Time is ticking for Melissa Allison, Monde Mstuwana and Khaya Mthethwa - the remaining three contestants in Idols SA. The finalé on Tuesday, 2 October is fast approaching and they're well aware that, having a one out of three chance to become South Africa's next Idol, every vote counts.
At this week's Spectacular, the Top 3 each performed three songs: one song of their own choice, one chosen for them by Idols Musical Directors Alexis Faku and Martin Schofield, and one song that they performed during Theatre Week at Sun City. Helping the Top 3 prepare for their big show this week was South Africa’s latest superstar, Toya Delazy, who was also in the audience to witness the fruit of her labours.
Pretoria’s Monde Msutwana (30) chose the Commodores classic “Night Shift” as his first song because he said he wanted to “bring some soul”. Idols judge Gareth Cliff recalled Monde’s first audition, when he sang Lionel Richie and the judges all did backing vocals for him. “You are mature… talented… smooth… and just an extraordinary guy,” he told Monde sincerely. Unathi Msengana pointed out that a lot of women really, really love Monde. “That was a very sensual presentation to that woman who sits at home and votes for you one hundred times,” she said. But Randall Abrahams thought Monde ought to focus more on the artistic side of interpreting a song, rather than just the performing side.
For P.E. beauty Melissa Allison (23) her own choice was Adele’s “Chasing Pavements”. Gareth noted that he just figured out that “Chasing Pavements” is really not that great a song. “I’m concerned that that was not the best you’ve done,” he told Melissa. “I strongly disagree,” Unathi told Gareth. “For me, this was one of your most earnest performances. You just focused on the emotion instead of belting it out like Adele.” Randall pointed out that this was a “Pop/Soul” song and Melissa missed the Soul aspect of the song. “Pop/Soul is not what you do,” he admonished.
Durban hero Khaya Mthethwa’s (25) personal choice was his own version of Justin Bieber’s “Down To Earth”. “You’re a skelm for choosing that song,” Gareth smiled. “That’s a surefire way to get a lot of votes!” He said he thought Khaya did a terrific job. Unathi agreed that Khaya’s choice was very strategic. “And it was a very smart choice to pull out the guitar at this stage of the competition,” she approved. “An impeccable, perfect performance,” she said. Randall said it was a pop song performed “by the one singer who has a lot of soul.” It was “a very intelligent choice,” he said. At the end of the first round all three judges agreed that Khaya was ahead of the game.
In the second round Martin and Alexis chose Sade’s “By Your Side” for Monde. Gareth said he didn’t know what to make of that performance. “A part of me liked it, but another part of me worried that it won’t get you votes,” he told Monde. “I really loved it, Monde,” Unathi said. And Randall thought it was heartfelt, but he shared Gareth’s worry about votes. “It doesn’t scream ‘hit song’”, he pointed out.
The Musical Directors’ choice for Melissa was the Alicia Keys standard, “Fallin’.” Gareth worried that there might be some people who would will say “oh, no, not that song again...” “That song has been sung so many times, and by so many people,” he pointed out. But he thought that Melissa handled it well. Unathi thought she handled her first song better, though. Randall simply grumbled that he was looking forward to the next round.
Khaya performed “She Will Be Loved”, by Maroon 5, as the Musical Directors' choice. “For what it’s worth you are turning into the guy to beat,” Gareth complimented him. But Unathi felt that Khaya was just going through the motions this time. “With this performance you were using your strengths to cover up the fact that you weren’t really ‘in’ it,” she thought. Randall agreed with Unathi. “The verses were flat and the phrasing wasn’t great,” he criticized, but he said the song would pull Khaya through.
At the end of the second round Randall thought Khaya would pull through because of the song choice, even though it wasn’t his best performance. Unathi said Monde was her favourite in the second round, and Gareth just observed that it’s bound to be an interesting Idols Final in just nine days time.
Monde started off the final round of the Top 3 Spectacular with his Theatre Week revisit, Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”. “I didn’t like that at all, man,” said Gareth. “It felt weird! It was out of place.” Unathi said she liked the growth that Monde showed between his Sun City performance and tonight. Randall thought that parts of it worked, “but you weren’t front-and-centre throughout,” he complained.
To vote for Monde text the number 03 to 37400, or vote online or on MXit.
From her Theatre Week adventure in Sun City Melissa performed Rihanna’s “Unfaithful”. “It feels like we’ve been giving you a hard time tonight, but you really did that beautifully,” Gareth said sincerely. “Heartfelt... Bold… My performance of the night,” Unathi agreed. Even Randall thought it was a good song choice and a good performance.
To vote for Melissa text the number 07 to 37400, or vote online or on MXit.
To revisit his triumphant moment from Theatre Week, of course Khaya went with his interpretation of the Nicki Minaj hit “Super Bass”. Gareth remembered how much it impressed him at Sun City. “I knew then that we would see you here at the end of the competition,” he said. “Let’s call this déjà vu,” Unathi said. She said Khaya’s work ethic throughout the competition is what has brought him so far. Randall missed Nicki Minaj’s “pop eccentricity”, but in terms of the overall competition he thought Khaya had the edge over his fellow competitors.
To vote for Khaya text the number 08 to 37400, or vote online or on MXit.
Celebrity mentor Toya Delazy had nothing but praise for the Top 3. “Basically that was amazing. I had a good time,” she said at the end of the show.
The voting lines for the Top 3 Spectacular opened at the start of tonight’s show (Sunday, 23 September) and will close at 22:00 on Monday, 24 September.
The results of the vote will be announced in the live Top 2 Results Show at the Mosaïek Teatro on Tuesday, 25 September, at 19:30, with a special live performance by Toya Delazy.
Updates and further information can be found on the official Idols Facebook page at “Idols South Africa”, on Twitter @IdolsSA and on the official Idols Season 8 website at www.mnet.co.za/idolsSA.