Scott, To Be Certain


Saturday, August 11, 2007

S2BC's Top 20 Australian Idol Performances: 20 -16

We're only two weeks away from meeting the latest batch of Australian Idol semi-finalists and from the Idol performance juggernaut commencing in earnest.

Until then, while the tired recipe of fools and tools are being levelled at us in the audition shows, it's perhaps an ideal time to revisit the best moments of the past. Over the next little while, I'll be revealing what I consider to be the 20 best performances of the last 4 years of Idol. This has involved re-watching every single performance that is available on YouTube or elsewhere, including semi-final performances.

"Are you INSANE"

It's highly likely. There were certainly some doozies, but also some absolute belters that made the effort well worth it. Let's get the Top 20 underway, shall we?

(Just FYI, clicking on the play button will allow you to watch the video within S2BC, while clicking on the actual video will navigate you away to the YouTube page.)

20. Dan England, "Try A Little Tenderness" (Season 3, Semi-Finals)

Remember Mutley? It all turned to shit later on for Jon Butler Lite, but you would never have known with this assured debut. The song is an Otis Redding classic, and Dan tackled it with a faithful arrangement, imbuing actual tenderness into his delivery with a sparse intro supported only by a piano. What makes it special is that it's completely note-perfect: he'd barely need to re-cut this for a studio release. And then there's that distinctive voice, which was never better. However, it was his only good performance. By the time he was eliminated in fourth place, he'd eaten his body weight in Big Macs and taken to phoning in listless, uninteresting performances with all the charisma of a sewing needle. A shame, because the beginning was so promising.

19. Paulini Curuenavuli, "Fields of Gold" (Season 1, Top 6 Up Close & Personal)

This performance is a triumph of restraint. Paulini had just come off the shock of a Bottom 2 finish at a time when she was leading the betting, but instead of resorting to the usual vocal gymnastics to win back votes, she dished out this classy, syrupy rendition of the Sting classic. The control in her lower register is especially luscious - the song's title and the smoothness of Paulini's voice seem aptly matched - while her annoying, Callea-style microphone-tapping is kept well at bay. A delight.

18. Jessica Mauboy, "Night of My Life" (Season 4, Top 2)

This song is perhaps the greatest of the 4 Idol winners' singles, but it's Jessica's performance of it that is the least congratulated. It's a stirring, commanding vocal, during which Jessica expertly wrenches maximum emotion from the key change at the end of the bridge. Damien's victory was a just result, but Jessica owned this song from start to finish. She went in to the finale as the favourite, but we should know by now how these things turn out. ("Indeed" - Zach)

17. Hayley Jensen, "Angel" (Season 2, Semi-Finals)

At S2BC we came to know her as the bogan Canberran interloper Jenny Eyelash, who outstayed her welcome by about 11 weeks. It became painfully apparent after the semi-finals that Hayley was a one-trick pony with a lone Sarah McLachlan string to her bow, but what a string. Her mimicry of the trademark McLachlan vocal break is very impressive, and the gentle rendition of this song is almost mesmerising. It was the only time I could tolerate Hayley, but it's a performance I re-listen to regularly.

16. Damien Leith, "Crying" (Season 4, Top 4)

There was a lot of same-ness about Damien's histrionic, overwrought falsetto that seemed to pervade every performance. But two particular performances benefitted from it, and this was one of them. He builds the intensity beautifully here, from the tender intro through to the mournful bellow of the "Crying" refrain that subtly hinted at his suitability for opera (which he would later ram down our throats with the musical laxative Nessun Dorma), before undermining all his hard work by thanking the crowd like a lephrechaun in a theme park.

Stay tuned for the next instalment as the week moves on. Until then, if you enjoyed Memory Lane, take a look back at This Week In Idol last year and in 2005.

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  • At 10:33 AM, August 13, 2007, Blogger Woodsman said…

    Lovely thankyou S2BC. I trust Casey will be 1-11 of best performances...with perhaps Chanel's audition being the only danger of a cleansweep top 10 from our favourite fat?

    Damien Leith though is horrendous. Being able to sing in falsetto does not maketh talent. Sure he seemed like a nice guy but every performance of his had me changing the channel halfway through in boredom and samesyness.

  • At 12:54 PM, August 13, 2007, Blogger comicstriphero said…

    Hayley's semi-final is one of the few performances that I still remember (fondly).

    That and Rebekah LaVauney singing Heading in the right direction

  • At 1:45 PM, August 13, 2007, Blogger PetStarr said…

    I can't believe you rate Hayley in your top 10 ANYTHING! Shudder.

  • At 2:07 PM, August 13, 2007, Blogger Woodsman said…

    Oh c'mon Jenny's dancing to Killing Heidi's Weir was fucking great!

  • At 3:20 PM, August 13, 2007, Blogger Scott said…

    PetStarr - credit where credit is due. Hayley nailed that semi-final. The hideous rest is history. And, at No. 17, she's a long way off the Top 10, so chill.

    CSH - Bek makes an appearance later, but not with the song you mention.

    Woodsman, Casey drops in to say hi a few times, as does Chanel. Bless.

  • At 6:13 PM, August 13, 2007, Anonymous FranklinBluth said…

    How BAD is Paulini's hair in that clip?! Yik!

  • At 7:19 PM, August 13, 2007, Blogger Adem IAR said…

    Scott, do you think Paulini did a better job of "Fields..." than Nadine Coyle did years earlier on Popstars The Rivals??

  • At 8:44 PM, August 13, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Agree with your opinion of Hayley - she had one great moment.

    Don;t agree regarding Mauboy though - her performance of NOML is almost as mundane as the midget doing "Listen With Your Heart".

    Was she the favourite with bookies at the end? Because I think Damien was perhaps the most obvious winner ever.

    I hope to see Casey's 'Beautiful' ahead of anything by the midget...


  • At 10:33 PM, October 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know what pisses me off!

    Bagging People over things they cant help it shits me, wether it be their weight, there sexuality, their height, Physical features! theres absolutely no need for it what so ever!

    And Scott you seem to be continuely bagging the same idols one being Anthony Callea, do i sense a hint of Jealousy, maybe you, yourself are gay and wish he had of choosen you over the guy his with now!

    Also whats with the swapping all over your site, one min u love casey the next min u want her gone! Come on be honest, how many spilt personalities do u have,really?

    I found all your blogs commently RUDE and bias!

    Get A life! one that doesnt revolve around bagging people u dont know and making fun of peoples sexuality! GET OVER YOURSELF!


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