Andiswa: Miley Cyrus – ‘Midnight Sky’
Randall and Unathi were in unison after Andiswa’s Theatre Week solo performance: ‘She can sang!’ And the way she flipped Normani’s buoyant ‘Motivation’ into a sultry soul slow-burner leaves us in little doubt that she can put her personal stamp on anything. In the case of the first lives, it’s modern Miley – a leisurely disco number with a killer chorus – and one of 2020’s most memorable hits. It’s uncluttered arrangement and understated 80’s Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks-like keys should make the perfect launchpad for this talented singer.
Berry: Lauren Daigle – ‘You Say’
Berry broke into the Top 16 with a big and bold Zendaya track and this contemporary Christian smash by Lauren Daigle is in a similar vein: epic and dynamic, with lots of light and shade. It may not be instantly recognizable, but with Berry this seems inconsequential – it’s going to give her the chance to command the stage and let rip with that blissful voice. And with the Idols backing singers in tow as choir for this song’s mega-chorus, Berry may bring the house down again.
Bulelani: Charlie Puth – ‘Attention’
An earworm for Bulelani, who seemed to surprise even himself in the solo rounds with a rousing rendition of Mnqobi Yazo’s ‘247’. ‘Attention’ is a soft rock meets funk number that showcases Puth’s impeccable falsetto, and Bulelani certainly has the range to nail it. The trick may be in the syncopation – Puth struts across the track with a metrical precision that makes it memorable. Bulelani will need all the confidence he gained in that last round.
Daylin Sass: Bruno Mars ft. Silk Sonic – ‘Leave The Door Open’
Daylin will also arrive in the first live show on a high – he slayed his final audition, saying he was hoping Unathi would cry. And she did! Like a lot of Mars’ material, ‘Leave The Door Open’ is a dollop of pure sunshine, with guest spots for Anderson .Paak and legendary bassist Bootsy Collins, and it plays like the peak of the late 70’s soul/funk period: delicious strings, massed vocals, and delightful musicianship: a bright jam for a shining star.
Nqobie: H.E.R. – ‘Hard Place’
When one sees ‘produced by Rodney Jerkins’ on a record, it’s time to take note – he’s been behind some of the hugest hits of the past quarter-decade, from Brandy to Beyoncé and Bieber. This H.E.R. tune is a lilting acoustic jam with a deadly modern R&B rhythm, but it’s really all about the sumptuous singing. Nqobie punched her way through her final audition with precision and confidence – this tune shouldn’t find her in a ‘Hard Place’.
Sia Mzizi: Giveon – ‘Heartbreak Anniversary’
Man-of-the-moment Giveon is Sia Mzizi’s choice this week following a breathtaking comeback in the final Theatre Week performances. ‘Heartbreak Anniversary’ is a slow piano ballad with gnarled guitars and a huge range, from baritone to falsetto, and Giveon’s vocal performance has drawn comparisons to Frank Sinatra – no mean feat! It’s very moody, but if Sia can wrap himself up in its resonant emotions, it’ll be a triumph.
Sinovuyo – Jazmine Sullivan – ‘Pick Up Your Feelings’
Despite a shaky solo in Theatre Week, the Idols judges had mercy for Sinovuyo – but she better remember her lyrics in the live show. Which won’t be easy: ‘Pick Up Your Feelings’ has a lot of them! Sinovuyo has the advantage that the song is available in two versions: a more traditional R&B treatment and a complex acoustic version. On both, Sullivan almost scats the lyrics in her signature contralto, before keening through a brash chorus. It’ll certainly be a challenge, but it’s Sino’s time to step up.
Tesmin-Robyn: Beyoncé – ‘Before I Let Go’
Tesmin has been consistent in the competition thus far and underlined her credentials with a fine final solo. But Beyoncé is always a beast – and worse still, this is her cover of an amazing original from the brilliant Frankie Beverly and Maze! So, no pressure then, Tesmin… Bey’s version, from the mighty ‘Homecoming’ live album, is a soulful funk strut, with her vocal deliciousness slathered over martial drums and perky horns. But it’s also essentially a dance track, Tesmin-Robyn’s bread and butter – may she boogie her way through it.
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