After disappointing ratings for its finale – 7.15 million, down 10% from 2013 – season three of The Voice delivered poor singles sales, as winner Jermain Jackman fell well short of the top 40. With fellow finalists Sally Barker and Christina Marie also failing to make an impression, is this year’s crop destined to failure? Or can crooner Bob Blakeley, who was left behind at the blind audition phase, emerge as the true winner?
Underwhelming sales continue (for the contestants, at least)
The Voice‘s first two champions were commercial flops. Original winner Leanne Mitchell, who reached number 45 with her version of Whitney Houston’s Run To You and whose album failed to crack the top 100, was dropped by her label after barely 18 months. And Andrea Begley scraped into the top 30 with Evanescence’s My Immortal – although runner-up Leah McFall‘s I Will Survive reached number eight.
Jermain’s chart debut was the worst of the three winners, his cover of And I Am Telling You from Dreamgirls (originally recorded by Jennifer Holliday and the song that made an Oscar winner out of American Idol alumnus Jennifer Hudson) only reaching number 75. Runners-up Sally and Christina Marie debuted at 46 and 81 with Dear Darlin’ and The Power of Love respectively.
In the meantime coach Ricky Wilson‘s Kaiser Chiefs and finale guest performer Paloma Faith occupy the top two spots in the UK album chart.
Is Bob Blakeley this year’s real star?
Meanwhile, the 2014 run is perhaps best remembered for some of those who didn’t make the final, such as the harp-based stylings of Anna McLuckie, Beth McCarthy’s spunky cover of Sexy and I Know It and the back-in-time look and voice of Sophie-May Williams, to name but three.
But perhaps the singer who will remain in people’s memories – and arguably has the best chance of success – is Stockport’s 56-year-old former taxi driver and warehouse worker Bob Blakeley. Despite an amazing performance in his blind audition, none of the coaches turned for him – stunning many viewers watching at home.
That hasn’t stopped Bob from pursuing his musical dream, however. An outraged Chris Evans interviewed Bob on his Radio 2 show. And he was moved to tears when record label boss and producer Mike Batt offered him a deal live on BBC Breakfast.
Now signed to Batt’s record label Dramatico Entertainment, Bob’s dreams are set to come true. With orchestral accompaniment, he recently recorded tracks for his debut album Performance at the famous Air Studios in Hampstead.
Speaking to Digital Spy recently, Bob said:
[Recording in the studio] was such an amazing experience. I had goosebumps from the time I walked into the studio until leaving at the end of the day. And the experience of seeing all these fabulous musicians turn Mike’s arrangements into wonderful sounds was just brilliant.
I am a great admirer of Sinatra and Matt Monro and I hope the album reflects this. Some of the songs on the album are Cry Me A River, It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing, It Was A Very Good Year and Just One Smile to name a few. Hopefully it will give people a chance to hear me developing as an artist.
Performance will include Bob’s renditions of classic standards including his signature song, the jazz blues ballad Cry Me A River. The song was reintroduced to contemporary audiences in 2009 by Michael Bublé and, fact fans, was the song performed by One Direction’s Liam in his X Factor audition.
If Bob Blakeley can achieve even a fraction of Bublé or One Direction’s commercial success, he will become The Voice‘s most successful artist with ease – and perhaps go some way to saving the credibility of the programme as a showcase for launching new talent into the industry.
Bob Blakeley’s debut album Performance is scheduled for release on 19th May.