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The battle for a spot on Idols SA’s season 17 top 10 continued this week as group two of the top 16 took to the stage, keeping to last week’s theme of tackling the biggest hits of today. And like last week’s group, this week’s contenders certainly proved why they were among the 0.1% of the 15,000 entries that had been received for this year’s competition.

Starting tonight’s performances on a high tempo, Sia tried to impress the judges with the upbeat ‘In your Eyes’ by The Weeknd. However, the judges were not quite taken by his effort. Randall Abrahams said while the performance had its moments, his performance seemed like it was repeatedly trying to take off, but not quite getting there. Unathi Nkayi, who said although she did not think he would be eliminated, he needed to be dynamic and keep the viewers guessing going forward, echoed this. Guest judge Buhle Mda advised him to ensure he picks a song that is within his range.

Next up was Zukisa, whose rendition of Yebba’s ‘Distance’ divided judges . While Unathi and Buhle could not contain their excitement after his performance, Randall was underwhelmed. Unathi said Zukisa had proven her wrong, as she had not been convinced he was emotionally mature enough to handle the song. “You surpassed all my expectations of you,” she said, while Buhle remarked it was a perfect performance. Randall, however, said he thought it did not have energy. “I would have expected more,” he said.

However, the judges were united in their response to Misty’s performance of Snoh Aalegra’s ‘Dying for your Love’, with Buhle saying she was not moved. “It didn’t feel like you were singing for a competition. It felt like you just singing your favourite song,” she said, with Randall saying that Misty needed to take all her past musical experience and channel it into winning. “There are other performers who have less experience than you, but have the edge over you because they are hungry,” he said. Unathi added that Misty needs to use her experience as a singer to differentiate herself.

Karabo, on the other hand, had a positive response from all the judges, although Randall also added guidance. “It was overall a good performance, but we need a good performance from start to finish,” he said. “The chorus was fine, but if I were you, I would have practised the verses over and over again.” Unathi, however, said that Karabo had had her from the first words. “You are music personified,” she exclaimed, while Buhle called her a powerhouse. “You make me feel like I want to be saved from something. If you continue like this, you will win,” she said.

S’22kile tackled Bebe Rexha’s ‘Meant to Be’. Unathi was happy both with her song choice and her performance in general, saying she was constantly improving. “In terms of the full package, you certainly have everything that ticks the box,” she said, cautioning her to not relax. Buhle said she had a powerful voice, but wished she had opted for a local song. Randall, however, advised her to work on her voice as it was sharp and piercing at times.

Monique had Buhle gushing over her performance of Lady Gaga’s ‘I’ll Never Love Again’. “The emotion you put in your performance was out of this world,” she said, a sentiment echoed by Unathi who added that Monique was genuine and understood who she was. Randall, too, was impressed with her performance, but said he was worried she might be a “one-trick pony”.

Ithana continued her good form, with the judges commending her performance of Chloe x Halle’s ‘Forgive Me’. “I thought it was very good,” Randall said, though he added he felt she was a bit too self-conscious and she could have let go a bit more. Unathi, however, said while she intitially had the same concern as Randall, hers had already been allayed. “You get better every week and this is the most powerful you have ever been,” she said. Buhle commented that Ithana had owned the stage.

Kevin rounded off tonight’s performances with ‘Peaches’ by Justin Bieber. While both Buhle and Unathi felt that he had done a good job in adding some street credibility to the song and elevating it to the standards of groups like early 2000s R&B group Jagged Edge, Randall commented that this was precisely his issue with the performance. “It was very well done, but what I am searching for is originality,” he said.

With all the top 16 performances now in the bag, it is now up to the viewers to decide who will return to the Idols stage as part of the top 10.


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