Australian Idol Ep 1 Recap: The Good Singers, The Bad Loser & The Ugly Return Judge | theMusic.com.au
After a 14-year hiatus, Channel 7’s reboot of this star-studded reality TV series kicked off last night with some Australian Idol alumni returning to the fold for continuity. Radio shock jock Kyle Sandilands – who previously sat on the Australian Idol judging panel from 2004 to 2009 – returns this season. Like beloved OG Australian Idol judge Marcia Hines, whose nurturing judging style graced all seven seasons of the show’s initial run. Although she didn’t appear in last night’s episode, Hines was reportedly announced as a ‘special guest’ judge following concerns about diversity (which were raised after 2023’s judging panel was revealed). Ricki-Lee Coulter, who was discovered on Australian Idol in 2004, is also on board to host Season 8 alongside Scott Tweedie (formerly of The Loop).
Episode 1 kicked off with a flashback: baby Guy Sebastian auditioned for Australian Idol 20 years ago, before becoming the show’s first winner (think runner-up Shannon Noll, What About Me?).
Let the audition round begin! Who will score a Golden Ticket straight into 2023’s Top 50?
Judge The Judges
Harry Connick Jr: Formerly a mentor on American Idol, this Grammy- and Emmy-winning crooner’s charm is undeniable.
Kyle Sandilands: As expected, he’s rude AF. And not talented enough himself that his opinion even matters anyway. Vile Kyle is there for hate viewing, but no further syllables will be wasted on him here.
Amy Shark: It’s fun to watch her half-up/half-down hairstyle variations, especially the one that looks like a poo emoji on top of her noggin. We really rated her breakout hit single, 2016’s 6x Platinum Adore, VAT.
Meghan Trainor: We enjoyed watching Meghan on the Clash Of The Cover Bands judging panel. She squeals/yells a lot with excitement, reminiscent of legendary So You Think You Can Dance judge Mary Murphy.
As the enormous Australian Idol-branded truck criss-crossed this Great Southern Land in search of bright future stars, we were mesmerized by an abundance of beautiful natural landscapes on the court thanks to some spectacular drone footage.
Vocals, Personality, Presence, Heroism and Intelligence
A video package revealed that 26-year-old Perth contestant Sara Houston’s stepmother was waiting at Perth Airport arrivals yesterday in the hope of running into Ricki-Lee and telling her “what an impact she’s had on Sara”. The story goes that the stepmother’s stalker mission was successful and therefore Sara was invited to audition at the 11th hour.
Check out Sara’s extraordinary full-circle moment/backstory: Sara was diagnosed with “aggressive” bone cancer when she was just eight years old. Around this time Ricki-Lee was an Australian Idol contestant and in 2005 paid a visit to Ronald McDonald House where Sara received treatment. During tonight’s ep, Sara actually made a photo of their first meeting to jog Ricki-Lee’s memory, and our eyes started watering.
Then Sara entered the audition room in a wheelchair and explained that she had her 32nd surgery yesterday and only found out the night before that she was auditioning via a “very manic” phone call from her stepmother. When Sara mentioned that she was hoping for some accompaniment, Harry immediately volunteered and sat down at the piano. Sara stood up to perform John Mayer’s Waiting On The World To Change from the platform provided, occasionally glancing over her shoulder at Harry. Sara is surprisingly poised and at ease and a real contender and instant favourite.
Harry, post-performance: “This is what Australian Idol is. We talked about this earlier: Is it singing? Is it personality? Is it presence? Is it heroism? Is it intelligence? And when I looked at you, I started thinking about all the strong, incredible women in my life, I’m like, ‘This is what this show is about.’ And you had all those qualities, and I had a blast playing mentally [sic] you. And I want to thank you for that honor.”
Four yeses from the judges.
Fun fact: This inspirational Top 50 contestant also represents Australia in wheelchair basketball.
Delusions Of Grandeur
Oof! Why is watching the train wrecks so much fun!? After butchering Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down and receiving a unanimous no vote from the judges, Imogen Ledell – a 19-year-old law student from Sydney – left memorably, somewhat shamefully. While singing a French-language song, she raced past the judges in slow-mo, looking them in the eye all the while as if to say: ‘Your loss’. Cringe.
Even losers can be winners
On the tail end of 26-year-old Adelaide school teacher Jono Webb’s unsuccessful audition, his cheer squad/a cappella group was invited. And experience a ten-strong a cappella group performing Meghan’s chart-topping single, All About That Bass. (2014), is something we didn’t realize we needed in our lives until that exact moment.
“Maybe it could be me”
Meghan traveled solo to Alice Springs to surprise a local hopeful – 22-year-old student and jewelery designer Naomi Gipey, who was inspired by Jessica Mauboy’s Australian Idol journey in 2006 – in her hometown. Naomi explained: “Jess Mauboy is my biggest inspiration. Seeing her start on a similar journey and, like, the thought that [choked back tears] maybe it could be me…” She auditioned at one of her favorite spots, the stunningly beautiful Simpsons Gap, and Naomi showed great vocal control and maturity as she sang Mercy by Duffy a cappella outdoors.
Side note: We absolutely loved that the driver of Meghan’s airport shuttle from Alice Springs was named Bluey!
Whole Lotta Love To Ben Sheehy
Police officer watching Ben Sheehy, a pharmacy worker and self-taught singer from Brisbane (who’s 24 but looks 40) knocking Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love out of the park!?
Harry’s response summed up Ben’s audition perfectly: “You’re a complete mystery to me because, Ben – let’s be honest, man – seriously, you look like you couldn’t care less about being here. Then you started singing… I sing this guy.” It will be four yes, legend! And we can’t wait to watch this ultimate cooler’s ‘journey’ with utmost interest and a smile on our dial.
“Don’t beg. Be proud. Accept things gracefully”
Elaina O’Connor from WA is definitely One To Watch (although it wasn’t her year). She auditioned (shakingly) to All By Myself by Celine Dion, while still somehow managing to appropriately demonstrate her impressive, powerful upper register. A yes from Meghan and Kyle. No from Harry. Then Amy had the deciding vote. drum roll No from Amy. “Can I sing you another song please?” Elaina pleaded, palms locked in prayer position under her chin.
“Don’t beg. Be proud. Accept things gracefully,” said Harry (with love). Amy continued: “We have such a responsibility at this desk to make sure people are SO ready because I’m telling you right now: it’s rough out there…I didn’t make it when I was young and I’m so glad I didn’t.” As soon as Elaina left the room, Harry concluded, “We just did her the biggest favor of her life. She needs to go to the gym and she needs to work out.” Agreed. We hope Elaina works very hard and continues to follow her dream because she definitely has a gift.
Who else scored a golden ticket?
Amali Dimond – now that’s what we call a future-superstar name! And this 16-year-old’s version of Adele’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love wasn’t too shabby either.
Sharin Attamimi – This 24-year-old cafe worker in Perth auditioned with a jazzy interpretation of Leave The Door Open by Silk Sonic and has obvious potential.
Joshua Hannan – A Uni student from Mount Evelyn who grew up on a rose farm, this 20-year-old got his take on Brother. Pretty attractive too. Could he be the next Matt Corby? Meghan was in love: “I’m your number one fan. We should do a song one day.”
Connor Bulger – This Akubra-wearing lamb tag with an impressive mullet got lucky, we reckon. He performed the Slim Dusty classic, A Pub With No Beer, and could barely hold a tune, but the judges seemed to appreciate his so-Aussie, salt-of-the-earth personality.
Tune into ep 2 tonight on Channel 7 at 19:30 or catch up via 7Plus.