John Legend – ‘Tonight’
This decade-old track has quite the production pedigree – featuring lyrics by Ludacris, it was written by Legend with a host of songwriter pros, including Miguel and Christopher Bridges. The track featured as the lead single from the soundtrack to the romantic comedy Think Like a Man which featured an ensemble cast including Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart and the greatest of greats, Taraji P. Henson. The track went platinum after making it onto the US Billboard Hot 100, so the contestant that gets this task has some big shoes to fill.
Beyonce – ‘I Was Here’
Another relative oldie, ‘I Was Here’ presents an emotive challenge to whomever tackles it – the song is a reflective, vulnerable look at a past life coupled with a desire to leave an impact before one’s life comes to an end. On top of all of that, the track was motivated by the September 11 attacks, so there is a lot of emotional depth to carry over. The contestant saddled with this challenge has a lot into which to tap.
Anthony Hamilton – ‘Her Heart’
This is a track that could go both ways for a contestant tasked with performing it – it’s by no means an easysong (this is Anthony Hamilton, after all), but neither is it the biggest track from the album. ‘The News’ – the opening track The Point of It All, drew comparisons to other tracks tackling social issues, and others performed better in the charts. ‘Her Heart’, by comparison, lurks down at number 12 in 14-track album, so there might be some leeway when a contestant chooses to bring his or her own interpretation to it.
Tank – ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’
All right – that’s a bit of a misnomer. While many modern audiences will associate this track with Tank, the reality is that it was released back in 1991 by Bonnie Raitt, and boy, did it make a splash! Whoever is tasked with tackling this track has a big, stomping pair of shoes to fill. The track became one of Raitt’s most successful singles, reaching the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, and being listed at number 8 on Mojomagazine’s ‘The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time’ list! It’s a great track, and a solid performance should guarantee a contestant the votes to make it into the Top 9.
Amanda Black – ‘Kahle’
A former Idols SA contestant, Amanda Black’s ‘Kahle’ injects a bit of the show’s pedigree into affairs. Whoever takes on this song is going to need to be able to switch from vernac to English on a dime, and there is another challenge to consider – the song is undeniably soulful but is simultaneously upbeat. That’s a pretty hard trick to pull off.
Lira – ‘Phakade’
Contrary to popular belief, the ‘eternity’ to which the title alludes does not refer to the eons-long official music video that accompanies the track. On a serious note, Lira requires no introduction: multiple studio albums, performance collections and host of hit singles have done that job, already. Her voice is best described as “pure”, and the contestant assigned this song is probably best described as “working really, really hard”.
Jazmine Sullivan – ‘Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)’
Jazmine Sullivan seems like a bit of an anachronism – while her music undeniably possesses the production styles of today, her approach to singing hearkens back to an older style, something along the lines of Sade, perhaps. Either way, it’s a touch act for the contestant that nabs this assignment.
Jennifer Hudson – ‘Giving Myself’
From Hudson’s debut album, ‘Giving Myself’ was selected as a last-minute replacement to ‘Pocketbook’ as the album’s third single. When released, it charted at number 84 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song received mixed reception, with some calling it an “emotional … showcase” and others calling it “sappy”. The fact that it was written and produced by troubled singer-songwriter Robin Thicke might have something to do with it. Either way, the contestant who sings this on Sunday has options, and their decisions could pave the way to a Top 9 spot.
Moneoa – ‘More Than You’
To say that ‘More Than You’ made an impact is to engage some serious understatement – it was nominated for both “World’s Best Song” and “World’s Best Video” at the 2014 World Music Awards. There are plenty of vocal flourishes for a singer to get stuck into, offset by just enough “straight” singing to keep things balanced. It should be a fun song to sing.
Celine Dion – ‘All By Myself’
Another misnomer, here – ‘All By Myself’ was originally released by Eric Carmen all the way back in 1975, and the verse itself is based on the second movement (‘Adagio sostenuto’ for those of you interested) of ‘Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18’, which was composed about 120 years ago. So, essentially, it’s been around a while. When Dion released her cover in 1996, it peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. For her version, she introduced a Dionesque flourish: an extremely high note that even she was not sure she could sing. Sing it, she did – and the contestant that tackles this song is going to have to navigate that challenge carefully.
Lloyd Cele – ‘Thando’
Another Idols SA blast from the past, Lloyd Cele was running up in the sixth season of the competition. Originally featuring Loyiso Bala, the track is vintage Cele – emotive vocals, understated instrumentation, and very, very difficult to sing properly. You need a set of lungs.
Zonke – ‘Jik’Izinto’
Another taste of South African musical royalty, Zonke’s inclusion in a Soulful Sunday’s list isn’t exactly surprising. Her live performances are known for their lyrical perfection, and the contestant tasked with this song is going to be painfully aware of that.
Of course, you won’t be hearing all of these tracks – two of the contestants will be eliminated from the competition, and we won’t get to hear the fruits of their labours this Sunday. Such is the nature of Idols SA.