By Seyi Lawal
Nigeria’s biggest music reality show recorded some milestones last weekend. First, the show unveiled its outstanding ₦40 million set and then a set of 12 contestants were finally unveiled, dressed-to-impress in Nigeria’s most popular designers.
It was the day for Sly1, Diwari, Chinedu, Nikki, Honey, Joe Blue, Ibinabo Romeo, Linda Giami, Mercy, Stephen Onochie and Najite. The show celebrated its valentine edition with some of the greatest love songs over the years. Joining the judges as guest judge was Nigerian music diva Waje.
“It is clear at this point that Nigerian Idol has reached its most competitive and entertaining stage with the top 12 finals,” stated Project Manager Tiwa Medubi. “Everything is bigger and better this season; the contestants, the stage, the audience and the fans. It will keep getting better until our grand gala when a new winner will be crowned,” she promised.
Kicking off the show was Stephen Onochie also called the Loverboy who gave his version of ‘When a man loves a woman’ in his deep husky voice. Next was A.Y.O who in characteristic style gave an animated version of James Blunt’s ‘Youre beautiful’, earning him several whoops from the females in the audience. The ladies performances started with the bold and beautiful Diwari who gave a powerful rendition of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart will go on’ that earned her kudos from the audience and guest judge Waje. Sly 1 was up next with Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’, playing with the song in different scales and singing directly to Yinka Davies at a point. He was rewarded by Waje who sang one line of Michael Jackson’s ‘speechless’ dedicated to his flawless performance. Nikki came next and held her own singing Berlin’s ‘Take my breath away’, though she did not quite impress the judges, her electric blue dress made it up s she looked stunning.
The comeback kid Joe Blue set the stage on fire with his rendition of Seal’s ‘Kiss from a Rose’; armed with three roses, he stole the hearts of Yinka Davies and the females in the audience with every note he sang and every rose he gave away. Clearly, a favourite of Jeffrey Daniel, the audience appeared to have caught the ‘Joe bug’ as they cheered him on even after his exit from the stage. The self acclaimed introvert linda Giami made it out of her shell as she sang and swayed to Stevie Wonder’s ‘I just called to say I love you’. While the judges commended her performance, they warned that she needed to up her game to compete favourably with others at this stage.
The cheerful and charming 19-year-old Michael Jackson lookalike Chinedu was next on the stage. Though the youngest contestant, he shed his inhibitions and performed perfectly the 90’s Boys to Men hit, ‘On Bended Knee’. His dapper looks in a suit with pocket square only made Chinedu look every inch the part as he concluded his performance on bended knee. The audience was charmed, the judges especially Charly Boy were impressed.
Then followed Mercy with a fierce and energetic performance of Beyonce’s ‘Best I never had’. The judges stared open mouthed at her and Charly Boy rated her fantastic while Waje called her Grammy award material as she was able to pull off the very complicated number effortlessly. Though Ibinabo Romeo looked beautiful as she was the next contestant up, her performance failed to inspire. Her rendition of Foreigner’s ‘I wanna know what love is’ was in no way convincing to the judges and the audience.
The smooth voiced Honey was next as he performed Bryan Adam’s ‘Everything I do’. While his performance was beautiful, the judges warned him that it was not his best yet and that he would have to be careful about his selection of songs.
Bringing down the house was the final contestant of the night, Najite. With a powerful and emotional performance of the Whitney Houston classic, ‘I will always love you’, she left many eyes on the judges table and in the audience in tears. Guest judge Waje could not contain her emotions as she burst into tears while giving her comments. Yinka Davies was better composed and praised Najite for her deft combination of Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston in the same song. It was a shocking coincidence that the soul and pop legend Whitney Houston would be found dead a few hours later.
With the level of world-class performances displayed on the show and a growing global fan base extending from Lagos and across the globe, Nigerian Idol appears to be taking the world by storm.
According to www.nigerianidol.com, the show is getting many fans from non-Nigerians in the UK with a fan who has rated the show better and more exciting than the UK version.
As audiences wait expectantly, the spectacular show speeds on, providing premium musical and entertainment content to audiences across the world in typical Idol fashion. At this rate, the show is set to make the record set by sister show American Idol as the no 1 show in its country.
The Idol platform has been responsible for the global recognition of Idol alumni like Jordin Sparks and Adam Lambert and more recently Yeka Onka.
Nigerian Idol is proudly brought to you by Etisalat in association with Pepsi and Sony. It is supported by Air Nigeria, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Megalectrics (owners of Beat FM, Classic FM and Naija FM).