The Top Four contestants - still fighting for a spot in the Idols Season 8 Finale in just three weeks' time - performed a selection of some of the best South African music last night in one of the most popular Spectaculars of each season – the Homebrew concert.
The Top Four each prepared two songs for tonight's show and they were mentored in rehearsal by South Africa's popular House DJ Black Coffee. But opening tonight's show was a surprise celebrity guest performer: Idols' most beautiful judge, Unathi Msengana, singing her latest hit Kwa Nolali.
Keeping up the feminine energy, the first Idol up in last night's Spectacular was PE beauty Melissa Allison, performing The Arrows' hit Lovesick. "You're looking good, you're sounded good," said Idols judge Gareth Cliff, but he was concerned that Melissa seemed to have some trouble breathing properly. "You had fun and we had fun," Unathi said approvingly. And Randall Abrahams thought Melissa wasn't "individual" enough. "I think you're going to struggle against the competition," he noted.
For his first performance of the night Pretoria's Monde Msutwana chose Brian Temba's Dominoes. "You have a very, very sweet, gentle, soft voice," Gareth said. "I can see you serenading South Africa for a long time to come." Unathi commented that Monde is a very smart man. "The song showed the delicacy of your voice," she commended his song choice. And even Randall said it was Monde's best song choice so far, showing off "a delicacy and a vulnerability that we hadn't heard before," he said.
Thokoza diva Tshidi Tenyane was on next with her rendition of another Idol's hit, Zamajobe's Ndawo Yami. Gareth said he thought Tshidi had done an amazing job with that song, "but I just felt like in the beginning it was a bit slow to start." Unathi said once again it was a very clever song choice. "Ndawo Yami" ("my place") for Tshidi was on that stage, "for the rest of your life!" Unathi hoped. "You're still walking a tightrope like you need a bit of a safety net," Randall commented. He said he would love to see a soulful performance that is all Tshidi, instead of her worrying how the competition is going to turn out.
And rounding off the evening's first round of performances was Durban hero Khaya Mthethwa with one of Zahara's hits, Lengoma. "Everybody says 'Khaya's going to win this thing'," Gareth noted, "But I don't think you believe that yet, and I like that humility." Unathi complimented Khaya in the vernacular, telling him that "the God that we pray to is with us all the time". "I think the song did enough for you," Randall said. "But I think you could have given us an even better performance." Again, he encouraged Khaya not to worry about the result of the competition and to "go for it a hundred percent".
For the second round of tonight's Homebrew spectacular the Top Four surprised their fans with duets, and first up was Tshidi and Monde with Jennifer Hudson, Ne-Yo and Rick Ross' hit, Think Like A Man. The judges disagreed about whether they had to comment or not but of course Randall had a comment: "Sometimes when there's a pairing of singers, they bring out the best in each other," he said.
For their duet Khaya and Melissa chose Lady Antebellum's massive hit, Need You Now. Gareth said that was one of his highlights of the season. "I just loved every second," he said. Unathi said Khaya and Melissa were gracious singers and Randall was happy to leave the comments to his colleagues this time.
After a look at her triumphant visit back home to Port Elizabeth last weekend, Melissa was back on stage for her second song, the South African classic Ndihamba Nawe, which was a hit for Mafikizolo. "It looked like you had a lot of fun," Gareth said. "But I don't think you need to work that hard in that song," he commented. "It needs to be real." But Unathi said she had seen so many singers performing this song and disrespect it. "Thank you, in Heritage Month, that you made sure that your pronunciations were correct," she noted. Randall thought the song would get Melissa a lot of votes because it was such a crossover hit. But he agreed with Gareth that it was "too much of a performance" for that song.
Monde's second solo of the night was Watershed's massive hit, Indigo Girl. "Monde, that was beautiful," Gareth said simply and Unathi said she could see that Monde had made his father very proud. "Two really, really good performances this evening," Randall complimented him. "I hope that the votes pay off."
Tshidi chose Freshlyground's first big hit, Doo Bee Doo, for her second performance. Gareth reminded Tshidi that she has a lot of fans out there "and after that performance I think you've got a whole lot more," he said. Unathi said it is telling when the band is having as much fun as the singer. And Randall noted that it was quite a difficult song choice because it's so well known, "but certainly you were able to breathe life into it and I think everybody's going to love it," he thought.
And Khaya closed the Top Four Homebrew Spectacular with his rendition of the Springbok Nude Girls classic, Blue Eyes. "I think you can pretty much do anything," Gareth said. Unathi said Khaya was her performer of the night. But "I thought in the verses you needed a lot more rock 'n roll attitude," Randall complained.
The voting lines for the Top 4 Spectacular opened at the start of last night's show and will close at 10pm on Monday, 17 September. The results of the vote will be announced in the live Top Four Results Show at the Mosaïek Teatro on Tuesday, 18 September, at 7.30pm, with a special performance by this week's mentor, DJ Black Coffee, featuring Tumelo.