The Top 8 Idols were hard at work all this week rehearsing the Spectacular theme "The Year I Was Born" under the expert mentorship of J-Something of multi-SAMA-winning house group MiCasa.
Tshidi Tenyane (28) from Thokoza opened the show with the Weather Girls classic, It's Raining Men, which was a mega-hit when she was born in 1983. "The audience knows when it works," Gareth Cliff noted. "I looked around at the audience because that's always a good barometer," he explained. "And there was only one person sitting down!" Unathi Msengana said if Tshidi keeps performing like this, "it will rain anything you want! Bucket-loads!" "It's not raining men," Randall Abrahams agreed. "It's raining votes!"
Jozi boy Dominic Neill (19) was born in 1992 and for him the big hit that year was Mr Big's To Be With You. Gareth said it was a clever song choice but he didn't know why Dom chose to sing the harmony and not the melody. "You were kinda cruising there a little bit," he criticised. But he thought it was a much improved performance from the past couple of weeks. Unathi was in tears. "I'm glad you finally believe in yourself," she told Dom. "Unfortunately for me it plodded along. It was like going to a karaoke bar," Randall complained. "There was absolutely no way from a vocal point of view that you brought to the party what you need to make it to the end."
The Pride Of Port Nolloth, Simphiwe Gwegwe (23) was a 1988 baby and he chose Michael Jackson's Man In The Mirror. "Simphiwe, you sang your heart out and I think that was really impressive," Gareth said. But Unathi's analysis was that Simphiwe doesn't believe in his abilities in the lower registers. Randall thought doing any Michael Jackson song is either a display of confidence or of an overblown ego. "If you're singing that song, you better start singing from the moment you start singing," he lectures. "You didn't start singing until almost right at the end. To my mind it just didn't work at all."
For Cape Town's Chloe Kiley (23) the big hit from her birth year, 1988, was INXS' Never Tear Us Apart. "I'm very pleased with your performance," said Gareth. "I don't think you need to be in the Bottom Three again this week." Unathi said: "You are very hot... you are very good to look at." But she also enjoyed her singing, not just how she looks. "You literally become the song," she praised. "I respect that you tried to bring something different to the song," Randall allowed, "but turning it into a legato song just didn't work."
Monde Msutwana (30) from Pretoria chose an iconic hit from the year of his birth, 1982: Toto's Rosanna. Gareth recalled how he watched Toto perform that song when they performed here in South Africa and how he was so fascinated with the guitarist that he almost forgot to watch the singer. "But you were not forgettable," he praised. "Not by any stretch of the imagination!" Unathi said: "You approach every song with the same amount of respect." Randall continued: "The one thing I like most about you is not your singing or your performance. It's that you want to be here. You want to do well in this competition. You really try your damndest."
Khaya Mthethwa (25) from Durban was born in 1986 and fortunately for him that was also the year that Earth Wind And Fire re-released their classic hit, September. Gareth had to wait a long time for the audience to stop cheering Khaya's performance before he could render his judgment. "Tonight you proved that you can do pretty much anything," he praised. "That is a very big song and you handled it beautifully." "On the real," said Unathi, "tonight you remembered that you want to win this competition." "You had one or two not so good weeks, but you're back and if things keeping going as they are now we're going to see one heck of a final," a satisfied Randall predicted.
PE beauty Melissa Allison (23) chose The Bangles' Eternal Flame from her birth year, 1989. Gareth looked impressed. "Sweetheart, that was outstanding," he praised. "You were my favourite performer tonight." "There's nothing worse than having to compete with nostalgia," Unathi reflected. "But you shut nostalgia down! My performance of the evening as well." Randall thought that Melissa chose a good song for her talents. "I don't think there's a broad range of things that you can do as a singer but what you can do, you do well," he allowed.
And last but never least, the feisty teenager from Durban, Shekhinah "Sheki" Donnell (17) performed TLC's Waterfall from 1994, complete with a bit of rapping! Her performance had Unathi up on her feet with a standing ovation. "That was really good!" Gareth praised. "No Bottom Three for you this week!" "You did it all and you did it all Shekhinah-style!" Unathi raved. "The one thing about this year's show is it's a very hip show," Randall reflected. "You bring a whole new dimension to the show."
The voting lines for the Top 8 Spectacular opened at the start of last night's show and will close at 10pm on Monday, 20 August. The results of the vote will be announced in the live Top 8 Results Show at the Mosaïek Teatro on Tuesday, 21 August, at 7.30pm, which will also feature a special guest performance by MiCasa.