Not too long ago, I was arguably one of the die-hard fans of musical reality shows in Nigeria. In fact, if I was not attending as a live audience, I hardly missed the TV broadcast on any available station.
One of my favourite shows was MTN Project Fame – I would not miss an episode for any reason, not for work or money.
Unfortunately, my last season of being an die-hard fan was Monica Ogah’s season – I think season 4.
I attended the last three shows preceding the grand finale of Nigerian Idol season 2, as Mercy Chinwo‘s fan; the eventual winner of the season.
That was the beginning of my journey into musical reality television shows in the country – a thrilling journey.
April 7, 2012, Nigerian Idol season 2 came to an end with Mercy emerging as winner, ahead of Joe Blue and Stephen Onochie respectively.
But that appeared to be the end of what was supposed to be the beginning of a blossoming career.
Years after these musical reality TV shows, many of the winners – projected to take the Nigerian music scene by storm – have faded into thin air, prompting many fans to ask, ‘Where are they?’
Having dreamers stay together in a serene environment with food, drinks and comfort is no doubt a good way to establish one’s confidence and partially eradicate stage fright but what comes after? Nothing!
A year after winning, Mercy Chinwo told TheNETng that she had not gotten the one-year recording contract promised by the organizers.
‘As I speak to you, I’m one-man standing,’ she said at the time.
‘I am not in any record label, I am alone. I have to say the truth. I am not or was never tied to any record label.’
How many of us still remember who Mike Anyasodo is? He won the season 2 of Project Fame. There was also Nigerian Idol season 1 winner, Yeka Onka, Moses and Evolve, among others.
Where are they now? Only few survived outside the colourful lights of the shows.
In fact, winners of these reality shows do not emerge through the ‘reality’ of life; they germinate through the power of business – and voting.
‘Naija mo I got game
‘I am from the project and I got fame
‘Tell me what the F I want to dey fill form for in MTN project fame…
‘No be say I don dey proud but nkan teniyan oba ni gba lolowo talika lo n ti ko…’
That was ‘Eni Duro’, one of Olamide‘s hit tracks that projected him into the ‘reality’ of Nigeria’s music industry.
Safe to say Olamide ‘Baddo’ Adedeji saw the future even while he was trying to make a name in the business.
Unearthing talents from musical reality shows isn’t the problem. The issues are: who does the follow up? What can they do outside votes from friends and family?
That said, it would be unfair to conclude that reality shows in Nigeria have totally failed. There are a few acts who were able to break through the inflexible competition in the industry.
Timi Dakolo is a good example of the greatness music reality shows have created in the country.
A unique musician who stayed true to his style over a decade, not bothering over how tilted the majority of youths are towards pop sounds – the ‘pon pon’ sound, he is still a voice in the industry after his West African Idol debut.
Equally, Omawumi, who emerged second the same year Timi Dakolo won the competition, has continued to blaze the trail since then.
There are many musicians that didn’t plead for votes with their code numbers displayed on the screen nor have families and friends begging neighbours for continuous support.
Unfortunately, these talents are wasting away after realising the harsh reality that comes with such a competitive music industry as ours.
Although this is not to water down music reality TV shows but to reassess their impact on the long run after the lights have gone out.
In the end, the streets stay winning but what and/or who is there to save our TV talents?
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