‘The Voice’ UK review: Bo Bruce, Toni Warne rule battle rounds

The battles are under way.

Now that the blind auditions are here, “The Voice” UK has arrived at the part of the show that typically makes fans a little less excited — the Battle Rounds. The good news is that these battles at least seemed to feel a little bit faster-paced than some of the glacial battles that happened on the American version of the show.

The other good news? While there were some vocal car crashes during the performances below, there were at least a few moments that were pretty exciting.

Joelle Moses d. Jenny Jones¬†(will.i.am) – The first battle of the season overseas featured two of will.i.am’s strongest team members, and we were at least somewhat surprised to see these two going up against each other.

However, this battle was really a no-brainer despite some of Will’s protestations that this was somehow that close. Joelle was the favorite going in, and she is the favorite upon the end as well.

Max Milner d. Bill Downs (Danny O’Donaghue) – Danny’s first battle of the season featured two artists who were electric, and combined a little bit of rock music, hip-hop, and even a little bit of pop.

We really weren’t sure how Danny was going to make this decision, mostly because they both here pretty fantastic when it came to the harmonies, the quick pace of the song,

Sam Buttery d. Aundrea Nyle (Tom Jones) – Can we ship Sam off to Las Vegas now? It only seems perfectly suited that Tom would be keeping his “superfan” around, since everything from his wacky fashion to his fun onstage persona screams “entertainer.”

Both ultimately did a strong job with Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation,” and we already love how Tom is giving this competition an old-school vibe with his song choices.

Toni Warne d. Kirsten Joy (Jessie J) – Jessie proclaimed that this was a “moment” in TV history, and she was right in that it was a pretty good duet.

However, we almost felt like this performance was marred by the fact that it was so obvious that Toni was going to win. She not only has the edit, but she has an emotional story that could lead to her getting plenty of votes later in the competition.

Bo Bruce d. Vince Freeman (Danny) – Bo and Vince were a bit like yin and yang. One had a huge voice that wanted to take over, but it was the same sort of loud, scratchy voice that we have heard time and time again on talent shows.

Really, this is why Bo was better. She was soft, restrained, and possessed a unique quality that would make her actually sell records. Danny made the right choice, even if this performance was not necessarily spectacular.

Tyler James d. Heshima Thompson (will.i.am) – Tyler not only was the better singer, he was also the better creator. He worked with the band, and helped to figure out a unique rendition of Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3x” that was different.

Meanwhile, Heshima decided to complain about the song choice and really didn’t look too happy to be there. This was really a rather easy decision for Jessie to make.

Vince Kidd d. Jessica Hammond (Jessie J) – After a couple of poor performances, we’re rather pleased that the show decided to actually brings us back near the end with some music that made us really feel that there was some legitimate talent left in Britain.

We imagine this was a hard choice for Jessie since Jessica actually auditioned with one of her songs, but Vince was the full package — he looks a bit like an edgier Jay Manuel from “America’s Next Top Model,” and he also has a greater voice.

Jaz Ellington d. Jay Norton (will.i.am) – We closed the show Saturday with a number that brought back an element of soul into the show. We’re still surprised that “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” has had as much play as it has in reality competitions, mostly because there’s only so much we can do with the song.

We really didn’t love what either one of the guys brought to the stage, especially since the pitch was a bit like someone bungee jumping off of a clip.

Ruth Brown d.¬†Deniece Pearson (Tom) – With the final battle of the episode, we saw a pairing that really did not make us cry nearly as much as the singers. While Ruth was the right choice to put through, she has a good bit of work to do on her diction — so much that we couldn’t understand her all of the time.

Who was your favorite from this week’s battle rounds, and do you wish the American version of the show would condense the battles into just a few hours like they are doing in Britain? Check back Sunday for a full review of the second battle show.

Photo: BBC One

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