At the gruelling Idols SA auditions in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg this year, the uber-critical judges handed out a grand total of 78 Golden Tickets. In the final tally, 17 of these Golden Ticket winners hailed from the Western Cape, 9 from the Eastern Cape, 13 from KZN, 2 from the North West, 1 from the Northern Cape, 2 from Mpumalanga, 5 from Limpopo and 29 from Gauteng.
While the contestants’ hometowns were spread across the country, the Golden Ticket was taking them all to the same destination – Sun City in the North West Province. That's what the judges said at the auditions, and that's what had happened to Golden Ticket winners in previous seasons. Little did these Season 11 singers know that there would be a pit stop on the way to Sun City and that not all the buses would be traveling to the same destination.
In this week's episode of Idols SA, we'll see how a twist unlike ever before rattles many of the contestants who're dreaming of becoming South Africa's next Idol. But who will end up in which bus, and why?
In another change to the Theatre Week format, previous Idols' winner Khaya Mthethwa and Season 5 runner-up Graeme Watkins will step in to give the contestants masterclasses, based on their Idols' experience and work in the music industry.
"The Idols judges have found some incredible talent across the country this season, but during the even-tenser-than-before Theatre Week these young singers will have to deliver their absolute best at all times and prove their musical versatility," says M-Net's Head of Publicity, Lani Lombard. "As Khaya and Graeme will explain to them, it's not easy being a full-time musician, and we need to make sure that the contestants have the will to succeed against all odds."
At the end of the Idols SA Theatre Phase, the judges will put forward the names of the contestants who will be singing for the public vote. So the big question is: Who will come out tops at Idols "Hell Week" at Sun City? You may just ask one of these questions as well:
- Will the singers who received four yeses from the judges continue to impress, or will they fall flat under the pressure of Idols week? These include quite a number of Durban singers, including Siswe, the orphan from Cato Ridge who Unathi believed gave "the perfect audition”; car washer Mlondi Mkhize from Amanzimtoti; Nonhle Mhlongo from Chesterville, Durban, who got Randall to sing along; and medical doctor Mandla Bacela.
- How will the sixteen year olds fare? This year there are a record number of eight sixteen year olds with Golden Tickets, but they will be competing against singers who have been gigging for a long time. Keep an eye out for Loyiso Gijana from Uitenhage, Nina Terblanche from Nelspruit, Karabo Mashele from Bedfordview Gardens, Jamie Smith from Linksfield, James Janse van Rensburg from Carltonville and the very confident Arliya Peters from Durban.
- Is Idols Season 11 going to be the year of the singer-songwriter? The unthinkable happened at the Durban auditions this year, when Randall, who hates own compositions at auditions asked Bridget Leahy to sing one of her own songs as well. At the Pretoria auditions busker John Niel also impressed the judges with his songwriting talent and Josh Webber made up his own songs in Cape Town.
- Will we see some of the returnees in the next round? There is Winston Moonsammy, who Gareth told to apologise for the way he badmouthed the production a couple of years ago; doctor Lihle, who narrowly didn't make it last year; Amanda Antony from PE, who got a special Golden Ticket from Unathi two seasons ago, but then messed up at Sun City; and Tebogo Louw who was a firm favourite until the final round of Sun City last year.
- How far will standout contestants like Phila Madlingozi (son of musician Ringo), drag artist Shenay, female rugby player Emma Ellis and beauty queen Nadia Herbst go?
And, what about the contestants who didn't make it to Theatre Week – particularly those who created a storm on social media, for all the wrong reasons? You can now go online to select this year's Wooden Mic winner.
On the video page on the official Idols SA Season 11 at www.idsolssa.tv, scroll down to the “Wooden Mic" category and select your favourite. You can also pick your favourite on WeChat on the IdolsSA ID. Please note that you are allowed 10 selections per platform only and that the Wooden Mic winner will be announced at the Idols SA final in November.
Idols SA Season 11 is screened in HD on M-Net and Mzansi Magic and during the Theatre Week episodes, you can still tune into channel 199 on DStv for a closer look at everything that happened during this tough phase of the competition.
<strong>For even more magic, like us on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/MNet" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and follow us on <a href="https://twitter.com/mnet" target="_blank">Twitter</a> using the hashtag #MNet. You’ll also find us on WeChat on the ID mnettv!</strong>.
<strong>Don’t forget you can download the M-Net app for <a href="http://www.apple.com/za/itunes/?ls=1&at=10lpgy&ct=000000-za-g-brand&cid=wwa-za-kwg-music-com-" target="_blank">Apple</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/search?q=plau&utm_source=opensearch" target="_blank">Android</a>. Planning your M-Net viewing has never been so <a href="http://mnet.dstv.com/download-m-net-app/" target="_blank">easy</a>.</strong>