Only four EC contestants remain after 'worst hell week' in history of 'Idols SA'

2015-08-11 11:47
Daniel Minnie from Port Elizabeth made it through 'Hell Week' to the individual performances.

Daniel Minnie from Port Elizabeth made it through 'Hell Week' to the individual performances. (Supplied/Idols SA)

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Only four Eastern Cape contestants remain to perform individually in the 11th season of Idols South Africa.

In Idols SA, the countrywide auditions are always followed by the Theatre Phase at Sun City, during which the Golden Ticket winners have to prove to the judges that they are ready for the demands of the competition and that they can deliver their best under the most strenuous of circumstances imaginable.

This week of culling down contestants, surprises, tears and drama has become known in Idols circles as "Hell Week", but nothing could prepare this year's group of 78 Golden Ticket winners for the nightmare awaiting them.  

After boarding the Idols buses the group of excited Golden Tickets were told that they were not on their way to Sun City. Instead, the Golden Ticket winners were dropped at Johannesburg’s Maslow Hotel in Sandton for the first-ever Idols SA Masterclass workshop weekend, lead by Idols SA Musical Director RJ Benjamin.

“We want to try to give you guys the tools to be the best that you can be,” RJ explained, as the contestants embarked on a series of workshops covering everything from mic technique to how to survive in the competitive music industry, with practical advice from two homegrown Idols who had been where they were now: Season 8 winner Khaya Mthethwa and SAMA nominee Graeme Watkins.
 
But unbeknownst to the contestants, as they were benefiting from Graeme and Khaya’s experience, the judges were also secretly arriving at the Maslow for their own little workshop, painstakingly reviewing every audition again on tape and secretly observing some of the vocal workshops. Their conclusion? Some of the singers who had received Golden Tickets did not deserve to be there. 
 
So as the happy contestants concluded their Masterclass weekend, Randall Abrahams broke the news that not all of them would continue on to Sun City. “We feel that some of you should go home today,” he announced. 
 
"There are three buses waiting outside – two buses are going to drive some of you straight to Sun City. The other bus is going to drive you back to the airport, to go home,” Unathi Msengana explained. 
 
The contestants were reduced to tears as the realisation sunk in that they didn’t even know which bus they were boarding. The true horror only became clear out on the highway, as one bus dramatically pulled away from the convoy to take the airport offramp. 
 
And just like that, 30 Idols SA dreams were crushed for 2015. 
 
Only 48 Golden Ticket winners had survived had the first cut, and Hell Week hadn’t even started yet. The jubilation on the other two buses quickly died down, though, as the surviving contestants remembered that they had the Groups phase waiting for them as soon as they arrived at Sun City. “The hard work starts now,” 20-year-old Emma Elllis from Port Ellizabeth noted somberly as silence fell over the contestants.
 
Eager to gain any advantage they could, the contestants immediately started conspiring to form groups so long, but Idols SA Season 11 had yet another shock in store for them. “In approximately 24 hours you will audition in groups, and this year we have decided that we will choose the groups for you,” Gareth Cliff announced as soon as they arrived at Sun City. 
 
And then the long, sleepless night of rehearsals started. “We have a lot of work to do, a lot of harmonies to do... we’re going to sleep very late, if we sleep at all,” said Analisa Motanung (24) from Cape Town, who was in a group with Emma Ellis and 21-year-old Amanda Anthony from Port Elizabeth
 
The second group to perform was Cape Town’s Jaco Botha (23), the 16-year-old schoolboy from Uitenhage, Loyiso Gijana and 20-year-old Sizwe Mthalane from Cato Ridge, who angered the judges when he mangled his lyrics and grinned over his mistake. “Sizwe, if I had a taxi here I would put you in that taxi and send you home. You’re wasting our time,” Somizi Mhlongo scolded, but they gave him another chance, along with young Loyiso.
 
And Somizi’s mood didn’t soon improve. “Guys, can you hear the track?” he demanded when the three P.E. girls, Emma Ellis, Anelisa Motaung (24), Amanda Antony (22) murdered All Saints’s “Pure Shores”. “That’s not harmony – it’s discord!” Randall proclaimed, and only Amanda survived that cut. 

Daniel Minnie (19) from P.E. and Josh Webber (21) and Tebogo Louw (23) from Stellenbosch did a rendition of  “My Girl” by The Temptations that would have sent Smokey Robinson to an early grave if he’d heard it. “You sounded like you’re a bunch of weenies, like you’re singing in a pub somewhere. This is not a pub somewhere,” Randall grumbled, but at least Daniel and Tebogo survived his ire. 

The 29-year-old Dr Mandla Bacela from Butterworth, 24-year-old Lungisa Xhamela from Cape Town, and 23-year-old Karabo Mogane from Nelspruit flawlessly performed The Backstreet Boys’ “As Long As You Love Me”. “Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!” a delighted Somizi exclaimed. “A perfect example of what teamwork is. You’ve set a benchmark,” he told them, and all three of them made it through to the next round. 
 
Only 29 contestants survived the day. 
 
Now they had to start preparing for the biggest audition of their lives: their big solo performance with professional accompaniment, in front of a live audience of fans. “Don’t let us down,” Gareth warned them. “The pressure is on, there is no space for mistakes.” 

The 29 contestants that are through to the individual performances:

Amanda Antony (21) from Port Elizabeth
Amy Lombard (29) from Cape Town
Bridgitt Leahy (18) from Creighton
Busisiwe Mthembu (22) from Springs
Chrystal Worship (26) from Cape Town
Daniel Minnie (19) from Port Elizabeth
Dineo Moseki (21) from Vryburg
Elwira Standili (22) from Cape Town
John Niel (24) from Pretoria
Karabo Mogane (23) from Nelspruit
Lihle Buthelezi (27) from Ladysmith
Loyiso Gijana (16) from Uitenhage
Lungisa Xhamela (24) from Cape Town
Mandla Bacela (29) from Butterworth
Matthew Kent (22) from Cape Town
Mlondi Mkhize (25) from Illovo
Mmatema Moremi (22) from Pretoria
Nadia Herbst (20) from Paarl
Ndumiso Mahlangu (21) from Carolina
Nina Terblanche (17) from Nelspruit
Nonhle Mhlongo (29) from Durban
Phila Madlingozi (25) from Johannesburg
Rhema Vairrie (20) from Alberton
Ruan Grobbelaar (24) from Cape Town
Shenay O’ Brien (24) from Johannesburg
Siphelele Ngcobo (24) from Durban
Sizwe Mthalane (20) from Cato Ridge
Tebogo Louw (23) from Stellenbosch
Thami Shobede (26) from Johannesburg

You can follow all the Idols SA conversations on the official Idols SA Facebook page, on Twitter by following @IdolsSA, or on Instagram by following @IdolsSA.

Idols SA Season 11 is screened in HD on M-Net, channel 101, and Mzansi Magic, channel 161, on Dstv. And as always all the auditions will once again be played on the Idols SA Extra channel, channel 199 on DStv, from the time the show's end credits roll.

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