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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos

AUSTRALIAN IDOL: JOSHUA HANNAN ON HIS IDOL JOURNEY AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

Read our interview with the Australian Idol contestant below!

Image: Supplied.


Australian Idol recently wrapped up its return season! Having made it all the way to the top three Josh Hannan took out third place, and it's just the start of his budding music career. We caught up with Hannan to chat about her Idol journey and what the future holds.


As soon as he stepped into the audition room, Hannan brought some of that Idol magic. With guitar in hand, the 20 year old from Victoria took on former Idol contestant Matt Corby’s biggest hit, Brother. “Let him play that chord” says Shark, and off we went into one of the most captivating auditions of the compeition. Hannan had impressive control, darting between his chest and head voice to showcase the varying textural tones within his vocal range. “You are a star” Trainor remarked, later suggesting they should collaborate on a song together in the future. It’s safe to say, Hannan wowed the judges and earned his golden ticket to the top fifty. “It’s nice to see somebody who is very confident in their own vision” said Connick Jr..



For the chorus line challenge, Hannan performed Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, before joining forces with Cooper Turnbull, James Vawser, Bobby Holmes and Tully Wishart to perform Ed Sheeran’s Perfect. Having made it through to the top thirty two, he performs It’ll Be Ok by Shawn Mendes, showing off his piano skills after being inspired by Connick Jr.. The judge said he thinks Hannan is one of the more talented competitors, but wonders why he chose Idol as an avenue to success. Hannan answers he entered the competition for the exposure, sharing his artistry with the nation.




For his top twenty four performance, Hannan is stepping out from behind instruments to showcase his stage presence. He performed JOJI’s mega-hit Glimpse Of Us, feeling some nerves without the security blanket of an instrument. He shook those nerves off and delivered an incredible performance. A touchdown worth performance in my opinion. His emotive vocals captured the songs tender nature, and whilst the songs arrangement remains the same, Hannan made lovely melodic choices that show his own musicianship and understanding of song structures. He received a standing ovation from Trainor, and the judges lapped up the performance. Shark says he deserves to top the ARIA charts, and Connick Jr. commends his ability to interpret the song. Sandilands thinks he could play him on the radio tomorrow, and Trainor wishes she had another touchdown to throw his way before saying, “if this doesn’t work out, like let’s write you know? Let’s do a song, you’re so great. But it’s gonna work out!” And it did, he made it through to the top twelve.



For his first top twelve performance, Hannan was looking for a style revamp, saying “My sisters are probably the more stylish of the siblings,” whilst they put some looks together and critiqued his ‘jorts’. He then went and delivered quite possibly the best performance of the night. He sang The Fray’s You Found Me, standing resolute centre stage whilst charming illustrated visuals appeared on screen surrounding him. Hannan’s vocals could rival even the most seasoned vocalists. There was a vulnerability in his diction and phrasing, but when those powerful vocals hit in the chorus it was undeniable that Hannan was one of the top contenders to take out the competition. The arrangement was perfect, and the harmonies from the bands backing vocalists were beautiful. He captured the emotions of what he was singing and really took the listener on a journey. This was further amplified by the decision to keep still on stage instead of traversing across it, which lured us in as audience members. “You’re ready to go as far as I’m concerned,” announced Sandilands in reference to Hannan’s ability to become a working musician. Speaking of his song choices, Connick Jr. says, ”You have been able to strike this perfect balance between poetry and accessibility,” and he’s spot on. From early on, Hannan was really showcasing the artist he wants to be, and pulled it off effortlessly.


For 'judges choice' week, he was given four songs to choose from. Noah Cyrus’ July, Sam Fischer’s The City, Lewis Capaldi’s Forget Me or James Bay’s Hold Back The River were all up for grabs. Ultimately, he chose Forget Me due to its uptempo nature. Opening the song with more stripped back instrumentation, the performance built towards a more driving chorus. Hannan sounded great and Shark was losing her mind watching along with pride. However, stripping the song back took away from the “upbeat” risk he wanted to take, and whilst he used the stage his presence seemed a bit reserved. Sandilands wanted more movement onstage, but Shark said she could see Hannan filling stadiums, like Harry Styles had done the night before. (Side note: I was also at Styles’ first show in Friday and it was one of the best I’ve ever seen).




Hannan performed Fix You by Coldplay for 'heroes and tributes' week, dedicating the song to his music teacher Tracey, who gave him singing lessons as a youngster. Last year, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and the tears start to swell as Hannan tells Tracey he’ll be performing tonight in her honour. Seated at the piano, he blessed us with an emotional performance that showcased the light and shade of his vocals and that incredible tone. It’s hard to fault anything, and we definitely ended the episode with the best performance of the night. Trainor said he sounded like a violin and a cello and that was such a great analogy, he has such a versatile voice. Shark thinks he’s a superstar and shares her own story on losing a musical confidant to cancer at a young age, and Connick Jr. dubs it Hannan's strongest performance. After a "healthy debate" amongst the judges, he's awarded their fast pass to the next round. Shark says Hannan is an "important part of the show," and has progressed to the top six.



In the semi-final, we're shown footage of the musician meeting fans prior to his performance of Olivia Rodrigo’s hit song Drivers License. It goes without saying that Hannan delivered a standout performance. Each week he continued to kill it, and his take on Drivers License was no different. Seated at the piano, his luring stage presence filled the room and his vocals never faltered. The judges all loved it, and Trainor revealed the Chair CEO of Sony Music Australia, Vanessa Picken, was in the audience that night. “We’ve really got a contest now,” said Sandilands. The following night, Hannan went head-to-head with Amali Dimond for a spot in the grand final. He sung Elvis Presley’s beloved song Can’t Help Falling In Love, and took the final spot in the grand final.



Kicking off the grand final alongside fellow top three contestants, Royston Sagigi-Baira Phoebe Stewart and Hannan, the top twelve joined them to perform Ed Sheeran’s Celestial. We’re shown a montage of his journey throughout the competition and can see the growth in confidence throughout. It’s great to see the support of his hometown, and his reach in establishing a growing fan base. For his final performance, he’s performed James Bay’s Hold Back The River, picking up the guitar again just like that first audition where he won us all over. Once again, Hannan has delivered a flawless performance that captures his artistry and highlights the compelling light and shade of his vocals. Much like his fellow finalists, it’s clear he’s ready to take on the world and reach new heights with his music career. “I’m so glad you brought the guitar back,” says Trainor before commenting on his ability as a multifaceted musician, and Shark commends his confidence as a guitarist. Ultimately, Hannan placed third in the Australian Idol's comeback season, an amazing and incredible feat.



Congratulations on making it to the top three in the grand final. That's pretty epic. So I hope you're super proud of yourself because all of you achieved so much.


Cheers! It's been, I was pretty happy with the result.




Taking it back to 2022, what drew you to wanting to audition for Australian Idol?


When I first kind of auditioned it was really about me trying to get a platform for my original music. I had a few songs that I didn't want to waste by just releasing and having them not get heard. So I really wanted to have that kind of, I mean there's never a perfect moment, but I wanted to have a really ideal situation where I could put the songs out and be confident that they were gonna be heard. So yeah, that was kind of the whole plan with my idol audition at the start.




Yeah, I really back that like knowing that. Believing in your work and wanting it to have maximum exposure, but not defaulting to social media. Which is a great tool, but can also not provoke longevity.


But, but there's also the industry is like so flooded with every man and his dog in his bedroom making an album, you know? Like Billie Eilish made a made her first album in a bedroom and it's just like there's all these incredible talents that have kind of been hidden previously and there's a lot of competition. So having a platform to kind of launch off is huge.




Yeah, for sure. It's also one where the audience has the time to create an emotional connection to the contestants. I feel like throughout the competition, you were one of the contestants whose artistry always came through with each performance. So how did you find that balance of presenting who you are as an artist to Australia, but also like being aware that it is a mainstream media program?


Yeah, I think it was really just about kind of diving in the deep end. Like when we started, I had very little confidence in myself and how I would be received in front of the whole of Australia. As the weeks went on, getting great comments from people and having them vote me through was enough to kind of give me the confidence to sort of open up and just be be myself and be vulnerable on the stage. It was really cool for me to kind of develop with a whole heap of people that are professionals. You've got the hair and makeup team who got rid of my curtains [laughs] I had the stylist team who tried heaps of different stuff with me and we all worked together to kind of create this package that felt like it was me. It was awesome. I couldn't be happier with how it all went.




I back that. I think your overall image and artistry and what you presented really came together quite nicely and did feel quite authentic. So good job to the you and the Idol team there [laughs].


Yeah, it was everyone. The styling, the music team, you know, how they arranged my songs and I did quite a bit of arranging with them as well and they were pretty open to my ideas that I had and, you know, doing strings and doing all those kind of like emotive moments. Like sitting down on the piano and heaps of different stuff. So it was really cool.




Love it, it's nice to know you guys were so involved with what was presented in stage. What was your favourite moment throughout the whole idol journey?


Oh, I don't think I could pin a single moment to be my favoutire. There were so many incredible moments. Obviously a pretty special one to me was when I dedicated the song to my singing teacher Tracy, because I wanted to give her some recognition. She's helped so many people and she's made such a big impact on my artistry and my music career already. So it was really cool for me to be able to show that appreciation to her and it was a very unique performance for me. I might not have something like that ever again in my career because it was just such an emotive song and I just got up there and it was the one song that I felt like, you know, I wasn't singing it to the whole of Australia or the crowd, I was singing it directly to her. So it was a pretty special one for me. But there's been heaps, like even Drivers License and Hold Back the River, I felt like it was the first kind of moments that it felt like it could have been my gig, you know,? It could have been one of my shows, which was really cool. I was sort of starting to slip into that natural feeling of performing. Whereas at the start, obviously the audition is very memorable as well, just jumping up at that first impression and you got no idea how you're going to be received. So that was very, very fun. Very memorable, but lots of nerves in that [laughs] for sure.




Did you find it was more nerve-wracking performing in front of only the four judges earlier on in the competition as opposed to the live audiences each week?


Yeah, I think it was because for me it wasn't just in front of the judges, it was in front of all of Australia that's gonna be watching it as well. You get up there and you walk in and there's this big Idol logo and you have to step up onto it and it's a very deliberate conscious decision to get up there and like, there's a lot of things going through your head in the moment and you're trying to be present and not come off like an idiot as well when you're talking. You can see in the audition my whole face was red and I had almost like an allergic reaction to the nerves [laughs]. Because it was the first time in front of lights and cameras and you're singing as well. That was definitely nerve-wracking and there's something intimidating about just four people looking at you. But the first time in front of a crowd was a completely different atmosphere as again. They're all very good learning experiences to have. Like if I'm pitching to a label or something going on from now, that's gonna be more of an environment like the audition or you've just got a few people in the room and that can be just as scary as a full crowd.




Hopefully minus the camera crew [laughs].


Yeah [laughs], exactly.



I know you ended up putting a coverup of Bruises, which was set to be your top two performance. But were there any songs that you would've loved to have done that you didn't get the chance to?


Oh, there was was so many different songs that I could have done and there was a few more niche ones that I really love. Like Godspeed by James Blake. Like those kind of ones to build a home cinematic orchestra. These are ones I've done covers of on TikTok as well, but they're more perhaps even more in line with my artistry and my original stuff. But I think it was cool for me to kind of delve into more of the popular music as well because I hadn't really looked into that heaps in the past and I was very much more going like artsy fartsy kinda stuff. And now it's cool because I know I enjoy doing both as well. It's good to have songs that people know, you know?




Yeah, for sure. It also shows your versatility as an artist, but also how you can take like a pop track and kind of put it into your own sonic realm.


That was so much fun as well, like doing Drivers License, doing Fix You, which was quite a different version with the strings and everything. That was awesome and it was a lot of fun.




Obviously you made it to the grand final. How did it feel knowing that you had that much support from Australia? Because also when I was talking with Royston, I realised you both are the only two contestants who were never in the bottom four?


Yeah, it completely flipped my confidence on its head, like going from being up on stage and I have like full body pins and needles and stuff, to having the support every week. I could notice a physical difference in how my body was reacting as well as how I felt up on stage. And it was like, I felt so much more free having the knowledge that people are gonna receive what I'm doing well. Because in the past I've been able to do it so if I've done it once, I can do it again, you know? But I mean the grand final is full on and it's three people that all of Australia has to pick from. So I think I was going in with some confidence and I wanted to win in the moment. But, you know, looking back, I think I've actually landed in the ideal position for me because I've had some time to come back and think about exactly what I want to do moving forward and some time to work out how I'm gonna best showcase my artistry moving forward and hopefully keep those fans that I've won over into the rest of my career.




Obviously winning's great because you get the deal and all that kind of fun stuff, but when you think about shows in this format, so many of the like runners up or even like people who came seventh or eighth or whatever, still go on to have such great careers afterwards. You know that, you auditioned with a Matt Corby song.


He's done exactly what I'm trying to plan to do. He came out, I think he was second, and he's gone on to have a much bigger career than the winner of that series. Natalie Gauci went on and she's now a singing teacher. So it's great that she's gone into that career, but I think the title doesn't define your artistry and I got exactly what I wanted out of the show. I mean, a hundred grand would've been nice [laughs], but having the fans and the support behind me is way bigger than any prize money.




I think people always forget that Jessica Mauboy actually didn't win either, Damian Leith won that year. And Jess is one of the biggest artists in Australia.


Jess Mauboy didn't win, Ricki-Lee didn't win. There's heaps.




It's been fourteen years since Australian Idol last aired. Since then the whole terrain of the music industry has changed. Obviously, TikTok has become such a big thing as we were saying earlier. So how do you think a show like this can kind of change the trajectory of an artist's career and how do you think it's done so for you so far?


Yeah, I think TikTok is great for people that go on their phones a lot. But like all of Australia isn't always sitting on TikTok looking at videos all day. There's a lot of people that do. It tends to be younger people and I've noticed that like even after Australian Idol, I've had heaps, like even in Mount Ev, which has been really cool. Like I'd be at the bakery and older woman, I think she was like 86 years old, she's like tapping on the window and she's like, 'Hey, we saw you on idol. We love you' and everything. It's so cool to be put in front of a broad audience and win over fans that might not have technology set up and everything, but they've watched the TV. I think that's really valuable to me that I'm reaching and connecting with a wide audience. TikTok is great and I've absolutely loved TikTok, but it's the very different audience, like people that watch these shows, they probably want to discover something new and being able to be a part of that and, you know, to let them be a part of my whole career and my journey is something that I think a lot of people tack onto a lot more than just a sixty second video on TikTok.




Yeah, they get to see you and follow your journey as the program airs which gives them the opportunity to make a deeper connection as opposed to scrolling past videos on TikTok.


It's not just the performances as well, it's like how you present yourself and they get to really know you as a person.




What do you think was the best piece of advice that you got throughout the whole competition?


Again, there was thousands of things, like little tiny moments to big moments, that completely shaped my journey on the show. But I think one thing that kind of stuck with me a lot was something that Harry Connick Jr. Said at the very start just about my artistry and staying true to myself. He said, 'I think your artistry will win over a lot of people and there's a lot of great singers in the competition. So if you can stay true to that, then you'll go a long way.' And I was pretty intimidated on that audition day in the room hearing like everyone was singing songs and stuff and there was lots of really good singers that could do runs and everything. It probably got in my head a little bit as well. But it was nice to have someone that was confident in my style and in my performance enough that he thought I could make it pretty far. So that was something that I kind of kept in the back of my head the whole way. That I'm not trying to beat anyone else, just be the best version of myself and that's the best thing I can do.



That's great advice. It's so funny, so many contestants have said that their favourite piece of advice has come from Harry.


He's very wise musically. Like he's been a live performer for years and years. and not to say that the others aren't, you know, the others are very, very knowledgeable as well and I've got great advice from all of them, if I'm honest. But yeah, his advice was probably the one that stuck with me the most.




Yeah, I think it's a good mix on the panel. Obviously Amy's local and knows the Australian industry and had to build her career here from the beginning. Harry has all this amazing experience. Megan's got like the whole TikTok thing and had a great career and then Kyle has the radio aspect. So it feels like such a good mix of different kind of avenues for a career, so I'm sure they all gave great advice. But what advice would you give to someone wanting to audition for Australian Idol next year?


There's a few things. Like obviously exactly what Harry said, be yourself. It's so exhausting trying to be something that you're not. So if you can try as hard as you can to be your most authentic self, people connect with that. People like when someone is genuine and that's what I found really connected as soon as I was showing a vulnerable part of my story or something, that was when I got the most reactions. And, you know, don't let anything that anyone says stop you from chasing that dream that you have or, you know, releasing that single. Like there's plenty of people in the world who are gonna tell you no or tell you that you can't do it. Just because you have one bad performance doesn't mean that you can't still make it all the way. You learn so much going through all these things and like even on my audition, it was probably not my best performance that I've done of the song because there was a number of factors. But, you know, I had quite a few people saying really nice things and quite a few people saying, 'oh, he was trash' and all this stuff. You can't win everyone over and if you're consistent and you keep working hard, you can win those people over eventually. And maybe one other thing, just always having time for everyone as well. That's huge. No matter how small or big the person is, like always take a second to take a selfie or talk to talk to them the extra five seconds. It makes a big difference.




Yeah, it really does. And it shows that you like care about like the fan base that you're cultivating as well, so that's super lovely. Good advice.


Five seconds could get you a $50 ticket, you know?




Exactly!, So to finish off, what's next for you? Are you kind of planning on releasing some new music or maybe touring?


I do have something out that's been out since like, I don't even know, 2020 or something, but it's not exactly in line with all the stuff I'm doing at the moment. It was actually a year twelve assignment that I just thought I'll chuck it in triple j unearthed and chuck it on Spotify and see what happens. I think my plans at the moment, like I've just been working my butt off in the studio since I got home and getting lots of my demos ready. I've got a song that are pretty much ready I think. It's about whether, you know, whatever happens in the future. There's still discussions with labels and I'm not sure exactly when I'll be able to get it out. I'm trying as hard as I can to get it as soon as possible. But yeah, I think I'll definitely be trying to get original music out and get on a tour as soon as I possibly can. Until then I'm just gonna be writing and recording and posting stuff on my socials and everything and trying to keep everyone engaged. But there's, I think hopefully there's gonna be some stuff to look forward to.


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