WATCH | Men dominate the first round of the Idols SA live performances
The eight male contestants on “Idols SA“ took to the stage for their solo performances under the theme best cover songs.
These included songs that have been hits with more than one artist, right after their first-ever group performances of Justine Timberlake’s remake of Michael Jackson’s “Love Never felt so Good”.
To help you vote, here’s a quick recap, coupled with a little music history lesson, on how the boys did on their first live show performance.
The first performer of the night, ZanoThando, gave his rendition of “I Got A Woman”, originally made famous by Ray Charles and then again by Elvis Presley. The contestant received a mixed bag of comments.
The most interesting comment of the night came from the obvious oldies fan, Randall Abrahams, who said his singing sounded like the guy in front of the mirror with a hairbrush and that he needed to focus more. Unathi Nkayi, however, said his performance communicated versatility and talent to the viewers.
“Our concern was how versatile are you or will you remain in the more traditional songs. So you’ve given your market and voters all that they need to make sure you stay in the competition,” she said. Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung agreed “completely” with her judgement.
Zahn-Reece, who got the only standing ovation during Theatre Week, tackled “Superstar”, first released by Delaney and Bonnie in 1960, then by Bette Midler, the Carpenters and later Luther Vandross. Not forgetting Usher.
Nkayi imagined that the late Luther Vandross must be proud wherever he is because of how Zahn-Reece approached the song – with tenderness, vigour and the fire that it needed.
Somizi was tough on the contestant, saying the song might have been too big for him to understand the emotional side of it, although the vocals were on point.
Abrahams says Zahn-Reece mimicked Luther a lot when what they needed was to hear Zahn-Reece.
Ethan chose a 1965 Nina Simone hit song “Feeling good”, which first appeared on a Broadway musical and was later covered by various artists including John Coltrane and Michael Bublé.
Somizi commended his vocals and musical ability, saying his performance deserved a “woo-shem” from the audience. Abrahams respectfully disagreed, saying his music teachers might have taught him how to sing but they couldn’t teach him how to feel – comparing his performance to Nina Simone’s.
Nkayi echoed Somizi, saying Ethan’s performance was the best top 16 performance she has ever witnessed, with no backing vocalists, and that he brought himself on to the stage.
Jooma impressed all three judges with his rendition of Heatwave’s 1976 hit song “Always And Forever”, which was also covered by Luther Vandross in 1994 and more recently by Johnny Mathis in 2008.
Abrahams said he was the first singer of the night to allow the music to envelop them: “I didn’t miss you and you were a part of the music. If I was a part of the audience, I would vote for you.”
Nkayi shouted “stunning!” and Somizi “yes!”, both agreeing on how magnificent and seasoned his performance sounded.
Succedor, who happens to have a fan in Somizi, performed “Emotion“, written in 1978 by Barry and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees but only released in 2001. It was covered in the same year by Destiny’s Child.
Somizi did not enjoy Succedor’s performance but Nkayi said he was brave to have chosen the song and showed a different side to his performing styles, “as imperfect as it was”.
Abrahams said his singing wasn’t bad but didn’t listen to the backing vocalist to mash up the voices for a beautiful performance.
Mr Music tackled a 1960 Etta James song “All I Could Do Is Cry”, which was also covered by Tina Turner in 1965 and again by Beyoncé in 2008.
Somizi enjoyed the emotions put into the song, Nkayi called it a great attempt from someone who might not be mature enough to understand how devastating the song was, and Abrahams was not really impressed.
Brandon gave his shot at Swedish singer, songwriter and DJ Robyn’s 2010 hit “Dancing On My Own”, with Abrahams saying this was his best performance on “Idols” so far.
Nkayi labelled it as emotive, passionate and raw and Somizi, although he had never heard the song before, said: “I can tell you that I loved every single bit of the performance. You were beautiful.”
Last was Qhawe’s rendition of “Try a Little Tenderness”, first recorded in 1932 but made famous in 1966 by Otis Redding, before being sampled by Jay-Z and Kanye West in their song “Otis” and performed by Chris Brown in the movie “This Christmas”.
Nkayi believed it was the best Qhawe has sounded, Somizi advised him to listen more to the music and Abrahams being more interested in how the nation will vote.
Next week it’s the ladies’ chance to take the stage under the same music theme, before the final 10 are revealed next week Sunday.
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