Group song: Zakes Bantwini ft. Kasango – ‘Osama’
One of the biggest tracks of 2021, this dancefloor smash is a deft mix of Afro-house and sequencer-driven disco. It’ll provide suitable uplift on a night that’s all about popping off!
Berry: Etta James – ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’
At last, an Etta James song that isn’t ‘At Last’! It’s also anachronistic and open for wide interpretation, so Berry and the band can lean into any of the elements of blues, gospel and soul therein. But Etta is a helluva singer – as are others who have covered this jam, including the inimitable Christina Aguilera.
Daylin Sass: Black Coffee ft. Usher – ‘LaLaLa’
One of two Black Coffee numbers in the showstopper, this is a relatively sedate Afro-tech exercise by the brilliant DJ, with knotty rhythms and traces of maskandi guitar. Moreover, it’s a showcase for the pyrotechnic vocal talents of Usher, who zips in and about the broken beats – it’s another opportunity for Daylin to show off his deep and serious side and potentially replicate the emotional overload of his The Weeknd refix.
Karabo: Aretha Franklin – ‘Respect’
It’s the greatest song of all time according to Rolling Stone’s revised 2021 list, and who are we to argue? Written by Otis Redding and a hit for him in 1965, it became a feminist (and human rights) anthem after being rerecorded in ’67 by the amazing Aretha Franklin. Karabo has proved she has the chops, but this ain’t a number where you just turn up – you’ve gotta turn it out.
Kevin: Black Coffee ft. Nakhane Toure – ‘We Dance Again’
An anthem for Kevin, it’s also a song that builds and build and builds – but when it hits, it smashes. Nakhane Toure’s vocal is expressive and exasperated in the verses, but tight and in the pocket on the falsetto-heavy chorus. The Idols backing singers will have a field day, but Kevin needs to bring it – this spacious groover demands performance and range.
Nqobie: Ciara – ‘Dance Like We’re Making Love’
Only 150 million YouTube views – and not for the lion, we’re sure, so no pressure, Nqobie! This exquisite R&B slow jam also purrs on a dancefloor, so might we see Nqobie move? If so, the music video is precisely calibrated. Nevertheless, the success of this will undoubtedly rest on Nqobie’s vocal talent: the yearning range in the verses and the syncopated phrasing in the lush, bouncy chorus.
Sia Mzizi: De Mthuda ft. Sir Trill & Da Muziqal Chef – ‘John Wick’
Unsurprisingly for a song named for one of Keanu Reeves’ best-known characters, ‘John Wick’ is action-packed, a low-slung beast of a ‘piano tune that was huge last Dezemba. But atop it’s menacing bassline and horror synths, Sir Trill delivers a dynamite vocal – complex, rhythmic, dynamic. It’s a far from simple assignment, but Sia has this in his wheelhouse and it’ll make for a fantastic showstopper if he pulls it off.
S’22Kile: Beyoncé – ‘Dance For You’
It’s pre-Coachella Beyoncé for S’22kile, which means a few things, most notably: a big and brilliant vocal. Falling on the hard-pop side of R&B, it’s a song that almost demands performance. S’22 proved she can do it doing Brenda last week, and she can take some inspirations from the stunning ‘swirls’ and dance moves in this stunning vintage video.
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