Be: Ella Mai – ‘Boo'd Up’
‘Boo'd Up’ is a sweet slice of neo-soul and the debut commercial single by English singer Ella Mai from her third EP ‘Ready’, and it peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2019, it was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Song of the Year and Best R&B Song, winning for the latter. Mai herself was nominated for British Breakthrough Act at the 2019 Brit Awards and at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, she won three awards, including the award for Top R&B Artist.
Bongi: Cynthia Erivo – ‘Stand Up’
It’s officially titled ‘Stand Up (from Harriet)’ and that’s because it’s the lead single from the soundtrack to biographical film ‘Harriet’, about the famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, also played by Erivo in the movie. A suitably dramatic slow burner and call-to-arms, it received both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Its co-writer Joshuah Brian Campbell was also responsible for 2017 civil rights anthem ‘Sing On March On’, written for John Lewis.
Brandon: Justin Bieber – ‘Sorry’
Well, if you didn’t say ‘sorry’ before the lockdown, it was maybe too late! Justin Bieber’s big hit from his fourth studio album ‘Purpose’ in 2015, this track hasn’t ever really gone away. Produced by Skrillex and BloodPop, it’s actually a very forward-focused piece of pop, containing elements of dancehall-pop, tropical house and a dembow riddim beat. One of the best selling digital tunes of all time (it sold 10 million copies in 2016 alone), it was written for Selena Gomez.
Jooma: Loyiso – ‘Madoda Sabelani’
A song by a former Idol! It’s also a very poignant, quintessentially 2020 tune from Loyiso Gijana, who featured in season 11, about the killing of women in South Africa, and it’s touched many hearts. It calls on men to stand together against femicide, and it’s delivered in Loyiso’s trademark Afro-soul style. Loyiso was friends with Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was brutally murdered in 2019, setting off a local reckoning with gender-based violence.
Mr Music: Ami Faku – ‘Into Ingawe’
Rising South African singer Ami Faku collaborated with dance music producer Sun-El Musician on this tune from 2019. An instant hit on radio and the internet, it has over 2 million views on YouTube and 1 million streams on various services. A moody, meditative dancefloor high point, it’s been certified double-Platinum, and it’s about the moment when dreams come true, which Ami Faku describes as a miracle – because it's tough in these here streets for a dreamer; a perfect lockdown sentiment.
Ndoni: Amanda Black – ‘Ndizele Wena’
Another former Idol gets repped at our live show! ‘Ndizele Wena’ is a single by Amanda Black off her 2019 album, ‘Power’. A minimal song built on a mellow piano, it’s a love song in which she promises to stay with her lover through all the ups and downs. She sings in the first verse: “Sometimes it's push and pull / But, I never wanna lose you, I don't want to / Oh baby / Ndithanda wena wedwa / And though it's not always easy/ Just know I love you / I really do / Ndingowakho / And all I want you to know."
Ntokozo: Kelly Khumalo – ‘Happiness’
‘Happiness’ is from Kelly's album ‘Unleashed’, released in 2018, which earned her Best Female Artist at the 19th annual South African Music Awards. A slow and sentimental number that really showcases the power of Khumalo’s voice, it should be a suitable test for Ntokozo. Controversial star Khumalo is on record as saying of happiness, ‘No-one is responsible for it but you.”
Succedor: DJ Maphorisa & Kabza De Small – ‘Phumelela’
One of the guys who nailed ‘Emcimbini’ by the same artists in the group stages at Theatre Week has another go at amapiano. Featuring singers MaWhoo and Myztro, it’s one of countless tracks released by the ‘Scorpion Kings’ duo in the past couple of years, and fittingly comes from the album ‘Once Upon a Time in Lockdown’, released in April of this year. A relatively gentle number with warm chords, it’s a song about not giving up and another suitable test for Succedor.
Zama: Doja Cat – ‘Say So’
Fun fact: Doja Cat’s real name is Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, and she’s the daughter of Dumisani Dlamini, a South African actor, composer and film producer best known for ‘Sarafina’. Released in January, this was only the fourth single of off her ‘Hot Pink’ album and was issued after it went viral on TikTok. Co-written and produced by Dr. Luke, it’s a sunshine-y slice of funk with a saccharine vocal and some staccato rapping that will again see Zama out of her comfort zone.
ZanoThando: Miss Pru – ‘Price to Pay’
Released in May of this year, this banger got a lot of people talking – over Zoom! – during lockdown, amassing 2 million YouTube view in the process. A collab with Blaq Diamond and Malome Vector, it’s firmly urban Mzansi in 2020, an ambitious mash-up of hip-hop and street soul set atop a persistent trap beat. A song about ambition and making it, it’s the kind of thing ZanoThando, with his confidence, could easily lean into.
Season 16 of Idols SA broadcasts on Sundays at 17:00 on Mzansi Magic Channel 161. Get exclusive updates and a behind the scenes look at all the action right here on our site. Don't forget to join the conversation by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #IdolsSA.