Land of Idols ups the ante

2011-03-11 07:28

Auditions for South African Idols are in full swing and so is Gareth Cliff by the looks of things. The singing reality show judge was seen ­dangling from a dizzy height after a bungee swing at Durban’s ­Moses Mabhida Stadium during the KZN leg of the countrywide ­auditions last week. Cliff’s antics aside, I hope he and fellow judges Randall Abrahams and Unathi Msengana are keeping a close eye on the current season of American Idol.

Season 10 of this show has been anything but typical – and it’s got everything to do with the revamped judging panel of newbies Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, as well as veteran judge Randy Jackson.

The three have taken an old reality show that was losing its flavour, added some hot spice in the form of refreshingly unorthodox talent, mixed it up with a dash of their own colourful personalities and produced a show that hasn’t been this exciting since Season 1 when Kelly Clarkson knocked everyone off their feet with her powerful voice.

Even host Ryan Seacrest seems to have been injected with new life.

The thing that makes this season of American Idol work so well is that the judges have kicked out the blueprint of what makes that elusive “whole package” by introducing characters with talent and depth instead of just nice voices and pretty faces.

Our own Idols has been rigidly following the same formula forever and, in turn, produced carbon copies of the same kind of singer.

Here’s a taste of some of the 13 characters that make up the motley crew that is American Idol Season 10 finalists:

»?When Casey Abrams told the ­judges: “I’m here to show that people like me can be sexy too,” he ­endeared himself to the public. The fact that he’s a pre-weight loss Seth Rogen lookalike with a red beard and slouchy clothes only make him more adorable. His raspy voice and talent with the bass are unmatched.

»?Paul McDonald’s freakish pearly whites dazzle almost as much as his husky voice, Jay Kay dance moves and dapper suits that Steven Tyler wants to steal. He’s a quirky character whose unusual voice is a first in any Idol competition I’ve seen.

»?JLo called Jacob Lusk the new Luther Vandross, and this big boy with a personality to match gave everyone goosebumps with his soaring rendition of Bless The Child. And we wailed along with him when he sobbed his heart out afterwards.

»?Scott McCreery’s fascinating low register would put superstar country singers to shame. This teenage ­cowboy with the crooked smile is not pop-star material, but he’ll ­definitely give Tim McGraw and company a run for their money.

»?Stadium-cleaner Naima Adedapo is the kind of person this competition was made for. She exudes an African princess/lounge singer vibe with her dreadlocks, home-made frocks in West African prints and dangling wooden earrings.

»?Karen Rodriguez was not kidding when she yelled “Latinos are back, baby!” She owned a tired old song like Hero when she sang it in ­English and Spanish, proving that you can breathe new life into an old ­favourite.

»?The next SA Idols auditions will be held at ­Dobsonville Stadium on March 26; Montecasino on April 2

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