One of the things that make tv talent shows so compelling is when you see a performance so emotional that it brings tears to your eyes and a catch to your throat. Maddison McNamara delivered this in spades during her audition on the seventh season of The Voice Australia. The Voice could have been just another singing talent show when it launched.
It began in the Netherlands and gradually spread worldwide because it had one unique selling point which was an irresistible lure for viewers, the judges could not see, talk to, or know anything about each contestant in their audition. They had to base their decision purely on how well the person sang during their audition.
Anyone who has watched the show knows this is far from an easy decision. Each judge has a limited number of people they can take through, so they must be sure. It could be argued that it’s better to audition later in the process because at the beginning the judges might be more conservative. They know they have limited places and worry that if they choose this person, they may lose someone better who comes along later.
This type of thinking led to the heartbreak suffered by Maddison when she auditioned for the first time in 2016. She made it through the initial round but was eliminated soon after. It must have taken a lot of courage to try again. When her audition starts, and she sings I Will Always Love You it’s clear it’s going to be an emotional performance. Emotional doesn’t do it justice, though, it’s heart-wrenching!
Even though they can’t see her, the judges can hear real pain in Maddison’s voice and start to comment on it. A little while in, they suspect she’s crying, and it’s obviously breaking their hearts. When she bursts into the powerful chorus Delta Goodrem is open-mouthed, but she can’t press her button, sadly she has no places left. In fact, none of the judges do, only Boy George.
When he presses his button a few seconds later the audience goes wild, and so do the other judges. They thank him profusely for doing what they couldn’t, putting this talented young woman through. When Maddison completes her audition we learn where the pain comes from. A very dear friend, her rock, who supported her through her previous appearance had recently committed suicide. This performance was to honour him, and it certainly did.
At the end of the song, Boy George leaves his seat and comes to give her a hug. He tells her, “You just took my last spot, I’ve been waiting for you.” It’s one of the most wonderful performances you’re likely to see, but Maddison still had more up her sleeve as the competition continued. She nailed the haunting Simon and Garfunkel ballad The Sound Of Silence in the knockout round and was incredible singing Ain’t Nobody in the battles round.
Sadly, this is where she was eliminated, but with a voice like hers it seems certain we will see this talented singer again. She did her friend proud.