If what we saw on the first Sunday session of the West Africa Idols is anything to go by, then Nigerians may be the best singers in the world. After weeks of sometimes hilarious auditions, which have held Ugandans spellbound on TV, the first real competition took place on Sunday.
The thousands of Idols hopefuls were trimmed down to the last 24, who were then cut up into four groups of six.
It was that first group that we watched on Sunday. And boy, did they perform! I have watched American Idols, Pop Idols and many others, but have never seen such talent at such a stage in the contest.
Even the judges, whom many of us have come to love to hate, had no bad words for any of the contestants and confessed to wishing all of them would go through to the next step. But sadly, only two of them would make it to the Top 10.
First up was Ibitoru (she is an albino, not â€˜bleachedâ€™) who gave a rousing performance of Madonnaâ€™s Like A Prayer and the judges were all over themselves praising her. We thought she was a sure shoo in, but then came Uche Eme with US R&B singer Monicaâ€™s Angel of Mine and he raised the bar even higher.
Ekanem struggled a bit with How Do I live by country songstress LeAnne Rimes, but the judges still thought she would make it to the Top 10. Then came Omawumi whose personality showed through on the screen interviews, but had an awful hairdo that covered all of her face when she sang. She said she was from a small community in the Delta State and feared few would vote for her. But then she went and did an incredible job of Shania Twainâ€™s That Donâ€™t Impress Me Much.
Timi Dakolo did not impress much during the on screen interviews, but went on and sang the stuffing out of Roxetteâ€™s It Must Have Been Love. By the time Lara out did Celine Dione on Itâ€™s All Coming Back To Me Now, the judges had run out of superlatives.
It was left to the voters from across Africa to make that very difficult choice and, when the results came through on Monday night, it was doubtful Omawumi (a lawyer who had to be pushed by her family to participate) and non-impressive Timi that had been voted to be the first contestants in the Top 10. This Sunday, we shall watch the next group of six perform and they have a really high standard to keep.
If they are anything like the first group, we are in for a real treat.
West Africa idols heat up