Australia has chosen its four finalists on The Voice after a brutal semi-final which saw nine contestants slashed to just four.
Each performer was given one song to impress the viewers at home and it was a hit and miss affair with nerves and pressure producing some lacklustre performances.
Sheldon Riley performed a pared back rendition of Katy Perry's Rise, a step away from the big showstopper numbers that had helped him make it this far. It impressed the voting audience enough to send him through to the final.
Ben Sekali came next with Bruno Mars' 24K Magic, on which he accompanied himself on the keyboard. Despite giving one of the strongest performances on the night and being one of the most popular contestants throughout this season, it wasn't enough to get him through and he was sent home.
17-year-old Bella Paige, who has delivered powerful performances of Ariana Grande's No Tears Left To Cry and Sia's Chandelier in recent weeks, came through with a song Celine Dion released five years before Bella was born. Her rendition of All By Myself had the judges and the studio audience on their feet when she belted out the money note on the key change and it helped her through to the grand final.
Queenslander Trent Bell, who looks and sounds like he should be touring pubs and clubs in regional Australia, seemed to be auditioning for the revival tour of Rock of Ages on Sunday night. He offered a pitchy version of Journey's classic hit Don't Stop Believin' and with it came all the gags the judges could muster about having belief in yourself. The gags were the best part of the song and Trent was on the midnight train going anywhere but through to the finals.
Sunshine Coast singer Sally Skelton, who seems to have been dubbed 'Survivor Sally' after barely making it through a number of times, offered her take on David Bowie's Life on Mars with red sand being poured onto the stage for a dazzling effect that somewhat distracted from her actual singing. Viewers at home must have felt the same because, despite high praise from Boy George who has a tattoo of Bowie on his arm, she didn't make it through to the final.
Chang Po Ching, who has proved to be the most versatile performer on the show this year, rocking out to everything from Johnny B. Goode to Jealous, extended himself even further with a cover of Beyonce's Love on Top. It's a tricky song for a bloke to sing and his more ballad-like take didn't make it any easier, or any more interesting, and the viewers punished him with a ticket home.
Opera dad Ben Clark was up next, this time channelling Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge with Come What May. After last week's spectacular Nessun Dorma,it was going to be an uphill battle for Clark to come back with another roof raiser. He didn't and come what may, he was sent home. On the upside, a stage rendition of Moulin Rouge is about to begin previews in America with an Australian producer, so he can work on his Come What May and slide right in when it makes its way down under.
Aydan Calafiore went second-last and added some Cirque du Soleil tricks to his performance of Pray for Me. Unfortunately one of the aerial artists behind him got somewhat stuck mid-flip and it was both enormously entertaining to watch and enormously distracting. Despite this, Calafiore became the only Team Joe (Jonas) survivor and lives to sing another day.
Finally, it was the performance everyone had been waiting for. Looper Sam Perry has variously been described as the most controversial contestant, the game-changing contestant, the arch rival of Boy George and more, but last night when he turned Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody on its head he basically signed his name on the bottom of a recording contract and a major venue tour for 2019. Sam may as well have been crowned the winner after his first audition and saved everyone the bother, but it has been worth tuning in each week to see what he can do. Obviously, he went through to the final.
The finishing results saw Kelly Rowland with two performers in the final and Boy George and Joe Jonas with one. Delta Goodrem, who has been with the show since it started and shepherded several performers through to a win, was left without representation.
The Voice grand final is on Nine at 7pm on Sunday.
Nathanael Cooper is Fairfax Media's deputy entertainment editor
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