‘The Voice’ UK review: Leanne Mitchell and Bo Bruce step it up

There were ballads aplenty.

The semifinals on “The Voice” UK arrived on Saturday, and for the first time all of the power was in the hands of the British public. First of all, we have to that the British version of the show for abandoning the silly points formula used by the coaches in America at the stage, and keeping things nice and simple.

Ruth Brown (Team Tom) – When we first heard that Ruth was going to be singing “The Voice Within” by Christina Aguilera, we were annoyed — mostly because this song has been overplayed on every reality competition under the sun (though not as much as Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”).

The good news is that the stripped down arrangement at the beginning made this sound like a bit of a different song, but once the choir entered the picture this became a bit messy. It’s like someone told Ruth to go out and show off every layer of her voice, but at the same time forgot to say that it is also important to have control. She pulled it together by the end, but there were some flat notes throughout.

Vince Kidd (Team Jessie J) – Although we put in the rankings that Jaz Eillington is likely going to be the winner of this whole competition, Vince is a personal favorite for one reason and one reason only — there’s no one that equals his talent or his creativity.

You could tell in his pre-show performance just how much effort he put into choosing the right song, and it showed perfectly during his sensational rendition of the Amy Winehouse hit “Back To Black. He’s a genuine pop star!

Max Milner (Team Danny O’Donoghue) – While Max’s “Every Breath You Take” was not a revelation, it was at least something different from a man who was jokingly starting to become the token “White Guy with a Guitar” of this show. While those always win “American Idol,” it doesn’t play as well on this show.

We saw a more soulful side of Max here, and it was pretty great — not enough to actually help him win, but still great. Of course, it still sparked off the crazy will.i.am vs. Danny feud that we’ve seen in recent weeks.

Jaz Ellington (Team will.i.am) – Did Jaz sing “Let It Be” well? Definitely. At the same time, he may have actually sang it a little bit too aggressively, and lost some of the song’s vulnerability in the process.

While you could say it was part of his fight with Will, Danny had a good point here — as talented a singer as Jaz is, what sort of music would he do after the show is over? We see him as a sort of soul / gospel side, but like to see the word in his name emphasized a bit more.

Leanne Mitchell (Team Tom) – We’re still wondering just where Leanne came from. Earlier in the season, she was mere filler in a crowded field — but during her last performance, she tore the roof off of the house.

As great as that performance was, this was easily better. Leanne managed to eat the lunch of every single person who came on the show before her this week. An incredible performance, and one of the best of the season.

Becky Hill (Team Jessie) – Becky is definitely a wild card, and this week she showed off a far softer side of her that was not over-the-top (or accidentally cursing on stage).

While Becky actually did a pretty good job with this performance, her biggest problem may have been the placement of her within the show. She went with a ballad after Leanne, who completely killed it, and this seemed rather boring as a result.

Bo Bruce (Team Danny) – You have to love a show when so many people are genuinely bringing it, and Bo did just that. Hats off to her and Danny for choosing something in Coldplay’s “Charlie Brown” that was different, and then allowing her to put her own twist on it.

It’s hard to even criticize something when it is vocally so fantastic. The best thing about this performance may be that it did lead to an end for the Danny / Will feud, as they both agreed that this was a stellar performance worth getting emotional while watching.

Tyler James (Team will.i.am) – It’s really hilarious to begin with that will.i.am perfectly predicted that so many people would do ballads this week, and it led to his deciding that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was the best choice.

We don’t say this often, but will.i.am was wrong. This was too much of a preemptive strike against ballads, and it just didn’t work. When you cut a Queen hit down into just a couple of minutes, you lose some of its power and it just becomes choppy.

Who did you love the most from the show? Be sure to vote in the poll below, and also shares your thoughts with a comment!

Photo: BBC One

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