THE Idols journey ended in heartbreak for Nelson Mandela Bay singing sensation Melissa Allison last night when she was pipped to the title by Durban's Khaya Mthethwa.
The atmosphere at the season eight finale was electric as a near 3000-strong crowd packed the Mosaiek Teatro in Johannesburg to cheer on their favourite star.
Following the announcement, an upbeat Allison, 23, said she would not limit herself to a particular genre after the show and would work hard to remain relevant in the industry.
"My music is generally very eclectic and I want to now go into house, electro music and pop music," she said.
"I really don't want to limit myself to one genre and I will explore other parts of music.
"After this, I want to go straight into the studio and work hard.
"I'm going to keep everything that I do on point. I'm going to take dance lessons and I want to take on acting because it's part of the package that I am.
"I'm not going to let it slip and I'm not going to stop now."
Mthethwa, 25, said he felt overwhelmed at winning and had learnt that "you have to work at your gift and work at your talent" to win the singing competition.
Allison's mother, Charmaine, who was also at the finale, said her daughter had made her proud by making it to the top 10 of the show from thousands of hopefuls who had gone to the auditions.
"I am very proud of her, especially because she's from Port Elizabeth and she has represented us very well. She is already a winner in my eyes, no matter what," she said.
Allison took her second shot at the Idols title after she had turned down a golden ticket last season to honour commitments she had made prior to the auditions.
Fans took to social media platforms immediately to share their opinions.
@Prince_Nko tweeted: "Khaya winning idols is more reason why Jacob Zuma must get a 2nd term."
@PaperDboi tweeted: "We all know why Khaya won! Idols didn't want bad publicity again about it being Racist!!!" to which @tsholo_tt replied: "He won b/c he's a good singer -_- ai"
Judy Ditchfield, the actress better known for her role as Isidingo's Stella, said she thought Allison was amazing, but knew during his first audition that Mthethwa was the one for her.
"Brilliant brilliant brilliant! Well done too Melissa, you did a great job!" she wrote on Facebook.
One of Allison's staunchest supporters, St Thomas Senior Secondary School teacher Warren Campodonico, said she was still "the darling of PE".
"Humble in defeat Melz – we luv u girl... U r our winner man ... no matter who says what – ur music career is set all the way – woohoooo"
Reon Bombay wrote on Allison's official Idols Facebook page: "It's your hard work and amazing talent that got you this far. You're as much of a winner as Khaya. Weldone beautiful lady"
Referring to the race wars that have dogged the competition, @Cinder_Ella1 tweeted: "The day people start voting for talent and not for race is the day Idols SA will actually be interesting :)"
Before the winner was announced, a variety of South African music stars performed, with Kwaito singer Zakes Batwini getting the crowd on their feet singing his hit song, Clap Your Hands, with the men who made it into the top 10 – Simphiwe Gwegwe, Dominic Neill, Monde Msutwana and Obakeng Ramaboa.
Among the top five women, Chloe Kiley, Tshidi Tenyane, Nosipho Mngomezulu and Shekinah Donnell performed with singer Toya Delazy on her hit song, Heart Rock.
Mthethwa walks away with prizes worth R1-million, including a recording contract with Universal Music and R500000 cash, and Allison will walk away with R250000 cash.
Mthethwa will start working on his album with Universal Music within the next couple of weeks and his first single, Move, which he debuted in the Top 2 Spectacular last week, is already getting airplay.