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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Read our recap of episode seven below!

Image: Supplied.

Here we are gang, the final episode of auditions for the return of Australian Idol. We made it! Our top fifty is nearly full (although by my calculations more than fifty contestants have already scored a golden ticket, but mathematics isn’t my strong suit), and Idol have been saving some of the best for last. Judges Grammy® award-winning artist Harry Connick Jr.; Grammy® award-winning singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor; eight-time ARIA Award-winner Amy Shark and top-rating broadcaster Kyle Sandilands have hit the end of their tour for talent, so lets get in to it shall we?

We’re treated to a montage reminding us of all the vocalists who have already passed through the audition doors. Ah the memories. But we’re not here take a trip down memory lane, we’re here to finish this thing. We find ourselves in Perth. Harry Styles’ Watermelon Sugar is playing and 15-year-old Phoebe Stewart us our first audition of the night. The school student is visibly nervous as she gets ready to chase her dreams. Her self-proclaimed 'bias' mother states, “I just think she has the most emotive tone that just melts you when you hear it.” And hey, mama knows best. Stewart takes on One and Only by Adele, and her mum was correct. She has an emotive tone and maturity that extends beyond her 15 years. Stewart just needs a boost of confidence and she would be a formidable force. She has great control and a great range, but most of all picked a song that truly showcased her voice. “You’re a genius for that” remarks Trainor before comparing her to a young Adele. The judges lap up the performance, feeling hopeful for Stewart’s future, and she scores a yes from the panel. Stewart’s family are elated and we’ve kicked the episode off with a bang!

Phoebe Stewart. Image: Supplied.

Over in Sydney, hosts Ricki-Lee and Scott Tweedie are revving up the crowd as brothers Spencer and Cooper Turnbull prepare to audition. They’re both rocking some vintage inspired outfits that just scream Idol, with younger brother Cooper having raided older brother Spencer’s closet before the audition. “I never share with my sister.” says Ricki-Lee. First up is 18-year-old Cooper, entering the room with guitar in hand just in case the panel “want to hear another one.” Generally they don’t, Connick Jr. despises those who ask for a second chance. Cooper says there’s a “little bit” of competition between him and Spencer when Shark asks, and we all need some healthy rivalry. He sings Falling by Harry Styles (a personal favourite of mine), which fits since his outfit seems to replicate what the global superstar wore during his Fine Line era. From the start, Cooper is an emotive performer. You can see in his facial expressions he is feeling the songs thematic nature and has created a connection with the words he is singing. He has a great voice, at times reminding me of James Blunt, and does an excellent job at not replicating Styles’ performance - a trap many contestants have fallen in to. There’s a nice quality to his voice that does stand apart from those who have made it into the top fifty, and I feel like he has the potential to be one of those artists who could sing in any genre or style. “Cooper!” Shark exclaims. She could be going anywhere with this, did she like it? Didn’t she like it? “So, I’m in love with you… there’s a bit of an age thing. I’m a bit older than you, and I’m married. So we’ve got hurdles.” You gotta love Amy Shark, she has an effortless humorous twang about her. Sandilands thinks he can play Cooper on the radio, and Trainor and Connick Jr. love him too. And with that, one half of the Turnbull brothers has made it to the top fifty.

Cooper Turnbull. Image: Supplied.

Now it’s 20-year-old Spencer’s turn. There’s a lot of pressure since his little brother has made it through, but I think he’s got it covered. “What a vibe” says Shark as he enters the room. He’s giving 70’s lush-meets-rockstar style and performs Dean Martin’s Sway, which I believe may have been the wrong song choice. He has a good voice, but perhaps nerves took over and some of the emotion fell flat. Sandilands delivers a brutal “Your brother’s better than you,” but still gives him a shot, and so does Trainor. Connick Jr. is into the brother rivalry and puts him through, so we have another pair of siblings entering the top fifty.

Spencer Turnbull. Image: Supplied.

18-year-old Jazmine Vanua grew up around music, and works as an event and party performer. She hopes to follow a blues/R&B/soul path, taking on And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going from Dreamgirls. The performance was okay and it’s clear she has vocal talent, but yet another contestant has chosen the wrong song. This time though, Trainor asks her to sing something else - something that has yet to happen throughout auditions. As I mentioned earlier, Connick Jr. has some affinity against second chances. This time Vanua performs YEBBA’ s Evergreen, but something is still missing. Perhaps it’s nerves, because she’s clearly able to carry a tune and hit the runs (even if it’s the same pentatonic runs repeated). “Less is more” says Trainor before Vanua is given her golden ticket.

Jazmine Vanua. Image: Supplied.

“In our quest for a musical superstar, there’s one thing thing that’s driven the judges mad: musical theatre” says Ricki-Lee in a voice over. And honestly, same. If you’re a musical theatre fan, that’s cool. Not my jam, but you do you. However, this is Australian Idol - a competition that searches for the next contemporary icon. We’re talking pop, rock, R&B, indie, folk, alternative. Basically, whatever Sandilands plays on his radio show. If you want to be the next big name in musical theatre, drop by Australia’s Got Talent. We’re then forced to watch a montage of auditions leaning towards musical theatre. They’re not all necessarily bad, for me it’s the over enunciation and forced American accents. Then enters Layla Rose Schillert, alongside her father who will be accompanying her on the guitar. She’s currently starring in Jersey Boys, which is promising that she can sing but not that it won’t be a musical theatre-based performance. Singing Miley Cyrus’ The Climb, she leans more towards Disney princess as opposed to broadway. It’s the American accent that she can’t quite shake, more of an accent than Cyrus (who is an American) has on the recording. Connick Jr. critiques her stage presence, not too pleased with her over-used hand choreography. “I think you should let the lyrics do the work because what starts to happen is it starts to seem insincere.” But the main point is, Schillert has a lovely voice that draws you in. If she shakes off the theatre tropes, she has a real shot at going far in the competition having received her golden ticket.

Layla Rose Schillert. Image: Supplied.

Back in Sydney, Charlotte McKie shares the emotional story of losing both her parents throughout her young life. She performed at her fathers memorial service, and recently shaved her head in support of raising funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Black Dog Institute. “This is the weirdest thing I might’ve ever done and I shaved my head a month ago,” she remarks before singing Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down. I genuinely got goosebumps when she hit the chorus and moved into her upper register. You could feel her connection to the track and the vulnerability present. I agree with Shark, she’s a natural and I’m excited to hear more with all four judges voting yes.

Charlotte McKie. Image: Supplied.

Mariah K. Image: Supplied.

It is finally time for Kyle Sandilands to go on tour. So far, Shark, Trainor and Connick Jr. have all hit the road to visit rural Australia, and now Sandilands will follow suit. He’s arrived in Crookwell to meet Mariah K. The disc jockey has heard the Idol hopefuls independently released album, Journey, saying “if she can’t come because mum and dad want her to cook fish and chips, maybe we should just pop in.” And so he does. “Oh my god there’s Kyle, holy dooley.” she says upon seeing the judge. He lifts his arms, shouting “Hello everyone!” as if he’s Moses parting the Red Sea. Sandilands tells her to get up on the counter at her parents fish and chips shop and audition, and I’d be lying if I said I’m not loving his energy. She takes on Ike Turner and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary, and like all other regional auditions, she’s good. There’s some work to be done, but I’m sure she never expected to be auditioning from atop the counter at her parents shop. Kyle gives her a piggy back and a golden ticket, before making his way to Canberra. Here he meets a young father, Harry Carman. “Oh shit” he says when he opens the door to see Sandilands standing there. He sings I Don’t Wanna Be by Gavin DeGraw and receives his golden ticket. “My daddy will be Australian Idol” one of Carman’s sons say, to which Sandilands quickly raises a finger and quips back “might be!”

Harry Carman. Image: Supplied.

We then travel to Melbourne and meet Mitch Cocchiara, who fronts alt-rock band Strawbz. He’s come to Idol to see how far he can make it as a solo artist. Singing Kings Of Leon’s classic tune Use Somebody, Cocchiara is another act tonight who sits apart from the other contestants. Within the context of the competition, he has a unique tone and a special quality that could take him far. He’s made a fan of Sandilands, and Connick Jr enjoyed the audition. Trainor isn’t so sure and thinks he needs some more experience. But Shark comes through with the third yes to send Cocchiara to the top fifty.

After a montage of unsuccessful auditions, Shark asks, “Have we got any pop like superstars that’s gonna melt my face off?” Enter singing teacher Sarah Robinson. She’s recently quit her job to focus on her musical career, and sings Trainor’s own Dear Future Husband. She starts off strong, but loses momentum as she progresses through the song. It seemed a bit over-rehearsed with the dance moves and the finger snaps, and I’m putting it down to another case of the wrong song choice. She unfortunately does not progress, but I think there is promise in what she showed in her audition.

Tahlia Eve Pizzicara. Image: Supplied.

Tahlia Eve Pizzicara has brought her family along for support. “You need to eat something before you go in” her Nonna demands, whipping out a tub of cheese. Bless her soul. She wants to do her family proud, and that she does. She sings Ariana Grande’s One Last Time (another personal favourite), leaning into theatre moments whilst showcasing her range and the power of her tone. Sandilands was a bit harsh, saying he wouldn’t “fight” to keep her in, but the other judges have more faith and send Pizzicara through.

In Perth, Lucy Smith’s co-worker Rhonda has encouraged her to audition. She’s an inspiration to Smith, who cites her as an empowering mother-like figure. She’s the final audition of the competition, and has a funky and quirky style. She’s visibly quite nervous with her quiet demeanour, but I think we’re going to be blown away. From the get go, she seems so cool choosing to sing Divinyls Pleasure and Pain (side note: I remember when they performed Boys In Town on the 2007 Australian Idol grand final), and mesmerises us with her enchanting vocal performance. She’s probably one of the most authentic and unique vocalists to enter the audition room. Her performance is believable and haunts you, her voice stand out among the pack and her overall presence whilst singing lures you in and takes you on a journey. She earns a yes from all four judges, and FaceTimes an overjoyed Rhonda who says, “A star is in the making!” What a way to end Idol auditions!

Lucy Smith. Image: Supplied.

Tomorrow night, we start to whittle down the top fifty. All the vocalists we’ve been drawn to will continue their Idol journey and go through what Sandilands calls, “army bootcamp for singers.” They’ll sing in groups, as soloists and in front of a live audience to prove to the judges why they should stay in the competition. The top fifty will become the top twenty four, with former Australian Idol judge Marcia Hines returning for a guest stint on the panel. I. Can’t. Wait.

Watch Australian Idol on Channel 7 tomorrow night at 7:30pm AEDT. Stream it on 7 Plus.


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