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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Read our interview with the Australian Idol contestant below!

Image: Supplied.

With the grand final only days away, we said goodbye to three contestants on Australian Idol this week. Anya Hynninen, Ben Sheehy and Amali Dimond have come to the end of their Idol journey, but it's just the start for their budding music careers. We caught up with Dimond to chat about her Idol journey and what the future holds.

Kicking off the entire season, 16-year old Dimond was the first to audition for the defining returning season of Australian Idol. The teen from Shellharbour was hopeful for a golden ticket, bringing a positive attitude to the judging room as she took on Adele’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love. And just like that… Australian Idol was well and truly back. Dimond’s deep and soulful tones captivated the judges, filling the room as she showcased the peaks and valleys of her voice. “I’m so glad that you were good, you’re so good” Trainor cried as the audition came to an end. Connick Jr. predicted she’ll make it to the top five, and look at that - he was right. Dimond received praise from all four judges, nabbing a yes from them all, but also personified the formula of an Australian Idol. That being, that there’s no real formula. Unlike its singing competition counterparts, Idol isn’t built on a search for a ready made singing superstar. It’s a search for something special, a particular quality that is the cornerstone of longevity.

During bootcamp week, the chorus line challenge saw Dimond sing Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball, before joining forces with Piper Butcher, Angelina Curtis, Jasey Fox and Sash Seabourne to form the group 'Honey'. Fox says their group is compatible astrology-wise, and they perform Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time. Dimond forgot her lyrics momentarily but shakes it off like a pro, and all five contestants progressed through the group round. To make it into the top twenty four, Dimond performed Lewis Capaldi’s Before You Go, where some slight nerves were evident but she still delivered a solid performance that earned her a place in the next round.

When it came time to fight for a place in the top twelve, Dimond wanted to prove she was unstoppable. So what better song choice than Sia’s Unstoppable. Like a breath of fresh air, she owned the stage and got the audience worked up, coming across as a seasoned performer straight out of the gate. Shrouded in a red-toned lighting design and up-scale production, her powerful vocals and engaging stage presence captivated viewers. “I just know that I never wanna get off the stage. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she tells Ricki-Lee following her performance, and there’s no doubt in my mind she will be. And with that performance, Dimond secured her place in the top twelve.

For the first live show, the singer performs Bruno Mars’ Grenade, and Idol’s vocal coach Carmen Smith wanted the budding performer to find an emotional connection with the song to elevate her performance. Dimond says her connection to the song is “I’d catch a grenade for my music career.” Smith felt it was a bit forced, and wanted her to connect to the more emotional side of the track. As always, Dimond gave a strong performance. She owned the stage, beginning the song in a purple hued room before stepping out on to the stage, and brought her inner passion to the performance. She’s great at using the stage and never seeming awkward, which will take her far in her post-Idol career. The judges loved it and feel she’s ready to take on the world. However, judge Harry Connick Jr. wants her take piano and guitar lessons as much as she can to build her musicianship and education, so that when she gets in the room with producers and other musicians she has a deeper understanding and can hold her own.

Continuing in the competition, we arrived at 'Judge's Choice' week, where Dimond was presented with the choice to perform either Ariana Grande and Zedd’s Break Free, Freya Ridings Castles, Jess Glynne’s Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself and David Guetta and Sia’s Titanium. She chose Titanium due to the fact she won a singing competition when she was younger singing that tune. She has strength and power in her vocals hitting those higher notes, and the more dance-leaning arrangement works well. Dimond guessed Meghan Trainor as the judge who selected Titanium, but in fact it was Connick Jr.. For 'Heroes and Tributes' week, Dimond dedicated her performance to her father, a former NRL player. She’s sang Katy Perry’s Unconditionally, showing a more vulnerable side when compared to her more empowering performances. She hits those powerful notes and delivers a moving performance, building in anticipation. In an absolutely wholesome moment, Dimond made eye contact with her father and he was proud as punch. However, the singer found herself in the bottom four, where she performed Little Mix's Secret Love Song, visibly nervous and worried for her future in the competition. Australia pulled through though, and Dimond made her way into the top six.

In the semi-final Dimond was feeling grateful for the love and support Australia has shown, cherishing time she spent with new found young fans following the previous weeks show. As she frantically ran around the Idol auditorium to find a clue as to which song she’ll be performing, it’s revealed the public have voted for Fly Away by Tones and I. She changes the arrangement a bit, starting it off as a ballad before diving into the songs more full arrangement. Connick Jr. suggests she should perform a ballad next week to showcase her light and shade as an artist. Sandilands and Trainor dub themselves “Dimond Diva’s”, with the former saying he felt like he was at a “real concert and then it goes back to a TV show.” He also added former Idol judge Marcia Hines, who made a guest appearance in bootcamp, called him to ask “How’s Amali doing?”, apparently not asking about any other contestant.

Each contestant got one last chance to perform on Monday nights elimination episode, and Dimond presented her first ballad in the competition, performing Demi Lovato’s Warrior. Her signature strong and booming vocals take centre stage and put on what may just be her best performance on the Idol stage. Sandilands says to Dimond he received two texts today, with the second being from Calvin Harris’ manager requesting links to hear Dimond sing. Unfortunately, Dimond's Idol journey came to an end as Royston Sagigi-Baira, Phoebe Stewart and Josh Hannan progressed to the grand final. "You've got the world at your feet," says Sandilands, and the rest of the panel offer words of advice and support, and reassure her that this is only the beginning.

Firstly, congratulations on everything you've achieved on Idol and making it so far. It's such an amazing achievement, and I hope you're super proud of yourself.

Oh, thank you!

Let's go back to the beginning, what drew you to auditioning for Australian Idol?

Well, I've always loved music and being on stage and I didn't know how to start a career. My mum was like, 'you gotta audition for Australian Idol. Like, you just gotta do it'. And so I was like, 'all right, fine.' So I sent my video in and I kind of was like, 'I'll see what happens.' And then it happened thankfully.

Mothers always know best, they always know everything. So good on her.

Yes. Hundred percent!

You are one of the younger contestants on the competition. How did you cope with the all the pressure that comes with being catapulted to millions of people across the nation? Because you seemed pretty unstoppable and just prepared for everything. It seemed like nothing phased you and I'm like, that's the energy I need in my life.

[Laughs] Well, it's just like when you want something so badly, you can't let that get to you. I was doing what I loved, so I had to be okay, you know? I got to sing, so it made me feel okay. My mum was there with me because I'm 16, so she helped me as well with not, you know, going crazy. She helped me, she kept me calm. So yeah, it was really good.

What has been your most memorable moment throughout the competition?

It's a hard one. I my audition, I loved the way the judges reacted to me at first when they first heard me sing because if you watch my audition, I went in there and I was like, 'look, I'm just here because I feel like this is a good opportunity and I don't know what's gonna happen, but I'm just gonna do it.' And so having them react so well, I was like, 'oh my gosh, that's so, so exciting and validating.' But last night, like that performance is one of my favourites.

It was so good.

I love big ballads and I haven't been able to sing a big ballad on the show. So I was excited that I got to end with a big ballad.

I think it was my favourite performance of yours. And like you said, it was nice to see that different side as well and the versatility of your artistry going forward in your career. It has been fourteen years since Australian Idol last aired, which if my math is correct, you were two or three maybe?

Two, yeah. It's crazy. Oh my gosh, that's crazy [laughs].

I think I was eleven, so that makes me feel old [laughs]. Obviously a lot in the industry has changed since then, a lot of social media didn't even exist then, or at least Instagram didn't. TikTok definitely didn't. So how do you think a show like Idol in a contemporary setting can change the trajectory of someones career and how do you think it's done so for you?

Well, I think that social media can be really great because you get connections to so many people. Like Tones and I followed on Instagram which is crazy. So, you know, like little things like that where you can get in contact with people much easier and you can post a video and get a million views and a million people can see it. It's quite amazing how social media can be. Of course there's negativity surrounding it, but yeah, you can just push that aside. It's definitely can be a really great thing. So I definitely think it's changed where you don't have to win to make a career now. Rick-Lee [Coulter] shows that as well. So I'm just excited to see where like I go and all the other contestants who don't win end up going.

Yeah, for sure. I think people often forget that Jessica Mauboy didn't win and she's arguably like the most successful Australian Idol contestant. Had you you made it through to the grand final, what would've been the song that you would've loved to have performed to end your journey on?

Oh, I wanted to sing Impossible by James Arthur and I'd already been getting it ready and I'd been making it really big. It was a full ballad where it was just like really intense, grand orchestral. I was really excited to sing that song. That would've been what I would've loved to do, but that's fine. I'll definitely be able to perform it in the future, but a song like that was my plan. Just to go and do a big power ballad because before the show it was my thing. I auditioned with a ballad and then I did Unstoppable and then I think everyone really like liked how I worked the stage and I was like, 'okay, I'll do it again.' [Laughs] I kept doing it, you know? So yeah, I'm excited to go get back into different styles and that now.

Can't wait to see it all. What do you think was the best piece of advice that you received throughout the whole competition? Be that from a judge, fellow contestant, someone on production, or even a guest performer?

Well, Adam Lambert said, 'you have to have fun. If you're not having fun, why are you doing it?' So it was just like to enjoy every single experience. And Adam Lambert, he didn't win and look at him. It's awesome to see people like that being so successful and being able to offer you advice. And Ricki-Lee she always said just go out there AND sing your heart out. She was so proud of all of us. And Harry [Connick Jr.], Even after the show I got to talk to him and he just said, he was like, 'you're made for this, you're gonna have a career in music.' And he said, 'if I'm in Australia again, let me know if you wanna come say hi or something.' So that's pretty cool as well.

Lovely. Obviously Kyle [Sandilands] said that Calvin Harris's manager had contacted him asking about you. That's pretty massive! What does hearing something like that mean to you?

Oh my gosh, I was so shocked [laughs]. I did not expect him to say that. But it meant so much because my ultimate goal going on the show, I didn't go on there going, 'I have to win.' I went on there going, 'I wanna start a music career.' And I think hearing those things, it's like, well, I achieved what I wanted to achieve.

Exactly! You could be Calvin's next Ellie Golding and drop smash hits together. It's been so wonderful watching all the contestants grow and find their confidence on stage throughout the show. How do you think it's prepared you moving forward in your career? Anya and Ben just told me like they think it's like basically the ultimate boot camp for getting into the music industry.

Oh, one hundred percent. It's literally like you do this huge, like uni course [laughs] like in like a few weeks and you learn everything there is about TV, music, wardrobe, makeup, stage, band, everything. Ee had the longest days, but I love them. I loved every single day. You learnt so much about just the media and music world. It was really awesome and I feel like now I'm prepared. I was like, 'I've done that. Now I can do anything.' I feel really hopeful for the future.

We're only days away from the grand final, who would you like to see be names this years Australian Idol?

I think that each and every one of them, those three people [Royston, Phoebe and Josh] are so deserving of winning. I couldn't say because they're all incredible in their different ways. I think every single contestant in the top twelve deserves to win. I think those three people will be fine if they don't win and whoever wins, I think good on them and they deserve it. I think all three of them, I really can't say [laughs].

What advice would you give to someone wanting to audition for the show next year?

If music is what you love and you love the thrill of being on stage and collaborating and everything, then 100% just go for it. Like, what's there to lose? There's literally nothing to lose, just audition. And if you don't get through, audition again. It's amazing and I recommend it to everyone.

So to finish off, what is next for you? Will there be some original music, any live shows?

That's crazy because my goal for 2023 was to start doing local gigs. So yeah, this is a pretty cool gig to have done. But I really wanna start collaborating with people and I haven't been in the studio many times, I'm actually quite new to everything. So I'd love to just get in the studio and record some music and release it. When I do release music, I'll probably announce it on my Instagram, which is @amali.dimond and my TikTok is @amalidimond1. But yeah, I'm just looking to release music and do shows and do everything music related. Really.

Watch the grand final of Australian Idol on Channel 7 Sunday night at 7:00pm AEDT. Stream it on 7 Plus.


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