Australian Idol

Pure auditions, genuine raw talent, a panel that works -Idol is back, baby.

Finally, auditions are back to how they should be.

One person, one shot, a panel of judges and a piano.

Australian Idol is back, baby.

There’s no red chairs turning, there’s no theatre full of screaming public and no coaches determined to “win.” It’s a cattle call of young hopefuls introducing themselves and singing a song they connect with. Sure, they’ve been screened beforehand by producers, and some possibly coaxed into wearing something memorable, or highlighting a particular back story. Only the very best, or very worst, are sent in… all the pedestrian who sit in the middle are usually denied the chance.

But Idol‘s audition process is still the purest of them all, and most reflects the way auditions are traditionally held in show business.

It’s usually not acknowledged that those who sit on the other side of the audition table, smiling through long days of life stories and karaoke, genuinely want the next person who walks in to be good. In Idol‘s case I reckon they want to hand out that golden ticket to the Top 50, but can the singer rise to the challenge, and if not how do you let them down?

In the 14 years since Australian Idol was last on Australian television much has changed: both in Reality TV and the music industy. It’s also allowed for a new generation of kids -raised on YouTube, iTunes, TikTok, social media, cameras in their phones- to adapt fast.

Idol would have you believe that every second kid on the street can sound like Billie Eilish, Sam Smith, Charlie Puth …and on this show they can. The level of self-taught vocalists is at peak, and it’s freaky.

Although for new judge Amy Shark, she’s constantly worried at how some of the very green young kids will cope with what they are embarking on.

“Stop trying to save the world,” insists returning judge Kyle Sandilands. He’s all about trying to find the radio-friendly, marketable act.

Harry Connick Jr., who slips into a kind of head honcho role, is big on the technical aspects and connecting to the lyric, while newcomer Meghan Trainor is a beaming breath of fresh air.

In this edited environment the panel clicks well, although I look forward to seeing them more transparently when Live shows commence.

But wow! There’s no shortage of young talent.

These kids can sing, and some play guitar. Of the 4 episodes I’ve seen there are several potential winners.

And then there are the pitch problems, those who are oblivious to their limitations, the overdressed, the bribers bearing gifts and more, more, more pitch problems.

In the old days TV mocked them mercilessly and -hand on heart- so did we from the couch.

In 2023, we no longer tell somebody they have ‘tuckshop lady arms’ (Australian Idol 2005), or to “wear more appropriate clothes or shed some pounds” (Australian Idol 2003), right?

So how does Idol now deal with those auditions that are clearly out of their depth?

There’s some initial wtf? looks and giggling and oh the look on Amy Shark’s face as she tries not to react. But Harry Connick sums it up best with a polite, “Idol is not for you, it’s a No from me.”

However Sandilands has been cast for his bluntness and humour, and while he can be cruel to be kind, at other times he is a huge fan of those who have bared their soul (if frequently looking to other judges to validate his instincts). I’d go as far as to say he’s mellowed, cooing at toddlers in the room and fighting back tears at one auditionee. ….I fear I will be eating my words during Live shows.

Idol 23 whips around the country at lightning pace. Five cities feature regularly across consecutive episodes (as opposed to one night, one city from the 10 series). There are also visits by single judges to regional homes where you know producers have ensured a winning act and everybody is acting surprised for the cameras. Ho hum.

Via fleeting appearances -for now- of hosts Ricki-Lee Coulter and Scott Tweedie, we get reminders of Idol nostalgia …here’s the town where Guy Sebastian auditioned, Jess Mauboy was discovered in the NT, and make way for a relative of Shannon Noll. Later Marcia Hines will guest judge and there are rumours of more.

Idol, Seven insists, is “the only show that makes real stars.” I’m not quite sure where that leaves The Voice or X Factor, nor whether it can be replicated in the downloading music era of 2023, but I look forward to finding out.

It’s been a long wait. But it’s great to have Idol back.

Australian Idol screens 7:30pm Monday – Wednesday on Seven.

32 Responses

    1. I wouldn’t let that deter you , I’m not a big fan of his especially on radio, but as a judge he has the goods. And surprisingly I didn’t think I’d love the combo of judges but was wrong. The classic and best show is back and it’s been great.

  1. I really liked Kyle he was funny, and Meghan was bright and entertaining! Harry was good and had that natural global presence which the show needs, but it was weird seeing him and Kyle together, I’m sure they will clash in the live shows which should boost ratings. Amy was a bit to serious compared to the way she was on Celebrity Apprentice, I hope she lets loose a bit.

  2. Kyle is a huge turnoff for me but in saying this, i am still going to watch because i am loving what i’m seeing in the promos. I think the panel is well balanced. I guess we will see but its what i will be watching on Monday. For me, what will be interesting though is to see how many live shows there is. My gut feel tells me they are going to rush this and condense it into 3-4 weeks instead of 7-10 weeks where it should be. Seven similarly did this to The Voice (and that is what has really really hurt that format) where no live shows happened at all, just pre-recorded live. Big big difference. Lets be honest here, the network just doesn’t care after blinds. So we will see if thats how they react to the lives. This show has a lot of nostalgia for me so if Seven has butchered it, they will hear about it. I do get its a different time too but they promised us live shows. So don’t disappoint Seven.

  3. Sorry I made a mistake about the live shows, the live shows begin on February 25 (which is on a Saturday, airing for Sunday feb 26) and the results shows airing live on feb 27 (which is on a Monday).

  4. I’m not that keen on Kyle but I’m willing to give this a glance. If they start doing the contestants life/sob stories I’m out though. It took up way too much time on the Voice instead of the actual singing.

    1. 5 years would be deemed a huge success. 5 minutes is more likely.

      Can’t say any of the new American Idol winners have made an impact either – you used to be at least somewhat aware of who had won even in the dying FOX days but can’t say I’ve known any winner or contestant of the ABC revival to break through enough to go viral or gain name recognition.

  5. Why oh why did they put that vile Kyle person on this show.
    Will not be watching, would rather eat nails and wait for them to pass through my bowel than listen to or watch anything that pathetic excuse of a person has to say.

  6. About the live shows that happens next month it may not go fully live, instead the some of the tickets goes from Friday, Saturday and Sunday from the 10 February.

  7. From the very beginning I always felt this should never have been an annual show as it was about finding that 1-in-a-million-someone-special and guiding them as they start their huge career–and follow along with them for the ride. Bit hard to genuinely do that every year. But that’s the business for ya. Now that it hasn’t been on for such a long time, I’m actually really looking forward to it.

  8. I’ve said it before that the success of talent search shows like Australian Idol is in the marketing of the performers to make it into the charts. It doesn’t matter if they are runners up or not the winner. Though it also shouldn’t affect the actual outcome of the winners, as it’s not a good look and could backfire if they try to affect the outcome.

    I’d also advise any performers to read the contract and negotiate if there’s anything in the contract that you don’t like. It’s a major record label deal and not independent after all. A lot of it will be based on what the label thinks will be the most successful outcome and independent creativity might be stifled over the trends. But it’s a foot in the door nonetheless. Best wishes to the contestants, as there are a lot of people from many backgrounds hoping for their big breakthrough. I’m sure the audiences are behind the contestants.

  9. I gather you are not a fan of the way The Voice judging is done? I quite like that if contestants dont turn the judges chair/s, then they dont get through (if the judges have to limit their teams re numbers ie). Mainly because I still remember when infamous Dickson said to contestant Paulini that unless she lost weight, she wouldnt make it. ie Original Idol. Singing Should be about Voices. Not about bodies. I dont get why Kyle Sanderlands is a judge on rebooted Oz Idol. (Not a fan of term Idol either).I do totally agree that some contestants shouldnt be competing, as they cant sing and are oblivious. What I also like about The Voice is the judges are kind. One dosnt have/need to be cruel to be kind in the way Kyle does it. I think Kyle is there purely for shock value. Not necessary.

  10. I’m looking forward to this. I think Survivor might be the casualty in this war. I’d personally never watch MAFS and Survivor really wrings it out so it’s hard to watch so many episodes of not much happening.
    Here’s to Idol.

  11. Sounds promising based on your review David. Can’t see it topping MAFS though, doesn’t seem to be much buzz around it. Oldies might tune in,but younger viewers will probably be hooked on Survivor or Nine. What is your prediction?

      1. TV is built around demos and both Survivor and MAFS will trend younger. Indeed Seven is probably relying on the “oldies” to boost it’s comeback and deliberately scheduling it as a fairly wholesome alternative to the trashy MAFS.

        1. Not interest in what TV is built around or demos, and certainly not into any “ists” who want to analyse, dissect or rate it either, that’s for some else to enjoy. We being us “oldies“ who were born a very long time from yesterday as we are being referred to, watch for the very reasons we have it in our homes which is…entertainment.

  12. I have to admit that I wasn’t very thrilled when the judges lineup was announced but after several promos, I am really looking forward to this.

    I also looking forward to the ratings report the next morning. It is going to be very interesting – Idol VS MAFS. I don’t really know how this is going to pan out but bring on the competition 🙂

  13. They keep saying there will be live shows, but how many will there be? Will it be 2 or 3 weeks where they dump a massive number of contestants each week, or will we have a full 12 weeks where we can really get to know them. This is why Idol managed to make so many success stories from the original series.

    1. Seven seem to be (wisely) making shorter run reality shows these days. So, you’d think there could maybe be 12 live shows, but you’d expect they’d be over 3 or 4 weeks. Not sure the overseas judging talent would really want to be in Australia for 12+ weeks either.

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