Idols SA is back on local TV with season 12 and the first episode proved just how eagerly it was awaited by South Africa.
Arguably, it is the most anticipated singing reality TV show of the year, the grand-daddy of all talent shows kicked off in Durban.
More than 2000 hopefuls lined the streets around the Playhouse for a chance to perform for judges Randall Abrahams, Unathi Msengana, Somizi Mhlongo and Gareth Cliff.
In true Idols SA tradition, things got off to an exciting start with melodrama, catty contestants, funny guys, absolutely ludicrous Wooden Mic contenders, and of course, the magical voices.
There was Luke Ntombola, from Estcourt East. With her angelic smile and never-say-die attitude, the 26-year-old singer returned to Idols SA for a personal record fifth audition.
Buoyed by the fact that she had been part of Robbie Malanga’s team in Clash of the Choirs, another winning Mzansi Magic show, her confidence was at its peak when she stepped in front of the judges.
Her determination paid off as she came out of the auditions room clutching a Golden Ticket after getting a yes from all four judges.
Another contestant who made an impression, except for her “mature” dress sense, was the soft-spoken Nosihe Zulu from Pietermaritzburg, whose 10-year-old brother Joshua picked the audition song.
His prediction that his sister would bowl the judges over with Adele’s When We Were Young turned out to be as spot-on as the forecasts by Paul The Octopus during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
She got three nods from the judges, but Abrahams couldn’t be swayed from his opinion that she was not strong enough. Still, Zulu got her ticket.
But it’s the contestants who performed original compositions who left Abrahams, Msengana, Mhlongo and Cliff with their jaws on the floor – and not in a good way. Notably, Phumzile Washusha.
Her version of a Zulu love song lamenting a lost love had the judges in no doubt why the estranged lover had run away in the first place. But that didn’t stop Mhlongo from staging an impromptu dance-off with her, ending the performance limp in the arms of the singer.
And who will forget the “repeat offender” who came to demand what he said was rightfully his – the Wooden Mic that never made it to his mantelpiece after it was “faxed” through.
Idols SA, season 12 is on Mzansi Magic, channel 161 on DStv, Sundays at 17:30.