Image 1 of 8: Syrian Abdel Kareem Hamdan, has given the Arab Idol its most moving performance to date, bringing the judges to their feet and viewers to tears. But his singing irked pro-Assad groups, who reportedly accused the contestant of supporting the Syrian opposition. Abdel denies the claims, saying he sang ‘only for Syria’.
Image 1 of 8: 31-year-old Ermia Va Majid was the toast of the town when she was named winner of Iranian talent show, Googosh Academy. But along with the fame and the prize money came a whole barrage of criticism. The country’s ultra-conservatives accused the fully-covered contestant of being a ‘bad hijabi’.
Image 1 of 8: Earlier this year, fears grew over a Syrian Arab Idol contestant who allegedly disappeared after returning to his hometown of Aleppo for an urgent three-day visit. Reports emerged in early February that, after being missing for over three weeks, the young singer still couldn’t be reached via phone, email or Facebook.
Image 1 of 8: Arab Idol fans were shocked by rumors that Iraqi hopeful, Raghad Al Jaber, committed suicide following her flopped audition on the hit show. The wannabe was laughed off stage after failing to hit the right note with her Haifa Wehbe inspired performance and reports soon surfaced of her suicide. Everyone was relieved to hear the rumors were lies.
Image 1 of 8: Arab Idol viewers might not have understood a word of Barwas Hussein’s Kurdish performance but her talent still managed to translate. The contestant brought the show its first ever taste of Kurdish singing with her unique take on a classic Arabic song. And the gamble paid off, with judges and viewers applauding the ballsy performance.
Image 1 of 8: Talented Lina Makhoul had a bigger challenge on her hands than out-singing her competitors in Israel’s ‘The Voice’. The Arab-Israeli wannabe was dealing with a decades old prejudice. But while the 19-year-old claimed she had been a victim of racism throughout filming, talent ultimately prevailed as she walked away a winner.
Image 1 of 8: Shafiq Nibo let his diva attitude take centre stage when he auditioned for Arab Idol. Before singing a note, the hopeful shocked everyone with claims that Egyptian star, Sherine Abdel Wahab, used to be his backing singer. Despite his tuneful audition, his attitude didn’t hit the right note with most of the judging panel and he was sent packing.
Image 1 of 8: X Factor hopeful, Mohammad Al Refe, was left wishing he hadn’t dared take on legendary Lebanese singer Fairouz after Lebanese music fans came out in force to criticize the contestant for butchering the work of their beloved star. Mohammad was left red-faced as he apologized to the haters.
Talent shows and controversy come hand in hand so its hardly surprising that the Middle East’s latest batch of singing competitions have kept the drama coming thick and fast, week after week.
With TV talent shows springing up across the region, wannabe stars are upping their game to make sure that their performances aren’t forgotten.
From the usual serving of diva strops and surprise winners, to disappearing contestants and landmark performances, 2013 has brought more moving moments and whacky wannabes to our screens than ever before.
Here are Al Bawaba’s favorite weird and wonderful contestants from talent shows across the region.
Who’s your most memorable contestant of this year’s talent shows? Have we left anybody out? Share your comments with us below!