CeeJay: Mafikizolo – Mas’Thokoze
Under the guidance of Oskido and the Kalawa Jazmee team, Mafikizolo revolutionised kwaito. This, from a little later in their career, exemplifies their class: downtempo, vocal rich, lush – a suitable challenge for the talented CeeJay and the Idols backing vocalists.
Kabelo: Luther Vandross – Here and Now
Never met anyone who dislikes Luther Vandross – and here’s why: soul incarnate. It’s also a slow, string thing, with a big chorus and plenty of dynamics, including a nifty change of pace, it exemplifies Luther’s supreme vocal skill – Kabelo will do well to follow in these huge shoes.
Mpilwenhle: Mariah Carey – Hero
If anyone can pull Mariah Carey off, it’s Mpilwenhle, but this sure ain’t no walk in the park: it’s one of her iconic cuts. And it’s relentless – verse to chorus, it’s huge, and hugely recognizable. Any missteps will be highly scrutinised.
Noxolo: Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy
What a hook – and another huge number. Sentiment in this song is sky high, and the singing is stellar – no wonder is sticks out like a sore thumb in the pantheon of pop music. There’s plenty of room for a fresh arrangement too – Nox should slay.
Nozi: Natalie Cole – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
No ways this song is 40 years old. Pure class from Natalie Cole, delivered with dynamism and an arrangement that simply slays. Heartfelt – and that haircut. Nozi has some serious class to live up to.
Tesmin-Robyn: Aaliyah – At Your Best (You Are Love)
Any doubt Aaliyah would have been the biggest R&B star on planet earth at this stage? Not here. Ignore R Kelly: she’s a positive motivating force on this lush number, and that’s before she even hit her proper stride. Always missed: Tesmin-Robyn has big shoes to fill.
Thapelo: The Beatles – Let It Be
It doesn’t get more iconic than this: the band that revolutionised music, on a tear. An opportunity for the band, backing vocalists and Thapelo to sink or swim – we suspect the latter.
Ty Loner: New Edition – Can You Stand The Rain
The only impediment for a loner? Three different voices. (Or is it five?) A new edition of New Edition would crack everything wide open – this is a rich piece of sentimental soul.
Zee: UB40 – (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You
Alongside Bob Marley, UB40 took reggae into the pop charts. This – a cover of Elvis – raised them to the pinnacle. Seemingly simple, it’s actually layers, and could trip up the most accomplished singer – so how you feeling, Zee?