“It feels good to be back!” said host ProVerb as he introduced the first live show of Idols SA season 18, and – with electrifying performances that saw six of the top 12 take to the stage – he was on the money.
Taking place at Idols SA’s new home, Tshwane’s Heartfelt Arena, it was the competition’s first live show in front of a full house since the pandemic began – with over 2,300 people in the audience. The first voting show of the season also featured collaborations between contestants and some of the biggest stars in the music industry.
Kicking things off was this season’s youngest singer, 18-year-old Zee, who performed a duet with Kelly Khumalo on her soaring hit Empini. For her solo act, Zee sang the sexy Surprise by Chlöe.
All three judges praised her solo performance, with Thembi Seete calling Zee’s delivery “beautiful”. While both JR Bogopa and Somizi Mhlongo also applauded her, Somizi felt that the teenager was intimidated by singing with a star the calibre of Khumalo. “Don’t be afraid to unleash the beast in you,” he told her.
Next up on Idols SA 2022 was Thapelo, whose first outing was a collaboration with Mduduzi Ncube on the emotional Langa Linye. His solo performance was Sam Smith’s Love Me More.
“You know where the danger is? You are lovable. You have the energy, you have the power, but you need to feel more,” Thembi said about Thapelo’s second performance, advising him to control his singing. JR echoed this: “A voice is a very powerful tool, but it can also be your worst enemy.”
Somizi praised both of Thapelo’s performances: “I think that performance was worthy of taking you to the next round,” he said.
The next collab was Hope and Langa Mavuso, who performed the soulful Pretend. On her solo track, Hope took on Muni Long’s Hrs & Hrs. “There’s a lot of pressure on you tonight,” JR said about Hope taking on the work of two powerful songwriters. “But you really delivered. You owned that performance.”
“If they say first impressions last, then this one is going to last,” Somizi said, with Thembi not only praising Hope’s vocal chops, but also her confidence and stage presence.
Hitting the stage with Presss was Mpilwenhle. The two took on the romantic Phatha Kahle, before Mpilwenhle went solo on Ariana Grande’s Positions.
Somizi praised her versatility, saying she was good at “delivering according to the genre and style” of what she was performing. Thembi said Mpilwenhle’s performances proved she deserved to be in the top 12. “You killed it!” she exclaimed. JR’s feedback could be summed up in four words: “You are a star.”
Next was Kabelo, who sang the joyful Ngam’khetha with newly minted SAMA winner Nomfundo Moh, before going at it alone on For Tonight by Giveon. Thembi said Kabelo earned his spot in the top 12, but he needed to relax a bit more. “You’re in your head too much, you’re too nervous. Stop worrying because you are gifted,” she told him.
“For your own good, find your voice now and forget the nerves,” said JR, with Somizi echoing this: “There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, but express your feelings on stage.”
Closing out the show was Tesmin-Robyn, who collaborated with Boohle on the energetic Pillow Talk, before singing Pressure by Ari Lennox for her solo showing.
“You are a firecracker waiting to explode. Get out of that shell, girl. Vocal-wise you delivered – well done,” JR said, with Somizi saying Tesmin-Robyn’s fans could give her the second chance she deserved because she was overthinking her performance.
“It’s a new show, it’s a new season, it’s 2022. Can you give us the 2022 Tesmin? You have everything, but I do not want to see what I saw last year,” Thembi said to the contestant who had been on Idols SA before.
While the judges’ input is valuable to contestants, ultimately – as ProVerb reminded viewers and the audience in attendance – it’s up to their votes on who will make it into the top 10. Next week will see the remaining six of the top 12 performing for their chance to make it into the next round of the competition. Don’t miss it!