The Voice France battles 1/2018

After auditions and final auditions in December it was now time for the Voice France battles and they were done during two Saturday sessions on the 13th of January and our full day was both interesting and entertaining so I decided to immediately write a description of it not to forget the details during the break which will continue until the live shows (starting in April).

Two sessions during one day means long hours. For a person like me traveling from far away (in this case from Helsinki) only to see these recordings this kind of a schedule is ideal and means good value for money as I can arrive on Friday night, spend the whole Saturday at the studio and be back in Finland and with my family already on Sunday.

However, it’s quite hard for the coaches to do two sessions in row and I could see Mika felt really uncomfortable in the end of the latter session. He had explained to the audience his eyes were hurting and that he saw things a bit blurry and spending hours and hours under bright studio lights probably made him feel much worse and his head hurt and I felt so sorry for him, I could so well remember my own horrible headache during the December recordings. Of course, with the full studio and big expensive team the production has no possibility to do any big changes and they just have to finish the work and all four coaches stayed relatively sharp even they had such a long day.

The afternoon session started late because of rehearsals and we were let in the building but still waited in the so called waiting area almost two more hours. Luckily it was early and I didn’t feel tired at all and waiting was just fine for me and eventually we had our places in the studio. The coaches did their song together as usual and this time it was David Bowie’s Heroes. They all had new outfits for the battle round and Mika was wearing dark trousers, a white shirt, a navy casual jacket and really cool red and gold shoes. Florent was totally in grey, Pascal had a metallic shiny outfit and eye glasses that reminded me of old-fashioned driving glasses and Zazie had a long black shirt and boots. No skirt or proper pants I think, but it wasn’t as weird as it sounds because she can really wear anything and look gorgeous.

The system was different than in previous years and included four rounds of battles (so afterwards every coach had their final teams of four)  but this time every battle duo did a song together instead of doing their own separate songs and it made the performances look like real battles and was very interesting to watch and showed how much of an effect the song choice can have and how it can make two totally different singers either closer to each other or make the difference between them even bigger (depending on what’s the wanted result). The audience was quite loud, partly because on Saturdays they always have more kids than during week night recordings but also because both of the sessions were entertaining so the audience was not bored at all.

Two times two rounds of battles. Every coach had chosen two singers for every round and Zazie’s team started the first round singing Sweet Dreams. I’m going to avoid mentioning contestants and songs by names to protect excitement but I mention Sweet Dreams because it’s one of the songs Mika used to cover years ago so naturally my mind started to wander through different versions he’s done, versions I’ve seen live and versions I wish I had seen and all that took most of my attention but I still got the impression the performance was good and one of the biggest favorites in Zazies’s team was in the first duo and went to finals as I expected. After that it was turn for Team Pascal and again, probably his biggest favorite and I imagined the battle would be clear but the song was chosen to make the difference look smaller (at least that’s how it looked to me, they could have made the favorite to look even more special) and it was really interesting that way, even though the winner was clear of course.

After these two favorites it was time for Mika and his team and obviously neither contestant in his battle duo was a favorite in advance and even though the song was really interesting – I really liked the choice – it didn’t start well and I already felt bad for Mika (because his team had to battle right after those big favorites from Zazie and Pascal) when suddenly something changed. The duo consisted of a girl and a guy and it looked like the guy suddenly realized this is his change to go to the final phase and got a weird amount of confidence and did an extremely good performance. A weird performance I think, somehow peculiar but the style fitted to the song and I really liked it and thought it was a very nice start for Mika’s team and much more memorable than the next performance by Team Florent from which I can remember only the dress the girl was wearing.

I was pleased Mika’s team got such a positive start and the same continued for the second round of the first session. It was time for his battle duo and I saw him staring the stage smiling and wondered what was happening when the most interesting contestant from his team appeared on stage. I’ve rarely seen anything as beautiful as this girl. She looks like a real princess in her exotic outfits and on Saturday I just stared at her and could very well understand Mika’s smile and his expression, she’s fascinating and it almost feels she’s taking the whole place under her spell, everyone was staring at her. Her voice is not that much my taste to be honest but I love her personal style, she’s very soulful and aiming to tell a story and to create different atmospheres and not only to sing, will be very interesting to see her during the finals. During this round we saw entertaining songs from the other teams as well. Team Florent did a Johnny Hallyday song (I think it was his song, please don’t blame me if I’m wrong) and I loved the energy and seeing the audience joining.

After the first session we had a small break and most people in the studio left and just fans stayed waiting for the second session. The staff gave people water and sandwiches (I had brought some bread with me) and we had a possibility to use a toilet. The second session started, also a couple of hours late. We had already seen the biggest favorite from Mika’s team and in the evening his duos were not as good level as in the afternoon. Both times I felt it didn’t make any difference who won the battle but during the last duo I really liked the performance, it was genuinely lovely (even I couldn’t understand the French lyrics, Melyssa translated me the idea though) and it was  a bit funny and very interesting and will look good on television as well.

Zazie had good quality battles also in the last session and the first performance from her team turned out to be an extremely emotional episode. A mature (I like to to use that word because it means more than just saying older) and a very young contestant did a song together and it ended up being strong and emotional, not only to the audience but also to the coaches and I can’t describe it more without giving spoilers but I imagine the production loved getting this kind of teary material. I felt weirdly sad after the performance.

Pascal had one of his biggest favorites in the evening session and I’m still not sure what to think about this contestant, something in him disturbs me. His every move is totally crazy but also very calculated. Not saying it can’t be his natural style but at least the contestant knows how well the craziness goes for people and how it makes his performances stand out and it’s all so arrogant. The contestant is good though. He’s really good and will definitely do well and might even be the winner. I don’t have much to say about Florent’s team in the evening session. The last battle for his team was genuinely awful. I felt a tiny bit bad for him but not too much, Florent is experienced and will without a doubt handle everything with style as always.

Then it was all over and Mika came to say good night to the audience and spoke mostly French but in the end said also something in English, that he will go and will be doing something, I hope that meant music. Would be so lovely to think he’s making music again. Thanks again everyone I met and talked with and everyone who helped me in so many ways. I felt Saturday was genuinely a very interesting recording day, maybe because of the new battle system but also because I liked many songs chosen and found them entertaining. I love these short trips. I’m starting to understand I’ve actually learning a lot during my regular visits to France. About the country and the culture and the people. I was watching a random French film the other day and so many things and details I didn’t think or even know existed a few years ago felt now so familiar. Love it. xxx