Tarni Stephens

Australian Idol

Australian Idol Finalists
(with dates of elimination)
Idol 2003 finalists
Guy Sebastian Winner
Shannon Noll November 19
Cosima de Vito November 3
Paulini Curuenavuli October 27
Rob Mills October 20
Levi Kereama October 13
Rebekah LaVauney October 6
Kelly Cavuoto October 6
Lauren Buckley September 29
Cle Wootton September 29
Peter Ryan September 22
Matthew Chadwick September 22
Idol 2004 finalists
Casey Donovan Winner
Anthony Callea November 21
Courtney Murphy November 8
Hayley Jensen November 1
Chanel Cole October 25
Marty Worrall October 18
Ricki-Lee Coulter October 11
Daniel Belle October 4
Emelia Rusciano September 27
Amali Ward September 20
Dan O'Connor September 13
Angeline Narayan September 6
Idol 2005 finalists
Kate DeAraugo Winner
Emily Williams November 21
Lee Harding November 14
Dan England November 7
Daniel Spillane October 31
Anne Robertson October 24
James Kannis October 17
Milly Edwards October 10
Roxane LeBrasse October 3
Laura Gissara September 26
Natalie Zahra September 19
Chris Luder September 12
Tarni Stephens September 12
Idol 2006 finalists
Damien Leith Winner
Jessica Mauboy November 26
Dean Geyer November 13
Chris Murphy November 6
Ricky Muscat October 30
Lisa Mitchell October 23
Bobby Flynn October 16
Lavina Williams October 9
Guy "Mutto" Mutton October 2
Klancie Keough September 25
Reigan Derry September 18
Joseph Gatehau September 11
Idol 2007 finalists
Natalie Gauci Winner
Matt Corby November 25
Carl Riseley November 12
Marty Simpson November 5
Tarisai Vushe October 29
Daniel Mifsud October 22
Ben McKenzie October 15
Jacob Butler October 8
Mark Da Costa October 1
Lana Krost September 24
Brianna Carpenter September 17
Holly Weinert September 10
Idol 2008 finalists
Sophie Paterson
Wes Carr
Luke Dickens
Roshani Priddis
Teale Jakubenko
Chrislyn Hamilton
Thanh Bui
Mark Spano
Madam Parker October 6
Tom Williams September 29
Brooke Addamo September 22
Jonny Taylor September 15

Australian Idol is a Logie Award-winning Australian singing competition, which began its first season on July 27, 2003. Part of the Idol franchise, it originated from the reality program Pop Idol created by British entertainment executive Simon Fuller. Australian Idol is televised on Channel 10, and the Austereo Radio Network.

The program seeks to discover the most commercial young singer in the country through a series of nationwide auditions. The outcomes of the later stages of this competition are determined by public voting by phone. The format features three judges who give critiques of the contestants' performances in order to facilitate the voting: former record executive Ian Dickson; singer Marcia Hines; and radio presenter Kyle Sandilands. The show is hosted by Andrew G, James Mathison and former contestant Ricki-Lee Coulter as a backstage. The show airs on Sunday and Monday nights in Australia. In its five seasons, its five winners have been, in order of their season, Guy Sebastian, Casey Donovan, Kate DeAraugo, Damien Leith, and Natalie Gauci. The runners-up have been Shannon Noll, Anthony Callea, Emily Williams, Jessica Mauboy, and Matt Corby. The most successful contestants on sales, have been Sebastian, Noll and Leith respectively.



Auditions are held in major cities around Australia to find each season's contestants. As of 2007 the audition locations are; Adelaide, Albury/Wodonga, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Bunbury, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Darwin, Dubbo, Hobart, Kalgoorlie, Launceston, Melbourne, Mildura, Newcastle, Perth, Rockhampton, Sydney, Wollongong and Wagga Wagga.

During auditions contestants perform a song of their choice before all three judges who then respond with either criticism or praise followed by a yes or no vote as to whether the contestant has been accepted. Contestants will only be accepted if at least two of the judges voted yes. Over the show's six year history there have been 185,000 people audition. Season 1 - 10,000 Season 2 - 50,000 Season 3 - 25,000 Season 4 - 25,000 Season 5 - 35,000 Season 6 - 40,000

Top 100

Around 100 people make it to Sydney to compete in the Top 100. The first task in the Top 100 is the 'chorus line' where 10 people are chosen randomly to perform in front of the judges. Each singing a short piece from a song of their choice. After all 10 have performed the judges choose which contestants are eliminated. In the next phase, the Top 100 contestants are randomly put into groups of four and the groups choose a song from a short list of pop songs and they are given all night to rehearse so they are able to perform it next morning. These group performances are generally criticised by the judges but with few exceptions. The next day each contestant performs an a capella of a song of their choice in front of the judges and all the remaining contestants. That night contestants are informed individually whether they make it to the semi final round, the Top 24.


The semifinal format has varied season to season. In the most recent season, the Top 24 consisted of 12 males and 12 females. The performances are then grouped into two male groups and two female groups. Following the performances from a group, two will be chosen by the viewers into the Top 12. After the four groups perform and 8 contestants chosen, a number of eliminated contestants are chosen by the judges to perform in the wildcard round. A round where a further two are chosen by viewers and another two by the judges. Performances generally last around two minutes and are followed by comments from each of the four judges. Contestants who had previously made the top 24 in the past seasons but unfortunately did not continue on to the top 12 were ineligible to audition for Australian Idol again, however, it was announced that from 2008 season onwards previous top 24 contestants are now eligible for another chance and could audition; this is similar to the concept on Canadian Idol.


As the number of performers reaches 12 the contestants are given the task of choosing a song, in accordance with a weekly theme, to perform live on national television. Viewers then telephone (or SMS) their vote(s) in relation to who they want to stay another week.

At the beginning of an elimination show the remaining idols also take part in a group performance that relates to the previous night's theme. Then the contestants with the three lowest amounts of votes are taken into the 'bottom three', before being told first who is safe for another week and finally who has been eliminated. The eliminated competitor then presents a final song - usually the number they sang the previous night.

Grand Finale

The winner is announced during the Grand Finale at the Sydney Opera House. Featuring fireworks, an outdoor concert with many Idol stars such as Guy Sebastian, Anthony Callea, Damien Leith and the Young Divas and highlights of the series. It has been the highest rating episode of each season.

The final originally followed by a national tour involving at least the top twelve contestants, but from following the 2007 season, there will be a "Winners Journey Tour" involving the winner with some guest performances from the Top 12.


A "touchdown" were awarded by judge Mark Holden when, in his own opinion, a contestant's performance is particularly good. Holden awarded his first ever "touchdown" to Cosima De Vito for her rendition of Cold Chisel's When the War Is Over in the Top 8 on Australian Made night in Season 1. Season 4 winner, Damien Leith and Season 2 winner, Casey Donovan have the record for the highest number of touchdowns at four apiece. Emily Williams, season 3 Runner-up, holds the record of having 3 touchdowns but not winning. Matt Corby, season 5 Runner-Up, shares this record with Emily. In 2004, Top 8 contestants choice night, he awarded his only ever 'Grand Royal' Touchdown when Anthony Callea performed his performance of The Prayer. One of Holden's most memorable and well deserved touchdowns was awarded to Guy Sebastian during Top 3, Season 1 for his breathtaking rendition of 'Climb Every Mountain'. His last touchdown went to Natalie Gauci in the Top 4 on Big Band night during Season 5. The "Touchdown" was give to David Hasselhoff over lunch in Los Angeles, and used on Americas Got Talent, semi-finals, 09/17/08 by him when Queen Emily was critiqued.

Even though Mark Holden does not appear in Season 6, touchdowns have been given to contestants by the other judges. Kyle Sandilands awarded a touchdown to Chrislyn Hamilton in the Top 12 for her rendition of Aretha Franklin's Think. Marcia Hines awarded a touchdown to Than Bui's performance of The Winner Takes it All in the Top 9.

Season Synopsis

Season 1

When Network Ten paid $15 million for the first season of Australian Idol they anticipated it to be a critical and financial success like it had been in other countries such as the UK and the USA. When the show aired for the first time in the August of 2003 it was a ratings bonanza attracting diverse ranges of viewers, from people wanting the crazy auditions to people who wanted to hear great voices. The audition process went through several major cities in Australia including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin. Sooner or later Australian Idol became the most popular TV show in the country with more ratings than major events such as the AFL Grand Final. The Grand Final at the Sydney Opera House attracted more than 3 million viewers. It was listed as the ninth highest rating TV show in Australia in the past century in 2007.

The eventual winner of the competition was Guy Sebastian. He beat Shannon Noll who finished in 2nd place, Cosima De Vito who came in 3rd place, Paulini Curuenavuli who came in 4th place & Rob Mills who finished in 5th place. After Idol, it was these five, the Final 5, who were the most successful out of the Top 12.

Other Idol contestants from Season 1 to release music were Levi Kereama, Rebekah LaVauney, Peter Ryan and Courtney Act. All of these independent acts achieved limited success.

Season 2

As well as the five larger cities, the judges also visited Canberra, Hobart, Darwin and Tamworth this year. Of the twelve finalists, three were from Sydney, two were from Melbourne, and one each from Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Hobart, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Bega.

The winner was Casey Donovan. Runner up Anthony Callea (2nd), Courtney Murphy (3rd), Hayley Jensen (4th) & Chanel Cole (5th). The final 2, as well as Ricki-Lee Coulter (7th), were the only contestants of the Top 12 to score hits, with Anthony ending up the highest seller out of the three and holds the record of the highest and fast selling single by an Australian artist ever with his first release of The Prayer. Chanel Cole and Daniel Belle teamed up under the label Spook to release an album in October 2005, and a bootleg album for Chanel was also released in November 2005. Ngaiire Joseph (Top 30 contestant) and Marty Worrall released a single each in late 2005, and Hayley Jensen released an album in September 2007. Dan O'Connor also got a gig on Neighbours

For this second series of Idol, the Grand Finale remains the highest rated Idol show in the whole 5 series.

On a darker note, Telstra, a major sponsor of the series, made an embarrassing error when they issued a series of half-page advertisements in major newspapers congratulating Donovan on her victory, with a reference to her website. However, the address was incorrect, leading to a website about gay porn star Casey Donovan, rather than the singer's. The company issued a prompt apology upon realising their mistake.

After this season, judge Ian Dickson bowed out of the series, later to appear in the Seven Network reality TV shows My Restaurant Rules, Dancing with the Stars and most recently, Australian Celebrity Survivor. The 2004 season was also notable for an Asian contestant named "Flynn", who sang the Freestylers song "Push Up" after being found from a terrible audition, in the same vein as William Hung.

Season 3

For the first time in 'Australian Idol' history there were 13 finalists. This came about during the Wildcard Verdict show on September 5, 2005. The judges initially chose James Kannis and Emily Williams to go through to the final. This left one spot which was chosen by the Australian public. Out of the remaining contestants the two that received the highest votes were Daniel Spillane and Roxane Lebrasse. With only 1% between them, Dan was announced as the final member of the Top 12. This meant Roxane had missed out yet again. The judges decided however that Roxane was too good to be left out of the Top 12 so they made it a Top 13. The catch was that two contestants were eliminated in the first round of the finals.

On November 21 2005 the winner was announced and it was Kate DeAraugo. Kate was an outside chance to win throughout the whole season and after the show had ended Kate released a #1 single, a platinum selling album and a further Top 10 hit single through Sony BMG. Kate is currently working with all girl group Young Divas which is madeup of past Idol contestants which include Paulini Curuenavuli, Jessica Mauboy and Emily Williams. Runner up Emily Williams lost by 1% in the closest percentage ever in an Idol finale. She was originally signed to Sony BMG as a solo artist, but the agreement fell through. She is also a member of Young Divas and has had much success with them. Lee Harding finished in third position and was signed to Sony BMG and released a # 1 single and a platinum selling album. His second single from his debut album proved to be less successful and in mid 2006 Harding was released from his contract with the label. He is currently touring and performing with Bedrock. Dan England came 4th and didn't score a recording contract with a major label but recorded several independent releases and has toured with Season 2 winner Casey Donovan and Season 1 Runner Up Shannon Noll. Anne Robertson who finished in sixth position was negotiating a deal with Sony BMG, but it was rumoured that Sony BMG was reluctant in signing her as they believed she was too similar to Season 1 contestant Paulini Curuenavuli who had been signed to the label for several years. Other Idol contestants from Season 3 have released numerous independent material and have toured and performed with several bands and music groups.

Although averaging around the 1.5 million viewer mark, ratings were down by up to 40% on average during the third season compared to the first two seasons, which regularly drew more than 2.5 million viewers during the latter half of the competition. This created a serious situation for Ten, which was airing three Australian Idol shows every week at the time, and forced them to give away free commercial airtime to program sponsors expecting higher ratings. Commentators has theorised over the reasons why this has occurred, ranging from the viewing public being tired of the format due to Sandilands replacing the popular Dickson. This caused a major Idol revamp for Season 4 which meant Season 4 being one of the highest rating seasons yet.

Season 4

Changes for the fourth season of Australian Idol included the cancellation of "Inside Idol"; a "streamlined" semi-finals (replaced with a variant of the 12 females, 12 males format popularized by American Idol); and the contestants will be able to bring instruments with them on stage for at least one of the final shows. Also, the fourth season's television promos promised a change in the viewer's role in the show, revealed to be an SMS service called 199-JUDGE which allows viewers to SMS their opinions on the judges' reactions.

Damien Leith was named the winner of Australian Idol 2006 on November 26th, beating Jessica Mauboy for the title. Leith is the third most successful selling Australian Idol contestant with 385,000 units, closely behind Guy Sebastian and Shannon Noll. He has achieved two #1 selling albums, The Winner's Journey which sold 4x Platinum and Where We Land which made Platinum certification. His third studio album Catch the Wind: Songs of a Generation peaked at #2, reaching gold status. His first single, Night of My Life stayed at #1 for four consecutive weeks and was certified Platinum after one week of sales. It was the fastest selling debut single for 2006, and was the most added song to radio. Leith also won 5 Australian Recording Industry Association Awards including Highest Selling Album of 2007. He has also released a novel titled One More Time and hosted Network Ten's heart-warming television series "Saving Kids". Third place getter Dean Geyer later released his debut album 'Rush' and top ten single 'If You Don't Mean It' and currently stars on the Australian long-time running soap Neighbours. Jessica Mauboy went on to join ex-Idol girl group Young Divas, after member from season 2, Ricki-Lee Coulter, left the group. Mauboy is set to release her first solo single in September 2008 and debut album later in October 2008.

Season 5

Ian "Dicko" Dickson rejoined the show as one of the judges, along with Mark Holden, Marcia Hines and Kyle Sandilands from 2006. The series is again hosted by Andrew G and James Mathison. The show continued with the format from Season 4 where contestants could use instruments throughout the show and for their audition they could perform original material rather than covering other artist's work. Natalie Gauci went on to win the series, beating Matt Corby for the title. Natalie released her debut platinum selling album "The Winner's Journey". After the winner's single "Here I Am" debuted at #2 on the ARIA Charts, and the album debuted at #11, Gauci suffered an unfortunate start to her career but plans to release a new album later in 2008. Carl Riseley, who finished third in the contest went on to release a swing-style album titled "The Rise", debuting at #5 on the ARIA Charts. Runner-up Matt Corby however, is yet to sign a deal with record company SonyBMG, but has "had talks" about his future with the company.

Season 6

Changes to the Australian Idol format for season 6 include judge Mark Holden leaving the show and temporary absence of host Andrew G, and auditions held for the first time in the United Kingdom.


Loss of major advertisers

It is unsure as to the future of Australian Idol, because two of its top sponsors (Telstra, and Procter & Gamble) have dropped, admit fears it cannot rebound the decrease of 19% in ratings from last year, which has resulted in a decrease of $482 million off Ten's market value, considering Channel Ten refused to air American Idol.

Lack of ongoing Recording Industry support

Australian Idol and its performers are often criticized by the Australian media and entertainers . Some winners and runners-up from the show have failed to maintain popularity past the airing of their respective series of the show. Critics have also lamented the associated record companies claiming high record sales but instead measuring the number of copies shipped to music stores in sale or return. However, this trend only seems to exist for female winners (Casey Donovan and Kate DeAraugo which and have had fairly moderate and short-lived success). Male idol graduates such as Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, Anthony Callea and Damien Leith, on the other hand, have established themselves in the Australian music market and continue to enjoy success.

Hillsong sponsorship claims

In October 2007 criticism was leveled at the fairness of the program's telephone voting system, where 50% of the remaining contestants were stated by the media to be members of the Hillsong Assemblies of God Christian organisation. The 50% of remaining contestants dispute was put to rest- when Daniel and Ben both said they did not have any affiliations with the Assemblies of God. , and raising concerns of vote-stacking by the church congregation. Since the members associated with the Assemblies of God were voted week by week, some media analysts also claim discrimination against those who admit being Christian, noting it being out of line with the "family-friendly" product placement.

Revenue generation

In November, reporter Neil Wooldridge stated that although the producers are coy about how much is being made from SMS promotions that "some commentators estimate Telstra and Network Ten, partners in the 'Australian Idol' program, made up to $900,000 profit each episode."

In 2003 it is estimated that viewers cast 20 million votes for their favourite Australian Idol contestant. At 55 cents for each telephone call or text message, that equates to $11 million even before advertising revenue. In Season 2 it is estimated that 29 million votes were cast making $16 million. Season 3 saw a slight drop with 18 million votes cast making $10 million. In Season 4 26 million were cast making $14.3 million and in Season 5, 22 million were cast making $12.2 million. Network Ten pay around $13 million for each season.

Top-Selling Australian Idol Contestants

This list only includes contestants with at least one certified album, and the totals do not include EPs, digital-only albums or pre-Idol recordings.
Gold, Platinum, and/or Multi-platinum (Australian Sales Only)

Idol Contestant
Total Sales
Debut Album Second Album Third Album Fourth Album
1. Guy Sebastian
(Season 1, Winner)
Just As I Am
(15 December 2003)
Sony BMG

6x Platinum
Peak: #1

Beautiful Life
(18 October 2004)
Sony BMG

Peak: #2

Closer To The Sun
(28 October 2006)
Sony BMG

Peak: #4

The Memphis Album
(10 November 2007)
Sony BMG

3x Platinum
Peak: #3

2. Shannon Noll
(Season 1, Runner-Up)
That's What I'm Talking About
(8 February 2004)
Sony BMG

5x Platinum
(16 October 2005)
Sony BMG

3x Platinum
Peak: #1

Turn It Up
(15 September 2007)
Sony BMG

Peak: #3

3. Damien Leith
(Season 4, Winner)
The Winner's Journey
(9 December 2006)
Sony BMG

4x Platinum
Peak: #1
Where We Land
(18 August 2007)
Sony BMG

Peak: #1

Catch the Wind: Songs of a Generation
(26 April 2008)
Sony BMG

Peak: #2

4. Casey Donovan
(Season 2, Winner)
For You
(13 December 2004)
Sony BMG

3x Platinum
Peak: #2

5. Anthony Callea
(Season 2, Runner-Up)
Anthony Callea
(25 March 2005)
Sony BMG

2x Platinum
Peak: #1
A New Chapter
(25 November 2006)
Sony BMG

Peak: #9
5. Young Divas
(Group of previous Idol Contestants;
Kate DeAraugo, Emily Williams, Paulini Curuenavuli, Jessica Mauboy, Ricki-Lee Coulter)

Young Divas
(18 November 2006)
Sony BMG

2x Platinum
Peak: #4

New Attitude
(24 November 2007)
Sony BMG

Peak: #10

6. Paulini Curuenavuli
(Season 1, 4th Place)
One Determined Heart
(23 July 2004)
Columbia Records

Peak: #1
(5 August 2006)
Columbia Records
Peak: #72
7. Kate DeAraugo
(Season 3, Winner)
A Place I've Never Been
(12 December 2005)
Sony BMG

Peak: #10
7. Natalie Gauci
(Season 5, Winner)
The Winner's Journey
(8 December 2007)
Sony BMG

Peak: #11
7. Ricki-Lee Coulter
(Season 2, 7th Place)
(3 October 2005)
Shock Records
Peak: #30
Brand New Day
(11 August 2007)
Public Opinion

Peak: #37
8. Jessica Mauboy
(Season 4, Runner-Up)
The Journey
(24 February 2007)
Sony BMG

Peak: #4
Been Waiting
(October 2008)
Sony BMG

8. Cosima De Vito
(Season 1, 3rd Place)
(11 October 2004)
CDV Records
Peak: #2
This Is Now
(29 September 2007)
Peak: Did Not Chart
9. Lee Harding
(Season 3, 3rd Place)
What's Wrong with This Picture?
(20 February 2006)
Sony BMG

Peak: #3

Number 1 Idol Singles

The following reached the position of number 1 on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart.

Year Idol Contestant Single Peak position Weeks in Charts Album
2003 Guy Sebastian "Angels Brought Me Here" #1 12 Just as I Am 4x Platinum
2003 Guy Sebastian "All I Need Is You" #1 12 Just as I Am Platinum
2004 Shannon Noll "What About Me" #1 20 That's What I'm Talking About 4x Platinum
2004 Paulini "Angel Eyes" #1 26 One Determined Heart Platinum
2004 Shannon Noll "Learn To Fly" #1 16 That's What I'm Talking About Gold
2004 Guy Sebastian "Out With My Baby" #1 14 Beautiful Life Platinum
2004 Cosima De Vito "When the War Is Over" #1 22 Cosima Platinum
2004 Casey Donovan "Listen With Your Heart" #1 15 For You 2x Platinum
2004 Anthony Callea "The Prayer" #1 25 Anthony Callea 4x Platinum
2004 Joel Turner "These Kids" #1 31 Joel Turner and the Modern Day Poets Platinum
2005 Anthony Callea "Rain/Bridge over Troubled Water" #1 21 Anthony Callea 2x Platinum
2005 Shannon Noll "Shine" #1 27 Lift Platinum
2005 Kate DeAraugo "Maybe Tonight" #1 21 A Place I've Never Been Platinum
2005 Lee Harding "Wasabi" #1 27 What's Wrong With This Picture? Platinum
2006 Damien Leith "Night Of My Life" #1 22 The Winners Journey 2x Platinum

Idol Backstage

In 2006, Fremantle's digital media division launched Idol Backstage, a companion show to Australian Idol distributed by Telstra and promoted in clips on the main show. It followed the pranks, gags and interviews of host Josh Zepps as he roamed behind the scenes of the Australian Idol set while the show went to air.

Idol Backstage comprised roughly one commercial half-hour per week (22-24 minutes) over four episodes. There were 54 episodes in total, with additional content available on mobile phones and on BigPond's Idol Backstage Online website.

During the 2006 production of Idol Backstage, total Idol web video downloads reached a record 2.5 million. Traffic to the Idol website increased 40% on the previous year with more than 26 million page impressions, and Australian Idol became the most popular television program website in the country.


See also

External links

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