November 18, 2007

Why Australian Idol is bad news for alternative artists

Posted in Network Ten at 1:58 pm by Give Me The Remote

As a fan of independent music, please let me indulge. 

How does an Australian Idol finalist regain their credibility after appearing for weeks on this glorified karaoke machine?

Idol Karaoke

It’s almost a given that once an individual makes the jump to the Idol stage they are no longer a regular singer or musician.. they will forever have Australian Idol winner/loser/finalist at the start of their name. They will have 40 year old women coming to their concerts for years to come and nobody in the industry will forget their version of that song that starts reasonably soft before ending with soaring vocals and tears aplenty.

But fame! There’s the fame. Appearing on television in front of a million viewers every week and umpteen invites to D grade envelope openings alongside Big Brother housemates. Performing for the next 12 months to sellout crowds of screaming girls and their arms-crossed boyfriends and husbands.

But once the whirlwind ride ends (probably with a highest selling single ARIA award under arm) and all memories of their weekly vocal excellence long forgotten there must become a time when the artist begins to tire of the Idol tag. But can they lose it? Probably not. Kelly Clarkson has done well. She’s transformed into a ‘real’ artist now (where television ratings aren’t an indicator of record sales). I’d definitely call her an anomaly.

Recently latest Australian Idol winner Matt Corby has made some comments indicating that he is already unhappy with the ‘fringe benefits’ of beginning his record career through Idol. He’s not happy with the winners song (and neither is Natalie for that matter) and has said “Look, it’s an Idols song — it’s kind of not something I’d choose to release. I’m being diplomatic. This competition has made me look like I’m into pop, but I’m not.”

Jacob Butler & Matt Corby
Alternative Idol contestants – Jacob Butler & Matt Corby

When Sam Simmons interviewed him on the red carpet at the ARIAs for Triple J, Corby stated that he’s already trying to get away from the ‘whole Idol thing’. Simmons replied “Well it’s going to be hard buddy, coz you’re in it.”

It’s not really a wise career move for an independent style performer to appear on Australian Idol. They won’t win. No hope against the Christina Aguilera impersonators. So when their time ends and they’re back on the pub/club circuit trying to be cool again, the local labels will remember the Idol time and it will prove a hindrance.

Let’s be honest now. It shouldn’t. But in the world of independent music, it’s this ‘selling out’ that will hurt their signing chances more than dodgy pitch or a boring chorus.



  1. Great post. You pretty much summed up my thoughts.

    I sorta feel for the poor tykes, but then again, they knew what they were getting into. I’m sure most people would choose the Idol route if the alternative is to slog it out with shitty pub gigs hoping for a lucky break the old fashioned way. If these people are being made to feel like sellouts, it’s because they are. They became sellouts the moment they turned up for an Idol audition and chose to leave the “artist” title at the door and instead become a brand for a huge corporation.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with selling out. Hell, if that’s they way you wanna handle your career, by all means. But it does annoy me a little when these Idol chaps and chapettes act as if they didn’t know what they were getting into when they signed up. It’s pretty damned obvious. I mean, it’s in the freakin’ title: Australian IDOL.

  2. sarah said,

    I have to agree.
    My opinion is that the people behind Australian Idol should raise the entry age to 18. It’s obvious that Matt Corby is already having doubts about entering the competition and is worried of the effects it might have on his career in the future & all this because of a decision to enter a nation wide competition at the eary age of 16! I’m sorry, but at 16 I would’ve thought entering Idol was a great idea as well! This is an extremely talented kid, who, I have no doubts, would’ve become a star in his own right without the Idol platform.
    Lets hope that Matt can become the anomaly as Kelly Clarkson has, because I think this kid has a lot to offer to the Australian music indudstry and I urge those who read this to not give your votes to Matt, as maybe not winning may give him back a little credibility…

  3. jackie lowe said,

    is something wrong with me? have i gotten it wrong somehow, even though i was right there myself? or am i seriously the only person that seems to find a problem with this article.

    the main thing being that Matt corby didnt win, natalie did!
    he doesn’t have a recording contract (or at least not as of yet) because they were only giving away one (to the winner) and.. as FAR as i REMEMBER, i’m PRETTY SURE NATALIE WON.

  4. Give Me The Remote said,

    you are entirely correct jackie. i made the fatal mistake of assuming that the better/more popular singer would win. i failed to take into account previous trends in this show whereby the better singer always seems to come runner up and the winner ends up a dud with no sales. my bad.

  5. kiddo =D said,

    haha wow! nice come back Give Me The Remote!
    i totally agree with everything you said, in both your blog, and reply to the last comment!

    i am a young, alternative/indie muso myself, and after being dead against entering the show, for those EXACT reasons, i thought id give it a go… past though my mind for a few days… and then i had to re-think!

    no one that has come through Aus Idol is seen as an ‘artist’ without having the ‘that chick/guy off idol’ trademark…

    artists as amazing as bobby flynn, are almost seen as pop artists on Idol, because thats what the majority of the public believe!

    im sticking to the hard road!


  6. Cassie said,

    How old do you have to be to enter?
    I want to enter when I get older…
    I’m only 12 but at this singing competition, everyone said I was a good singer… So I’m thinking of entering.

  7. jactOblilia said,

    I really enjoyed reading this article, keep on creating such interesting posts!!

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