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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Shock as pianist Azzi is voted off Arabs Got Talent

Audience vote off the Japanese-Lebanese pianist after judges are tied.
From left, Crazy Dunkers, Nadia Azzi and Salah Entertainer. Courtesy MBC
From left, Crazy Dunkers, Nadia Azzi and Salah Entertainer. Courtesy MBC

It was a disappointing end to Saturday, February 7’s episode of ­Arabs Got Talent when the 16-year-old Japanese-Lebanese pianist Nadia Azzi didn’t make it through.

Azzi was one of the top three competitors who were chosen out of the group of eight who competed on Saturday night. One of the three – the Moroccan dancer who goes by the name Salah Entertainer – was the audience’s top choice, so he automatically qualified to join the finalists.

Azzi, however, stood before the judges with the acrobatic basketball team Crazy Dunkers from Algeria, her face a picture of fear and anticipation as she awaited their final verdict. The fact that the Lebanese judge and MBC Group TV director Ali Jaber had previously pressed the Golden Buzz during Azzi’s ­audition, guaranteeing her a spot among the semi-finalists, no longer held any weight.

In the end, it was audience voting that sealed Azzi’s fate because the judges were tied: Jaber and the Egyptian judge Ahmed Helmy both chose Azzi but when Saudi Arabian judge Nasser Al Qasabi chose Crazy Dunkers, Lebanese pop star Najwa Karam refused to be the deciding factor and preferred to leave the decision up to the audience.

When Crazy Dunkers were revealed to have received more votes, Azzi left the stage quickly and to Jaber’s visible disappointment. At the end of Azzi’s performance earlier, he gave her a standing ovation, urging the audience to do the same, and said: “Nadia, you are magnificent, you raise the name of Arabs and of Lebanon. I am so very proud of you.”

Al Qasabi agreed: “Nadia, you deserve more than the Golden Buzz; you are amazing, fantastic, extraordinary, yours is a beautiful art that enters the soul.”

Azzi was not the only one to leave the stage abruptly. As the credits rolled at the end of the episode, Helmy could be seen slipping backstage, refusing to turn towards the cameras following him. He had been strangely subdued duringthe entire episode, prompting comments from the other three judges.

“We’d like the old Ahmed that we know to come back now please,” said Karam to him mid-show.

Last week, Helmy broke down in tears at the beginning of the show when he spoke emotionally about the situation of his brethren in Egypt following attacks on the military in Sinai. No mention of last week’s drama was made during this episode, but it was obvious Helmy wasn’t his usual self. The otherjudges tried to make up for it but the episode was disappointingly low on laughs.

Twenty-four acts remain on Arabs Got Talent – three groups of eight will compete in three more episodes during the semi-final rounds, all battling for a spot among the top 10 finalists.

Arabs Got Talent season four is broadcast live every Saturday on MBC4 at 10pm. Follow the show on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; stream past episodes through shahid.mbc.net

artslife@thenational.ae