“X Factor UK contestant Gamu Nhengu manages to get Simon Cowell’s attention and breathe new life into a song that was written before she was born, all in a performance that clocks in at around three minutes.
Nhengu is 18 and, when asked why she became a singer, says she wants to be somebody and wants to do something people will remember. She speaks with confidence and conviction and does not seem at all intimidated to be in front of the four judges.
The song Nhengu chooses is called ‘Walking on Sunshine.’ It is by the 80’s new wave Band, Katrina, and the Waves. While Katrina and the Waves are not quite a one hit wonder, they are best known for the song, released in 1985. ‘Walking on Sunshine’ is a staple of 80’s movies and 80’s nostalgia movies.
In introducing her song, Nhengu tells the judges she has made some changes to it. She does not say what she has done, whether a lyrical change or a different arrangement, so the crowd and judges are naturally curious. Nhengu does not disappoint, once she gets through the introductions and gets down to singing.
While the other three judges are all smiles, Simon Cowell looks like he forgot to have breakfast and has a rumbly tummy. “”I’m intrigued, to see what you’ve done with this song,”” is all Simon will say, responding to Nhengu when she says she made some changes to her song.
While Simon’s dour expression does not change through the song, the crowd soon picks up on Nhengu’s energy and sass. Her changes were minor but changed the whole meaning of the song. Where the original song’s chorus says “”you’re my sunshine/and don’t it feel good,”” Nhengu’s version says “”you’re my sunshine/, but you gotta go.””
This means the song is a breakup song. Nhengu tells her she would be dating partner that she does not want to spend her life waiting on them. It is an assertive turn that goes perfectly with Nhengu’s attitude, from her body language to her snarky delivery to her outfit. Nhengu wears a floor-length dress and a large rose bow in her hair.
The other judges have nothing but praise for Nhengu. Louis Walsh practically gushes, saying there is “”something very likable”” about the young performer, and complimenting her attitude, song choice, and energy. Walsh calls Nhengu “”soulful,”” and certainly anyone watching would agree with that assessment.
But Simon does not seem impressed. The room falls silent, and the house music changes as Simon says “”I’m going, being honest with you. You sang one of my worst songs ever.”” Then Simon pauses. The entire world seems to fall silent until Simon says “”you did something different with it–I like you.””
Nhengu seems to breathe for the first time in several minutes as Simon goes on, telling her how she has a very jazzy style. After Game talks about her mother, through teary eyes, all four judges give her a yes. Simon even says “”a million percent yes”” just before Nhengu’s beloved; the hardworking mother comes up on stage to congratulate her ecstatic daughter. Sometimes changing things around is the best way to show how amazing you can be.”