Cape Town – It's not so much a shake-up as it is a bedazzling of an existing gem when the 11th season of Idols starts on Sunday at 17:00 on M-Net (DStv 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) with surprising changes ranging from new judge Somizi Mhlongo to cross-dressing contestant Shenay set to cause a sensation.
Where most other TV shows, 77 years on as counted in dog years, start to border on senility and irrelevance, the upcoming season of Idols remains inventive with additions, changes, surprises and a new influx of eye-popping contestants that will leave viewers stunned.
The new 11th season of Idols is surprisingly the one which will most closely mirror the American TV drama series Glee since the reality singing competition started on M-Net, with eye-popping and extremely gifted contestants who are unconventional, unusual and under-estimated – until they start to sing.
Channel24 got a glimpse of what the upcoming Idols season will bring pay-TV subscribers from this Sunday's two-hour weekly episodes, and saw multiple contestants whom viewers wouldn't instantly peg as pop stars but who blossom under the spotlight given the chance.
Like in Glee, a lot of the new Idols season's best contestants who will delight viewers with their shocking transformation once they start to sing, are the under-the-radar types giving viewers and the judging panel a jolt once they start to sing.
Jaw-dropping and amazing performances are in store: Idols' viewers would do well to PVR episodes on their DStv decoders for when you want to rewind and watch the several "What just happened?" moments when contestants who it’s least expected from, transform into entirely different on-stage persona's.
External appearances are deceiving
This season of Idols will most clearly show how external appearances are deceiving: In several instances it will be the contestants judged least likely to succeed, who sing cover versions of songs of international artists that end up sounding better than the original, shocking viewers with their incredible voices, vocal range and unbelievable adaptations of songs.
And staying with external appearances: Besides the addition of showbiz raconteur Somizi Mhlongo and his flamboyant over-the-top style behind the judges' desk, the new season of Idols will also deliver another first: an excellent gender-bending singer – not quite the full Caitlyn Jenner package, but viewers will see what we mean on Sunday – which is sure to set tongues wagging.
In Sunday's first episode where Somizi Mhlongo makes his first appearance at the State Theatre in Pretoria where the countrywide auditions for the 11th season of Idols kicked off this year, viewers will also meet "Shenay" – a former drama student.
If you don't watch, you won't know what the rest of South Africa will be talking about on Monday when Shenay, the drag artist persona of a contestant coming to sing, walks in the door.
Other eye-popping contestants this season include the handsome son of a famous South African musician, a singer-songwriter with an incredible backstory, a young man who supports his entire family – and an Idols fan who has a crush on presenter ProVerb.
A dedicated Idols Extra TV channel will start on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform on Sunday night at 19:00 on channel 199 which will once again show all of the nationwide auditions.
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