Music of Monday, 20 November 2006
Another week, but not another eviction - as last Sunday?s Mentor rather saw one of the three contestants previously voted off the popular televised musical talent show given another chance in the series.
For Anita, Mike and Seth, it looked as though their dreams had been dashed when they were evicted from the Mentor House. But, "I"ll be back," Mike told this reporter after his disappointment; "I know what I have and I know what I can give Ghanaians". And, "it?s not over until it?s over," Seth told The Saturday Statesman, in an upbeat response to his eviction the previous week.
But it is the end now for the two roommates, because despite their confidence it was Anita who got that Golden Ticket back into the house, taking 36.3 percent of the SMS votes sent. Now, the first candidate to leave the show, who was criticised by one of the judges for, "dancing like a five-year-old," becomes the first to be let back in. How did it all happen?
The Saturday Statesman has been following Ghana?s latest talent show closely - the progress of the contestants and their improvements week by week. Already, we have our hopes and suspicions as to who might take the final title; already, we are impressed by the elevated talent in this crop of pop-star wannabes, who deserve their reputation as a far better bunch than the first series of Mentor ?stars?.
Last week was a disappointment, however - after the genuinely shining performances of almost all the contestants in the previous week?s Gospel music outing, Lover?s Rock or Reggae was less suited to this group of church-choir-trained singers.
In fact, average was the adjective of the night, with several of the most popular contestants failing to excite the audience.
Vic, for example, usually one of the strongest performers, was below par with her rendition of Diana Ross?s Still in love - her usually husky voice too cracked at points, and her ?Jamaican? intonations punctuated by some slightly scary sounding cackles. The judges? response was better than that of the audience, however: "It was a shaky start," said one, "but I?m still in love with your voice." Let?s hope she?s back on form tomorrow.
For the second week running, Adez was cautioned against shouting the way through her song. "I want to be careful we don?t say that you don?t have a voice," she was told after her attempt at After you by Tanya Stevens, as she was advised to practice, practice, practice until she improves upon her tone.
And Dee?s attempt to replicate Dennis Brown was described as "average". "Last week I enjoyed your performance - but this week was eh-eh," he was told.
Of course, it is the role of the judges to both praise and to criticise the contestants - and it was reassuring to hear some constructive criticism this week. After all, Mentor is modeled on shows such as the UK?s Pop Idol and on American Idol - competitions famed for the catty remarks of their judges, particularly the record label king Simon Fuller, and for the almost cruel enjoyment audience and judges alike get out of knocking down the weaker contestants.
Whilst the Ghanaian version is a kinder replica, aiming to nurture fresh talent rather than mock those without it - it is encouraging to see a judge panel with some bite, and which genuinely aims to nurture their potential, rather than simply entertain any old karaoke performer.
And it was not all the candidates who failed to impress, anyway; with the popular Joe coming out on top again with his performance of F Angel. He paused during the song to select his ?angel? from amongst the audience, coming down off the stage to dance with the lucky girl - a move cleverly engineered for both the cameras and the crowd; as the female members of the audience swooned, Joe surely knew just what he was doing.
The reggae ballad was well-suited to his warm, soft tones - but as one of the judges asked afterwards, "the choice of song is all the time favouring you." Do the Mentor directors have a hidden agenda - and are certain candidates being given the most popular tunes? It must be asked. Nonetheless: "You rock, you rock, you rock!" he was told by another judge, as Joe got the audience up and dancing out of their chairs, for the third week on the trot.
Other crowd-movers on Sunday were Kofi and Seth - with the men?s voices more suited to reggae tunes than the females?, it seemed.
Guest performances came from Bill, the winner of the Liberian version of the show - and a surprise showing from Batman, who rocked the stage with Bob Marley?s Redemption Song.
Anita gets a second chance
The real highlight of the night, however, was not any of the songs or any of the singers - but the announcement at the end.
It seemed odd that the audience had been voting all week for the three contestants who were no longer on the show, and who were not allowed to perform on Sunday night. There had been some concern that the contestant who had been in the house for longest - who had had the most time to impress the viewers and build up a rapport with the voters, Seth - would be at a distinct advantage. But the figures proved that wrong - with Anita coming in first, despite being the first contestant to leave the show.
At the end of the show, a jubilant Anita was seen dancing around at the back of the TV3 studios - and even hugged this reporter in her joy at the result.
"I?m cool, I?m cool," she said. "I?m so excited to be going back. I don?t think I?ll change at all, though - I?ll just be the normal Anita that everyone knows." Let?s hope that?s enough to keep her on the show this time.
For Mike and Seth, it was home time again. "I?m okay," Seth told this newspaper. "I wasn?t too disappointed." Perhaps it?s because things are already beginning to happen for him: "I started recording three days ago," he said, "so I?m going back to finish my work. I?ve had three studios who want to record me for free - so I have to take that opportunity."
Asked whether they might consider collaborating on a project together, Mike and Seth confirmed that they have already discussed the idea.
For Kofi, it was a final goodbye to his two roommates in the house.
"I feel so bad," he told The Saturday Statesman. "The two of them are my roommates, you know - and I wish that one of them could have come back. It?s very unfortunate that they couldn?t make it. It?s very boring in the house without them - I?m all alone in the room..."
And a final note that might disappoint the ladies: the popular Joe, accused of being a "lady?s man" by one of the judges after his crooning performance this week, admitted to The Saturday Statesman that he does like the women - but that he already has a girlfriend. Too bad he?ll be locked up in the Mentor House away from her for the next few weeks, then.