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Arno Carstens reels as his contestant is the first to be kicked off X Factor SA

2014-10-27 15:08
Johannesburg - The X Factor South Africa’s first live gala show on Saturday ended on an emotional note when MJ Scholtz, 19, became the first contestant to be given his marching orders.

MJ’s elimination came as a blow to his mentor, Arno Carstens, who was upset that MJ and Princess, both of whom he was championing, landed in the bottom two after receiving the least number of votes. In the "sing-off" that followed, the judges faced a tough task but eventually agreed it was time for MJ to go.

Judge and mentor Arno Carstens said: "I believe MJ is super talented and I’m proud he made it this far into the competition. It is sad to see him leave the competition so early!"

It wasn’t the only surprise of the evening. On Saturday night, the X Factor SA also unveiled a wild card contestant to join the top nine – Mikhail Jones, 22, from Cape Town, who made an unexpected comeback as the 10th contestant.

A week ago, viewers saw how Mikhail was controversially left out of Arno’s top three under-24s chosen to go through to the live performance shows. The judge/mentor was torn, because while Mikhail was a fantastic performer, Arno was concerned that he lacked originality.

But now Mikhail has been given a lifeline, as The X Factor SA top nine briefly became the top 10 – before MJ’s elimination brought their tally back to nine again.

Fittingly, the top 10 acts – Avodah, Wandile, Eliezer, Four, Gavin, Iziqhaza, MJ, Princess, Wandaboy and Mikhail – were tasked with singing top 10 hits during the first live show. They didn’t disappoint, dazzling with their performances of chart-toppers by leading South African and international artists, ranging from Mi Casa and Mafikizolo to Rihanna.

Having been mentored by their respective "champions" – Arno Carstens, Zonke and Oskido – the top 10 delivered polished and professional renditions, complemented by slick choreography, lighting and visuals, confirming their status as stars-in-waiting.

But sadly, someone had to go home. For MJ, it was the end of his X Factor SA journey – but no doubt the start of an exciting new chapter in his musical evolution.

In another development, The X Factor SA has announced that it is upping the stakes with an expanded prize offering. The country’s first ever X Factor winner will not only bag a Sony Music recording contract and R300 000 in cash, but will also walk off with their very own sound studio and other red-hot prizes.

SABC Head of Publicity Zandile Nkonyeni said that the prize pot is being sweetened by the addition of a king’s ransom worth of lucrative goodies.

"The winner will also take home R100 000 to cover travel and personal costs, a personal sound studio valued at R100 000, and sponsorship for an album launch and national tour plus at least four commercial appearances at various local events," she said.

"Our winning act will also be able to stay well connected, courtesy of Vodacom supplying the winner with a tablet, smartphone, laptop, data and calls to the value of R50 000."

Don’t miss the next thrilling live installment of The X Factor SA, broadcast on SABC1 on Saturday 1 November at 17:30, when the remaining TOP 9 contestants perform in a bid to win the votes – and hearts – of the public!

For a special behind-the-scenes glimpse of what the hopefuls get up to as they sing their way to success, tune in to SABC3 every Friday at 20:30 for The XtraFactor.

(Photos: The X Factor SA/ SABC1)

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