Saturday, April 19, 2014

A critique of Tonto Dikeh’s singles By Wale Odunsi

Published:

Tonto is advised by the writer to face her movie career

 

It is now glaring that most Nigerians who do well (or not) in their chosen field, find the music industry a convenient vacation chalet or an adventure forecourt to exhibit whatever is left of them.

Few months ago, news broke out that popular actress and renowned smoker, Tonto Dikeh, was in the studio working on her debut singles. She obviously wanted to join the “I’ve been singing since I was in my mother’s womb” bandwagon; the “I used to sing in the choir” opportunists.

The gist did not come as a surprise; quite a number of Nollywood stars have at one time or the other released songs, albeit frail attempts. They include Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde, and Nkem Owoh (aka Osuofia).

Before I give my opinion on what is presently the most talked about subject in the Nigerian movie/music industry, may I outline two words which any aspiring artiste must be conversant with.

One is Music, defined as sounds produced by instruments or voices, arranged or played in order to create an effect. The other is Talent – simply described as the natural ability to do something well.

Regrettably, our dear Tonto who it appears does not have the slightest idea of the above ‘sine qua non’, decided (or was deceived) to record not just a song but two. For the love of God, must the whole world sing?

The much-awaited tracks, “Itz ova” and “High” are anything but good tunes. Don’t eat me yet. Lest I be accused of bias, have a look at two of the earliest commentaries I read after the songs was released.

An undergraduate said: “This is the biggest joke of the decade. When you point out this shameful mediocrity you are called a hater. Go ahead, keep up with the self-deceit.”

A more disappointed fan bellowed: “Ill advised; a mistake waiting to happen that has finally happened. Lord make her stop or I’ll smash my laptop now and burn it. That is not music, it sounded like an animal last cry before dying. Sweetie, face acting, you not even that good at it sef, but just face it please. For a new hobby, mix bleaching cream and save our ears. My parrot can sing better.”

Interestingly, the comments were made by ladies who originally would have cheered her on.

Now to the verdict proper, I shall rate the songs according to four indicators listed below; each has a maximum score of 2.5 points, thus the total points possible is 10.

Voice Texture/Harmony: Without doubt, Tonto’s voice is awful and could not do the job alone. This is corroborated by the use of auto-tune in a (failed) bid to assist. Several Grammy award-winning artistes, world-acclaimed superstars all have trainers/coaches on vocals so I wonder why a newcomer like her did not engage one; she may have come out better. (Score: 0.5)

Lyrical Content: In the “High” track, the concept was for it to be energetic; a wild song for party/club rotation and DJ spins. She had an idea of what she wanted to put across but presented it poorly. She did what sounded like a real cough and then went on to confirm it was caused by the weed she took (perhaps before the studio session). “Itz Ova” was close to helping her out and would have been the saving grace. Snypa, the featured act’s Jamaican-style delivery lifted the song but Tonto’s lackluster lines kept relegating it. (Score: 1)

Sound Quality/Production: “High” mixing was not the best. At a point, the production sounded like a track in 1987 discography collection. The producer was confused on whether to do an upbeat tempo all the way or infuse widely-accepted electronica which I bet he had in mind. “Itz Ova” beat is purely ragga but certainly below what we expect in 2012! (Score: 1)

Audience Connection: Unfortunately for the actress, she has made more haters than fans by this debut display; the acceptance is generally low. Listeners surely expected more than what they got. In fact, rather than get through to them, Tonto blew the love – no connecting strip whatsoever. (Score: 0.5)

Altogether, my personal rating is 2 points; that’s one star over five.

The ubiquitous criticism her performance has attracted is enough to declare her musical career DOA (dead on arrival). In spite of this, let’s give her benefit of a doubt and hope she does better next time.

Meanwhile, I hope you guys have heard Stella Damascus too has released a new song. Did someone say “really?” Yes, I can confirm it is true; will listen up and do a review in the coming days.

wodunsi7@gmail.com

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