After weeks of anticipation, the BBC’s new talent show The Voice has kicked off, with the first finalists chosen from the opening round of auditions.
Saturday’s show saw the judging panel – consisting of Tom Jones, Jessie J, will.I.am and The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue – in action for the first time, as a host of hopeful singers bid for a place in the next round on the strength of their singing talents.
And the auditions saw the quartet listening to the contestants with their backs to the stage – turning their throne-like seats around when they liked what they heard.
Those who win the support of one mentor will then be taken through to the next round by that person – but if more than one of the judges turns round the act gets to choose who their mentor for the live stages will be.
Saturday’s show resulted in Jessie J and Tom Jones winning three of their ten acts, while will.I.am and Danny O’Donoghue ended the show with one act each.
Among those making an impact on Jessie was 17-year-old Irish singer Jessica Hammond, who wowed the chart-topper with her own version of her hit single Price Tag.
“It is amazing for me to sit here and have someone like you sing one of my songs,” she told the teenager.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Samuel Buttery wowed his hero Tom Jones with his rendition of Adele’s Set Fire To The Rain – with the veteran singer the only judge who turned round for his performance.
Both Danny O’Donoghue and Jessie J said that they thought he was a woman but described his voice as “really strong and powerful”.
“I heard a bit of me there to be honest with you. I think we’ll work really well together.”
And 34-year-old Toni Warne – who has suffered from alopecia – won over Tom, Jessie and Danny with her emotional peformance of Will Young’s Leave Right Now, but eventually chose Jessie as her mentor.
“You’re so old school, I think you can teach me something,” Jessie told her.
Her third act was singer and pianist Ben Kelly, who impressed all of the judges with his rendition of Elton John’s Rocket Man but eventually opted to work with her.
Tom Jones also picked up singer and guitarist Adam Isaac and 36-year-old backing singer Aundrea Nyle.
Meanwhile Danny was chosen as mentor by 20-year-old Max Milner, who impressed him with his own mash-up version of The Beatles’ Come Together and Eminem’s Lose Yourself.
“You got those two songs and you made them yours,” he told the singer. “I think you’re great.”
And will finally landed an act of his own when the final auditionee of the show, 27-year-old J Marie Cooper, wowed him with a powerhouse version of another Jessie J hit, Mother Knows Best.
“There’s lots of singers who can do the flips and the tricks, I’ve seen all the flips in the world, the power was when you weren’t flipping,” the rapper said of her performance.
However not everybody was so successful in their quest to please the judges. Max Milner’s girlfriend Twinnielee Moore failed to convince a single panellist to turn their chair round, while former boyband member Sean Conlon – who was previously a member of 90s hitmakers 5ive – also failed to make an impact.
However Jessie J was shocked when he announced that he had been a member of the band, telling him they were the first live act she had ever seen.
“I actually really enjoyed your performance,” she said. “The only reason I didn’t turn around is because I didn’t know what I could do for you. Your voice is beautiful as it is.”