The blind auditions of The Voice can be fraught. The contestants go through numerous screenings before the auditions to screen out non-contenders, but part of the deal is that the contestants need to get whittled down. There is always the chance that contestants won’t get any chair turns, and, even if they get some coaches to turn, they still might not get through. Then there is stage fright.
Out of consideration for the contestants and the live audience, coaches try to keep the atmosphere buoyant. The mentors are seasoned entertainers, after all. Even so, a spontaneous duet on The Voice 2020, stands out as a high point of the voice coaches’ interactions with each other. It starts innocuously, with the ever-charming Tom Jones asking Meghan Trainor a question
As you’ve seen, Trainor names Dear Future Husband her favourite song in her repertoire. When she finishes explaining why, she looks a little overcome. Olly Murs comes to her rescue, but it’s a curved ball. He keeps the attention on himself for a moment, to give Trainor a chance to regain her composure, before saying that Dear Future Husband sounds like his song Dance With Me Tonight. The way Murs says it is not malicious or accusatory, and after reflecting briefly, Trainor graciously concurs.
Murs suggests that they sing a little and will.i.am proposes that they use microphones. Then the magic starts. What makes it special is that it’s unscripted, and both artists are relaxed with each other as they improvise a mashup of the two songs. At the end, they hug warmly, and Murs echoes Trainor when she says “And that’s our song!” Trainor did not return to The Voice UK as a coach in 2021. No doubt the pandemic played a part as she’s American. Here is a spontaneous song by Tom Jones from 2021
As you can see, the Voice UK 2021 had a virtual audience that held up signs asking for a song from Sir Tom during the blind auditions. Boy, did he deliver; and what an excellent choice. Bert Bern’s composition Cry To Me, first released by the great Solomon Burke, is a seriously groovy soul classic.
Smooth Radio described Tom Jones’s performance as spine-tingling and noted that the new coach, Anne-Marie, seemed “particularly moved by Tom Jones’ singing and – judging by her expression – was amazed to hear such a powerful voice at such close range.” The Mail Online said that “the music legend” wowed his fellow coaches with his powerful rendition of Cry to Me.
The publication also quoted Sir Tom on his motivation for being a singer. “Music, the love of it. It’s that simple. Really enjoying listening to all kinds of music, I always have enjoyed that. If you don’t enjoy music more than anything else, then you’re in the wrong business. If you want to be a football player, go and play football. You can’t sing on the side.” Jones added, “The only thing I really wanted to be was a professional singer”.