There’s a glimmer of Glam, is the Scam gone or is it still just a Sham?
So here we are again. Idols South Africa is back with Season 9. To be honest I wasn’t going to watch one show this year after the Sham and Scam of last year, but slowly and surely I have been drawn back into the Spider web of intrigue that is this show.
I’m not going to repeat what happened last year – if you don’t know or can’t remember please see my all my previous articles. All I will say about Season 8 is that the whole thing is best forgotten. What I do want to now see is if any lessons were learned by anyone from last year. So I will watch Season 9 with interest.
I am so happy that reports of a head-hunted winner have not surfaced this year, so that’s a good start , isn’t it?
Four weeks of auditions in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Soweto went rather smoothly with only a few instances that raised my eyebrows -or was it my blood pressure? It’s a while ago so I’m not too sure. The first instance that got me rather irritated was when we had to witness the judges really “arguing” – My very first reaction was “oh good grief – you’re trying to prove us wrong when we say you’re scripted”. It would’ve worked had the judges been good actors – but unfortunately it was actually worse than the time I tried to act in my high school play. The second was when Desire Boontjes auditioned in Cape Town – I was reminded of the horrific treatment the judges meted out to Gavin Meltz last year and how Elvis Blue had to step in to restore some dignity to the poor man. How did the judges manage to do exactly the same to Desire with the result that Elvis Blue once again felt compelled to contact a fan who had almost been destroyed on National television? Third instance was at the end of the Durban auditions. Oh dear, déjà-vu – deserted auditorium, last audition of the day – it was all too familiar. And yes the contestant was very talented and the judges went crazy – just as they did last year. Only difference was that this was a female and she is an Indian. Sorry – not the only difference – on googling her name, Crystalene Nair, there wasn’t a huge amount to be found – not like all the websites that popped up last year. So I’m prepared to accept that maybe the last audition of the day story was just done to make for dramatic TV and not, as we thought last year, that the head-hunted just arrived in time for his “appointed” audition. But please Mnet – in future find different ways to bring the drama – this one is old now. For the rest of the auditions I didn’t really notice too many problems other than the judges – Unathi is really bringing the tears a bit too much, Randall is more boring than ever and Gareth still tries to be clever and hardly ever gets it right. – But should I blame them or the producers with the script? I’m still not too sure.
So - onto Theatre week and the eventual announcement of the Top 16. I have to say in all honesty that I have been very pleasantly surprised by the talent that we got to see over the last 3 weeks. Whereas in the past there would possibly be one or two or three stand-outs we have a whole bunch of very talented artists this year. It’s a general view of many, many people and if one reads posts and comments in Idols groups on Facebook and on Twitter there are many fans who are still battling to choose an outright favourite. Most comments I’ve seen are also reasonably OK with the Top 16 announced this last Sunday night. So well done to Idols – I would‘ve liked 3 changes to the Top 16 – Eddie, Leigh and Thato to be in for Philip, Sonke and Zoe – but I do understand that I can’t expect it all to go my way.
Of course none of this applies to the fans of .....the TWINS. Oh dear Mnet and Idols – what have you done??? Many of us are quite flabbergasted by the outcry over the decision not to advance the Twins into the Top 16. A Facebook page –“Bring Back Idols Durban SA twins Campaign” received close to 20 000 likes within 24 hours and is now close to 40 000 likes another 24 hours later!!!! This is absurd! Forty Thousand people who believe that rules in a show must be broken in order to satisfy their wants! And then on top of it we have to experience some of the horrific racism that also reminds one of the horrors that reared their ugly heads on the Idols South Africa Facebook page last year. But now it has gone one step further – DEATH THREATS to judges and contestants!!! Reading the comments on this page and on the Idols South Africa page make for very sad reading.
I don’t know anyone who wasn’t fascinated by the twins at their first audition and there is no doubt that they can sing. BUT – Top 16 in Idols ? – I’m afraid not. Idols finalists need to be unique, talented, have stage presence and be able to handle all the pressures that come with having the whole country’s eyes on you. Ask any previous finalist and they will tell you that it’s an extremely stressful competition. They are only 17 years old and so have many years to still develop as artists, but they need to decide which direction they want to go in – if they want to go the Idols route then they need to separate – yes, they need to become individuals with their own identities, style and even genres. Their fans even gave them a combined name Aneliswa – but Aneliswa can’t win Idols only Anele or Neliswa can. I would recommend they remain a duo and even call themselves Aneliswa if they like. They should stick to the gospel, soulful music that they are so good at and just work at their performance and stage presence – they would then have every chance of winning competitions such as SA’s Got Talent. But even without a further competition they have received enough exposure and have a big enough following to really make it. I’m sorry to their fans – but I really can’t imagine either of them performing a P!nk, Michael Jackson or Beatles song. Idols management are NOT going to bring them back, so get over it now and look at the rest of the awesome talent that is in the Top 16. Please don’t prove me wrong on this one Mnet – you will then lose every ounce of credibility that you have left! It is going to take a massive effort on your part to calm this storm and you are going to have to do something – but bringing the twins back into the competition is not one of them.
Congrats to Idols for the show thus far – it is a massive improvement on Season 8. I hope it will continue along this vein. Just a reminder to Mnet though, on a few things that I’m hoping will also see an improvement from previous years
· Please be fair to the contestants when it comes to song choice – don’t allow the judges to crucify a contestant for their song choice if you know damn well that the contestant had no choice in the matter whatsoever.
· Can we maybe try this year, because the talent is so good, to actually allow the judges to judge – to really say what they feel at the time, without any scripts and/or manipulations, so that the fans can vote for their favourites according to the performance they’ve seen, and not because of who they believe the judges think they should vote for. You might actually land up with an extremely popular winner who does very well.
· I am a bit concerned that Idols want a female winner – please Mnet, I beg of you don’t make the mistakes that American idols made this year. If you insist on manipulating it – you will land up with a season as boring as American Idols was – because the fans will also lose interest. Let it happen naturally. Bunny, Amy, Crystalene, Cristina, Carle, Tauna, Tumi and Zoe are quite capable of getting you to your goal – they don’t need manipulation.
· However there are some guys who have it in them to be amazing and could well deserve the winner’s title – I hope they won’t be destroyed the way the AI guys were destroyed. Admittedly our talent is better so I’m hoping that it’s going to be really exciting and if a guy brings it all he should get it all, because he deserves it.
· We complain every year about the voting system – have you fixed the online voting yet? I hope so, because I really don’t want to be tempted this year to abuse the online voting to give my fave an edge. Last year it would’ve been a waste of time – we knew the winner.
· A BIG ONE – C’mon – let’s do it this year, Mnet. Give us the voting numbers (please note not percentages) every week. Be transparent - you’ll stop a whole lot of rot if you are.
· Your Facebook Page is still a disgrace!!!!! Please employ a full-time moderator or even a few if necessary (shift work is really required) –Stop the racism, hate speech and death threats NOW – it is not good for the country. If you don’t, I will repeatedly report your page and will call on others to do the same. There are also many new Idols fans who could do with some help. Please help them when they are calling for everyone to continue voting for the twins, by telling them that it’s not possible. Please assist the poor guy who is so worried because he hasn’t seen Khaya back to defend his title. These fans are pouring their hearts out on your page – the least you can do is answer them and educate them on how the show works. It’s not difficult – most major corporations manage their pages pretty well – please show us you can too.
· Please realise, Idols – that because many of us have been watching this show since Season 1 we are wise to all the tricks you’ve used. The best way for you to ensure an exciting, riveting season is to allow it to be a “REALITY” show, with a huge emphasis on true reality. I have a feeling you will be very pleasantly surprised with the results if you do.
This season of Idols has all the makings of a great one – here’s hoping that Mnet don’t mess it up. Good luck to the Top 8 guys who will be performing this Friday – it should be a super show!!!
To the Idols fans – please bring back the spirit of the World Cup 2010 – The animosity towards judges, contestants and their fans is such a bad reflection on us a society and it can bring no good.
There’s definitely a glimmer of Glam – let’s hope the Sham and Scam are things of the past. The success this season may well depend on the fans and not Mnet. Time will tell.
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