If Saturday’s ninety minutes of shouting, screaming and difficult decisions wasn't enough for you, you're in luck. Here's another hour and a half of close-harmony Sophie's Choice. There's eleven duets to trudge through, so let's kick things off with our opening act:
David vs Cassius
Cassius is still reminiscing about his former chart career which saw him scale the heady heights of the mid-thirties. But there's no time for all that, since he's been paired with David in hope that they can bring the best out of each other - an idea neither of them seems particularly enamoured with. Ana Matronik wants to know where they are in the competition. They're right in front of you love, they're the two who look like they'd rather be drowning their sorrows in a KFC family bucket. Jessie's doing her best to make them a little more edgy, and has thoughtfully styled herself as Tasha Slappa to help set the scene. They're singing Beat It, which works pretty well as a duet, but they're better on their solo bits than when working together. Remember that scene in Bridesmaids when Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne attempt to outdo each other on the speeches at the engagement party? You catch my drift. While Jessie deliberates over who to save, Reggie holds hands with the two contenders, which seems a little overfamiliar. I don't know, these fancy media types. Cassius wins, and David mopes into the green room to shrug off his disappointment.
Barbara vs Leanne
Tom's paired up these two beefy belters, so there's lots more talk of 'big personalities' here; and we all know what that means. He tells us he'd be scared to "get in the ring with those two", probably on account of his claustrophobia. As Tom complements them on being "like two boxers," the cameraman obligingly gives us a close-up of Leanne's two boxers. The performance is predictably cabaret, so much so that I half expect one of them to work the crowd with an illuminated tray of cigarettes. The voices are even bigger than the cleavage, but it's more of a demonic invocation than something you'd actually choose to listen to. Punishment as entertainment, for people who can take a broom-handle without flinching. Will pretends he's got a crush on Barbara and warns that there's melted chocolate on his seat. I really hope that is chocolate, for the sake of the upholsterers. In the end, Leanne makes the live finals, and Barbara heads off to make the sandwiches.
Jessie is doing her lip-sync thing again, as if she's the only person in the world who has Alanis Morrisette on her iPod
Frances vs Kate
Will's put these two together because they remind him of himself when he was younger. Will.i.am: the quirky teenage female hipster years. They're actually very similar, so it's good that Frances has her bobble hat and Kate the Timmy Mallett glasses, so we can tell them apart. By the second verse of Ironic, Jessie is doing her lip-sync thing again, as if she's the only person in the world who has Alanis Morrisette on her iPod. Frances has the edge on Kate, but neither of them can really make the song's distinctive harmony work. Will makes the right decision, prompting Frances to finally show a bit of personality in the green room.
Alex vs Emmy
Alex is nervous because he's never sung a duet, whereas children's entertainer Emmy is very confident, despite looking like Aunt Sally. Emmy's VT has been edited to make sure she comes across as unlikeable and arrogant, as she takes all the credit for carrying her duet partner. Even so, she wipes the floor with Alex who's acting like he's in a karaoke bar and just discovered he's been drinking Kaliber. He eventually finds his way to the melody by the end of the song, winning Danny's vote and leaving Emmy to give Deniece Pearson lessons in supercilious entitlement.
Ben vs Ruth-Ann
Ben is still clinging to his bow-ties to remind us of his status as an internet sensation (try Googling 'Two geeks, one cup'), whereas rough-around-the-edges Ruth-Ann has to prove that she knows how to hold a tune. Here's a tip - don't give a Whitney Houston song to a young Mica Paris and a guy who looks like he sells '99s and choc-ices. The production crew obviously hate it too, because the song is cut short, and we don't even get to hear Jessie deliberate before choosing Ruth-Ann. Next...
Matt and Sueleen think they can be winners, and I think they need to take shorter hits off the poppers bottle
Lindsay vs Matt and Sueleen
This is like watching the foreplay of a really awkward middle-aged threesome. All that's missing is a dish full of car keys and some pampas grass. Matt and Sueleen think they can be winners, and I think they need to take shorter hits off the poppers bottle. When it comes to their performance, it looks as though the local charity shop received a thorough rummaging, and the three of them just wander around the stage doing their own thing. Jessie complements Lindsay on holding her own, and I'm just thankful we didn't see her holding Matt's. Tom chooses the gruesome twosome, and tells us that this is the hardest thing he's ever done in his life, like he's reflecting on passing a particularly robust stool.
Murray vs Hannah
Murray has a hat surgically attached to his head, and he's concerned about shaking his "booty". If he didn't already feel like Hannah's dad, that last comment should seal the deal. They're hacking their way through Robbie and Kylie's Kids. Sorry, that sounded a lot less wrong in my head. Unfortunately, this musical performance just sounds wrong, period. Hannah wins this round, which surprises nobody.
Indie and Pixie vs Becky
The girls aren't gelling well at all, and they're giving some serious side-eye at each other around the piano. They keep sniping about each other's voices, to the point that it's like watching a dramatisation of the Sugababes story. I'm starting to wish they had to enter the stage via a staircase so we could have some proper Showgirls-style bitch-fighting. After a pretty one-sided performance, Jessie chooses Becky, who goes to give the other two a hug. They manage to smile through their bitterness, and resist the temptation to stick a 'kick-me' sign on the back of her floral cardigan.
Adam vs Denise
There's not much to say about this ruthlessly edited rendition of Use Somebody, apart from the fact that it looked like Stephen Merchant trying to harmonise with Chucky.
Tom starts reminiscing about moving to London and being held back by his curly hair
Sophie vs J Marie
So here's the experienced professional singer, versus the 17 year-old girl from an Irish village, and together they'll be yelling their way through Katy Perry's Firework. Despite being on Will's team, they're taking their tips from Jessie and changing the notes whenever they feel like it. I say 'change', when in fact they're just ditching the notes altogether and shouting as loud as they can. Danny comments that there wasn't much in the talent, but I don't think he meant it the way it came out. Sophie wins this round, leaving J Marie to slope back to the Strictly Come Dancing backing band.
David vs John James
Danny's getting biblical with his 'David vs Goliath' battle, but he also wants to give the guys "more of a chance to blow." The watershed is just moments away, so I'm a little unsure of where this is heading. David points out several times that he gave up his job to appear on The Voice, and talks about what a big risk it was. After watching far too many of these shows, I'm getting better at spotting the clues as to who's going to get the coach's vote. No surprise then, that David gets the thumbs up. As duets go, this is probably the best of the night, in terms of consistency and harmonising. Tom starts reminiscing about moving to London and being held back by his curly hair. When he was a lad, this studio was all fields. Can someone get him some soup and a copy of The People's Friend.
And there we have it; our final twenty has been decided. But it's interesting to note how in almost every case, the younger artist won the battle. For a show that's supposed to be about breaking talent show and music industry cliches, it seems as though image and marketability are still the guiding principles.
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