Scott, To Be Certain


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Idol Top 5, Or How Natalie Learned To Stop Worrying And Become The Bomb

A tardy but no less warm hello to all and, because I'm feeling particularly inclusive, to sundry et al (where by "Al" I obviously mean Paul Simon).

It's true, S2BC has been about as lively and regular as a constipated quadriplegic of late, and for that you have my sincere apologies. I blame this principally on that pesky hindrance often referred to as "employment". It has a reputation for being somehow worthwhile (apparently it's financially advantageous) but in reality the periodic increases enjoyed by one's bank balance are usually, in my experience, offset by the diminution of one's will to live.

"At least you have a job"

Don't even get me started. It's possible my blogging lethargy was an intuitive foreshadowing of this divine woman's demise, one of the saddest days in the history of reality television. That this sassy, witty, hilarious and incisive interviewer - matched only by Andrew Denton in this country - is out of work not only signals the death knell for Big Brother (which will now literally be unwatchable under the custodianship of wretched reality TV monopoliser Kyle and devil incarnate Jackie O) but also begins to make unemployment sound rather sexy.

In terms of Idol, it's even more likely that my trips to the blogging well may also have decreased on the simple basis of a desperately underwhelming season.

My own personal 'snap' occurred when one of this season's most interesting performers, Ben McKenzie - who delivered the 2nd best performance of the season in "Mad World" and introduced Imogen Heap to the tweens - was turfed in 7th place. I was both devastated and yet completely unsurprised by this result, since the cyclical nature of this competition has taught us to always expect a frontrunner's demise on the back of a collectively disappointing mid-series performance show - this dependable formula for tragedy saw us lose Ricki-Lee after the Beatles' Night debacle in Season 2, Anne Robertson after the hilarity of Season 3's Motown night and last year Bobby Flynn at the same juncture.

The snap was then reinforced a week later when Kyle, seeing no reason to discontinue the show's disturbing fondness for gay double entendres, declared that the Australian public had "arseholed Ben". Classy. In addition, Marty Simpson was still inexplicably around: as of the Top 6, he was the only competitor not to receive a touchdown, which, as random they may now seem, is really all you need to know.

In many ways I felt burnt out by Idol, unable to summon any semblance of enthusiasm for any of the remaining competitors.

Until now.

My heart, and this competition, now belongs to Natalie Gauci.

Last night, Natalie erased every single one of her less-than-amazing moments - that time she declared Alan Jones Australia's best journalist, those hungry-crotched semi-final pants, that ghastly thematic interpretation of "Rehab" - and replaced them with a scorching, unforgettable get-out-of-my-fucking-way-as-I-stride-closer-to-that-recording-contract-thanks-very-much claim to the Idol throne.

It all started when she took to the stage with the kind of gorgeous, shiny hair that screamed unequivocally, "Get fucked Jessica Mauboy". Not content with cementing her place as next year's face of [INSERT BRAND], Natalie eased into a rendition of the Divinyls classic "Boys In Town" which initially appeared like an audition for the 3rd Veronica but which soon morphed into the kind of bold, attitude-laden but still technically excellent, broadly imagined and fully realised stage performance from an actual musician rarely seen on the show.

Sure, there was some obvious choreography, but there was also musicianship and stagecraft. There's simply no mistaking the passion and skill inherent in a performance which ultimately calls for a revision of S2BC's Top 20 Greatest Idol Performances. (YES, I will finish it, and this time, I will take Jessica's anthem one step further and commit to doing what I say. How about that?)

This was clearly the performance of the season, and the best and most worthy touchdown since Damian Leith's "Wicked Game" (No. 10 in the countdown).

What makes this stunning effort all the more impressive is that it is her first truly original moment.

Her previous highwater marks - Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good" and Rihanna's "Umbrella" - were excellent but not altogether imaginatively realised. The first came at the right moment (in the Wild Card round amid a sea of mediocre competition) but resembled Fantasia's infamous "Summertime" theatrics far too closely (seated intro, similar genre and era), while the latter was a virtual copy of Mandy Moore's recent and far superior cover (even if Nat did dress up like a human piano and provide some visual irony by performing the song with drenched hair).

But never before had anyone STOOD ON A FUCKING PIANO IN HIGH HEELS.

In the most important of ways for both her fans and the entire Idol franchise, the performance was a reminder that Natalie is serious about becoming a real artist. And as a bonus for all the reality TV haters, Natalie has the requisitely genuine/struggling Missy Higgins-style profile too: did anyone else realise she was almost unearthed by Triple J? Her original music (accessible by the above link) is highly listenable - do yourself "a favour".

The rush of new love is blinding, but bear with me as I summon sufficient interest to cast a cursory glance at Natalie's nearest competition.

5. Jennifer Connolly, "20 Good Reasons" (by Thirsty Merc)

Jennifer, pictured above left in last week's pretty night-dress and denim ensemble, delivered yet another turgid ballad - straight from Marcia's Absolute Favourites Vol. 7,614. I bear him no ill will, but both the hair and the boring performances are indictable. Add to that the inane fashion, and you have your frontrunner at risk.

4. Marty Simpson, "These Days" (by Powderfinger)

Not the worst performer of the night, but still the most baffling member of the Top 5 since Hayley Jensen. Extra points for actually caring. And a giant retrospective high five to Andrew G for last week's catty pearler to Marty, his best contribution to the show in five years: "I guess you can get smashed by the waves or learn to surf."

3. Carl Risible, "Reminiscing" (by Little River Band)

It pains me to acknowledge that Carl was last week's best performer (perhaps another reason I chose to remain in silence). Last night he was insipid but tolerable, if a little too trigger-happy on the Mifsud epileptic hand tribute. (Mifsud's departure was one of this season's most just results: he was horrendous last week, absolutely murdering Esky Mojo's brilliant "From The Sea", one of the best Australian rock songs of the last 10 years.)

2. Parasite Williams Vushe, "When It All Falls Apart" (by The Veronicas)

I haven't heard such empassioned public debate about fakeness since the great Demet and Andrew tussle of BB07. To be frank, I couldn't really see what Dicko and Mark were talking about: whether Parasite's onstage fury was manufactured or channelled directly from her premenstrual soul, this was still an exciting performance, with all the hallmarks of a desperate attempt to revive Destiny's Child. She's a highly annoying individual with nothing to call on but her voice (and even then it's only appealing in the lower register and when softly used), which amounts to a fairly boring musical proposition in a Natalie-plus-piano-and-heels world - but this particular performance bore none of the qualities they accused her of. Perhaps it was simply the judges' aim to elicit a fiery response from Tarisai for once. It worked. Whatever the case, the issue prompted the most philosophical moment of Kyle's life, whereby he morphed from mean judge into advice columnist (and actually made sense), leaving the dirty work to Mark and Dicko. Meanwhile, Marcia decided not to help out a sister-girlfriend, electing instead to say nothing. Deciphering the meaning behind this enigmatic response has been the highlight of my day. Any thoughts?

So there you have it. Only one of the following contestants is worth getting excited about.

To the left, to the left

Thank you all for your heartfelt enquiries as to my whereabouts and well-being over the last week or so. Never fear, it's not Scott, To Be Curtains.

Like sexy and Backstreet before it, S2BC is back.


  • At 5:22 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Ben said…

    "Human piano" = GOLD

    Not quite the two-weeks-in-one I was holding out for, but beggars can't be choosers.

    Please never abandon us again.

  • At 5:35 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Welcome back.

    Now, many things to say:

    1. Great title for this post.
    2. You underrate Natalie's version of 'Umbrella'. watch it again. Her vocal is marvellous and it's altogether better than Mandy Moore's version for being just a little less stripped back from the original.
    3. Have you noticed that, 'Feelin Good' aside, Natalie needs her piano to kick arse? 'Man in the Mirror' and 'Umbrella' and now this season-defining performance.
    4. Still on Natalie, there is no way that Carl was better than her last week, even if he was the least awful he's ever been. Her version of 'Nothing Compares 2u' wasn't exactly chopped liver either.
    5. When you said 'Mad World' was the second best performance of the season, did you mean after this one, or was there another prior to now that you rate? I have to say that I think 'Hide and Seek' (which you never gave an opinion on) was Ben's piece de resistance and still ranks ahead of anything else this season for me.
    6. I don’t think Natalie actually said ‘best journalist’ but perhaps I’m just wanting to believe that?
    7. I thought she was very Tori-esque with this one, like when Tori did ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.
    8. I’d like to make a prediction: a bottom three of boys, with Matt Corby to go. He was uninspired last night, but didn’t get criticism to attract a sympathy vote, and his fans will still think he is popular enough to coast through (although his previous appearance in the bottom 3 could diminish that delusion). Plus he went first. Carl could possibly suffer the same fate, admittedly
    9. I need to stop using your comments as a defacto blog and write mine again!

  • At 9:12 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    although she was in the bottom three, I am tipping natalie to win. I can't believe she was in the bottom three.
    I do miss ben though. i would have liked to see them togther at the opera house.
    I also think holly was abig loss in round one, considering the hacks that are left.

    Do you all know that Millsy is on that show 'the singing bee'? Which is super fun by the way. I always thought he was a bit of a hack and was a little suprised to see him.

    Ricky-Lee tore it up last night at the arias. Althought she did seem to have some concerns with the length of her dress and kept tugging at the hem.

    good to have you back.

    Comments from last week. Interested to hear you thoughts on the judges choices. I thought it was pretty hilarious that the chose a reggae tune for Agro without much consideration as to which one. How that boy manages to stuff up a reggae tune is beyond me. And mark's touchdown for matt?????

  • At 9:41 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Gah! Why do I do stupid things like that? Worst. Prediction. Ever.

    Thank god Natalie stayed in. Time to start voting, folks.


  • At 9:45 PM, October 29, 2007, Anonymous The Penguin said…

    The Lesotho fantasy was from me, The Penguin. I forgot to own up.

  • At 9:52 PM, October 29, 2007, Blogger PopGoesCanberra said…

    could you BE any funnier.

    Far out.

  • At 12:07 AM, October 30, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

    For me:

    1. Tarisai's "Somebody to Love"
    2. Ben's "Mad World"
    3. Natalie's "Boys in Town"
    4. Tarisai's "River Deep Mountain High"
    5. Natalie's "Man in the Mirror"


    I really wanted Tarisie to get angry at MARCIA. What the fuck is wrong with that woman? They go mean on Ben and she swears and hoots and hollars, yet they go mental at Tarisai and she has "nothing to say". Sad to see Tarisai leave over the likes of Marty (again!), Matt (ugh, "one trick pony" was never so true) and Carl (although he has grown on me since his disastrous walzing matilda moment).

    Still, Natalie was amazing last night.

  • At 10:51 AM, October 30, 2007, Blogger Zoe said…

    She did too say that about Alan Jones.

  • At 11:24 AM, October 30, 2007, Blogger Adem IAR said…

    I think she did quite well, but I don't think it was as good as everyone has been saying.

    Probably has more to do with my heavy Divinyls revival these past 8 months and less to do with her actual performance - it was brave picking a song sung and performed so remarkably by the greatest Australian artist of all time.

    Dicko was right too - those steps are for pussies. Chrissy would have picked them up, thrown them at John Foreman's head, spat at the crowd, then jumped onto the piano and shrieked her "get me out of here's."

  • At 12:14 PM, October 30, 2007, Anonymous FranklinBluth said…

    an idol judge i've never heard of...

    p.s SO GLAD YOU'RE BACK!!!

  • At 2:58 PM, October 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank God you're back. I too have been losing the will to live thanks to my work... It's interwebs brilliance such as yours that gets me through the day!

  • At 5:12 PM, October 30, 2007, Blogger EuroTrash said…

    Oh. My. God.

    Tarisai has been touched up by the Holy Spirit and By Jove she's an angry little witch.


    Have a read of this article!


  • At 6:25 PM, October 30, 2007, Anonymous FranklinBluth said…

    did anyone else have no idea that Tarisai is 20 years old?

  • At 1:27 PM, October 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No! I actually thought she was much younger, hence the very childish behaviour. And jeez, if she says 'to be honest' one more time...

  • At 4:48 PM, October 31, 2007, Blogger Kamikaze Camel said…

    Hahah, Tarisai is killing any career she was gonna have. Today in the Herald Sun she was bitching out on Natalie.

  • At 4:46 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Adam D said…

    Glad you are back Scott! Thanks for the laughs as always.


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