Johnny Manuel moves through to the Showdowns on The Voice Australia
Tonight on The Voice Australia we saw the first of the Play Off episodes where each Coach pairs their remaining eight artists into four groups of two. The duos sing a different song each, and their coach selects a winner.
Tonight's show had a very different feel being the first to be filmed under the restrictions of COVID-19. Unlike the blind audition and battle rounds which were recorded back in January and February, the Play Offs were conducted after a three month break in production due to the pandemic. International coaches Boy George and Kelly Rowland were unable to return to Australia and had to coach via satellite. Most noticeably, no live audience could be present in the studio with the ‘virtual audience’ made up of family and friends of contestants along with fans of the show, all watching remotely from home.
Coach Guy Sebastian paired 2018 Eurovision artist Johnny Manuel against Wolf Winters who caused his own controversy in the blind auditions. Guy was so taken with Wolf’s low, deep tone that he turned his chair even though his team was full. Guy admitted later that he was shocked when his chair turned around after he pressed the button – he thought the function was disabled when a coach had filled their team! Producers asked Kelly Rowland if she would take Wolf as she was the only coach with room remaining but she refused, wanting to fill her team with another female vocalist. Finally it was decided that Wolf could become the 13th member of Team Guy and one of his battles would have to feature three artists instead of two with only one progressing.
Guy chose the theme of ‘Tones & I’ for his artists, giving Wolf her smash hit “Dance Monkey’ and Johnny her cover version of ‘Forever Young’. He told both that he was pairing them together so they could learn from each other. He felt Johnny had lots of experience but lacked identity – he tended to morph in to the artist whose song he was singing rather than finding his own sound. Wolf had identity but lacked experience – he needed to learn how to be himself and own the stage.
Taking on Guy’s advice, Johnny chose a gospel style for his song which he felt would allow him to show who he was. After the battle, the other coaches were again lost for words. Delta felt that Guy had chosen the wrong songs, and Boy George agreed that Wolf should stay away from pop and stick to singing the ‘devil’s music’. Kelly once again felt it wasn’t a fair pairing but Guy defended his artists, arguing that Johnny was a ‘freak of nature’ and it wasn’t fair to put anyone up against him! Ultimately whilst acknowledging that Wolf was phenomenal, Guy decided it would be ‘insane’ not to take Johnny through to the Showdowns.
You can watch Johnny and Wolf's Playoff performances here -
Another contestant with a Eurovision connection also moved through to the Showdowns tonight. Masha Mnjoyan won The Voice of Armenia back in 2013 at the age of just 17. Now living in Australia, Masha received a four chair turn in the blind auditions and chose Kelly Rowland as her coach. She was eliminated in the Battle rounds but saved by Boy George who chose her as the winner of her play off this evening. Masha was a backing vocalist for Iveta Mukuchyan in Stockholm at Eurovision 2016. In 2008, she came third in the Armenian National Final for Junior Eurovision and also wrote the lyrics and was a backing vocalist of the winning song which went on to finish 8th at the competition in Cyprus.
We can look forward to seeing both artists compete in the Showdowns starting next week.