Monday, July 28, 2008

Idols… The Grand Finale

Well well well. It had finally come down to the contestants who had been given the Audition Number 8416 versus Audition Number 8423. In other words, after the votes the previous weekend, Trinah had fallen by the wayside and the Finale was between Nicolette and Eric.

For Trinah, it had been a commendable feat since not every Tom, Harry and Dick can make the Idols Top 3. In fact, not every Trinah, Eric and Nicolette can make the Idols Top 3. But these particular ones had made the cut and thus anyone of them who walked, was not taking the literal Walk of Shame but a Walk of Fame. Felicitations are in order for Trinah. Clap clap clap.

But the surprises of this show are what made it so interesting. Despite all the emotions and anger and ecstasy, this show is just entertainment. No one needs to get philosophical or analytic. It is pointless to discuss whether the journey on Idols was a hallelujah trail or a Death March. It was simply, the television show, which was music to our ears.

So here they were: Nicolette and Eric vying to be declared the winner of Idols. Those who had placed bets on any other contestants to be in the Finale had been forced to eat humble pie, or at most, samosas the size of the Elemi Triangle.

The tension was palpable. Who would fall at the last hurdle? Who would blink first?

The eldest in the Top Ten facing off with the youngest. Two contestants with varied styles.

The smooth velvet sound of Nicolette accentuated by her constant smile had made some of us who had written her off be considered musically illiterate. It was not down to the Power of Collective Amnesia that Nico-Rocks made the Finale. It was due to her ability to bounce back when seemingly down and capture the imagination of voters with each next performance. You just couldn’t know what to expect from the girl.

When Eric took on Michael Jackson, he destroyed the myth that: Eric has no Plan B, only a superb Plan A. He knew his strong points but was not one to shy away from a challenge. He could single-handedly bring the audience to tears with his collective Five Senses. With his eyes as he opened them wide, with his voice as he belted out any tune, with his touch as he led the girl up to the stage and sang: When A Man Loves A Woman.

I should have a look at the Invitation Card to the Finale. It always stated that you should be Dressed to Thrill but this time everybody that mattered was Dressed to Kill. OK, except Judge Kawesa who in keeping up with his title, is independent from everything including the Fashion Sense.

The rest of the Top Ten were back. And how!

They got the party started in true music-fest style. When I saw the girls out in those shorts, I asked myself, “Self, given the chance, would you want to date each of these girls?” My self agreed!

It had been sad seeing some of these contestants leave especially those who went before their time: Samantha, Mkhululi and Ammara. And our hope is that they will soon bedazzle us with their new albums so that they never take the exit from our lives again!

The video clips played had a measure of hilarity especially when the Top Two took a glimpse at the Judges. Unlike chat talk when people, “I am laughing my ass off”, without laughing even once, we all shared a good laughter as Scar, TK, Angie and Kawesa became the butts of mimicry. Actually the laughter that erupted in the Bomas could be heard as far as Timbuktu.

Nicolette sealed her place as a Songbird with the Eva Cassidy hit before Eric took on Michael Bolton’s When A Man Loves A Woman.

Well, a lot can happen in 60 seconds. Nicolas Cage can steal your car, for one. Eric Moyo on the other hand, can leave you a quivering, teary-eyed wreck.

As if these Idols are not already immortals, Nicolette was back with ‘My Immortal’ which she delivered with perfection. Or so we thought.

Scar has been the basis of a recent University Thesis on whether coarse remarks from a Judge on a Reality TV show are a product of the metaphysics of melancholy and the entropic death of talent. But as every bespectacled, girlfriendless sci-fi aficionado will realize, Judges can have an off day, too and Scar was finding 90 minutes too long to live in, without upsetting one or two people. He stood in applause however when asked to redeem his night.

We now waited for the obligatory Angela abdication of judgment. Eric came back for Sondela and she said, not a single word, but stood and clapped.

One of my best memories of this Idols show was being away from Nairobi one Sunday and listening in on an awful mobile phone connection with a running commentary as I was informed, as Eric sang, that ‘Angela is smiling’.

Nicolette gave her all in Goodbye Baby as Eric also rounded off with This Is My Every Thing. The jury was still out on the two songs at the time we went to press. Tee hee hee.

The Best In The West were in the house as Eric and Omawumi gave us a glimpse of how they do it in the Wild Wild West of Africa. In true contrasting styles, Eric wore sunglasses in the dark theatre whilst Omawumi wore a short dress as she sang a long song. It was probably the time zones that brought on those sunglasses but ‘No one, no one’ could get me to love that rendition.

Now, if you were thinking this was a cliff hanger, which it was, Eric still had to sing a duet with Nicolette. Before the Lady In Red delivered the envelop to some inexplicable cheers. I wasn’t sure why but maybe people thought she deserved an award for managing to get into the dress. Lebo still milked the advertisers for all its worth by telling us that we would know the winner right after the break.

Well well well. You all know what happened next. Confetti ensued, tears were shed, hugs were given, the winner told Africa that he (not she) loves them, as people sung his (not her) praises - he (not she) sung again and then … (CUT!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Idols… The Top Three

Unless you have been living in either a pre-historic or Afghan cave for the last few weeks, three names: Trinah, Eric and Nicolette have meant something every week. They have been slugging it out in the Idols Top Ten. How ironic that the initials Trinah, Eric and Nicolette spell out the word Ten! It was all in the stars.

Yes, the TV show that has had a fair share of suspense, drama, unpredictability, excitement, hysteria and… Cynthia was on its second last show and the Top Three lined up to sing three songs each!

First off, the anagrams of the Top 3. Eric Moyo has been serenading all with his performances but whilst he melts hearts, he is ‘Icy Romeo.’ Trinah Chisanga has the singing tone that caresses the ear and she comes out as a gem which is why she is ‘Ah! Shining Carat’. Nicolette Kiiga is the Miss Congeniality of the show but her anagram is ‘Ego Like Titanic!’

Well, here was hoping that the Titanic will not sink! The song to be sung were not drawn from lots but by the formula of the Idols own pick followed by the Fans Choice and then the Judges selection.

Lebo, the Presenter Who Looks Like He Is Selling You An Umbrella When It Is Raining, opens the routine with the usual hyperbole about people having lived in a cave. Oops! Kettle, Pot, Black etc etc. I started the blog the same way! As Lebo appears on stage, the girls start to prematurely salivate leading to decibels of noise that the scientific boffins are still trying to calculate.

Kawesa, the Judge Who Is As Unpopular As The Forty Bob Coin, is introduced looking all magisterial. The Top T.E.N must be waiting with delight on his words at the end of the show. Barring any unmitigated voter concurrence, Kawesa’s views will remain more wrong than controversial. If you ask me, the oxygen-poor air is clouding Kawesa’s judgement in that booth.

TK, the Judge Who Shouts After Each Performance, is looking great and trying to memorize the sentence: Must not say the words ‘You Know What’ before I make my comments tonight. You know what, place your bets with him now! You know what, just forget it.

Angela, the Judge Who Finds Shoes, Eric and Clothes Irresistible, is looking irresistible herself with the hat ensemble. Double A must be carrying a thermometer for she recently told us how the temperature around her had been raised when Nikki winked at TK.

Scar, The Judge Who Elicits More Pain With His Jabs Than A Roadside Dentist, is looking funky. He could be the CEO of the Idols version of Apprentice but most neutrals watching are hoping that the underdog is not on his firing line tonight.

Nicolette starts the triple classic with the Kelly Clarkson hit ‘Anytime’ which she delivered with a look of frightening trepidation. Maybe we should again blame Scar for this one. He told her last time to believe her own hype. It was a sad opening to the show. Loved the white pants though.

Trinah was next up trying to step in the shoes of Aretha Franklin with the song ‘Natural Woman’. Now we all remember that the good man Edwin Kgaswane of Botswana sang this song during the auditions. That audition was my coffee spluttering moment. Trinah’s version was mellow, lovely and natural.

Football-loving Eric came through his challenge of Whacko Jacko’s bi-racial theme song without even wearing a Newcastle United jersey with Black And White stripes but a shirt that was close. The crowd loved the experiment. For his next challenge, I bet Eric will place frozen butter on the judges table and do any song. The butter will melt.

Nicolette agonizingly went through the next song which was Faith Hill’s ‘The Way You Love Me’ in a seated position. Speaking of sitting, it was as if she had sat out this whole round. The bad news is that she does, after all, have a future at Broadway.

Trinah has been placed on the pedestal by some of the Judges and it was quite appropriate that she started out her second song on the high chair, which was not quite the pedestal. Finally she put on some cool threads this round as she sang ‘Put Your Records On’. A classic… is a classic… is a classic and Corinne Bailey Rae would still love this version.

Eric was battling a cold but you would have never noticed by how he sang the second song originally done by Seal. Eric may have sang ‘Kiss From A Rose’ but when he finished, kisses were blown at him by all the girls. Kiss From A Monica, Kiss From A Naomi, Kiss From A Rita, Kiss From A Winnie and of course, Kiss From Angela.

Nikki was hoping to ‘Save The Best For Last’. The trouble with saving the best for last, is that sometimes, you get caught up by the Sell By Date. She rendered the Vanessa Williams hit quite well and the thought that came to my mind was: Is there no limit to this girl’s escapology? She may have left it too late.

‘I Believe’ that Trinah brought out all the emotion including tears in her Fantasia song that came up next. I loved it. Even without playing some tricks like sprinkling some dust on the stage, she still sounded magical and on course to win the 80,000 beans.

The one who would stop her is, of course, Eric who ended the night by stopping the sun on its tracks with ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’. He may have just lost his voice, but Angela lost her mind a long time ago. If Eric had pretended to walk his dog on stage, the girls would still have cheered and Angie would have still said: He walked the dog in style!

Scar conceded that Eric was the coolest dressed man; Kawesa committed his usual careless remarks stating that either Trinah or Nicolette would be going home. A truer statement, but also, blatantly false. Because only one contestant on the night was like the granny who keeps popping around for Christmas. Her smell just lingers onto the New Year. But surely not to the Finale in July.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lonely Hearts

Well, well, well. If the Daily Nation is right that 9 out of 10 Kenyans who read newspapers read the Daily Nation, then you must have seen this advert. Unless you are the 1 out of 10.

So we dig into the advert right away!

Illusions for my femaleness and time? Wait. Is that the new way to say ‘I am ugly and old?’ Because trust me, I like a woman who says she has an ‘unfortunate face’ or who says she is looking for ‘a man who will like a woman with a great face for radio.’

Whilst you are at it lady, why refer to yourself as single? Say it like another application form I saw recently. When asked what her marital status was, the lady just filled in: Unclaimed Treasure.

I love euphemisms. Like when a friend of mine lost her father recently, she said: My father has handed back his ID.

Sorry, I digress. A man whose vision is expansive enough to contain and even synthesise what to others would be contradictions? Excuse me? Is this another euphemism for ‘a delusional man?’ Come on. Do you mean a man who will find you in bed with another man and say: Oh, I see you are warming up Faith. You are just like your name. Faithful.

Now, I can understand the PhD bit? Please have Dick. But is there a philosophical reason for human or applied sciences? Veterinary doctors are disqualified since they just deal with non-human sciences. And those men who think applied sciences is the equivalent of telling a woman, ‘I can apply my Biology on you’, whilst scratching their crotch are also shut out. Then she clarifies she wouldn’t mind a lawyer. I get it. It is that contradictions, thing, right?

Then the clincher. Preferably from ODM political regions. I like the way she thinks. You may be thinking that this is a sweet heart you can pull those pick up lines of: I am PNU, you are ODM, how about our bodies form a grand coalition.

Nope! She chooses the political regions. What a politician! Or is it?

You see, guys from Runda and Kileleshwa are in Westlands which is represented by an ODM Member of Parliament. Guys from Karen are in Lang’ata which is represented by an ODM Member of Parliament. Guys who live in the CBD (and I am thinking Grand Regency hotel) are in Starehe which is represented by an ODM Member of Parliament. So that rules out guys from Mukuru Kwa Reuben (Embakasi – which loses out because you just replaced an ODM man with some PNU man); and also guys from Riruta Satellite (Dagoretti); Jogoo Road estates (Makadara). It is even worse for men from Kamukunji which has no MP.

I had no idea dating was this complicated, philosophical and political.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Idols... The Fab Four

It was down to four. For last Monday, Ammara left us in a way that made most of us think about the song ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’. This isn’t Utopian Idols, but in a perfect world of violins and perfect sunsets, or even just a reasonable one, Nicolette would have been the one plucked from the Idols Garden last week.

But everybody deserves a bit of luck, I guess. Or, to put it another way, if you say someone has a dog’s chance of staying, do not put your mortgage on it! That’s why Uncle Bob is President once again and Nicolette was not at the bottom of the pile last week!

But some people never know when to stop kicking a man when he is down. Someone wrote in to me: You sir, will regret your words about Nicolette. Maybe not today, but tomorrow and for the rest of your Idols life. And when you beg to differ and plead to be fed your own words ground into some half-baked humble pie then some of us will say no, let him starve in his own "rightness" for that is the man who once said: "If Nicolette stays, she is only going to play the violin for the other contestants in the Finale."

With such strong words, it took sheer boldness and cajoling from my niece for me to run up to the Bomas. On our way, Keli (the niece) is singing ‘Eric Till I Die!” to the tune of the Bryan Adams’ song ‘Eighteen Till I Die!” Like a kid at a Christmas ATM, she is excited about the show that she even refuses my offer to check into some restaurant and nosh up some food.

“Not unless the Idols are running those restaurants!’ she replies.

You know, if the Fab Four Idols opened restaurants, I think this is what they will, in review, be like:-

TRINAHS: This Five Star restaurant welcomes everybody with a glass of the finest champagne. It may seem expensive but when you look around, you realize why it is expensive. Sheer class commensurate to the cost. The returns must be very very good.

NICOLETTES: This restaurant is specialized in fast food. It is very satisfying but the appealing food shouldn’t be taken in large quantities. Not something you can rely on on a daily basis, however.

ADIONAS: What a fine dining. It is beautifully presented, ornate and tantalizing to the taste buds. It is a good experience but ultimately the memories last too short.

ERICS: Home-style comfort food using foodstuffs mixed together in a simple, efficient way that just works and rarely lets you down. Plus a secret ingredient that adds a dash of flair to enhance the experience. Reliable, memorable, leaves you pining for more. When done right, as good as anything you can find in the classiest of restaurants.

So we check in at the Bomas. The usual opening sequence takes place.

Our host is doing his Lebo best to make us feel at home at the Bomas which incidentally is Swahili for homesteads. Those who are quite interested in why some people were ever born will – if they are Lebo headed - easily find that Lebo was born for TV.

TK is in the house. Remember when he was dissing contestants that what they sang sounded ‘Too Karaoke’ for him. Imagine that. Too Karaoke? TK? Incidentally, TK doesn’t even stand for Traditional Knowledge.

Angela looks great in the hat. Truly, home is where your hat is. I cross my fingers that she has hidden her inhaler in that hat if Eric decides to serenade her once again and take her breath away!

Lebo asks: Now, Scar, can you imagine how you would have reacted if Cynthia came over to the Judges desk to give you a hug after winning Idols? Scar laughs. Of course not! She is never going to win Idols even if she tried each season! On a serious note, Scar seems cheerful and is quite happy he didn’t have to order that scaffold after all.

Kawesa hasn’t been smiling too much. He may be getting sued by punters who keep placing bets on his choice of the Worst of The Night, who always is someone who doesn’t walk on Monday. That Bird’s Eye View must be a Bad Eye View.

Eric kicks off the show by singing ‘All Night Long’. Of course that is the song title, eejits. He couldn’t be singing the whole night, surely as if he was a computer game. The dancing is spot on and he does a soulful rendition. When Eric kicks off a show, you just know that this is going to be Happy Hour!

Nicolette who did her own Houdini Act last Monday, is next up with a Diana Ross song. The earliest memory I have of the song ‘Do You Know Where You Are Going To?’ was when I once took a bus and the driver was speeding whilst the song was playing in the background. It is not the kind of song a speed-happy driver should play since the answer is not very obvious. The way Nikki sang it, at least the answer is not the Airport.

Adiona is such a darling. Long Live The Mother Who Gave Birth To This Charming Girl. She posed for a photo with Keli after the show and thus got ‘The Greatest Love’ from her.

It is always hard to reprise a Celine Dion song. Hard that is, unless you are Adiona. The cameraman brought some hisses from the Bomas crowd when he went behind her… but she put all that behind and delivered good vocals.

Trinah went down on her knees to give a ‘Beautiful’ impression of Christina Aguilera’s song and ended it on her knees. We know that Zambians have shown their singing prowess before on the continental stage. Lindiwe won Project Fame, remember. And when Trinah sings, you don’t need to look at her passport to know: The girl is Zambian. And she can sing!

Nicolette makes a return in a smashing evening gown with a slit so high it seems to incessantly go on. Now if last week she had an easily forgettable performance, this was ‘Unforgettable’. She went over to serenade TK who gives a Cheshire cat serious competition with his grinning. Now that is what we call a TK! Technical Knockout! And it is at this point that I eat my half-baked humble pie!

Last week, the heavy rain was blamed for all the ills that it would have been perfect had Ammara sang ‘Blame It On The Rain.’ Adiona saw the opportunity in the rains and brought out the ‘Umbrella’ theme. There is something quite wonderful about hearing a song you do not like (Ella Ella Eh Eh) being sung like that. Those Idols Producers are lunatic! They even probably have Fan Choice lined up next!

From what I hear, when man landed on the moon, the cheers it elicited were less than the cheers Eric gets when he lands on the Idols stage. This time, the cheers range from girls to women and Boyz II Men as ‘End of the Road’ gets a just treatment from Eric. The crowd joins in the sing-a-long and then gives him a standing ovation.

To close it up, is Trinah who throws off her ‘Shackles’ as she sings and gets to showcase her ‘Bend It Like Trinah’ dance, adding a groovy treat to a great gospel track. That is how good Trinah is. Every time she produces a musical note, it is refined and nobody thinks: I can’t believe that tune came from her mouth. Happy Hour therefore ends on a Happy Note!

So Top Three next. Can't wait!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Say Cheese!

Aaaah. I guess it wont work if you are the photographer at a funeral.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Idols… The Fave Five

It was a typical July night in Nairobi lashing and tipping down with rain. The sky had opened up for several hours and the sultry damp evening had an ‘Its Raining Men’ theme to it as we headed to Bomas where ironically Eric was the only man and The Last Man Standing on Idols.

There was some need to hand Lebo the Nobel Prize for Prophesy as he had correctly predicted that each contestant in the Top Five would sing two songs each. Two songs each! It was the equivalent of asking the bar-tender: Make mine a double!

Bling bling TK was looking ever cheerful. If the so-called Global Warming rain outside flooded the theatre, he would be the first to sink due to that glittering heavy watch. Please hand TK the Nobel Prize for Weight Lifting.

The latest rhyme from the Judges corner was that ‘Angela’s hair has become rare’ as she donned the headscarf yet again. I ask someone whether that headscarf is permanent. "If that headscarf is a permanent structure she would have had to apply to the City Council for planning permission for it by now!"

Scar looks over at Angela’s notebook, frowns and strikes out her comment: That performance was like kissing Scar! Of late, the mention of Cynthia has seemed to come in my every blog. There! Now it is including this one. Scar frowns a second time as he notices Cynthia in the crowd. He whispers to Angie: There are some people who are told that they can sing, and they swallow the lie Hook, Line and Cynthia.

Kawesa is keeping away from the potential flooding by hiding in his usual nest-perch giving him a Bird’s Eye View. So that is what the Independent means in ‘Independent Judge’? Sitting in an independent box.

The contestants are introduced. The double whammy songs mean there will be a wardrobe change at half time. But what in high heavens was Trinah wearing for her first song? Surely iDENTiTY could identify some proper clothes without looking like they have started a new design line for the series Prison Break.

Nicolette kicks off the show with a performance that annoys ‘Absolutely Everybody’. Nicolette really has been on a mission to press the self destruct button in this showpiece event. When she made it to Top 5, I knew she was going places but I really did not know one of the first places was the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Scar labels her opening the worst in the Spectaculars. That means worse than Cynthia’s opening of the Top 10. The same Cynthia who has since dropped out of her contention with Uncle Bob as Africa’s Most Hated.

On a night when the show had creative openings by contestants, Ammara has her Marilyn Monroe moment on the bar-stool drawing oodles and oodles of cheers from the males in the crowd. If she had fallen off that bar-stool, she would have forever had Alicia Key's 'Fallin' as her personal theme tune. Simon Cowell banned the song from American Idols but that decision would be overturned if he heard the Ammara rendition.

Remember I am on the sofa in the Fan Lounge. Sofa so good! And before Lebo could say ‘This … is Eric!’ the girls have upped the cheers. Without once looking back over his shoulders, he sings quite impressively to an extent that someone asks me: Are you sure the song was by Mike and The Mechanics… or was it Eric and the Mechanics? Okay, hand Eric the Nobel Prize for Music!

Now mark ‘These Words’. I had tipped Trinah at the outset to be the Top Girl and I still fancy her. Not in the Biblical sense... Her opening gimmick is sitting next to the front row and belting out the Natasha Beddingfield hit edging her to a 2-1 lead at half time according to the judges.

Adiona walks the six steps to make her appointment with the mic to sing This Is My Now (a feat that Trina later reprised in her ‘On My Own’ song). Wild-card Adiona’s performance of late has been quite like burger hawkers McDonalds. I’m lovin it!

Nicolette returns and somewhat redeems her credibility with ‘A Moment Like This’. It is probably too little too late though. If she stays in the competition, she is only going to play the violin for the other contestants in the Finale. For the night's low point - in the truest sense of the word - came when Nicolette sang the low notes in such a mundane way you would have thought you were listening to a lullaby.

Lady-In-Red Ammara opens her second performance as if she had really fallen. She has really upped up her opening routine and knows just how to make the audience get to the “Ooo…” moment and hold on to them until the end of the song without making them lose the “…oooohhh” part. Kawesa's Bird's Eye View finally pays off. Her first song still sounded better though as my ears ‘Hurt’ when she sings this one.

You probably know what happens ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ but you should have seen what happens When A Crowd Loves An Idol! Eric has really mastered the routine as he returns with the show stopper! He serenades Angela, serenades the whole crowd and then from the crowd picks out one girl. It was such a where-were-you moment! Forget Jose Mourinho! Eric Moyo really is the Special One. He even really is the Extra Special One.

I picture the press interview of the girl after the show. She is hysterical! “I want the bus to run over me! I want to get a heart attack! Throw me into the Lions Den! Eric sang to me! I can die happy!”

Trinah is now in trouble! The bar has been raised and she clearly had joined in the cheering of Eric as she seems to lose her voice as she begins her ‘On My Own’ song. Later in the song, she breaks into the high notes previously achieved only by Ammara. It is one of those moments when you just say to yourself: “Did I just hear that? No way!” But with Eric’s hat trick, the score from the three judges has clearly reversed to 2-4.

Adiona closes a memorable show with ‘Lady Marmalade’ by wiping a kiss off Scar. With her suggestive costume, she really is trying to change the Top 5 headlines so that they may read: SCAR-NDALOUS!

It is sad as we realize the show had really moved at a fast pace like clockwork. It was tight. It was tighter than Scar’s lips in the Malawi auditions. No silly questions, no long video intros. In fact, the only thing that went on for long was Eric’s applause after he brought the house down with his second song. The headlines remain: ERIC THE PICK OF THE EPIC!