Oh, what a night. The first round of battles in The Voice was pitch perfect in every way as 24 acts from the four coaches’ teams vied to stay in the BBC1 competition. And there were tears aplenty from the winners, the losers and, mostly, from two coaches: Boy George and Paloma Faith – but more of them later.
First to face their showdown on stage were Irene and Lydia from Team Will, who put in an angry performance of Aerosmith’s Cryin’, a song unknown to either of them. Maybe that’s why they were angry. Too angry, in fact, for Boy George, while Pacifist Paloma, who refuses to call The Battles, well, The Battles. “Can’t they be snuggles or tea party or just duets?” she asked, agreed with the Boy, adding ‘the duets’ should “nurture’ and help each other”. Will snapped up young Lydia and, sadly, no one stole Irene.
Joining Lydia on Will’s team was Charley Blue, who saw off duet Scott & Vicki after a “bit of a messy performance” according to Boy George. He wasn’t wrong. Will’s final pairing was much hotter, a full-on soul battle with Faheem and Aaron singing Stevie Wonder’s Living in the City. It was a tight call, but Will insisted opted for Faheem. Aaron wasn’t going anywhere, however, as both Boy George and Paloma pitched in for a steal. It was Paloma who got the soul man.
Paloma’s pacifist leanings saw some excellent ‘snuggles’ as she pitched Dwaine against Aliesha; put Theo alongside ‘reservist contestant’ Jordan; and paired testosterone-fuelled Bradley and Rick. After the first ‘snuggle’ Paloma said she found the whole thing really hard, getting ”attached to people so quickly”. She had to make a choice, though, and plumped for Dwaine. Aliesha wasn’t downhearted for long as she was quickly stolen by Ricky.
Second up for Paloma were Theo and Jordan and the pair surely provided the performance of the night with Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work. It reduced Paloma to a blubbering wreck while Boy George felt he’d “witnessed something special and beautiful”. Again, he wasn’t wrong. In the end, Paloma dried her tears and chose Jordan, but she — and everyone else — was thrilled when Will stole Theo.
Paloma’s third pairing was more sizzling than snuggling as Rick and Bradley “smashed the hell” out of a Etta James/Bo Didley medley. Ms Faith was clearly besotted with both, but chose Rick on the basis he was a “one-off”. Boy George stepped in to steal Bradley.
Boy George, for his part, set up some fascinating encounters. There was Charley versus Harry, who had the hatted-one worried that they were going to hold hands throughout the performance; Laura against Tobias, who might have ended up holding hands after the show following BG’s quip that “they should get married” (he did offer to sing at the wedding); and Cody versus fellow 17-year-old Heather.
The Boy chose Harry for “his natural soul”, but insisted it was a close thing, ‘Smiths’ girl Laura; and Cody who, he said, “brought so much emotion” to her performance of Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U (she also reminded him of how he was at her age). The last battle saw Paloma’s second steal of the night as she saved brainbox Heather. And even Boy George admitted he might have lost the winner, saying Heather “was exceptional”.
So, to Mr Wilson, whose first battle pitched shy Jolan against lovely Efe. All the coaches said it was a tough decision, but in the end Ricky felt he “had a connection” with Jolan. Unfortunately, there was no steal for Efe, who went home.
The Kaiser Chief’s frontman’s second battle was intriguing: bouncer Alaric versus busker Chloe. Their performance of Antony and the Johnson’s Hope There’s Someone was unexpected and beautiful, reducing Boy George to a tear-stained heap. Ricky declared it “perfection” and chose Chloe, while Boy wiped away his tears and stole Alaric. Surely, Boy George’s friend, Antony Hegarty, who wrote the song, would be happy with that one.
Last up for Ricky were Tom and Brooklynne who sang Amy Winehouse’s Tears Dry on Their Own. There were lots of comments about “good entertainment” and “great theatricals”, a sure sign it wasn’t a classic battle. Brooklynne got through, but there was no steal for Tom.
Really, though, the night had already been stolen by Jordan and Theo. Maybe Paloma’s onto something with this ‘snuggle’ thing.
Find out how the battles were won and lost in our picture special…
The Voice continues next Saturday on BBC1