) What are the chances of four of my five getting through in Will's team?!

Check out the coaches teams here. Knockouts next - who'll be safe in each team, as the odd one? Till next week x

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Loop Dance callout: African dancers

Kent's leading professional dance company, Loop Dance, are looking for African dancers, performers and musicians for a fundraising event on Friday, April 11th.

Loop on LV21

This event will fundraise their amazing dance exchange to Durban in South Africa, to work with the community there.

If you or anyone you know would like to showcase your work or deliver a workshop, please email them:

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dancing on Ice: Semi-Final flyers, moves and shakers

In what was always going to be the toughest Semi ever, we finally said goodbye to Samvick after their fifth appearance in the skate off.

Maray 'Let Her Go'

An explosive and powerful performance to Let Me Entertain You - they've gotten stronger every week - and another good performance to Club Can't Handle Me (throwing everything in, including a headbanger) was never going to save them unless the other couple slipped up - the other couple being Maray!

I'm not a fan of the flying routines - it's supposed to be ice dancing not air dancing, so while I get that flying as part of a routine is an additional spectacle, it does the show overall a disservice when a lesser skater ends of top of the leader board with barely a foot touching the ice. And the top skater suffers with a pretty average routine because he's battling the associated sickness ... thus, Ray's spectacle-that-should-have-been was pretty meh. And apart from a few Superman moves in Sam's he didn't fare much better. Someone even admitted the aerial routine is much tougher for the guys than the girls, so why do it at this stage? Or why not have an element of solo skating in it too, to even things up?

However, Maray's two proper skates were awesome: Let Her Go began with a medieval, almost balletic dance and his lines throughout were sublime, while their skate off routine was one of the most beautiful  - performance of the night - to You Make It Real. I just hope it was audience complacency that left him in that position.

Bethasz continue to annoy Jason that they're getting through - her level of support suggests she in for the win though. The flying routine to Reach was nice - awesome Lukasz Lunge, and overall powerful, speedy but a lovely connection. I preferred The Dark Days Are Over, a blinding performance - complete opposite to last week - fantastic helicopter lift.

Top of the lot this week was Hayliel, whose aerial routine was deemed awesome by a bunch of weeping judges, but which I deemed; "Would you like some egg and chips with that ham, love?" as I found it a bit sick inducing, quite frankly. I did enjoy the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy though, full of pizazz - which probably got the vote of my mum, your typically average floating voter. She loves the lively stuff, and she always picks the winners of this and Strictly.

Anyhoo, it would appear that Maray are up for elimination first in the final, or will things change around? Tune in to see - and especially, to see Philip on ice, allegedly! 6.15pm, Sunday.

The Voice: Battle Rounds 1 - pretty young things and figthers

Here we go then, the moment my team of thirteen could well end up a team of zero! Happily, that wasn't the case and five of mine made it through, though I sadly lost two.

First up, Team Will: Jermain versus Sarah - I knew You Were Waiting. Oh, his range, those deep notes - seriously, someone needs to throw me a rubber ring. Sarah is good but I'll never forgive Will if he lets Jermain go ... he doesn't, of course. 1/13

Team Kylie: Lee versus Jimmy - When You Were Young. Neither did much for me, if I'm honest. And I can't be doing with insecurities when you've been given such an opportunity - deal with it, hang it out there or give it up. Lee wins.

Team Tom: Sally versus Talia - Dear Darlin'. Terrific song, suited to both - sadly, Talia not at her best. I do like the down to earth Sally though, and her voice is very moving, she really lived it and Tom duly puts her through.

Team Ricky: Tila and Tavelah versus Beth - Roar. Advantage Beth with the song; advantage T&T with the numbers. While not overly impressed, I suspect Beth alone would've made it more her own, which is perhaps why she got the nod. 2/13

Team Kylie: Leo versus Steven - Thunder in my Heart. Leo far more dynamic both vocally and physically - but our first steal of the evening, as Tom hits the button for Steven!

Team Tom: Kenny versus Bizzi - Jey Jude. The first really big battle and much as I love Kenny, Bizzi did outperform him - fantastic vocals from both but Kenny deemed too shy - aw, he's so sweet and smiley. Bizzi through with Tom, no steal for Kenny :( My first loss.

Team Will: Callum versus Tom - Pretty Young Thing. Nothing to choose between them vocally but show off Callum gets the nod of the shyer Tom, who has the more unique voice. Gutted, no steal on Tom as Callum gets through. I'm hoping things don't always come in threes ...

Team Kylie: Jai versus Nomakhosi - Tainted Love. And I thought "Oh. Sh1t" that'll be more suited to Jai than Nomakhosi but I was wrong - there was scatting! Jai marginally better than her audition but still a bloody racket, frankly - Kylie chooses her and I actually scream at the telly. After Will's comments, he's surely going to steal Nomakhosi? Bluffs us but yes, duly stolen *phew* 3/13.

Team Ricky: Emily versus Kelsey-Beth - Fighter. For me, Emily had the energy, attitude and the stonking vocal of the Figther; Kelsey-Beth a bit too nice, and Ricky keeps Emily. 4/13

Team Tom: Celestine versus Mairead - It's My Party. Not the one I first thought of, but the Jessie J one, thankfully! I couldn't understand Mairead at all, shocking diction, whereas Celestine was loud and clear and straight through.

Team Will: Jessica versus Anna - Good Riddance. I personally thought Anna was way better than Jessica, whose vocals were decidedly dodgy and who really needs to learn to put her emotion into her singing - I'd be scared about a gibbering wreck on my team, but clearly Ricky isn't and steals her after Will chooses Anna. 5/13

Team Ricky: Christina Marie versus Nathan - The Power of Love. Probably the toughest choice of the night. Personally, just on the basis that there are other female power singers in it, I'd have gone with Nathan. Will calls Ricky mental for not choosing him too - but he can't steal, and neither does Kylie, the only coach left with one.

So my team now looks like this: Jermain; Beth; Nomakhosi; Emily; Anna.

And this is how the coaches now stand. Next battle is Saturday, BBC 1 at 7pm. Till then x