Last week on Naija Sings: Where’s the heat?

by Yolanda Gray

Our pretty Niniola left the competition this week for personal reasons, so there was no elimination. However, the votes for last week and this week will be tallied to eliminate one of the top 9 Naija Singers.

We’ve got an interesting theme this week. The contestants are to perform contemporary Nigerian hit songs. Dr Frabz is the mentor and Tosin Martins teams up with Ego Ogboro (of Lagabja fame) as celebrity commentators.

Casey hits the stage with the popular Olulufe (Wande Cole). The musicality is very poor, and it’s obvious that he’s singing to a cheap backing track. His singing is not top rate either – screechy at some points and altogether begging for improvement.

The audience commentators are at it again this week. I don’t know what makes the weird dudes (who wear dark sun glasses in the dark studio) get the microphones, but one of them mumbles something about Casey singing many of the pieces just right. I thought Casey sang  just one piece! My comment: Step up your game, boy. You’ve got it inside you. Please!

Next up is Boma in a performance of In the Music (Omawumi) which I wish I could omit from my review. Let’s just pretend it never happened. The appalling attempt at mimicking Omawumi – the facial expressions, voice register, forced personality, etc, was just too much to bear. Boma – I’m sorry to say – is a candidate for an early exit from this show unless she gets her act together.

Da Brothers take on Truly Love You (Inyanya) just before I hear Dr. Frabz say that the pair could fit into any kind of music. Really, Dr. Frabz? Any genre of music, you say? This mentality is the reason why Nigerian musicians struggle for years without attaining as much success as they should. No great artist ever does “any kind of music”. To succeed you’ve got to find your place.

Da Brothers struggle on many fronts, chief of which is their synchronization. It sounds like four voices – from four different secondary school bathroom stalls – trying to sing in unison. Surprisingly, they come together on the very last note. I pray the fans remember only that last note, and vote for them to stay in the competition. It looks like the mentorship of Dr. Frabz did them little good.

Next, is Rasine. She sings a song whose title or original singer, I know not. The song is too wordy – it jumps from English to Pidgin to Yoruba. I see a giant inside Rasine but I fear that she can’t see it. I would like to watch her grow, but it looks like she may leave the competition early. She seems so hugely… forgettable.

Moses sings a soft Asa number, Eya Adaba. He displays his vocal range, and the audience like him. All he has to do is now is keep building his credibility as a singer.

Next, is Shedrack with Ifunnaya (P. Square). Musically, I think he has a great backing track with backup vocals. However, Shedrack’s stage mannerism makes him look like a puppet. His height leaves me wondering, “What the hell was that?!” Shedrack, please let go of those desperate dance moves – the one where you keep bending your knees. Stand tall, sing your song and leave the rest to your fans. No shaking!

Twenty-three year old Najite takes on Today Na Today (Omawumi). She comes on stage with an attitude which rubs us up the wrong way, tries hard to prove that she’s in the big leagues, and leaves us wondering how old she really is. Najite’s got a great voice, but she seems too intense. She needs to lighten up and find her place, which could easily be at the top.

It’s Ekeng’s turn and he sings, Not the Girl (Darey). It’s a big wow! He’s got character, stagemanship, emotion, and he’s perfectly in control of his performance. The song choice was perfect and reminds us of how great a songwriter Cobhams Asuquo is. Ekeng is clearly a leader in this race.

Peace takes on Bibanke (Asa). The backing track appears to overpower her in the first half of the song, and she doesn’t seem to take charge of the song till the end. However, when combined with her dress and charming face, Peace manages to pull the act through. She has a good chance at snatching a spot in the finals.

Ego Ogboro loved Ekeng for the right emotions and Moses for the purity in his voice. Rasine was the weakest contestant, in her opinion, because of her song choice. Tosin Martins was not pleased with Shedrack and Najite; he thought they performed below their capacity, and agreed with Ego on Ekeng and Moses.

The weakest part of this week’s show was the mentorship. There was no marked improvement in most of the contestants, and it looks like three of them (Casey, Da Brothers, and Rasine) actually deteriorated. Let’s hope that seeing one of them voted off the show will shake things up a bit, because at this stage, Naija Sings is not looking like a heated competition.

See you next week!

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