The Voice Australia reached its Playoffs round, with more duels between contestants. And it was there that former Equinox singer Johnny Manuel made it through to the next round. However, the show now has a very different feeling in the era of COVID-19.
The episodes prior to the Playoffs round were filmed earlier in the year, before Covid-19 was a big concern in Australia and before the national and state governments introduced various restrictions to contain the virus.
But now Covid restrictions mean the producers are playing it safe. The show has been filmed without a live studio audience, with reactions provided by the judges, and an LED wall showing friends and family watching remotely. And — controversially — atmosphere has been provided by using recorded audience sound-effects, serving that Eurovision 2015 fantasy.
As well, Australia’s border restrictions mean that two coaches are unable to be there in person. Boy George and Kelly Rowland instead connect via satellite from their respective London and Los Angeles homes. In the Sydney studio, they were represented by LED screens placed in their chairs. It’s weird but it worked.
Johnny Manuel makes it through the Playoffs
Despite all the changes, it was business as usual for the show. This week, contestants competed in the Playoffs round. Each coach paired up two of their acts, who each performed a song of their choice.
Bulgaria’s Eurovision 2018 star Johnny Manuel delivered a gospel version of Alphaville’s “Forever Young”, which showed off the strengths of his vocal talents. He was up against the baritone rock singer Wolf Winters, who gave a snarling take on Tones and I’s international hit “Dance Monkey”.
In the end, it was up to coach Guy Sebastian to select which one of his acts would make it through to the Showdowns round. While Guy had praise for both the men, he picked Johnny to progress in the contest.
An Armenian LoveWave comes to The Voice Australia
And it turns out that Johnny Manuel isn’t the only contestant with a Eurovision connection in this series of The Voice. Also heading to the Showdowns round is the Armenian singer Masha Mnjoyan.
Now living in Australia, Masha had previously won the first series of The Voice of Armenia, back in 2013. That led to her performing as one of Iveta Mukuchyan’s “LoveWave” backing singers at Eurovision 2016.
Masha is now trying her luck Down Under. She faced the Playoffs against Elyse Sene-Lefao. Both young divas performed Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”, but it was Masha’s performance that won over coach Boy George.
Johnny Manuel, Masha Mnjoyan and the empty audience will be back in coming weeks as season nine of The Voice Australia continues.
What do you think? Can Johnny make it to the grand final? Is the series the same without a live audience? Tell us your thoughts below!
Read more Australia Eurovision news here