Since it returned for the sixth season a month ago, the reality singing competition Nigerian Idol has generated discourse on various platforms, particularly on the choice of judges. The show, which launched the music careers of artists like Yeka Onka, Mercy Chinwo and Evelle, kicked off with a pre-show on March 14 that showcased nationwide auditions with viewers given the power to rate the auditions before the commencement of the main show.
Following the pre-show, the first round of auditions premiered on Sunday, March 28, on Africa Magic. This season’s judges — creative entrepreneur Obi Asika, musician Seyi Shay, and disc jockey DJ Sose — have been saddled with the responsibility of separating the wheat from the chaff, or simply put, distinguishing those who have the vocal talent to go the distance from those who are simply not cut out for it.
From the first episode, the show courted controversy following Seyi Shay’s scathing criticism of one of the contestants, Mayowa Odueyungbo, who dreamt of receiving the golden ticket to advance to the next stage. Her comments in the lines of “you’re not going to make money being a singer” was not well-received by the viewing public, and this resulted in Seyi Shay getting heavy flak from Twitter. Odueyungbo may not have been among the 14 contestants that got the gold pass that episode but his encounter was the most talked about.
The following Sunday, April 4, saw another set of hopefuls. Again, the judges had the daunting task of straining their ears to gauge and differentiate those with genuine potential from those who just showed up to make up the numbers. Some of the contestants chose to accompany their voices with other instruments — Ebunoluwa Daniels brought a piano and Daniel Ikechi came with a guitar — others struggled with anxiety, and a few simply lacked the vocal range. But amidst frayed nerves and tough song choices, the judges still got to hand out 13 golden tickets by the end of the night.
The following episode, which held on Sunday, April 11, 2021, had some viewers berating the judges on social media for what they perceived as “harsh” comments. Seyi Shay (again) and DJ Sose particularly came under fire for the choice of words employed in critiquing the contestants. Nevertheless, the stage has been set for what promises to be an exciting second stage, as far as the competition is concerned.
As much as viewers would want the judges to be nicer in their judgments, the chances of them toeing the ‘nice’ line are almost nonexistent.
Generally, judges at reality shows are expected to don a critique cap without being sentimental. They are expected to be as objective as possible even if their decisions may not augur well with fans and viewers rooting for their favourites.
Similarly, talents are expected to have tough skin. The entertainment industry in any clime is competitive and only those with thick layers of skin can withstand the heat of getting to the top. Reality TV shows are a sneak peek of how fiercely competitive the industry can be. The Nigerian music industry is no different and as such, talents on reality TV shows are expected to exude a healthy dose of confidence in their craft, not merely depending on the encouragement of their parents and friends. They are expected to deliver their best to win the coveted spot. Also, they must be able to accept criticism if they are serious about their career.
Whether the judges at Nigerian Idol are a perfect mix or not, their criticisms and the reactions of contestants will continue to be a highlight of the season. At least, those who fail to dazzle the judges can receive a consolation hug from the host IK Osakioduwa and if lucky, can get another chance to perform for viewers at home before they leave.
Sponsored by Bigi Drinks and Tecno Mobile, Nigerian Idol season six is produced by MultiChoice Nigeria and is accessible for viewing across multiple platforms: DStv, GOtv, and online subscription service, Showmax. It airs every Sunday from 7pm on AM Showcase, AM Urban, and AM Family with a special 24-hour Nigerian Idol Extra content on DStv Channel 198 and GOtv Channel 29.