In attendance at Genesis Cinemas in Lekki, Lagos, were Monde Twala and Katung Aduwak, staff of Viacom Africa, along with several stars of the Nigerian pop music industry including Simi, DJ Xclusive and Niniola.
“Lip Sync Battle is about having fun,” Kwasu said about the show, which pits celebrities against each other. “We have taken it a level above singing in the bathroom.
Twala agreed: "It is an entertainment format that speaks to what we speak for. It speaks to what young people are doing on a day-to-day basis.” People forget that stars were once kids, he said, and they “think celebrities take themselves too seriously". And as a statement from MTV states: "More than 30 of the continent’s hottest celebrities and entertainers will be strutting their stuff in front of the Lip Sync Battle studio audience. Among the Nigerian contestants are Tekno, Falz and Simi."
Besides offering fans an opportunity to see their stars "decked out in the most outrageous outfits, wigs and props imaginable", the forthcoming season comes with an opportunity to win cash and enjoy an all expenses paid trip to any MTV award event across the globe. It also gives Nigerians a chance to see the colourful Denrele Edun on TV as he replaces D’banj, last season’s co-host.
“Taking over from Dbanj was no joke,” Denrele said at the private event. "But Pearl Thusi and I were dynamic. I was just saying nonsense but making sense.” The former Channel O presenter said his gums were inflamed after a dental operation and so he couldn’t perform to his full potential. "But if they call me for the third season I will show them the real me!” he said.
On-screen, Denrele appeared as energetic as he has been in the past and filled the position of the hyped-up counterpart to the levelheaded Pearl Thusi. In presenting the first episode, which starred Kenya’s Victoria Kimani and Nigeria’s Patoranking, he said the winner would be leaving without financial reward. "No cash prize,” he said. “All the budget went into my wardrobe."
The first round of episode 1 has Patoranking perform Tekno’s 'Pana' and Kimani perform Wizkid’s 'Baba Nla', both artists miming to the songs in regular clothes. For the second, Kimani opted for the Grammy winning ‘Lady Marmalade’ while Patoranking sang ‘Moment 4 Life’, the latter donning a blue wig and a makeshift tutu for which he was called Nicki-ranking. Attendees were implored to “talk around the episode” but not divulge its eventual winner.
Asked about the African viewership of the original US show, hosted by LL Cool J, Twala, who joined Viacom last year, said the success of the African version was “positive” and "very few formats resonate with our culture”. MTV, however, will switch screening times this season to prevent a programming clash and drop in viewership for either of the shows.
At the press conference, Simi was asked how difficult she found the experience of singing another artist's song was. It was difficult to absorb the lyrics, she said. Nonetheless, she was happy to take part in the contest because "you get to leave the box of professionalism".
Lip Sync Battle Africa season 2 premieres on MTV Base (DStv channel 322) on Saturday 22 April 2017 at 8pm. For more information, visit www.mtvbase.com or join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #LSBAfrica and tagging @MTVBaseWest