Scott, To Be Certain


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

S2BC's Top 20 All-Time Australian Idol Performances: 15-11

Feedback so far to the Great S2BC Idol Revision Project of 2007 has been feverish. There has been surprising support for Jenny Eyelash, predictable vitriol reserved for the Damien falsetto, and understandable concern for Paulini's limp, wet hair. With the next instalment we inch closer to the real deal.

15. Chanel Cole, "Constant Craving" (Season 2, Top 8)

Oh, Chanel. How we miss you. This performance was not her best, but it earns a mention for two reasons: its bewitching simplicity, showcasing Chanel's sensibilities as a musician; and its status as an unexpected but thoroughly satisfying duet. That's right: the beginning features a captivating, sparse and ethereal rendition of the k.d. lang classic by Chanel, while the back end features a huge, fuck-off bitch session courtesy of the Marcia God. Remember that relationship? Please do yourself "a favour" and watch the entire YouTube clip, as it is the best snapshot of the Marcia/Chanel enmity recorded for all posterity (except, perhaps, for Marcia's frenzied dusting of her own shoulders after Chanel approached the judges' table during her departure performance). Marcia never hated Chanel more than at the end of this performance. When she spits, "Sometimes you need to find a belt moment," you immediately sense that she is envisaging a Hutchence-style fate for Chanel. Gold.

14. Jessica Mauboy, "Beautiful" (Season 4, Top 10)

One of two standout performances of last year's series. Jessica had just burst out into the lead the previous week with a blistering Kelly Clarkson cover, but following which she copped a serve from Kyle for the junk in her teenage trunk. She served it right back with an unexpectedly assured rendition of Xtina's self-acceptance anthem, built beautifully from start to finish. Jessica is a Young Diva now, which means she will either end up starved like Paulini or endorsing Krispy Kreme with Kate De Rouge. Time will tell.

13. Casey Donovan, "The Flame" (Season 2, Top 6)

Speaking of Krispy Kreme, this is the first of three entries for one of the most deserving winners in Idol history, who also had the best microphone usage style. The label "storyteller" is often bandied about too freely in performance terms on this show, but Casey embodies it, and it's probably why we warmed to her so convincingly. This performance is an excellent example: she does nothing but waddle around the stage in flat shoes, and yet she connects. The strength of it is even clearer on mp3, where the pure and assertive vocal sounds devastatingly close to recorded quality. It's all the more powerful when you remember that this was the follow-up performance to her ridiculous "Eleanor Rigby" debacle. Class.

12. Paulini Curuenavuli, "Freeway of Love" (Season 1, Top 6)

Hilariously, this is the performance that earned Paulini a Bottom 2 finish alongside Levi. History tells us that it was the first of a series of misguided public responses, with the poster-girl for that sorry situation arriving in the form of Ricki-Lee mid-way through the next season. Paulini worryingly continues her drenched Medusa look, draped in some sort of hideous orange kaftan, but she pretends to drive a car during the performance, which is virtually reason enough for praise (see also Sophie Monk in the video for Bardot's seminal pop masterpiece "I Need Somebody"). This was Paulini's finest hour, a note-perfect, masterfully key-changing, up-tempo pop jaunt, with her legs akimbo the whole time. ("That's my girl!" - Marcia)

11. Chanel Cole, "When I Get Low, I Get High" (Season 2, Auditions)

What can be said about this? This was one out of left field and still astounds with its bravado, quirkiness and originality. The slightly edited version that was screened (and which forms the basis of the YouTube clip) doesn't convey the full sense of magic of the full performance, only available on the Top 12 DVD (which, of course, I not only own but also occasionally sleep with). It's vocally arresting, it's cheekily coquettish, and it proves why Chanel remains one of only a handful of contestants on this show that can be described as a "performer". Watch out for a sensational bonus visual rendering of the patented Marcia "No you di'int" pose, when Marcia realises this bonkers girl can actually sing. "You're the cutest thing ever," spouts Marcia. Oh, how things change.

Stay tuned for the Top 10.

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  • At 4:53 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Woodsman said…

    I dont want to be all threatening like but should Casey's Beautiful and Here's Where I Stand not be 1 and 2 our friendship could well be over.

    I am fearing a very bland The Prayer as number 1 coming on and I can only appeal that you watch it again and realise that it was only good cos it was so surprising that the twirp could hold a note, but other than that it was all very boring and way overhyped. Put it this way, i would burn my ipod if it was on there.

    I also feel there may be a Where Dove's Cry and Climb Every Mountain in you yet...

    PS I will love you forever if u find a place for Chanel's - A Case of You in your top 10.

  • At 4:54 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Woodsman said…

    or even When Dove's Cry - either way.

  • At 4:55 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Woodsman said…

    or maybe even When Doves Cry

  • At 8:10 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger comicstriphero said…

    I can not emphasise enough how much I am enjoying this retrospective of yours Scott.

    Words fail me, so maybe some yootoob will speak for me:

  • At 11:37 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Scott said…

    Oh come ON Woodsman. I'm not revealing the Top 10 in advance but I am compelled to respond to your comments about The Prayer which are just not tenable. Anthony could ALWAYS hold a note - his voice was ALWAYS pitch-perfect and strong - in fact the problem with him was that he seemed over-produced and mechanical, such was his perfection. It was never a surprise that he could hold a note - the magic of The Prayer was the ingenuity of the selection, the arrangement (marrying what was previously a bilingual duet into a seamless unit) and the sheer emotion he was able to wring from it, despite his history as a limp, bland performer (and to which status he returned after that one excellent performance). It was mind-blowing for good reason, and not because of any hype. Glad I got that off my chest.

    A Case Of You was under consideration, but in the end the vocal was a bit errant. I like it though. But I also like Anne Robertson's "If I Were Your Woman" but you won't see that in the Top 10 either.

  • At 11:38 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Scott said…

    Oh, and CSH - glad you're enjoying it. And thank you for backing me up on the Hayley performance!

  • At 10:24 AM, August 15, 2007, Blogger TallulahBelle said…

    Ahh, Marcia's insane dislike of Chanel, I still hate you for it Marcia. I'd like to see Casey's Here Where I Stand make the Top Ten at LEAST but I firmly believe that Ms Cole's version of Across The Universe or Glory Box in the Top Five. Actually, they'd be my top two but that's me!

    Enjoying the retrospective entirely, Mr Scott.

  • At 5:00 PM, August 17, 2007, Blogger EuroTrash said…

    One of the (rare) joys of living in Canberra-Our-Nation's-Capital these days is... that Chanel Cole now lives here! Yay! I have been known to drunkenly lurch at her when word spread that she'd entered the building. Chanel. Oh she was brilliant!!

  • At 6:56 PM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

    "This is what I would wear to a friends wedding. Or maybe a magazine photo shoot where I was cooking some eggs."

    Chanel was brilliant!

  • At 11:41 PM, August 21, 2007, Blogger Scott said…

    KC - I so love that clip as well! "This really isn't indicative of my career direction." Quite...


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