Read our recap below!
Here we are again, night two of auditions for Australian Idol’s comeback season. Overall verdict for night one: a pleasant showcase of hidden Aussie talent. We were treated to some standout performances and got to know our judging panel a bit more and navigate what they’re looking for in the next Australian Idol. As we learnt, vocal performances aren’t the beginning and end of a successful audition. It’s about having that star power, the draw card that lures someone in and keeps them captivated. With that being said, tonight we’re presented with a new lot of Idol hopefuls, hoping to win over American Idol judge, musician, singer, composer and multiple Grammy® award-winning artist Harry Connick Jr.; Grammy® award-winning singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor; beloved eight-time ARIA Award-winning singer-songwriter Amy Shark and top-rating broadcaster Kyle Sandilands.
We meet the panel outside Perth’s Optus Stadium where Connick Jr. shares his excitement at the idea of creating a global superstar. And why wouldn’t they? Australia has some of the most talented vocalists, songwriters, producers and performers. Why shouldn’t the winner of Australian Idol 2022 go on to gain international success? Historically, Idol has been the driving Australian-based singing competition to introduce the nation to artists with staying power. My genuine hope for this season is that multiple vocalists are discovered and begin forging their own path towards an illustrious, decade-spanning career.
Angelina Curtis. Image: Supplied.
At just 15 years old, Angelina Curtis has the potential to do just that. There’s a joyous quality to her presence, lighting up the room with an infectiously positive attitude. “I eat Australian Idol for breakfast” she and her mother recite as she prepares to enter the judging room. And in reality, she does. Taking on Message To My Girl from Split Enz, Curtis takes a seat at the piano and instantly gives Delta Goodrem vibes. I say this cautiously, as it’s a comparison also made by Sandilands and Curtis is an artist in her own right away from comparisons. There’s a clear tone to Curtis’ vocals as she showcases her range and the light and shade of her voice. Shark spends the whole audition with a gleaming smile, likening it to the faces she would see when she herself was on stage. Curtis wins over the judges, but sparks concern from Trainor on her age. That’s a comment repeated throughout the episode that doesn’t sit right with me. Yes, I totally agree that 15 is quite a young age to enter the music industry. However, the producers of Australian Idol lowered the age range so 15 year olds across the nation could get their chance to hold the Australian Idol title. Trainor and Shark show a more sympathetic view on the mater than their male counterparts, which sparks an interesting conversation on should the age guidelines change next year? Half the panel seem to inadvertently think so. Regardless, Curtis earned her golden ticket to the top fifty.
Royston Sagigi-Baira. Image: Supplied.
The talent continues with Royston Sagigi-Baira, a Queensland-based youth worker who gives a powerful and moving rendition of Sam Smith’s You Know I’m Not The Only One. His lower register during the verses needed a bit of work, with his falsetto wavering at times, but that could all come down to nerves. After all, imagine standing in front of four-strangers whilst being filmed and singing your heart out. Trainor tells Sagigi-Baira “I only have one word for you…”, and when I tell you I knew she was going to cry “SLAAAYYYY” I’m not lying. And she did, and it’s evident this early in episode two that Trainor is a fun addition to the panel, who also brings her own experience and knowledge to the table in an accessible and open way. Obviously, Sagigi-Baira earned a yes from each panel and is on his way to the top fifty.
The competition heats up with some sibling rivalry, as Angus and Bobby Holmes prepare to enter the room separately. The elder brother, Angus, presents that older sibling confidence that can be, at times, overbearing (no shade, I’m the youngest of three kids so I’m projecting here), as he heads on in for his audition. Trainor asks if he’s brought family along and he lets them know his brother is waiting outside for his own audition, remarking “we finally get to know who the better brother is.” Obviously mischief snares and Bobby ends up in the audition room to perform for the judges back to back. Both brothers sound good, presenting solid auditions. Angus leans more into rustic Americana whilst Bobby offers a more relaxed indie-pop vibe. Bobby has a cleaner tone, but it’s clear their tones are well suited to each other. Trainor asks for a quick sidebar with her fellow judges, swiveling their chairs around to discuss, before turning back around to share their thoughts. Shark asks the brothers if they know of Simon Cowell and One Direction, pitching what was about to unfold was her idea and she’s happy to take a cut of future profits. Angus and Bobby then perform a track together, before both being admitted to the top fifty as individual acts. “But later we can make them a band” Trainor whispers to Shark. “We’ll sign them.”
Angus (L) and Bobby (R) Holmes. Image: Supplied.
We then head to Melbourne where we meet Chenai Boucher. She’s pumping up the other budding Idols and reminding them they’re all the same. Interestingly, she starts jamming with a contestant from last nights episode who was unfortunately off-pitch and did not progress. But here, in this short vignette in episode two, she presents soulful vocals that most likely would’ve earned her a place in the next stage. It’s her redemption arc. This little editing offering is a reminder that there are so many variables when it comes to entering that audition room, and someone who the judges may critique and deem unsuccessful is just being judged off one performance. And that one performance should not define your future outlook regarding your own vocal abilities. Unfortunately, Boucher falls short due to those variables. She’s chosen the wrong song, taking on Evanescence’s seminal classic, My Immortal. In my opinion, My Immortal is truly an untouchable song. Only Amy Lee has the clarity and tone to successfully perform the track. You could ask Adele or Beyoncé to cover it, and even their powerhouse vocals would still fall short when compared to Lee. Boucher has a confident presence and attitude, and had she chosen a song more suited to her range and tone there’s no doubt she would have struck a chord with all the judges. Another thing I want to note is that Boucher was unaccompanied during her performance, which was perhaps a disservice. It seems more often than not the unsuccessful contestants have no accompaniment, which can sometimes be harder and nerve-inducing. Even over the years on American Idol it was said to be harder, singing acapella.
Connick Jr. travels solo to Newcastle to meet Piper Butcher, who makes the trip worth it with her rendition of Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive. There’s a captivating quality as she makes bolder choices that showcase her understanding of her musicianship, timing and her own voice. Butcher will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the top fifty. As we reunite with the other judges, I can’t help but be drawn into Trainor and Sandilands budding friendship. She asks him to check her lipstick and he says it looks lovely. We’re treated to little moments of the judges interacting with each other, which reminds us of their individual personalities, a nice little breather within the endless auditions. We next meet Ali Morriss, who unfortunately was not admitted to the top fifty, but did gift the panel a copy of her young-adult novel, Outside. I love the hustle and taking the opportunity for some free-promo, as much as Shark loves a freebie “Love anything free, this is good stuff” she remarks. Connick Jr. then reads the novels tagline in his presenter voice and Morriss needs to snap that audio bite up.
Piper Butcher. Image: Supplied.
28-year-old Maya Weiss is considered one of the older contestants this season, with the shows cut-off age firmly placed at 28. This is Weiss’ final chance to audition for Idol, having been too young during its original reign in the 2000’s. She presents a great aesthetic, her green eye shadow matches her outfit, and gives the aura of an emerging superstar. She oozes charisma as she takes on Wings from Little Mix. Connick Jr. starts tapping on the desk as some sort of percussive accompaniment, throwing Weiss slightly out of time which combined with her nerves brings the audition down a bit. But regardless, we’re just scratching the surface on Weiss’s talent as she progresses to the next round.
Maya Weiss. Image: Supplied.
Next up we have 18-year-old self-described crooner, Charlie Chech. From the outset, Chech presents a charming aura. Dressed up in his dinner suit, channelling the likes of Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra, it’s a dream come true for him to come face-to-face with Connick Jr.. It kicks off to a flying start, with Connick Jr. calling Chech his “little brother.” It’s hard not to let out an “awww” at this moment. He sings Come Fly With Me and delivers a traditional take on the classic tune, he cheekily charms Sandilands and anxiously waits on comments from Connick Jr.. Sandilands, Trainor and Shark seem to love him, they’re impressed with his vocals and his performance skills. Things take a sour turn with Connick Jr.. He starts critiquing him, saying, “there’s a substance of quality to the music that you’re completely missing.” Sure, Chech followed the phrasing and wording of Sinatra, but he’s 18-years-old, performing to four people he’s never met before. And one of them happens to be his idol. Was it tough love from Connick Jr.? Maybe. Did it leave Chech visibly upset and heartbroken? Big yes. He ended up scoring a yes from all four judges, but the delivery of Connick Jr.’s delivery left a stain on the experience. He went on to call him “little brother” again after the critique, but when compared to the comforting tone Trainor delivers with her critique it puts Connick Jr. as this seasons “mean coach”, another trope being played into. I’m sure most thought Sandilands would once again take up that mantle, but instead he’s presenting a more softened approach to his opinions. Well, mostly. Feedback is meant to be constructive and hopefully nourish its recipient, and whilst Connick Jr. made some valid points, the harsh tone was unnecessary.
Charlie Chech. Image: Supplied.
Kaitlyn Thomas. Image: Supplied.
Kaitlyn Thomas brought some authentic country music to Idol, guitar in tow with her name branded on it. She took on Gretchen Wilson’s Red Neck Woman, much to the joy of Trainor, and brought a Kelly Clarkson quality with her soaring notes and growling tones. She progresses, but not before Shark offers up her take on an American country accent. Falling somewhere between Cletus and Brandine Spuckler, it’s clear she too is a fan of The Simpsons.
We cap off the episode with Perth’s Taigh Wade. I have to preface this with the spoiler that I’ve met Wade and have been aware of his musical output for some time now. Last year, I conducted an interview with him for MILKY hot off the back of the musician supporting The Veronicas in Melbourne. So I’m going into this one aware of his talent, and a fan of his work. Entering the room, Wade shares with the judges he began singing following a career-ending sport injury. Music was an integral part of his recovery, and that journey has led him to the Idol audition room. He takes a seat at the piano and launches into his rendition of Dancing On My Own, particularly Calum Scott’s well-known version. Nerves take over and he mixes up some piano chords, but ultimately keeps going and pushes through like a pro. He breaks away from the lure of mimicking Scott’s British accent, instead letting his own voice come through and showcasing his understanding of creating light and shade within a performance, something that has yet to dawn on other contestants. The judges look past his “fluff ups” as Sandilands put it, with Trainor commenting on his ability to learn fast and comparing his nervous mistake to her own mistake when pitching All About That Bass to her record label. And with that, Trainor, Sandilands and Shark put their faith in Wade and put him through to the top fifty.
Taigh Wade. Image: Supplied.
Watch Australian Idol on Channel 7 and stream episode one on 7 Plus.