photo TheVoiceofUkraine_zps08cfa3d1.png
UPDATE: Part 6 added! The Blind Auditions are now over.

Spring is finally here! And that can only mean one thing, The Voice franchise is starting to bloom, with Ukraine being no exception. I'm not your usual TV user, especially but there are two TV shows I watch like a real TV junkie with a pack of sunflower seeds (#2 Ukrainian food after borscht), The X Factor UA and The Voice UA, also known as Holos Krainy ( Голос країни), which I'll be presenting to you.

Recap after the jump ...

The judging panel of the show is very unstable. This year we have two newbies, one of them being kind of legend in our country (if you have seen the XF UA, most of the Ukrainian songs featured on it were his). I believe his our very own Britney, being the most advertised judge. He's never been a very public person and I could only imagine the amount of money producers had to pay him to change the fact he's never been seen on any talent show. His name is Slava Vakarchuk (Святосла́в Іва́нович Вакарчу́к).

Other newbie is Tina Karol (Тіна Кароль), our lone feamle judge. She's blond, quite annoying and her name is very similar to other annoying blond's who is also the only female judge of The Voice of some other country. She's had her fine moments of glory when she placed second on the summer talent show New Wave (which is international but still Eastern-Europe oriented; maybe I'll show you a little bit of it this year).

Oleg Skrypka (Оле́г Ю́рійович Скри́пка) is our Blake Shelton (when I use these parallels I don't intent to say our culture is secondary, I'm just trying to make those introductions more fun for me and for you). He is the kindest and most honest judge here, and I wonder how those qualities correlate with country music? If I were a contestant, I would definitely chose him (and Blake if I were an American contestant).

Last is Alexander Ponomarev (Александр Пономарев), who sings my favourite Ukrainian song "Vin chekae na nei" (written by Vakarchuck, btw). He is a lot like Gary from the UK's XF, boring and personality-free. But a brilliant singer with a classic musical education which kind of explains his presence here. 

This four guys are stable with their careers and therefore aren't so interesting to us. What is interesting is to see who had come to the show this year to sing, fight (and to share the saddest lifestories of crushed dreams and impossibility of them coming true without any talent show merchandise). My performance-only videos were blocked from youtube (God knows why those guys care so much about rights in this country, but they do even though I made a note the rights are all theirs) so the videos contain the whole story.

Week 1

Staisha - 26, "Shy guy" - She was a back up singer for a famous Russian singer but of course she's always wanted more. It's not that she has a three-octave voice, but her diction is very good ans she definitely enjoyes herself. Tina and Oleg both pushed their buttons but why would a young contemporary artist choose a mature country singer? You're right, no reason. Team Tina this one!

Taras Melnik (Тарас Мельнік) - 22, "Balada Boa" - He's a DJ on a radio. Also, he's almost deaf on one ear but doesn't want anyone to know this (why say it on national TV then?) Perfect articulation and right energy. He's singing a futbol fan's song (I didn't know that at first of course), and that's a fresh choice which feels right (and no one ephasized the fact that he sang in Portuguese in a country where almost no one speaks Portuguese, compare it to The First Ever Audition Song In Spanish in The Voice USA) . All four want him, Skripka even started to dance during the audition (I'd dance too, but my sofa is just too comfortable). I wonder how his energy might feel out there, live. Judges wanted him to sing something different so he did sang "Apologize", which was good too. Not so dance-y, but still fine. With a full hands of choices he picked to go with Tina.

Randall Gregory - 58, "Black Magic Woman" - The real cowboy from Texas with a complicated life story I tried to follow but fell asleep (in short, he'd had a best friend from Ukraine and now is here in his memory). Perfect match for Skrypka, although I don't really know what's his place on the show if only for posters and buzz.

Irena Karska (Ірена Карська) - "Besame mucho" - I love it when they put us on the judge's shoes. I wondered how she would look like but of course I was mistaken by the deepness of her voice and she turned out to be much more younger and skinnier (I'd say whiter but is this an appropriate thing to say?). Her low register playes well with the song (In Spanish. Just saying). That's someone who actually has a three octave voice, impressive. Two judges want her, Tina and Alexander. Irena wants to go with her guts and her guts are attracted to Alexander.

Marina Makoviy (Марина Маковій) - 26, "Mama, I´m coming home" -  She tried to audition for the first season of the show two years ago but didn't pass the button test. Stories like that are like double-sad stories and producers will definitely over-sugar her triumph if she makes it through. I, for a start, like her style a lot so she could stay. And not only for a style, obviously, cause she also has some serious energy and a powerful voice. Slava chose her and she did wanted him, so there is a micro happy end here. Oleg said that songs like that one wouldn't get public to vote so she should change her repertoire if she wants to go further. Although he has a very good point I don´t want her to change that much.

Victoria Korgenok (Вікторія Корженок) - 36, "What are you doing" - The winner of  the one and only Idol UA (more like a cover version of Idol) who'd spent her million uah on an apartment (it's nice to know that artists are just like us, boring and material-minded). I almost forgot we've had that show, it was like 10 years ago. She's talented and technical for sure (otherwise she would not win, with a face like that. Yes, I'm naughty and jealous). I don't support her being here, she's had her money and her fame and if it wasn't enough to push her dreams, well, maybe they not gonna happen. (Should I stop being naughty?). Obviously, the judges didn't see her and obviously she sings good and professional and that's magical jazz so Tina and Oleg pushed their buttons. Team Oleg Skrypka.

Victory Olizee (Вікторія Олізе) - 21, "History Repeating" - She's been bullied at school because of her skin color but that only made her stronger (I won't be bitter, I can only imagine how it would feel being the only different skin-colored person in a small Ukrainian city). She is likable, has a good voice and a promising style, so I would root for her. Slava broke the red button, I never saw such a passion in a judge before, or maybe it was just the cheapness of the plastic the button is made of ... I guess she didn't really has a choice after that. Team Vakarchuck.

That's all for today but we have a long way to go since there would be 14 acts for every judge this season. Should we follow the show? I'd say yes, definitely (do we have a choice, really?).

Week 2

Hello, my fellow talent lovers! I'm back with another fresh episode of The Voice Ukraine. All the red buttons survived this time. Does it mean there just wasn't anyone who truly deserved a crushed button? You decide!

Tetyana Ojelevska (Тетяна Ожелевська) - 24, "Там нет меня" - She's been told she doesn't have any talent at all. That only made her fight harder. "I think I'm better now" - says Tetyana - "because people don't run away anymore when I sing" (such a optimistic beginning!). She's got a classic voice and is singing a classic song while pretending to show deep feelings ... I just didn't feel anything, but that's just me. Three of the four coaches had, though. Tina already is thinking about her final song. She wouldn't use her ideas anyway because Tetyana chose Oleg Skripka.

Jovi (Джові) - 32, "Mustang Sally" - He lives in a small apartment with his band mates but hopes to change that. A solid rock performance which doesn't really fit in this small pop-stage. Tina chose him but was surprised only her and Oleg did so, since she's pop and Jovi is rock. Slava says it would be "sexy" if Jovi choose Tina, so he does. Unexpected match, indeed.

Kamila Boyko (Камілла Бойко) - 30, "You Know I'm No Good" - Apart from singing she's teaching women to drive. She's been watching the show since the first season and now is dying to know how does it feel to be a part of it. With Oleg's turning chair, she now has the chance. Although I can't see anything over-the-top-special in her, I have to admit she has both the charisma and the voice.

Olesya Korchagina (Олеся Корчагіна) - 24, "Kuchashi Ertkhel" - She's a poetry writer. She's also bisexual. By the way, the man with the fife is her husband. What I don't really know is if her husband will also move on? I would really love to hear him play again! Both Tina and Alexander want her (or them? ...). I would choose Alexander because of his serious musical knowledge but she (them? ...) chose Tina. (I have no idea what does the name of her song mean. I don't even recognise it's language). The coolest audition yet!

Tufan Chigdem (Туфан Чіґдем) - "Billie Jean" - He's a Turkish man married to an Ukrainian woman. We also see the longest and most unnecessary pre-audition video of him and his wife being tested on how well do they know each other. When we finally get to hear him sing, it's all forgotten. Comments on YouTube say he sounds a lot like Curt Cobain and maybe they're right. Solid performance that stands from the crowd, no wonder all four coaches want him. They are all surprised that he doesn't have any musical education. Slava thinks that he has to chose him because they're similar in this. (I wouldn't really push "I don't have a musical knowledge" slogan on the talent show where one is supposed to coach, but well, it's his own image.) Team Slava after all, safe choice.

Olga Sivakova (Ольга Сивакова) - 43, "Женщина, которая поет" - Yet again the producers don't let us see her while she's singing, just like the coaches do. A little sob-story first, of course. This woman used to weight 118 kg and that was the reason she hasn't made it in showbiz. Now she's only 50 kg (jeez, now I fell fat with my 62!). To sing this song in post-USSR world is like singing "I will always love you" in the USA, a bad, outdated choice. So I surprised myself for liking it and understanding (kinda) Tina's crying. Team

Week 3

Sergey Ruchkin (Сергей Ручкин) - 38, "Just once" - His tragic story is about his low height. I feel mean by calling it tragic because he seems genuinely nice. His grandma (babushka!) came to Kyev to see him sing, and I have to say she is really nice too. The song sounds like it is a closing song in a movie, and I'm smiling to it. His voice and his personality both feel warm. Slava says Sergey sings with his soul and that's true. Sergey chose Alexander because he turned his chair first.

Blez Malabu - 24, "Hymne a L'Amour" - How do I love it to guess who's singing along with the coaches! And this time surprise is really, erm, surprising. (Although I personally think coaches didn't have to laugh that hard). Blez is from Kongo and he's now studying in Lviv. (His Ukrainian is probably better than my English, haha). What's with the show today, everyone exudes good and nice? I don't know if anyone from this bunch can teach Blez something. He's almost perfect already. He chooses Oleg (probably because Oleg speaks very well in French).

London Hill (Sergey and Anton) - 26, "World Hold On" - The first duo so far (with a  pretentious  name). If they weren't a duo I'm pretty sure no one will turn. But they won't survive the battles, I predict. But they're safe for now with Tina as their coach.

Otar Nemsadze (Отар Немсадзе) - 23, "Feeling good" - Otar won Georgian talent show (Geostar's Season 5, which is the Georgian Idol, in 2010), even though he didn't think he could. Now he's writing his debut album and wants to try himself on the Ukrainian talent show. He even sings one of Slava's songs in Ukrainian, which is quite impressive. I wanted to question his reasons, wanted to say he should give a chance to other contestants who haven't win anything yet, but I just couldn't. His charisma is so strong and his voice is so powerfully wonderful I can't help but like him. This version of "Feeling good" is so his, like the song was written for him. He has a wide choice since every coach is desperate to help him win, but since he sang Slava's song he should go with the man, so he does. (I pity the act who'll battle him already, it'll be a loss for him/her).

Hristina Soloviy (Христина Соловій) - 20, "Горе долом" - Remember me, being patriotic, saying there are things that can only be seen on The Voice UA? Well, here they are. This young girl is very passionate about Carpathian people's culture and wants everyone to know about it. The costume she's wearing is more than a hundred years old. Hristina is not singing, she's like making energy and transmitting it straight from the heart. She made it clear she wouldn't settle neither for Alexander nor for Tina (very ballsy of her!) so when Slava turns at the very end of the song she is on the seventh sky. Slava is crying, he asks - "what did I do for her to love me so much?". Very emotional scene that is (not sappy, there is a difference). I loved her, I loved her voice, her song choice, her outfit and of course the happy end with her choosing the coach she wanted. I guess Slava and Hristina are both equally happy with each other and I'm happy the end of tonight's blinds is so perfect.

Week 4

Thank God I can't sing! And thank God there is no reality show for us writers, cause if there were, I would definitely apply to it, and soon I'd be telling you something very sad like a story about loosing my friend to drugs or some other stuff you'd roll your eyes to. But like I said, I can't sing, I can only write about those who do and therefore serve the music anyway, right?

Sergiy Chuikov (Сергей Чуйков) - 28, "Delilah" - It's safe to call him a professional. He's a teacher at a singing and musical theatre conservatory. His student is here too, but we'll see him later. His voice is rich and solid but you'd think he's a little bit older judging from his voice. It's not  The Voice UK, so Tom Jones isn't here, but Sergiy managed to turn Tina and Oleg, which is not bad either. He goes with Oleg after all.

Olga Bogatyrenko (Ольга Богатыренко) - 20, "Выше облаков" - Her dayjob is to sing with a military orchestra. She doesn't want to make Tina's team but chose Tina's song, that might be confusing for Tina. Luckily, only Alexander turned around so no hard feelings for anyone. She is really likeable and pretty and I like the piano moments of the song, but other than that, nothing very special. Oh, she once auditioned for The X'Factor, I couldn't remember her though.

Dmytro Babak (Дмитро Бабак) - 20,  "Gitan" - He's Sergiy's student. He lives in a small village while his mother is abroad, working and making money. He´s been trying to get into telly talent shows for a while and really hopes this time it will happen. I like the diversity of this show, I like when people sing in French, Spanish, Italian etc. Also I like his voice, it's so smooth and calming and even. He also seem sincere and serious about music, and his accent is good. What else do coaches need to push their buttons? That's right, nothing else. Everyone but Oleg (who has Dmytro's teacher, btw) want him but after Slava's speech about sincerety and individuality Dmytro chose the latter.

Anna Tyha (Анна Тиха) - 22, "Fallin'" - Her second name is Tyha, which means "quiet" in Ukrainian and that's really funny cause she's everything but quiet. In fact, she's very loud - her personality, voice and looks. She really irritates me and her voice has this disturbing tone. She says she's never been learning music and doesn't even know the notes but her notes are good. I think she sings with her personality not with her heart or her feelings and that's why it's so over the top annoying.

Lev Remenev (Лев Ременев) - 25, "You're so beautiful" - He's been on the show before with his sister but failed to turn any chairs. I think it was the wrong song choice that failed him. The first phrase did the magic. I wish I was the one whom he sang "You're so beautiful" to (sigh). He's so clean, so accurate and quiet but his emotions are so true, he must know what it's like to be in love (sigh). His secret smile when he sings ... I'm in love (the hardest sigh ever). I think Tina wants him to serenade her too, judging from her face expression. Boys Alexander and Slava want him too. Lev chose Slava. Well done! I so want him to sing more.

Veronika Dorosh - 18, "Файне місто Тернопіль" - Her boyfried was a contestant last year, they plan to get married this year. The only special thing about her is her song choice, which deserves an applause. Her pitch is so far from perfect, it's annoying but her energy is so high. Maybe her pitch problems aren't a problem for a decent coach? I think Oleg thinks so because he pushes his big red button. Tina says the pitch was awful after Veronika leaves. So true.

Artem Kondratyuk (Артем Кондратюк) - 22, "I breathe" - He used to play the church's bells when he was a child. He won different vocal contests 14 times and now is after yet another victory. I don't see a winner in him, but that doesn't mean he's a bad singer. I don't really understand the song choice. I guess he chose it because of his deep tone but he copies the original so accurately it's not interesting. Oleg pushed his button though.

Lyudmila Movchan (Людмила Мовчан) - 25, "Highway to hell" - This girl with a provocative t-shirt was here last year but didn't have any luck. Her hobby is to fix cars so the show states she has boyish nature. I don't know about her nature but her voice is definitely strong. I guess her energy felt so strong  she blew the coaches mind. Everyone wants her, but she choses someone unexpected, Tina.

Week 5

Olexiy Kirpach (Олексій Кірпач) - 28, "Sex bomb" - He states he sings with two voices. Yet another (outdated) Tom Jones song. I have to say his voice is mature and totally worth the song choice. Both Oleg and Alexander want him but Olexiy choses Oleg. (Poor Alexander, no one wants him).

Mikael Kiladze (Микаель Киладзе) - 24, "Isn't she lovely" - He's originally from Georgia but he's now a choir director in Odessa. Slava is the only one to turn around for him.

Jana Drupina (Яна Дрюпина) - 21, "Price tag" - She's auditioning for the third time. The song choice is way too annoying and the outfit doesn't suit it as well. Her sob-story is about losing her father eight years ago (Am I too critical on her?). As for her talent, it's too weak for now. I've heard so many renditions of this song that this one didn't impress me at all. Although Tina and Oleg were impressed (I guess they just don't watch as many talent shows as I do). Jana chose Tina.

Michael Kirkilan - 26, "Send me an angel" - He lives in Israel but is originally from Ukraine. He was the runner up in Kokhav Nolad S3 (Israeli Idol) some years ago. Michael's got a nice vibe about him even though he talks a lot about his mother that left him at childhood. I don't really understand people who collect victories at talent shows but don't do much about them. (But Michael doesn't seem too self-absorbed, so I'll let him be here). Alexander says he turned around because he felt Michael accompanies himself on piano.

Week 6

Com Pro Miss (Anna Bayramova and Anastasia Kobykanska) - 21 and 23, "Намалюй мені ніч" - One of them is the voice of Kiev's airport and the other one works for a radio station. Together they are duo "Com Pro Miss" (what is this name supposed to mean?). I usually don't bother with the acts who couldn't turn a chair, but I truly enjoyed the girls performance and wanted to share it with you. It's refreshing and cool, almost like tangerine ice-cream (I'm citing Shakira on this one, because her English is so colorful and poetic; could it be because English isn't her mother tongue? .. Hmm ..). I think the song choice was somehow wrong, or maybe not if they just wanted to shine on national TV and they did just that. There isn't room big enough for jazz in this show, but yay for diversity!

Ovanes Antoyan (Ованес Антоян) - "Maybe I maybe you" - Ovanes sings at restaurants. This song was so popular a few years ago but I haven't heard a single cover of it. Until now. The tone of Ovanes's voice is so beautiful but rock-y in the same time. The song kinda didn't go anywhere but Alexander turned because he heard the potential. Plus, the guy seems to have a nice personality.

Olexiy Kovalev (Олексій Ковалев) - 23, "Дышу с тишиной" - As you can see, he's a sportsmen. And as you can guess, he's got a sob story - his father died and his mom is a janitor. But that's not really important. What is important is his voice. Yet again we have a melody that doesn't go anywhere special but a tone that makes up for it. His speaking voice is so deep too, I liked it. Both Tina and Alexander want him, but he goes for Tina (even though he said he sang this song for his girlfriend). 

Radmyr Muhtarov (Радмир Мухтаров) - 20, "Your love is a lie" - A 20-year old beat-boxer is as cool as you can get on these kinds of show. I mean, the song choice is brilliant, the beat-boxing is hot, the voice is low and enchanting and he's easy in the eyes. He's definitely one of my favourite auditions from the entire season. He has a girlfriend so he went with Tina, as all non-single guys on this show usually do.

Olga Lukacheva (Ольга Лукачева) - 25, "Sweet Georgia Brown" - She brags about her resemblance to Scarlett Johansson. That's true, she looks like a Hollywood star, but the coaches don't have a chance to verify it yet. She has to sing first. Tonight is a night of some serious song choices, I haven't heard any outdated or overused track yet. This one is originally sang by Ella Fitzgerald. Olga is a professional singer, she's confident and just great. She made a real show, which might be hard when the chairs are giving you their backs. But they weren't for long, all of them turned pretty soon. Olga went with Slava. 

Anna Hodorovska (Анна Ходоровська) - 19, "Caruso" - This 19-years old doesn't know who her father is. When she talks she doesn't sound young but mature and serious. The way she sings is also mature and magnetic. This song was covered many times and in many ways, it's a famous classic, but Anna still found the way to sing it differently. Her voice is very confident, like herself. She's good and she knows it. I get winner vibes from her. She landed the last place on Alexander's team, and he's the best coach for her because of his classical background and seriousness about music. 

Anastasia Gorunova (Анастасія Горюнова) - 20, "Liberian girl" - What did I say about tonight's soundtrack? It's really diverse! There are only two places on Slava's team and he picks Anastasia to be the 13th team member. I personally found the voice average and the performance overall boring. But Slava must have felt pressure as he's the only one with his back turned from the stage (it's quite silly that in our version the full-equipped coaches can see acts; I mean the singer feels double-pressure as he knows there is one or two places left).

Julia Gorunova (Юлія Горюнова) - 26, "Highway to hell" - Julia's mom didn't even knew her daughter has applied to The Voice. But Julia did it for her, to make mom's life easier (are you crying yet or are you as cold-hearted as I am?). This song we obviously have heard before. But Julia's voice is quite interesting and she commands the stage well (if only Oleg didn't spoil her performance). Slava's team full, everybody's happy, including Julia, obviously. Perfect last audition!

That was a long recap but it's finally over. Every coach now has a team of 14, but it will (unfortunately?) change soon. The Battles start next, don't miss out!

Top 56

Team Oleg

Іван Сяркевич
Юлія Ярошенко
Людмила Капітонова
Олексій Бойко
Олексій Кирпач
Тата Підболячна
Артем Кондратюк
Вероніка Дорош
Сергій Чуйков
Блез Малаба
Камілла Бойко
Тетяна Ожелевська
Вікторія Корженок
Рендалл Грегорі

Team Alexander

Анна Ходоровська
Ованнес Атоян
Марта Спіженко
Майкл Кіркілан
Антоніна Наконечна
Ольга Богатиренко
Ганна Бєлкіна
Тетяна Гуцал
Яна Кулик
Сергій Ручкін
Наталія Ісаченко
Ірена Карська
Олексій Шпортько
Юрій Камбарян
 Team Slava

Юлія Горюнова
Анастасія Горохова
Ольга Лукачова
Олена Жигарева
Анна Лимар
Мікаель Кіладзе
Лев Ременєв
Дмитро Бабак
Отар Немсадзе
Христина Соловій
Соня Сухорукова
Туфан Чіґдем
Вікторія Олізе
Марина Маковій

Team Tina

Радмір Мухтаров
Олексій Ковальов
Оксана Жорова
Людмила Мовчан
Яна Дрюпіна
Анна Тиха
Дует London Hill
Євген Анішко
Ольга Сивакова
Зоряна Романів
Олеся Корчагіна
Тарас Мельник

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