Idols SA Season 11 reached another milestone this week with over 6.4 million votes cast for the Season 11 Top 7 between Sunday evening 11 October and Tuesday evening 13 October – that’s over 4 million votes more than for the corresponding week in last year’s Season 10. But unfortunately Idols’s “comeback kid”, 22-year-old Amanda Antony from Port Elizabeth, received the fewest of this massive number of votes, making her the fourth Top 10 finalist to go home.
With the Top 10 now whittled down to Top 6, each contestant on Sunday got to perform two numbers under the musical theme of “90’s vs Today” – one song each in the first round from the decade in which they were all born, the Nineties, and then for the second round, a hit song from the current charts.
The first person to receive enough votes to survive to the Top 6 was 24-year-old Karabo Mogane. Born in 1991, Karabo went back to April 1995 for Boys II Men classic “Water Runs Dry” for his first performance. And from today’s tracklists he selected Hozier’s “Someone New”.
“You were heart-and-soul, knee-deep in that song,” Gareth Cliff said happily. An impressed Somizi Mhlongo said that Karabo was a songwriter’s dream and a producer’s dream and an arranger’s dream. Unathi Msengana agreed with both of her colleagues and also commended Karabo on his professional breath control. “Your singing has improved tremendously during this competition,” Randall Abrahams noted approvingly.
Next up was Dineo Moseki (22) from Vryburg, a 1993 baby who chose Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” from December 1998 as her Nineties song. And her current hit choice was local outfit Beatenberg’s “Rafael”.
Gareth noted how much better Dineo sounds when she tackles something upbeat like that second song. “Last week your spaceship crashed and you were the only survivor found!” Somizi joked. “You survived,” he said encouragingly. Unathi commented that she loved Dineo’s interpretation of the Lauryn Hill song, but it didn’t sound like Randall was impressed – “I have a funny feeling the boys are going to take the second round as well,” he commented.
21-year-old Rhema Varrie from Alberton was born in 1994 and his Nineties hit from February 1995 was Radiohead’s “High And Dry”. His selection from the 2015 charts was One Republic’s “Counting Stars”.
Gareth noted that Rhema has a unique sound and advised him to make that his distinctive standout quality. “When Jesus says ‘yes’, no Randall can say ‘no’!” Somizi cracked. “Hallelujah!” Unathi concurred. And Randall was happy not only about Rhema’s improvement as a singer, but also with the talent that he displayed on multiple instruments tonight. He just expressed a wish that Rhema would also increase in confidence, like Karabo and Loyiso had done.
Siphelele Ngcobo (24) from Inanda, who was born in 1991, selected the classic All 4 One hit “I Can Love You Like That” from June 1995. And for his second round song Siphelele stuck with a vernac choice as always, Nathi’s “Nomvula”, which earned him a standing ovation from Unathi and Somizi.
“I was blown away,” Gareth admitted. “Your voice is anointed!” Somizi raved. “Even if you don’t speak English or sing English, stick to where your heart and soul is, you will never be hungry,” he advised. Unathi thought Siphelele “destroyed” with the second performance, and Randall seemed dumbstruck. “Just a few weeks ago it looked like you were going home,” he spluttered. “In my time on Idols I’ve never seen such a comeback …”
23-year-old Mmatema Moremi from Limpopo was born in 1992 but her Nineties hit tonight was from September 1998: Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here”. And from the current world charts Mmatema chose Jess Glynne’s hit, “Hold My Hand”.
”It’s almost as if you’ve been performing all your life. You just don’t put a foot wrong,” Gareth marveled. But he requested that she tackle something “risky” next week. Somizi admitted that he didn’t know the song, “but you made me love it!” he raved. Unathi was not thrilled with Mmatema’s first song, “but then you came back and said ‘this is I … this is how it will be done …’” she noted happily. And Randall thought he couldn’t add anything to that feedback. “I’m just going to say it was great to hear you do a pop song,” he smiled.
16-year-old Loyiso Gijana from Uitenhage was born in 1999 his Nineties song, from August 1991, was the Boyz II Men hit: “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday”. Halfway through Sunday’s show Gareth Cliff, Somizi Mhlongo, and Unathi Msengana thought that Loyiso had delivered the best performances of the first round, and Randall Abrahams agreed that all four of the guys had given sterling performances.
And for his 2015 hit at the end of the second round Loyiso chose “Hold Back The River”, by James Bay. “You see, you’re not afraid at all to take risky songs and make them work,” Gareth said happily. “I don’t know how to fault you,” said Somizi. He noted that Loyiso could give Usher and Chris Brown a run for their money. Unathi commented on the passion in Loyiso’s performance, “and the passion you will feel in the voting,” she smiled. “We so easily forget how young you are,” said Randall. But he warned that from next week it’s anybody’s competition to win or to lose.
Voting for the Top 6 opened during the course of Sunday’s live broadcast and will close at 22:00 on Tuesday, 20 October.