The Voice of France battles continued on Friday. The production had added new music and lights to create extra excitement and the studio audience could clearly feel that in the atmosphere. Performances we saw were all different styles. Some of them felt like real battles and it was easy to see which one of the contestants felt more confident and how the situation possibly changed during the song. Some performances had a duet vibe and were that way quite enjoyable but didn’t offer any obvious winner. In some cases the duet made the contestants look better than they looked alone so the coaches had to seriously consider if that was because they actually should work together or because the song was just so exceptionally suitable for them.
The new rules allow many outcomes and coaches can either immediately choose the winner, choose to keep the both contestants or not choose anyone at all (that meaning the both talents are out of the competition). During Friday we see all that happening and a couple of times the coaches indeed decided to make a new combination offering the contestants an opportunity to work together and I really liked these new options and thought they bring in more color compared to the old system where one from every battle was always in and one out.
Friday’s schedule had two sessions and some of us spent in the studio more than 12 hours. Most people came only either for afternoon or evening and many people commented that was quite tiring already but personally I like these long sessions because they mean less waiting outside and more focusing on the recording itself and I always feel I can see a lot and have a lot to go through afterwards. However, the coaches don’t much interact with the audience during the battles and sitting in the audience means following performances and the related discussion and watching how the recording is done. Generally I find these both interesting especially after seeing all the previous recordings (which means I already know the contestants and have my own expectations for them).
Before the battles we saw the coaches and several guests performing several times and that’s always my favorite part of the recording. This time Mika had only tiny roles on stage with short lines to sing. Singing in French is naturally harder for him than it is for the others and sometimes he needs an extra take to get the lyrics right. That of course suits us very well because that way we can hear the song one more time. A lot of people come to see these recordings especially to see Mika and of course the audience loves Soprano who’s the one giving it most attention. This time I met also surprisingly many people who were there for Jenifer or Julien Clerc. My first impression was that they were somehow organized to be there but of course all of the coaches are popular artists in France, not sure why I thought that way.
Every coach started with eight candidates. That meant four rounds of battles and every team having four finalists in the end. I’m going to shortly go through all four rounds without mentioning any names or song titles to describe how it was. For television everything will be cut and edited in a totally different order so I don’t think this will give too much information or take away any excitement (even of course people who were there with me can guess who I’m referring to).
The first round was started by Soprano’s team and he brought on stage two rap guys, one of them more a rapper and the other one more a singer type. The first one was obviously more confident and stronger on stage but despite of that Soprano chose the other one explaining the latter guy needs it more to start his career and that made me think of the purpose of talents shows in general. Are the coaches supposed to choose the contestants who have the best possibilities to make it in the competition or the ones who can most benefit from being there, being that way able to create a better career afterwards? That’s a difficult question and requires considering different aspects in the long run and asks experience and good knowledge about the industry from the coaches as well.
I felt totally indifferent about Jenifer’s first battle and didn’t care which one of her talents would continue and in the end Jenifer made the decision without following the advices she got from her fellow coaches. I might have done the same. Then it was Julien’s team and a song that didn’t fit the contestants at all. I had earlier liked the other contestant stolen from Jenifer but the song was unsuitable for him as well and I didn’t like the performance. Julien chose the other one (than my favorite) to continue.
Then it was turn for Mika’s team and the setting for his first battle was extremely interesting. He put two very peculiar contestants against each other and I thought what a brilliant thing to do. Both of these talents are quirky and yes, have a very peculiar singing style and I kind of like them both but obviously had already doubted if they can go any further than this. Putting them to battle against each other meant it would be easy to let one of them go and – thanks to new rules – even let them both go. The surprising thing was that the two talents sounded really good together, much better than either of them had sounded before. It felt impossible to choose and Mika seemed to feel the same way because in the end he chose the both (as solo singers, not as a duet). I didn’t expect he would do that but he did and I really liked his decision. Of course, after giving it some thought I realized he still has these two contestants separately (no matter how good they sounded in their song together) but it’s not my job to worry about that, I’m sure he has things figured out. I assume that even though the decision was made in the moment Mika and his team must have gone through all the options in advance and they must have plans for the both. At this point only one battle round was done but a half of the final Team Mika was already covered.
Team Julien started the second round. The talent Julien chose was a girl who I had expected to see in his final team but the song was not interesting so I felt totally indifferent about the result again. After that it was Soprano’s turn and the group that I have liked since the very beginning. There’s something sympathetic in them and I really like their positive energy and especially the tall guy who is the heart of the group. The battle wouldn’t be easy though and I wasn’t sure what would happen. The final result – suggested by Mika – was unusual but not totally unexpected and I really liked it and believe and hope that the group will do well even though they don’t represent any genre I usually listen to.
Jenifer’s second battle had a contestant I find a bit “too much”. There’s a tiny but important difference between being determined and being too pushy. Some of the talents divide opinions a lot, people can see their characters so differently. The song chosen for the battle was bold, to put it mildly, and made me sweat in an unpleasant way. The pushy contestant continued in the competition, I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t surprised to see Mika’s second choice either. His third finalist is not my taste or style but still someone I have assumed to see in his final team since the blind auditions. I hope to see something energetic from this contestant during lives because her stage energy was what caught my attention at the first place.
We were halfway through the battles already. The third round was a bit less exciting than the other three. The talent from Team Jenifer who has a strong show personality continued to live shows exactly as I had expected and hoped. Soprano had two contestants with somehow similar style but from different age groups and he chose the younger one who seemed to have more energy than the other one. Mika put his two rap style contestants against each other and explained they had worked hard for the performance. It still wasn’t good enough and he had only one place left so he let them both go, no other option there. The boy who reminds me of young Mika went to the finals from Julien’s team. His performance wasn’t impressive but I blame the song, not the contestant.
The last battle round was definitely the most interesting of them all to watch. Soprano started with a contestant I could remember well because of his relaxed, very particular style. Not sure if his style is natural or a result of a lot of calculation and created for the competition (or just born after smoking something for years) but I liked this guy and found him very entertaining and would have loved to see him at live shows. However, Soprano chose the other one so my favorite was out.
Then Team Mika and my two favorites from him against each other. Only one place left and my biggest favorite who was clearly better already during the knock outs continued in the competition also this time. He’s been the most interesting of Mika’s talents since the beginning and I’m extremely curious to see what will happen with him. If he reacts to coaching he can be really good, his voice is very unusual. He seems someone a bit hard to control though, like someone who does whatever he wants. I guess that’s why I like him. But how do you coach someone like that? The studio audience can see contestants only during performances and this boy looks a bit wild on stage. The television audience will see also interviews and video clips from rehearsals so they might get a different picture of the contestants.
Jenifer’s last battle was between two boys who are very similar type. The other one has a skill to talk and sing really fast and the other one is generally quite comfortable on stage. The first boy has his brothers and a lot of other supporters in the audience and all the brothers look exactly similar as the contestant and I’m not sure which is more fun, watching the talent on stage or his brothers cheering in the audience and I always hope to see the boy to continue just to see his supporters partying. This time I felt a bit bad knowing it would mean the other contestant being out and Jenifer seemed to think the same way and she offered the boys a possibility to continue together. These two create the sweetest group! I believe they can – if just work well together – go far and not only in the competition. People will love them. Julien’s team performed last and the boy who Maryanne knew from school made it to the final team but the song wasn’t interesting at all, I must say.
In the end all the teams collected together and then run to their coaches and Mika’s weird little team run to him and he opened his arms and welcomed them and they all were like “we are yours, we are yours, you chose us” and he hugged them and patted them on their shoulders smiling and probably also thinking “oh god what will I do with these kids??” and the smaller boy was at first a little bit outside of the hug and I wanted to shout “the little one, see also the little one” but then he saw and took also him in the group hug. Super, super cute and so funny I had to laugh out loud. Then quite a long debriefing about these two recording sessions, it was well past midnight already, and then it was all over except for the coaches who still had interviews to do. Mika must have been so tired already but he said good night to us and went backstage to continue his work and we left. No more recordings until the live shows. Always good to see familiar faces, thanks everyone xxx