We Ranked The ‘Australian Idol’ Winners’ Singles From Ooft To Absolute Banger
Remember Natalie Gauci's song? We didn't either.
Let’s face it: The music produced by Australian Idol was a mixed bag at best.
Sure, we have the standouts — artists like Matt Corby, Guy Sebastian, Jess Mauboy, and Hayley Warner have all gone on to have successful careers in the biz — but we also have a slew of acts whose star rose and fell about as quickly as the voting lines shut. A lot of these fallen stars happened to be the winners — seriously, when was the last time you heard Natalie Gauci sing…anything?
We’ve decided to go back to where it all started for the winners: Their breakout Australian Idol single. Some you’ll remember, some you won’t, and some you’ll definitely try to forget. But you can’t deny that they all existed.
#7. Damien Leith — ‘Night Of My Life’
How Damien Leith beat out Jessica Mauboy for the top spot in season 4 is truly beyond any of us. Jessica Mauboy has given us a long and successful career in pop music and in film, and Damien Leith has given us…this.
Sure, his voice is immensely beautiful and those high notes are impressive, but ‘Night Of My Life’ is the type of dull acoustic pop that, for whatever reason, Australia absolutely froths. It barely builds, it barely impacts, and it barely does anything. It’s like some weird mixture between Ed Sheeran and Dean Lewis that is about as exciting as white bread.
We’ve had glasses of water with more spice than this. So, you can catch us playing ‘Burn’ by Jessica Mauboy on repeat until ‘Night Of My Life’ is gone from our memory.
#6. Natalie Gauci — ‘Here I Am’
You know what? Every winner of Australian Idol has some level of notoriety, whether it be for their talent or otherwise — that is, every winner of Australian Idol besides Natalie Gauci.
I can hear the vague qualms of “who?” from here as people read this article. Matt Corby, runner up of the same season, completely overshadowed her and her debut single ‘Here I Am’ cemented that fate from the start. Her voice is absolutely stunning through the half-assed adult contemporary pop snooze-fest, but that doesn’t save it from hitting the deepest depths of mediocrity.
Think Adele without the charm, Susan Boyle without the boom. If this was supposed to be Gauci’s statement song, then it’s no surprise that no-one knew where she was at all.
#5. Kate DeAraugo — ‘Maybe Tonight’
Before she found success with the Young Divas, DeAraugo had hopes of taking her third season win all the way to the top of the charts.
While she presented herself as a little edgier on the show when she beat out powerhouse Emily Williams for the title, ‘Maybe Tonight’ is about as clean cut, inoffensive and as boring as they come. While it should beckon questions of why all the female winners were delegated very similar songs and the male winners’ songs vary so drastically, DeAraugo gives her song a silver lining with her Kelly Clarkson-style vocals.
It’s just the same old, and DeAraugo’s voice frankly deserves better.
#4. Casey Donovan — ‘Listen With Your Heart’
With everything that’s gone on in the strange life of the second ever Australian Idol winner, it can be hard to forget just how beautiful and strong Casey Donovan’s voice is.
Despite being a teenager when she took out the title, her voice beamed with a wisdom and experience that was well beyond her years, and you only have to look to ‘Listen With Your Heart’ to find the proof. Sure, it’s just another adult contemporary pop ballad that is a complete snore, but Donovan’s voice elevates hers above the rest.
#3. Wes Carr — ‘You’
If nothing else, Wes Carr’s ‘You’ stands apart because it’s not a pop or R&B crooner.
Is the song unbearably white? Yes. Is it busker pop at its peak? Definitely. Is it a little disingenuous that he’s talking about having nothing immediately after having won the country’s biggest reality television show? Of course. But, is ‘You’ an absolute stomper of a country/pop crossover that wouldn’t feel too astray on any Boy & Bear record? You bet.
It’s a little raw, it’s incredibly gritty, and frankly we can always do with more harmonica.
#2. Stan Walker — ‘Black Box’
The competition between Stan Walker and Hayley Warner for the final season of Australian Idol was one of the tightest final twos since the show’s origin, and both of them came out with an absolute bang once the show had wrapped.
But Walker’s ‘Black Box’ is that infectiously catchy R&B/pop fusion that 2009 was obsessed with. His voice had richness well beyond his years, and his charisma as a performer was undeniable. In comparison to every other winner’s single, ‘Black Box’ has lyrical depth and a strong motif that sets it apart.
And, finally and perhaps most importantly, UK boy band Blue covered it for their 2013 album, which says ‘peak of success’ to us.
#1. Guy Sebastian — ‘Angels Brought Me Here’
Despite all the winner’s singles that followed him, Guy Sebastian’s absolute belter ‘Angels Brought Me Here’ still, without a doubt, holds the throne for the best of them.
His voice is silky smooth, giving you that Lighthouse Family or Seal style R&B with a purity and a straight edge that Sebastian has since roughed up. You can picture him singing it atop a cliff at sunset, the wind blowing his linen white shirt open and gusting through his luscious 2003 fro.
It’s the sort of lighters-up, inoffensive ballad that everyone pretends they don’t like, but you bet once your local pub cover band sings those deliciously cheesy opening lyrics you’ll have your arms around the shoulders of strangers and you’ll be belting out every single word.
Jackson Langford is a freelance music and culture writer from Newcastle. He placed 12th in the 2nd season of Australian Idol – we promise he did, don’t google that. He tweets at @jacksonlangford.
All this week, Music Junkee is stepping back in time to explore the wild ride that was Australian Idol. Find more Aus Idol content right over here.