M-Net's Idols SA will be back for a tenth season later this year. The audition circus was in town from Saturday until yesterday (Wednesday) where 16 golden tickets were handed out. 18 were given at the Carnival City auditions in Johannesburg, meaning that so far only 34 tickets have been given.
We went to the judge's auditions on Wednesday to check out the talent and see how it compares to previous years. The past two seasons of Idols have been great- amazing talent, personalities, moments and a great rivalry in Musa Sukwena and Brenden Ledwaba. When Musa won last season, we all had high hopes for his career, but sadly it has fizzled out. There's little to no buzz about the guy, which is a shame as he is very talented. Should we blame the fact that the show aired later in the year than usual, meaning by the time he won, it was too late for him to release a new single and cash in on the publicity train of the December summer season?
Anyway, that is a matter for a separate post.
The Durban auditions were held at the Playhouse Theatre and on Wednesday, the judges, Unathi Msengana, Gareth Cliff and Randall Abrahams got to see the best, the okay and the worst of the Durban singers. The biggest problem with the Durban contestants, was their song choices. They were rather disappointing and let many of them down, a point that Unathi and Gareth kept making every time another promising singer was let down by a bad song choice.
We got there after lunch, which means the judges are usually tired and are getting harder and harder to please. When we walked in, Unathi had just given a golden ticket to a young man, whose name and performance we didn't get. But the judges were all impressed by him and Unathi said to him: "Take your ticket... Take a Selfie... See you in Sun City."
Then Kyle Deustschmann, a 26 year old chiropractor from Pinetown, sang Avicii's Wake Me Up. A repeat contestant, the judges asked him about his growth and what he had done to better himself since the last time. "I did vocal training and I had to believe that I can actually sing," he told them.
We think he did well. So did Unathi. Randall found him 'boring and generic' because of his looks. Gareth said he looked like a pop/rock musician, but he understood where Randall is coming from. In the end Randall was outvoted by Unathi and Gareth, but Kyle will have to do really well in Sun City to be able to go to the next rounds, and making it to the Top16 and then the Top10. We spoke to him after his audition and he said that he respects Randall's opinion, but he believes he has an international look, one that most pop/rock musicians have right now. Oh his chances on the show? "I think I have a fair chance. I don't want to be arrogant and say I have a great chance, but with hard work, I think I have a great chance." On his audition song choice, he said: "I picked Wake Me Up because it was a popular song last year, it has broad appeal and I think it's important to tackle songs that are current and not something old and that doesn't showcase my voice, like John Legend songs."
Speaking of John Legend, Gareth was adamant that contestants should stop singing his songs. "I'm so sick of John Legend songs. Make them stop. Please." We agree.
|It was mostly this look from Idols judges, Randall Abrahams,Unathi Msengana and Gareth Cliff, pictured at the 2012 Idols auditions. The Durban leg of the auditions only had 16 singers worthy enough for a Golden Ticket: Candice Mostert|
Next up was Slindile Kwetetse, 21, from Pietermaritzburg. She sang Tamia's Me and was so timid and shy, that it wouldn't have been surprising had the judges said no. But she prevailed, found her footing and her voice filled the room. Unathi told her that she needs to impress the judges with the first note and not wait to impress them later. "No girl. You have a great voice, but this song just didn't do you justice. Plus you need to be confident and stop being shy. Let that voice out." She got her golden ticket.
We spoke to her after the audition and she was smiling with relief. "I was scared. I took a long time to relax and really get into the song and I was lucky the judges were also relaxed." She promised that during theatre week, she will be breaking out of her shell and believes that she has a good chance at winning the competition. "It's a chance to show and prove to myself that I can do this. I'm very shy, so I'm putting myself out there and I know I will do great." She's a Beyoncé fan and said that she'll be singing a few of her songs. "I love her and she's an amazing musician." And on the importance of song choice? "It's the one thing that makes or breaks you. The song has to complement your voice. Competitions have been lost because of bad song choices, a mistake I don't plan on making from now onward I was happy with Unathi's feedback, especially that I should sing more current songs, like Rihanna's Stay."
Another contestants we saw that impressed was Simthandile, who first sang Whitney Houston's Saving All My Love. The judges stopped her and asked her to tackle a song that is easier because they liked her voice. She sang Brenda Fassie's Weekend Special and got her golden ticket. "You have the aura of Thandiswa Mazwai girl, own it." Unathi said to her.
Those who didn't impress include:
- Junior who sang Gerald Levert's I'd Give Anything. While he had potential and was confident. Once again, song choice let him down and Unathi asked him to sing a current song. He tackled former Idols winner, Khaya Mthethwa's Little Means a Lot and while he got Unathi jamming, he once again felt too forced. Gareth told him that Kyle had just sang. "It came naturally. You are really trying hard and that's letting you down. So no."
- Nombuso sang Brenda Fassie's Weekend Special. She's best suited for the theatre and we are glad the judges told her. She was not suitable for Idols mainly because her movements were distracting.
- Siyethemba sang Diana Ross ft. Westlife's When You Tell Me and well, he was terrible. The botched lyrics (Shining like a camel in the dark) and (I want to hold your clothes, under the rain) also made his performance comical. The judges noted that he re-arranged the songs notes to suit his voice and while that was clever, there was no musicality in it.
- Sicelo, armed with guitar, doomed himself by performing John Legend's Stay with You. "Bad song choice, once again. I wish you'd sung something young and more current. Plus the guitar didn't help you at all."
- Thembeka sang Jennifer Hudson's Perfect Man from the Dreamgirls soundtrack. She had the voice, but the problem was her breathing patterns and it's a big song to accomplish, which therefore meant she had to put in a stellar performance, which she didn't. Another bad song choice. "I just wish you were less dramatic," Unathi said. An unanimous NO from the judges. They later remarked how Jennifer Hudson was now part of the Big Five musicians to never attempt: Mariah, Whitney, Aretha and Celine. "Just don't."
- Nothando disappointed with Zonke's Jikizinto. She had the potential, but she chose the wrong song, or rather, the wrong part of the song to sing. Her voice wasn't strong enough and her performance was soon found lacking. Randall said there was no musicality in the song and schooled her about the breathing techniques, and nuances about the song and how the gaps and spaces in a song were part of it.
- Shayna from Kloof was clearly the comic relief of the day, singing Tracy Chapman's Give Me One Reason and she was terrible. Which is ironic for someone who said "Music is my passion." Gareth put it well- "Lots of people have killed us today. You just did too." Ah, snark!
Theatre week takes place in Sun City in April and the show premieres on our screens in July. May the best singer win!