Opinion

Nigerian Idol: Mind your language

“You are not good enough for Nigerian idol!” Seyi Shay declared like a judge delivering a death sentence. I cringed. That was the worst put-down I had heard in years – and on global television. “But I have been singing in other competitions and I resigned my work just for this,” the contestant wept and begged for a second opportunity.

If she were my daughter, I would have given her a good spanking at home for letting some opportunistic journeywoman and journeymen feel they have the power of life and death over her. That you are not celebrated in Nigerian Idol does not mean you cannot be celebrated in Nigerian alleys. Welcome to Nigerian Idol, where all the judges on the panel look like idols, except Obi Asika, who manages to look like an idol worshipper. DJ Sose’s tattooed face must remind someone, other than myself, of the last time he watched a horror film or had a nightmare. For the records (and tell it to Seyi), every Nigerian is good enough for Nigerian Idiot (sorry Idol).

The show is mostly about some lazy persons sitting as judges in a competition amongst lazy persons for a lazy future. Because this is about the future, the lazy judges see themselves as some kind of gods who can peak into the future of the contestants and tell them what they can be and what they cannot be tomorrow.

The judges are insufferable windbags. How dare you look a young person in the eye and tell him or her: “You are not good enough as a singer, go and do something else.” Are the judges themselves good enough? Which of them has ever come close to the Billboard charts? Sinaach could make such statements and one would let it ride. Her song, “Way Maker” is now a global anthem. But who are Seyi and co? They have no right to put kids down like that and damage their self-esteem. Tell kids to keep pursuing their dreams, tell them to get more training, tell them to work harder… and you strike the right chords. Never say, “You are not good enough.”

But these judges are just bronze idols and like all idols they should neither be worshipped nor taken seriously. When the Beatles sought a recording contract with Decca Recording Company in 1962, the experts (like Seyi and company) said: “We do not like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” The Beatles went on to become one of the world’s most successful bands. When the computer was invented, the Chairman of International Business Machines (IBM), Thomas Watson, derided it by saying: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Today the computer is almost in every household.When Michael Jordan tried out for the varsity team as a sophomore, the coach said he was not good enough.

He went back home, locked himself in his room and cried. Said Jordan: “Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it.” Today he is acclaimed to be the greatest basketball player of all times. So who is Seyi or DJ Sose to determine destinies? DJ Sose may wish to do something about his tattoo which I suspect may affect vision – they are too close to his eyes. My friend figures that for the sake of sanity, DSTV should not put that show up in the night so that watchers would not have nightmares – being pursued by beings tattooed like DJ Sose.

A good argument but since no one can present evidence in court based on dreams, DSTV might get away with this as they have gotten away with their exorbitant charges in Nigeria. One would have expected the National Communication Commission to insist that DSTV put a disclaimer on the show which would read: “Watchers of this program are liable to have nightmares. Viewer’s discretion is advised.” Seyi Shay may be a talented singer, but did she make it big with Nigerian Idol? She looks like a puffed-up kid who seems to think that she is the best thing to happen to music in the history of mankind.

She is sideshow. She struts around looking like a mannequin, and looks like something cut out of the same script as DJ Sose. The only difference between DJ Sose and Seyi Shay is that one attacks your nightmare and the other gives you headache. Obi Asika is the one who looks human – like your nextdoor neighbor. But in the midst of idols every human being becomes an idol worshipper. You see the entire concept of the Nigerian Idol is borrowed. It is borrowed from American Idol. But like every borrowed concept, it lacks the shine. But for crying out aloud, why can we not start a Nigerian thing that America would copy? But that I presume is a story for another year. Until then someone should tell these judges to mind their language.

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