Who Would Win In ‘Australian Idol All-Stars’?

It's time to settle this once and for all.

australian idol all stars winner photo

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As Samuel Leighton-Dore argued eloquently for our sister site Punkee last year, the time is ripe for a reboot of Australian Idol — specifically, Australian Idol All Stars. 

Think about it: all your favourites back together, battling it out in the hope of resurrecting whatever musical career they used to have. Audiences don’t want something new at the moment — hell, if the failure of the recent series of Big Brother tells us anything, it’s that we don’t even want new contestants in an old format — they want familiar, they want comforting, they want Cosima’s nodules to fade into the past and for her to finally take her crown.

But if the dream actually came to pass, who would actually take part — and more than that, would would actually win? We’ve taken a look back over Australian Idol’s glory days and selected a potential top 12, ranked by where they would inevitably place. So dive in, and start warming up that arm for a touchdown.

#12. Em Rusciano

Rusciano came ninth in the second season of Idol, which isn’t the strongest position for an All Star to be in right off the bat.

However, in the years since, Rusciano — thanks to years on the radio airwaves as a presenter, and her work as a comedian and as a Noted Australian Media Personality — has amassed a significant public following, making a tilt at Idol All Stars not out of the question. But alas, it probably wouldn’t be enough to get her over the line against other favourites.

#11. Lee Harding

Lee Harding’s razor-sharp, horrifyingly fluorescent hair was robbed back in the second season, losing out to Emily Williams and Kate DeAraugo — who’d go on to win. Some have even called ‘Wasabi’, his Idol single, the greatest Australian song ever written, which sounds about right.

Also, considering he just auditioned for The Voice and made it through to the top nine, he’d be well up for another tilt at reality TV fame. Unfortunately, his brand of long-haired tattooed karaoke hasn’t been in vogue for a little while now, and he’d struggle to gain a fanbase.

#10. Dean Geyer

Dean Geyer always looked a little stunned throughout his run on Australian Idol, like he’d walked into the audition room while searching for a coffee and somehow ended up with an acoustic guitar in his hands in front of hundreds of people. Rumour has it that he still doesn’t know what happened, and he’ll routinely look up his Wikipedia page and go, ‘Oh yeah’.

Regardless, he made it right up to final three before faltering against Jessica Mauboy and Ireland’s answer to valium, Damien Leith. In All Stars, he would continue to look bewildered, sing a couple of Snow Patrol tunes, and then drift off handsomely into the sunset.

#9. Shannon Noll

If Shannon Noll doesn’t start off his All Stars intro package by saying “I’m Shannon Noll, and let me back into Australian Idol“, then all of this is for bust, really. Nollsie’s enduring popularity in Australia has long been a continuing subject of investigation over the years, but while triple j listeners might like to troll festivals and ironically demand his placement on festival line-ups, his music career has been dwindling for a while now.

He would make a big splash back in Idol, but his scratched and worn vocals wouldn’t get him that far through the competition.

#8. Rob Mills

I have a vision of Rob Mills on the Idol All Stars stage, accompanied only by his former flame Paris Hilton on the decks. She plays Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’, but accidentally plays it at triple-speed — Mills desperately tries to keep up, but Hilton is fist-pumping at an alarming rate and accidentally knocks him out. His All Star dream is over, but he’s soon cast as the boot in an upcoming production of Kinky Boots, so he doesn’t mind.

#7. Chanel Cole

Let it be known that I have previously written about my enduring crush on Chanel Cole, who was cruelly knocked out of the competition after reaching fifth place in the show’s second season. After the article was published, Cole got in touch with me and wrote a lovely note to thank me for my support — proving that she is by far the loveliest person to ever grace the Idol stage.

She was also just…a great singer, and her rendition of ‘Walk On By’ was gorgeous and deserves more recognition. Her return to the Idol stage would see her evolve into a grand old lady of jazz, and she’d develop a cult following before gracefully bowing out.

#6. Matt Corby

Firstly, we must acknowledge there is absolutely no way Matt Corby would darken the door of Australian Idol ever again, as he’s frequently discussed how detrimental the experience was for him as a young man. But, in this fictional world of All Stars, let us imagine him returning to the stage.

Having endeared himself to legions of triple j listeners with tracks like ‘Brother’ and ‘Resolution’, he’d have enough street cred to get him through the early rounds, but his insistence of singing Bon Iver and Damien Rice wouldn’t cut it with middle Australia, and he’d get the boot eventually.

#5. Ricki-Lee Coulter

Ricki-Lee’s evolution from Idol also-ran to local queer icon has been wonderful to watch, and over the years she’s delivered some cracking singles, such as the rollicking ‘Do It Like That’. She’s also just a delightful TV presence, and would have the backing of every breakfast show in the country. She’d have a respectable run on the show, and get a few new singles out of it — which is really what it’s all about.

#4. Courtney Act

Last year, Music Junkee contributor Jackson Langford correctly placed Courtney Act at the top of a list ranking the careers of Australian Idol contestants. After making history as the first openly queer person to appear on an Australian reality TV, Act went on to international superstardom by appearing on Rupaul’s Drag Race and Celebrity Big Brother. 

She’d have a legion of fans behind her when appearing on Idol All Stars, but ultimately, her vocals just won’t quite cut it against the likes of Mauboy and Paulini.

#3. Paulini

Remember the moment when Dickie horribly shamed Paulini about wearing that gold dress? Of course you do, it’s one of the most memorable moments in Australian television history. Well Dickie, you’ll be glad to know in this fantasy version of All Stars Paulini wears nothing other than tight gold dresses, and looks amazing doing so.

Aside from that, Paulini possesses some powerhouse pipes, and would hurtle through the competition right up to the very end, before being sadly pipped at the post.

#2. Jessica Mauboy

The fact that Jessica goddamn Mauboy lost out to the soggy shrill vita-wheat Damien Leith is completely and utterly maddening. Mauboy’s gone on to become one of Australia’s most beloved singers, dropping a string of solid singles and albums, and even representing the country at Eurovision in 2018.

All this is because she’s a genuine talent — her voice is warm and powerful, she’s a relentlessly hard worker, and she may just be the most pleasant persona to ever appear on television.

#1. Cosima De Vito

Australia’s heart broke in 2003, when Western Australian darling Cosima De Vito tearfully announced onstage that she’d have to leave the competition, having developed serious nodules on her vocal chords. James Mathieson and Osher/Andrew G wept, and the audience gripped their hands in pain as we watched the firebrand performer bid farewell to the Idol stage. She almost certainly would have won if she’d continued on, thereby saving Australia 17 years of jokes about Shannon Noll and Guy Sebastian’s rivalry.

Her return to All Stars would be like Caesar victoriously returning to Rome  — a queen rightfully claiming her crown after 17 long years. There can be no other winner.

Jules LeFevre is editor of Music Junkee. She is on Twitter.