Backstage at Top10 Spectacular

Before getting into the Top10 show, let me clear up the time line of South African Idols.  At 5:30pm every Sunday, thousands of people tune in to watch what many think is a live show.  It is not. The show that airs on a Sunday evening has been pre-recorded the previous Friday evening, giving the likes of me and other Mnet publicity people time to edit shows, interviews, photos etc – including the production team fitting the show into a 90 minute broadcast.  Do things get cut out of the final show? Sometimes yes, especially if the judges go on too long or if the contestants speak too much or a song goes on too long etc etc.  This week, for example, Gareth pulls a member of the audience up to give her comment. What you are unlikely to see on the show, is how painfully long it took for the audience member to get to the mic. It is these inconsequential aspects of the show that are edited. As the disclaimer says, “nothing that affects the outcome of the show is edited out of the final show”. And this is true.

So now, for the actual show. A great start to the Idols Spectacular’s for 2013! The talent this year is much better than we have seen in quite some time, and while I have my own favourites already, it really is impossible to predict a top 3 at this stage – they are (almost) all that good!

The show started off with Brenden’s energetic performance of “You sexy thing” – a great start start to the show and Brenden is clearly one of the crowd favourites.  After his performance, I would say it was Sonke with ‘All out of Love’ and Bunny’s ‘My first my last’ that were my favourite performances of the night.

But let’s be honest – if you watched,  you already have your own opinions and you’re not here to read about the stuff you watched. You probably want to know what you didn’t see.  Well, from a show point of view – you missed no drama.  The judges were all in a great mood with Unathi especially getting her groove on. SA Jazz legend Jonathan Butler was in the crowd and Proverb spoke to him on air – but off air, great commotion ensued when people found out that her was in the audience, with a number of people running up in the ad break for a glimpse of this true South African legend.  (A quiet, unassuming man, he had no idea what crab sticks were in the VIP lounge afterwards.  How does anyone not know what crab sticks are?).

It is also clear that this years top 10 really are a close group – possibly the closest I have ever seen at this level.  They mingled as a large group (as opposed to going off in 2’s and 3’s as they normally would) and were laughing together the whole evening.  I chatted to Tumi, who shared that after her performance of ‘Take my breath away’ she was discouraged by the judges comments – Randall’s especially. Sonke, the life of the party and just a really ‘nice guy’ had a ‘marvellous’ time, and you can tell he’s taking the whole thing in and loving every moment. Benjamin. Sigh.  He’s in over his head.  He is a farm boy, owned his first cell phone this year, had never heard Bryan Adam’s “Everything I do” until 2 weeks ago and is awkward all round – in interviews, on stage and it seems, even amongst the other contestants. It’s not criticism – it’s the reality and many contestants have not gone far before, not because they weren’t good, but because they weren’t ready.  Some have come back to do much better.  I suspect that if Benjamin continues in the show, it will be because of a fan base he already has, and not because he will win others over. I could be wrong.

That said, have a look at the short interviews I did with Benjamin and Sonke below, and catch “Idols Backstage with Mark Paul” on WildCoast FM every Monday after 3:30pm.


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