Last week in the first Live Group Spectacular of Idols SA Season 11 the Top 16 guys brought their A-game and the fans at home clearly loved it – South Africa cast more than 1 million votes for the group, which is a new all time Idols SA record for this stage of the competition.
Last night the guys could relax in the audience, happy in the knowledge of a job well done, and cheer on their female counterparts as the Top 16 girls took the stage with a lively group rendition of the very first American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s “Heartbeat Song”.
Up-and-coming Mzansi star Mathew Gold and BreakDLaw were this week’s guest stars with their hit “When We Were Young”, and then the first girl to sing for the Idols SA fans’ votes the Pride of Limpopo, Mmatema Moreni (23), performing the Ella Henderson hit, “Ghost”.
Idols SA judge Gareth Cliff said it was a very powerful start to the evening. “You’ve made it very unfair for the other girls, that they have to follow that,” he said. Somizi Mhlongo was bereft of speech. “You are such an amazing … you range is beyond … your tone is beyond …” he sputtered. “Oh, my gosh! You are devastatingly gifted!” Unathi Msengana was happy to see that Mmatema performed that song like she meant every single word. Even Randall Abrahams was pleased. “There are many weeks to go before the final, keep up the song choice,” he advised. “Your charisma is what’s going to get you the votes.”
Next up was the youngest girl in the competition this year, 17-year-old Nina Terblanche from Nelspruit, with Blackbyrd’s “Better In The Morning”.
“That was cute, I liked that a lot,” said Gareth. “I picked up something in your voice that I’ve heard in Taylor Swift’s voice. And that is something that’s very cool right now – a girl with a guitar and a great voice.”
“I like the fact that you hold your own,” said Somizi. “What you did now was perfecto. You are what I would call a full package.”
“It was enchanting, it was endearing, it was cheerful,” said Unathi.
And Randall summarised all of his colleagues’ positive comments. “You have a very different voice,” he praised. But he warned that Nina might struggle with votes because she’s not as confident as most of the other girls in the competition.
Amanda Antony (22) from Port Elizabeth was up next with Beyoncé’s sexy anthem, “Drunk In Love”.
“That is a very hard song to do right, and vocally I can’t fault you,” said Gareth. But in some ways he still thought it was a little lacking. ”I give it an 8 out of 10,” he told Amanda. Somizi agreed that there are certain artists who, if you’re going to do their songs, “you need your ancestors next to you.” And Unathi advised Amanda that “it’s okay to be extraordinarily sexy when you do this kind of song”. “It was kinda paint-by-numbers,” Randall agreed. He wondered if Amanda would get votes because of this song choice, or lose votes because of it.
Elwira Standili (22) from Worcester took to the stage with the Taylor Swift hit “Style”.
“There’s a lightness to that song, it bounces, and I felt like yours was plodding, it wasn’t bouncing,” Gareth thought. Somizi advised Elwira that it’s okay to admit that some songs are not your style. “Next time choose a soulful, ‘chilli-baba’ song,” he advised. “I thought you were perfect,” Unathi disagreed. “This was just stodgy,” said Randall. “It completely lacked charm.”
18-year-old Bridgitt Leahy from Pietermaritzburg chose the Meghan Trainor hit “Lips Are Moving”.
Gareth said there was a lot he could criticise in that performance, “but I can’t help liking it,” he said, “And I do want to hear you up there again.” Somizi agreed that Bridgitt was not on key. But Unathi was impressed with how much she had grown so far in this competition. “I think you’re growing week by week,” she said. “The one thing you have on your side is that you’re quirky,” said Randall. “But if you have that card to play, you’ve got to play it. You’ve got to get in there!” he urged her.
Paarl beauty queen Nadia Herbst (20) strutted her stuff with Ellie Golding’s “Love Me Like You Do”.
“I did not expect that,” Gareth said honestly. “You occupied that song.” He said Nadia and Mmatema were head-and-shoulders above the rest. “Perfect song choice, perfect emotions, perfect look and feel – it was your show,” said Somizi. “That was incredibly powerful,” Unathi agreed. But Randall had problems with the phrasing and he thought the high notes were pitchy. “So if you’re going to get votes, as the other judges seem to think, I don’t think it will be for singing,” he complained.
Next up it was the turn of Vryburg singer Dineo Moseki (21), performing Sia’s “Chandelier”.
“Listen, it’s a very hard song,” said Gareth. “I found the chorus pitchy and strained.” Somizi momentarily lost command of his English … “You swung on that chandelier, vocally,” he praised. “Sia is the pap-and-vleis, and you brought the chakalaka!” Unathi thought it was the performance of the night. But Randall disagreed. “To my mind you spent 90% of the time swallowing the words,” he complained
And 25-year-old Shenay O’Brien from Johannesburg closed the show with Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj’s mashup of “Bang Bang”.
Gareth thought this performance was the one that “jumped the shark” for Shenay. “The vocals did not work for me,” he said sadly. Somizi reminded Shenay that he advised her to sing in her own voice. “Bye, Felicia,” he said shortly. But Unathi thought everyone in the Top 16 could learn from Shenay when it comes to performance. “There were moments that worked and there were moments that were absolutely bleak,” said Randall. If you can’t handle that falsetto, stay away from the song, he advised.
Voting for the Top 16 girls opened at the start of the live Spectacular show and closes on Tuesday night, 8 September, at 22:00.
The result of this voting period and last week’s voting for the Top 16 guys will be announced in a spectacular live show on Sunday, 13 September.
The four girls with the most votes and the four guys with the most votes will be safe. The four girls and four guys with the fewest votes will be up for elimination, and theIdols SA judging panel of Randall Abrahams, Somizi Mhlongo, Unathi Msengana, and Gareth Cliff will save two contestants (no matter from which group they are) to make up the Idols SA Season 11 Top 10.
Tickets to the Idols SA Season 11 Live Spectaculars are available from Computicket.