I don’t watch The Voice. Not for the merest minute. I see a panel of judges, I see auditions, I see celebrity coaches, battles, rounds, votes, money and mainstream TV. I see a shortcut to fame and the type of programme that largely accounts for a decline in the standards of popular music since sometime around the beginning of the millennium. Nope, The Voice is not for me and only better than X Factor because Simon Fucking Cowell isn’t on it.
Then, a week or so ago a fella by the name of Si Genaro appears on the programme and my ears pricked. All of a stunned I was. I only know Si was on it ‘cos I stumbled across a social media link to his performance. In fact all of a sudden he was all over my social media feeds as he’s rather well known to me, as a popular and very skilled musician and compere from where I lived for all but a few of the first 45 years of my life. Mutual friends from back in Bournemouth were all aboard the Si Genaro ‘Chicken Train’ – this was big local news back down on the sunny south coast.
Why was I all of a stunned? Well, two reasons really. One, it’s always a weird feeling when someone you know appears on the telly. It’s not normal. They’re usually in a pub or at the bar, or sat on a sofa in your home. Seeing them cuddling Kylie Minogue in front of Tom Jones is slightly abnormal and rather unexpected. Two, Si Genaro with all of his many and varied talents is fairly low down on the list of people I know who would appear on a TV programme called The Voice where, um, the voice would (I’m presuming) be the most vital ingredient of the performer. Si Genaro is a quite fantastic harmonica player, an equally marvellous compere and entertainer, he’s generally a very skilled musician but as a performer his voice would be described as his weakness. An odd choice for a programme of such a name I thought, and despite his quite probable forthcoming success his vocal shortcomings ultimately led to his early exit from the programme.
So, Si didn’t pass the audition stage, but will, with the right management, planning, support and/or luck, gain some sort of fame and success. He’s become what’s known as an ‘internet sensation’ with droves of new likers and followers loving his uninhibited exuberance and downright lovability. Good on you Si. I really hope it happens for you and that your obvious talents take you further than what will probably be described as a ‘novelty’ single. See… this makes me ponder. I detest these programmes for what I consider extremely valid reasons (see paragraph 1), yet lovely, dexterous performers such as Si Genaro may find some success on the back of it. Having watched, thought and now written about it, I’m happy with such a dichotomy. I certainly won’t buy his soon to be released ‘Chicken Train’ single, I’ll even more certainly never watch The Voice again but I’ll enjoy watching Si Genaro jumping around like an over-energetic musical cockerel thinking yes, you’ve gone for it… and got it. Well done mate.
So, if Si Genaro was an unexpected face on a TV show named The Voice, who would have been less of a surprise? Well, if I’m sticking to my musical roots and talking about home grown talent one name springs instantly to mind. But then it just as quickly disappears as I know there’s absolutely no way Alex Hedley would appear on such a show. I’ve had the pleasure of watching numerous stunning vocalists during my time as a punter in Bournemouth, but if we’re talking purely about vocal talent, the exquisite range of Saturday Sun’s Alex Hedley stands out. I’ll save a more eloquent description of Saturday Sun’s debut LP Orixé for another time, but for anyone who wants to hear the Voice of Bournemouth (well, nearby Swanage), take a looky and a listen on their website.