By Emmanuel Daraloye
When Seyi Shay was unveiled as one of the three judges for the 2021 Nigerian Idol in February, she did promise to keep it real. No doubt, her realness might have gotten her into trouble with Nigerians as there has been heated backlash over her harsh verdict on the performance of a 17-year-old contestant auditioned at the reality TV show.
Nigeria Idols went on a six-year hiatus until it returned this year with a new sponsor and a new host. Interestingly also, the winner goes home with 50 million naira this time around.
In a country like Nigeria with over 200 million people, talent has never been a problem. Over 3,000 videos were received during the preliminary stage held between November/December 2020. They were then pruned before they could arrive at the audition stage.
In the now-viral video, the ‘Irawo’ crooner had told the teenager: “I am laughing because I can’t just believe what I just heard. Who told you to come (to) the show’s audition? You should go back and tell them they’re not your friends. That was not a good one. You have a sweet, token voice but your performance is terrible. You’re never going to make money being a singer.”
Looking at the video, the youngster was nervous and went off-key but the question would be, could that be an excuse? As an artiste going for a music reality show, being on top of your game is paramount. There has never been an acceptable excuse for failure.
While some Nigerians hold the view that she could have used the sandwiched method in her response, the truth is that she used it. In the footage for instance, she swerved and laughed before she commented. Also, towards the end of he video she acknowledged the aspiring musician’s vocal — even though it was too late. I don’t think people saw that.
Reality show judges are known for their mean comment and remark. They don’t hold it. Seyi Shay was a product of such and it’s not surprising to see her demonstrate that. In 2008, Seyi Shay auditioned as the lead vocal list for ‘From Above’, an all-girl group which was later managed by Beyonce’s dad.
Artistes all over the world battle with Nos, doubts, and are sometimes completely writen off by those around them. Wizkid once recounted how SOLO, a supposed friend said he won’t blow on “Lagos to Kampala”, a track Runtown featured him on.
Seyi Shay might have overreacted and talked too much but this doesn’t absolve the youngster. He missed a golden opportunity to express himself, he also has some blame to share in the whole fiasco.
The young boy is off the show but this could serve as a stepping stone for him. The needed motivation to push up his career might have been unraveled by Seyi Shay.
Emmanuel Daraloye is a music journalist and a pop culture curator.