Sunday, June 29, 2008

Idols... Six of The Best

When Sunday comes, it only means one thing: the Idols come visiting our houses. And with beauty queen Cynthia having left, an air of ugly expectation had gripped the Idols fraternity with realization that one talented singer would still go home week after week. It was African theme week, and if the Jacob Zuma loved song Umshini Wami (Bring Me My Machine Gun) was chosen by any contestant, we were going to be blown away.

First things first. Lebo, in bloo shirt, was doing justice to his clothing designer. If he left the show and went into the thread business, the ‘Lebo Label‘ should be a smash hit. The Judges looked more excited. Who wasn’t? Contestant. You. Negatively. Treated. Here. Isn’t. Around! In one word, C.Y.N.T.H.I.A…

TK still thinks he is The King (TK), Angel A in a headscarf for a second week running still thinks there can be no Angel B and Scar still thinks he’s the Tzar. Only in my mind, Lebo asks Scar: Will we miss Cynthia? And Scar replies: Depends on how accurately we shoot!

What Scar knows is that the audience has lost the chance to hold out placards written ‘LMAO’ or ‘LOL’ after each Cynthia performance. And what Kawesa (who gets booed at each intro for that ‘trash’ comment) knows is that he can no longer tell us the six words: Vote Wisely. Or Vote For Cynthia.

Back to the show. It was going to be a tall order for contestants to bring out their vocal prowess in the African songs. And it sure turned out to be an order as tall as the giraffe that completely emerged as the star of the show.

Now, the rose that Mkhululi gave to the lucky girl last week has wilted by now, but his voice has not faltered. If he really wanted to give that girl a good gift, he would have bottled his sultry voice and handed it over to her. The beauty of not doing that is that he got to sing to us ‘Mhla Uphel Amandla’ where he still touched some hearts without moving anything but his lips. Kawesa, who is never on the ground at the Bomas, thought it was the Ground Zero performance of the night.

Nicolette has been one of my favourites as she increases the lighting in my living room with that smile. She has a smile as wide as Watamu Beach. I don’t want to put the model label on her, but she may be causing a bitter contest between Colgate and Close Up on her endorsement of their products. Even the smiley emoticon has nothing on her. Julia Roberts comes close, but can she sing? Nicolette that is. Song choice had the word smile in its title. Eish. Her performances have been more of yo-yo. Brilliant the other day, good the other week, average this week. ‘A Cry, A Smile, A Dance’ was better done by Judith. The positioning of the mic was such that you couldn’t even see the lips that kissed the giraffe.

Eric on the other hand has really infuriated the Association of Barbers of Africa. Young boys across the continent are refusing to have their hair shaved! But if the biblical Samson had strength in his hair, Eric’s hair might add to the powerful voice that is God given. Ringo will be somewhere trying to rekindle the Beatles and wondering how someone could have pulled off a better ‘Sondela’ complete with Swahili lyrics.

When it comes to a female musician, you usually get two kinds: A diva or Adiona. That was until Adiona came onto the stage yet again. She is the only female musician who is in both categories of female musicians. If you were in her shoes (which no doubt Angela as per the first audition wishes she was) you would like to do a Freshly Ground song that has repetitive lyrics. You did good girl. And thanks for answering my question.

Trinah will never work for the Post Office. Because whilst the Mailman does not deliver on Sunday, she delivers each Sunday. Her performances have been phenomenal. I think the only reason Angela said God had given us a Malaika (Angel in Swahili) when she heard Faycal was because she had yet to meet Trinah at the auditions. She really is. It only gets better and better each Sunday. Nice job (though not excellent). But maybe it is her ‘Destiny’ to win this competition.

Ammara is the only lady left in the competition whom you could try to use the pick up line: The name is ________. Remember the name, you will be SCREAMING it later. She may have been dubbed worst by Kawesa last week, but her version of ‘Vulindlela’ was however toned down on the screaming and the Maasai outfit clad girl did very well with the dancing combined. It was okay. Brenda, who is now with the real Big Dude, would have been proud.

Now, Jacob Zuma (do they ever call him Jay Z?) may be a lookalike of Papa Shirandula of the Coke BRRRR advert but after this performance, he would be singing: BRRRRring Me My Camera! So that he can get those tourist feature shots of the giraffe. And then we will start hearing the song… ‘I Shot The Giraffe… But I Did Not Shoot The Deputy!’

The contestants could have tried out even better known singers like Yvonne Chaka Chaka or singers from across the continent, but all in all, it was great way to pay homage to African musicians. The show must go on and one person has to go home. So as we vote, we should ask ourselves hard questions, if we are honest with ourselves. Does he bring tears to your eyes as he sings? Don’t just vote because she holds the microphone as if it was a pleasure toy and makes you get carried away. Let us vote for the best performances. Please.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Republic versus Cynthia

This is a simple matter. Ten weeks ago, a beautiful lass saw the advert for Idols and took the bold decision to audition. As a believer of cross border ties, she auditioned away from home, near the Bujagali Falls. As Ugandans dropped out of contention like water at the Falls, she made it. Out of over 1,000 persons who auditioned, some of whom MNet stated were the downright hopeless, Cynthia Kuto made the Top 65. She went on to be shortlisted to the Top 38. And the Top 24.

The real downright hopeless (viewers) started voting and she made the cut for the Top 10.
A complaint has arisen about the eviction of Cynthia from the Idols show and a prayer has been made to return her to the show. It appears to me that the so called judges, who had praised her earlier, started having chameleon features and treated her with disdain. Negative comments freely flowed after each performance. There hasn’t been any such unfair treatment of a person since the Lions v Christians.

Ever graceful, Cynthia even acknowledged that she had some not inspiring moments like at the Top 24 group stage. Instead of appreciation, she was scornfully made to sound as if she had shortlisted herself and made it to the Top 10 under dubious circumstances. Words were thrown at her every performance. Houdini! What are you still doing here! You sounded like you were singing for your drunk friends! Some idiot even posted a blog saying she would only win Skunk Idols.

Common decency was thrown out of the window. It was regrettably replaced by vicious attacks and general lack of appreciation for all the efforts that Miss Kenya… oops, Ms Kuto put in week after week. My heart goes out to the stoic girl who weathered this storm.

As R Kelly sings, ‘The Storm Is Over Now!’ How someone who had topped the votes last week would be the one with the least votes this time is the biggest turnaround in the history of history. As Judge, I am as perplexed as all the fans of Cynthia. This has to be the biggest robbery since the Nai-Robbery!

If you happened upon Scars comments after each performance of Cynthia, you would have thought you were watching the movie Beauty and the Beast! TK’s last comments disguised as praise for improvement were as fake as that cheap Rolex he had on his hands. Angie refused to judge her performance, in the biggest dereliction of duty by a public servant since the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission refused to announce the Presidential Results.

This case saddens me immensely. How independent is Independent Judge Kawesa? How appropriate are the comments of Lebo after Cynthia sang as he asked people to vote that the terrible singers leave. Yes, how?

In view of the above, I find it worth ruling that this much insulted girl is better off staying out of harms way than being returned to the show. The wicked judges and those nookie-starved viewers saying she should be a Victoria’s Secrets model deserve the punishment of not watching Cynthia again. This was beauty too rich, for Idols too dear.

In the interest of the public health, I rule that each party should bear their own costs. However, a full refund of the bus fare from Nairobi to the Ugandan auditions should be made to Cynthia.

Those are the orders of the court...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Idols...The Top Seven Show

Welcome to the Idols Top Seven or the Idols-Top-Six-and-One-Other as some people have claimed. You know one of the advantages of Cynthia being on this show, is that it has made many people realize the value of the MUTE button on the TV remote.

This was a Sunday when the sun was not showing up during the day. Do they still call Nairobi the City in the Sun? My jewels froze at the Safari 7s, gave away my Project Fame Finale tickets and beat traffic so as to watch the show from the comfort of the couch. Coffee, check! Speakers, check! MUTE button, check! Do Not Disturb sign at the door, check!

The Idols make another appearance to my house this time arranged in order of their ages from Nicolette to Eric. As the contestants troop in, Lebo is clearly and visibly having butterflies. Oh, I mean on his jacket. Next time, they will arrange them in order of height and finally, Cynthia will be top of a category!

Trinah knows its cold so she kicks off the show with a lot of heeeeeaaaaat. As usual, her performance is bordering on flawless. Everybody loves her so if she really wants to dance with somebody who loves her, she is going to do a lot of dancing! What a great way to begin!

Last week Eric almost headbutted the camera when he was introduced as the first act… though the cameraman wasn’t worried since the afro is a great cushion. That was last week. This was ‘Here and Now’. It was a night when Eric Moyo lived up to his last name (in Swahili) and stole the hearts of everybody.

And then along came Cynthia. Is it any wonder that the phrase STILL HERE rhymes with CYNTHIA?

The truth is, if someone came up with a beauty product called SKUNK and they became the sponsors of Idols, Cynthia, who is having a stinker in this show, will probably win Skunk Idols!

Added to her long list of crimes against music was a rendition of ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’ which granted, was an improvement. Sure, there isn’t any place to go when you are at the bottom.

Angie turned the judgment to her and asked her for a score out of Ten. The crowd roared: ELEVEN! No wonder tickets to the show are so scarce nowadays. Her entire village is checking in.

If you have ever studied numerology, you know that Cynthia’s chances when she entered the Top 10 were a simulacrum of her weekly score. One out of ten. Ever the modest one, she gave herself seven AND A HALF. We know she can’t sing but she can’t judge too? Anyway, enough about Angela… oh… Cynthia…

During a commercial break, which wasn’t a period of quiet reflection for me, I decide to check my text messages. Marto has asked, ‘How is Cynthia doing? I love that girl’

Love? Look mister, am not a cheap erotic writer. But let me try… Some people will not be satisfied even if she took off her blouse and rubbed her exposed chest with ice cubes as she sang. Anyways, so Scar still labels her Houdini! And Angie said she is not climaxing!!!

Whilst I had thought Adiona was most likely to take the walk this week, she sang ‘The Weakness In Me’ quite well. If you compare it with Debra Chansa’s audition, Adiona’s version ought to bail her out. And people like me who had written her off are going to remember the three little words. Not. So. Fast.

Now ‘Have I Told You Lately’ that if M-Net gave Mkhululi a new job at their call centre, he will be answering the phone: Hallo, this is your smooth operator…

He painted a rosy picture of the performances this night and made one girl the recipient of a red rose. Two girls actually, if you count the other rose at the end of the show. And he even said there were more roses backstage. Roses aside, the boy sang well and deserved the applause and the love.

Now, those Ammara fans have to listen up. Your Idol Ammara is not an Idol yet. And she is making it even harder if she sings as she did. ‘Careless Whisper’ has never been sung so carelessly! And the screaming just doesn’t go with a song title that has the word ‘whisper’ in it’s title! It wasn’t any wonder Kawesa thought this was the worst of the night… and in many ways, Cynthia aside, he was right. She however got some brownie points for those childhood photos… eh. Brownie for Ms. Brown, get it?

Nicolette had problems in her ‘Life History’ assignment for she had lost her voice. She must have prayed hard to get the voice back for the show, and just appropriately, took on Madonna and the song ‘Like A Prayer’. It wasn’t as good as last week. The dancing around and catching notes was awkward and quite the anti-climax to the show. If she was Nico-ROCKS last week, this was more of Nico-SHOCKS, but granted her difficulties with the voice, it was a good (as opposed to ‘not too good’) performance.

As Cynthia will no doubt rate it, that was a show AND A HALF. It was a good show at the Bomas where Mkhululi was the top dawg… and if girls want to be get the roses next time, the poster to accompany such performance, is only one: BHEBHE CAN I HOLD YOU TONIGHT!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Top Secret Mission

YOUR MISSION, should you choose to accept it, is to unearth this Spiderman who was sighted during the Kenya versus Zimbabwe match.

The previous week, Spiderman had made his debut at a Harambee Stars match as they beat a team aptly known as Syli Nationale at the same stadium.

He walks around in mystery, and poses for photos with fans. He always has the Kenyan flag next to him and waves it at all the unlikely-est of places. Like on the scoreboard!

Watching a match at the Stadium is always an experience to relish and I looked forward to the two June matches with the great anticipation of any virgin boy. The place I sat was filled with the usual wise-crackers.

In both games, the anthems of the foreign teams were not well appreciated, though the fans stood respectfully as the speaker blared out the foreign tunes. The local one was sang with so much passion, it made me wonder why many fans did not participate in the Idols auditions.

Then the game begins. A long ball is send out of play by a Guinea player. 'Even if he charters a plane, he cannot catch that!' says the guy behind me as the Guinea player runs after the ball.

Dennis Oliech scores and the place is in rapture! A chant breaks out: SIO UCHAWI, TUMEZOEA! which basically translates to: THAT IS NOT WITCHCRAFT! WE ARE USED TO SEEING IT!

The Mexican wave does its rounds. One fan asks: Does the Prime Minister stand during the wave? A self appointed spokesman replies: No, the PM only stands when a goal is scored!

The gate to the Stadium is broken and thousands of fans who were locked out stream into the match. The wag behind me opines: Kenyans love free things. Even in heaven, you will see them breaking the gate to get easy access.

Later in the second half, Oliech nets his brace and I egg on a chant of: HAKI YETU! The stand catches the OUR RIGHT chant and within a minute the stadium catches on the chant with slight variations of 'bao' (goal) after each chant. That goal was our right, we basically sing. Yeah right!

The game and it is the long trek home. But due to the crowd control deficit, the next game against Zimbabwe almost gets called off so security measures are put up. I get my ticket on the Wednesday before the match and I go back to the Stadium. The stand I had been at previously is occupied so I get a place in the next one.

'MUGABE MUST GO!' says one placard in a cheeky reference to Uncle Bob who faces a rerun in the elections soon.

McDonald is in the house... and I do not mean the burger hawkers. Mariga. He scores and sends the stadium into more chants. The Mexican wave does its rounds. Oliech scores the second, but after the Zimbabweans (or is it Zimbabwese?) give Kenya a run for their money.

'OLIECH! ODINGA! OBAMA!' sings the crowd. A few others light their newspapers. With the sight of fire, another chant goes up: MOTO UMEWAKA LEO! which I think is some hymnal that states the obvious: FIRE IS BURNING TODAY.

The fire brigade is not required. If anything, it is the ambulance that is called when the Kenyan goal keeper gets injured. 'ORIGI! ORIGI! ORIGI!' the crowd which has long forgotten that howler against Eritrea sing on.

With the subs done, Oliech then dons the keepers jersey and gloves and makes his debut in goal! It is almost comical but Kenya prevail.

Spiderman may be still unmasked, but Superman has long been found. Dennis Oliech. Or is that Dennis The Menace?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Idols... The Top Nine Show.

PREVIOUSLY ON IDOLS: INDEPENDENT Judge Kawesa said we do not encourage trash on the Top 10 show and named Christine as the worst performer. Christine walked... Next up was the Top Nine show...

So I arrived at Bomas with a trash bin which I was hoping to present to Kawesa but the bouncers were not seeing the funny bit. Sorry Mr. Environment aka Kawesa. This inspiration was when I actually saw a huge billboard of the City Council of Nairobi stating that we should keep the City clean. No trash in the top 10.

So if Cynthia is voted off this show, I will just host up a placard saying: THIS IS A TRASH FREE ZONE.

First up, the cocktail moment. For some reason, the event organizers have calculated that the traffic snarl up to Bomas ensures you are seated for an hour when getting there so you have to stand for an hour before you get into the theatre. But how time crawls when you are waiting for the show!

With a Fan Lounge ticket, it was always great to know I had an up-close view of the contestants. But the male to female ratio on the Lounge was 2:14. C’mon brothers. Represent! That is one less than the male contestants. I kept my wise counsel even as the gals screamed loudest when Scar made an appearance!

Lebo competed with Scar for the loudest cheers and I think Lebo just edged out Scar by one female vote. ‘I ONLY CAME TO SEE LEBO!’ said the gal next to me when she saw my puzzled look. Later in the show, a LEBO FOR PRESIDENT slogan went up eliciting shouts of ‘LEBO! LEBO! LEBO!’ from the gals. Thank God they didn’t put up a LEBO FOR HUSBAND slogan. I mean, a whole hour of listening to things like ‘If Lebo looks my way, I will send God a bottle of wine…’ and the gals ignoring my pleas of ‘I am here, gals’

If some people only came to see Lebo, they still had to sit through the nine contestants performances.

Ammara was first up. Everybody expects too much of the gal and rates her on a super status and not the normal status. She was alright.

Cynthia looked dashing in that black dress. ‘I only came to see Cynthia,’ I teased but was told that this was the last time I was seeing her whilst Lebo will be there till the end of the show. But as she sang, my mind drifted away… back in time. Please tell me the police are still looking for the bus driver who took Cynthia to Uganda for the auditions. Why didn’t the bus break down at the Busia border? Why didn’t the driver forget to fuel? Why? Why? Why?

Lebo aside, the only serious presidential material on stage all night was Eric. So when Comrade Bob is tired of running (Fake Editors note: ruining?) that country, he can pass the reigns to this comrade. Great performance and great effect on the crowd.

Scar thinks there are two types of singers. Those who love chocolates and bitches. Just kidding.

Faycal did a bump and grind number that seemed to get on Scar’s nerves. Lebo even thought the evil J word was in play when Scar assessed the do.

Speaking of Judges, Angela was having moments after moments. She had her Radio DJ moments. She had a Scangie moment which Lebo pointed out as she lay her head on Scar's shoulders. She had her History Teacher routine after each song. She also had an Imelda Marcos moment when she saw Sam’s shoes. There isn’t a shoe Angie hasn’t wanted to put her feet in.

Nikki’s nerves improved according to Scar and she did NOT violently kill that song. She did it softly. As Johan Van Der Walt would say: Violins is never the answer! There was no violence. Just poisoned it. Sweetly smiled at it and just smothered it to death. I love this gal’s smile but she needs to step it up.

Mkhululi’s future is bright. So was his suit. For those who believe the only time a man should wear a white suit is at his funeral or when invited to P Diddy’s bash, this wasn’t working. His performance last week had been powerful so if you judge it based on last week’s performance, he dipped a bit.

Speaking of judging people on last weeks performances, Trinah did well as usual. This gal has a powerful voice and she was definitely born to sing. Trinah Turner everyone! All the other contestants are going to be blown away by Hurricane Ka-Trinah!

Adiona was terrific and in a funny transposition of opposites, when she sings a song like ‘Am Every Woman’, every man wants to vote for her. This performance showed the judges did not waste the Wild Card… rather the mistakes were made by the voters who pushed some contestants to the Top 10.

Sam closed the show with a lot of vigorous dancing that left her breathless but which did not take Scar’s breath away. Of course Angie loved her outfit which was nothing to blog about. I Love Me Sam Her, but she really needs to step up.

My rating of the nine from best to worst was: TRINA, ERIC, ADIONA, AMMARA, MKHULULI, SAMANTHA, NICOLETTE, FAYCAL and CYNTHIA.

Kawesa has been getting boos from the crowd but he elicited laughter with his comment about Cynthia. This may be the Top Nine but it is Cynthia who has proved she has nine lives. Can she find herself in the Top 8? Keep watching....