South Africa’s musical icons were certainly smiling from beyond their graves or cheering from their couches at home as the Idols season 17 top 7 paid tribute to them by bringing their greatest hits to a young audience.
From opening performer Karabo to final performer Nqobie, the future stars proved they have what it takes to fill big shoes, leaving little room for the judges to fault their performances in a week that, sadly, saw Bulelani eliminated.
The evening – which featured guest judge and performer Zahara – played out like a powerful tribute concert, as Karabo belted out ‘Paradise Road’ by Joy, while Daylin Sass added evocative soul to Steve Kekana’s ‘Take your Love’ in a performance that had Unathi begging him to record the song and release it.
Berry was likened to US singer Billie Eilish after her rendition of Freshlyground’s ‘I’d Like’, while Kevin’s experience put him in good stead, with Unathi calling his cover of Malaika’s ‘Nguwe’ fifty shades of everything soulful.
While Sia Mzizi made every effort to honour the man who gave him a ‘yes’ during the open auditions of Idols, his performance of Ringo Madlingozi’s ‘Sondela’ failed to hit the mark with judges, with Unathi lamenting the loss of a serendipitous moment. S’22Kile, too, also failed to win over the judges, who said she did not bring enough energy to Brenda Fassie’s ‘No No Senor’.
The evening ended on as high a note as it had started, with Nqobie’s restrained performance of Lebo Mathosa’s ‘I Love Music’ prompting Randall to declare, for the first time in his 17 years as a judge, that he was a fan of an Idols finalist.
Commenting on the performances, Unathi said the finalists had certainly proved themselves as worthy successors to South Africa’s greatest legends. “Our icons paid their dues through sheer hard work and tenacity, and tonight’s lot showed they could work just as hard to honour them and win them a whole new set of fans,” she said, adding that they had set the stage for next week’s performances. “I am looking forward to them stepping it up at next week’s Showstopper.”
It is now up to the viewers to decide who will return to the stage next week to vie for a spot in the top 6.