In April 2007, Idols West Africa debuted on M-Net. Upon commencement, it ran for 8 weeks and ended on May 27, 2007.
While a certain female vocalist had a topsy turvy campaign, she got to the finals, only to be sadly eliminated during the grand finale. She had garnered fans and supporters throughout her run for her very African peculiarities that she was seldom shy of displaying.
More importantly, fans like this scribe fell in love with her lyric mezzo soprano voice type that shone at every pitch and seemed impressively indomitable at breaking point-high pitches in particular.
She was one of a kind, and she had a smile to captivate the heart of even the ‘hardest guy.’ Her name is Omawumi Megbele, a queen of afro-dance. She might have lost, but the competition couldn’t have been better than Timi Dakolo.
That moment of crushing disappointment, especially when she lasted the entire journey only to be eliminated at the final hurdle could have fazed her, but it didn’t. She rose and picked her career up to become one of Nigeria’s most prominent artists of the past decade.
On May 21, 2009, she released her 16-track debut studio album, Wonder Woman. Promoted by singles like, ‘Today Na Today,’ and ‘In The Music,’ the album excelled on structured songwriting and good storytelling when necessary on songs, and it effortlessly blended genres like R&B, pop, dance, Hip-Hop, disco and afro-fusion.
The album provided Nigeria with an ace female singer for the mainstream during a time Nigeria was short on those. Asa was a niche offering that was not about the dance music and setting dancefloors on fire. At the time, the album got mixed reactions from critics, but in hindsight, maybe critics only judged the album for what they heard.
Asides the singles and the more popular tracks on the album, songs like ‘Ma Fi Mi Shere’ featuring eLDee, ‘Serious Love Nwantiti,’ ‘Love It’ featuring Shank, ‘When The Breeze Blow,’ ‘I Miss My Baby’ and the ‘Outro’ are top notch songs.
What did the album mean for Omawumi?
The album only put an identity to Omawumi and put a voice to her. It didn’t really do much for her on its own, but you cannot un-link the album from the Dokta Frabz produced super-hit, ‘Thank God’ which she crafted opposite the late great Dagrin.
The song was a staple of the Nigerian rap-sung collaboration era of the late 2000s to the early 2010s. But after ‘Thank God,’ Omawumi didn’t stop till the critical acclaim, the flowers, the endorsements and more importantly, the respect rolled in around 2012 and ran through her critically acclaimed, experimental and brilliant sophomore album, Lasso of Truth.
Back to Wonder Woman…
The album title was good energy from a woman in her element and ready to crack the industry open with her energy. It just lacked the right amount of cutting edge production while it tried to do too much from a genre standpoint. In some ways, one could say the title, 'Wonder Woman,’ had slight undertones of ego, but that was how she felt and she proved it.
How good does the album feel 10 years later?
While we hope Omawumi releases a new album after her equally commendable third album, Timeless, I can argue that Wonder Woman might have deserved 7% more from critics, even though I also think my argument is borderline.
While I equally do think the album could also have done without about four songs, I think the album still set the tone for Omawumi’s career. I wager the mixed reactions Omawumi got from critics might have energized her because the run she went on after her Dagrin feature was mindblowing just as her second album was risque, yet beautiful.
Wonder Woman is not bang average, but neither is it excellent. In the grand scheme of things, it was a necessary step in Omawumi’s career and it was the right one. Playing the album now, I hear a hungry Omawumi that wanted to prove herself, but also one that had a lot to learn.
I’d wager that even Omawumi might cut some songs off the album if she were to play the album now. I think the entire purport of the album is gratitude – it was a need at the time and it served its purpose.