Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Australian Idol Watch - Top 12 Completed

The 2007 Australian Idol Top 12 are:

Matt Corby
16-year-old surfer and skater Matt from Cronulla in Sydney's south was the very last auditionee for Australian Idol this year – and the very first to be make it into the top 12. It was renditions of hits by one of his own Idols, Stevie Wonder (first with "Superstition" and then "I Wish"), that saw him through both times.

After hearing the nation's verdict, Matt was overcome. "I promised I wouldn't cry, so I'm trying to hold it back!" he told the audience.
"I don't know what to feel," he admitted later, realising that his life was about to change considerably.

Matt has already won a sizeable fan base, impressing with his seemingly effortless talents both vocally and musically. His natural charisma and pop star good looks didn't go unnoticed either. Even Dicko was taken in – "Put your tongues back in girls," he told his daughters via national TV.

Despite his youth, the level-headed year 11 student – who adds academic prowess to his impressive list of talents – has already proved he is able to juggle music with school work, having studied by correspondence while travelling with bands for several years.

Matt loves beef macaroni, watching Friends and Seinfeld, and his favourite movie is The Princess Bride.

Jacob Butler

It's been a long, hard road to the Australian Idol top 12 for Jacob. The focused 25-year-old first made the Top 100 in 2005, and when he failed to make it further headed to the UK, picking up a management deal that, in his words, "went pear".

Upon returning to Australia he spent a year working on his song writing and musicianship, greatly impressing the Idol judging panel with his growth when he finally re-entered the audition room this year. He was soon placed in the top 24, and after performing a brilliant rendition of Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars", Australia made him their second top 12 finalist. "I feel incredible," admits Jacob of the announcement.

He could barely suppress his excitement on the night, even offering to pay back all the viewers who had voted for him. "Send me an invoice!" said the cheeky chap.

A lover of indie rock and pop, Jacob is a bit of an anglophile when it comes to music. "I find that they do it the best time and time again," he says of Brit artists, who seem to have also inspired his hairstyle. Jacob loves Mexican food as says he couldn't live without his bike.

Tarisai Vushe
When slightly-built Zimbabwe-born one-time receptionist Tarisai entered the Idol audition room, the judges had no idea what was about to hit them. The softly spoken 20-year-old blew them away with her amazing rendition of Whitney Houston’s "I Have Nothing". "There’s a lot of people loving what you just did then," said Kyle Sandilands, without even conferring with the panel.

The love followed through to the audience; following her powerhouse take on "River Deep Mountain High" Tarisai was named the first female voted through to the top 12. "I feel so honoured," says Tarisai. "I just want to thank everyone that voted for me."

A committed performer, Tarisai rehearses her songs endlessly, making sure that she means every word she sings and choosing her songs accordingly. As well as her amazing set of pipes, Tarisai says she thinks her personality is one of her biggest advantages in the competition.

The devoted Christian is rarely seen without her bible by her side and loves the movie Dreamgirls and R&B music in general – she lists Ms. Houston and Tina Turner as her inspirations. She also loves watching Disney sitcom That’s So Raven, listening to Destiny’s Child and eating sadza, traditional Zimbabwean food.

Lana Krost
Lana discovered her passion for performing at the tender age of six when she took to the school stage. The passion grew into an interest in musical theatre, with Lana appearing in several productions in her native Western Australia. The talent must be genetic: her Vietnamese mother was an opera singer and the original lead in Miss Saigon.

17-year-old Lana confesses she has never been as scared in her life as she was at her Australian Idol audition. "I was shaking and the feeling of being watched all the time was intimidating," she says. But the nerves paid off and she was soon the only WA contestant left standing in the Top 24.

While the judges were harsh following her semi-finals performance of Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry", Australian fell in love with her natural charm, beauty and voice, sending her straight through to the top 12.

"It feel weird," Lana says of getting through. "I didn't expect it at all."A big fan of folk pop star Jewel, Lana avoids sport and loves McDonalds.

Aside from performing for the nation, she says the best thing about Idol has been getting to know the other performers.

Ben Mckenzie

17-year-old Ben, from the NSW Central Coast, proved to be a real surprise package at his audition. In fact, at face value, it's fair to say the Australian Idol judges didn't think much at all. That is until he dazzled them with his take on John Mayer's "Daughters". "I was expecting something lame," admitted Kyle. "But that was very surprising and very good."

He continued to be very good, with his near-flawless performance of Tears For Fears and Gary Jules' "Mad World" securing his place in the Top 12.

"That's a bit scary," he said as his name was announced. "I hoped it would happen and it did," says a still spinning Ben. "So it was great." Nevertheless he is ready for the road ahead: "I've been doing this a long time, so I'm ready!" he says.

Ben is an enthusiastic amateur slasher film maker and, when not indulging his artistic pursuits, works at Woolworths. He loves his computer, satirical animated series Drawn Together, lists his favourite music genre as dance/electronica and one day wants to duet with Brooke Fraser. Expect more surprises from Ben as the competition progresses!

Marty Simpson

Keen surfer and snowboarder Marty is possibly the most laid-back contestant in this year's competition, and brings his equally laid-back brand of acoustic surfer rock to the competition. Introduced to the guitar by his brother, Marty admits he was "pretty ordinary" when he first started, but has improved greatly since then. The Australian Idol judges obviously agreed, immediately and unanimously sending him through to the Idol top 100 at his audition. "Marty Simpson, welcome to Australian Idol!" cheered judge Kyle Sandilands.

Despite following some stiff competition, he was named one of the Top 12. "It's a wild ride but it's unreal, so I'm gonna enjoy it for a minute," he said as he heard the news.

Marty lists his favourite movies as The Shawshank Redemption and Scarface, love eating seafood and says his favourite bands are The Dave Matthews Band and The Police – even sporting a tattoo inspired by The Police's Synchronicity album on his arm.

Brianna Carpenter

Her unique sense of style caught eyes, but it was her voice that caught ears. Brianna, 21, impressed Australian Idol judges at auditions with her beautiful self-composed tune "Jacqueline". While Dicko told her she was the best all day, Kyle seemed worried by the onetime K-Mart employee’s outfit and hair.

Brainna hit the semi-finals with a new hairdo, but the talent remained. Her quirky perfromance of Regina Spektor's "Fidelity" got a big thumbs up from the voting public, who immediately sent her through to the Top 12. Brianna was especially thrilled that she will be perform at the Sydney Opera House for the show's final. "That's awesome!" she said.

Queenslander Brianna is a music student and has studied everything from classical to contemporary and jazz. "I love Jazz," she says. "It's just so smooth and the melodies are always so beautiful."

Brianna is a self-confessed chocolate addict and lists her favourite movie as Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

Holly Weinert

In her audition, Mildura's Holly Weinert made a big impact on three of the judges – but it took a little more to convince Dicko. "I was so nervous and when they let me in I was like a stunned mullet!" she confesses.

The self-professed rock chick further proved herself further at the Top 100 stage, harnessing, she says, her "patience, adaptability and personality" to get her through. It was the brilliant interperatation of "Easy", a hit for both The Commodores and Faith No More, that won the approval of the Australian Idol audience.

"I could swear!" said an excited Holly upon hearing she'd made it, after spectacularly jumping into Brianna's arms – and falling to the floor. Luckily for producers she held her tongue.

A musician and bar tender, Holly was joined in the Top 24 by friend Jesse Curran, who often sings at the pub Holly works in. 20-year-old Holly loves her boyfriend Simon, her dog, "spag bol" and is a film buff with too many favourites to name. Her favourite song is "Love Cats" by The Cure and says she can't wait for Rock Night in the competition.

Daniel Mifsud

23-year-old Daniel Mifsud is a lover of great singers and first impressed Australian Idol judges with the sheer breadth of his influences. Then there was his amazing voice and, as Kyle Sandilands classically put it, his "daytime soap star" looks.

Daniel soon made it into the Top 24, and when he missed out on a place in the semi-finals, the judges couldn't bear to see him go and made him a Wildcard pick. His performance of Roachford's "Lay Your Love On Me" saw him chosen by the audience.

"I'm lost for words," he says. "You always dream of it, but when it comes it's totally another thing."

While professional singer Daniel has so far been making his living performing soul tunes, he hopes the show will see him branch into rock as well. "I love the heart of soul and the rassness of rock," he explains. Daniel is obsessed with The Simpsons and follows the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL and West Ham in the English Premier League. Daniel is not-so-quietly hoping for an '80s power ballad theme night this year - his favourite song is Michael Bolton's "How Can We Be Lovers".

Mark De Costa

After years of gigging around the country, Mark Da Costa considers Australian Idol his chance to get "one more bite of the cherry" and make a real go of his impressive talents.

This season’s undisputed Rock God, Mark blew everyone away with his Wildcard performance of Stevie Wright’s Aussie classic "Evie Part 1 (Let Your Hair Hang Down)", Dicko telling him he was the season’s "best performer" and Kyle complaining that the audience was screaming so enthusiastically he found it hard to hear. He impressed TV viewers too, and was the second Wildcard performer voted through. "As Mark Holden would say, ‘Wow-a-dee-bow-a-dee-woah-woah’," Mark said upon hearing the announcement. "No way did I think I’d bet getting this far."

The soccer-mad PlayStation addict lists Noel Gallagher as one of his idols ("He gives me goosebumps and I love his hair cut") and hopes to perform in a Beatles-theme night this year (his favourite album is Abbey Road). "I spent most of my late teens and early 20s listening to them and it would be an absolute honour to perform one of their many No.1 hits," he says.

Carl Riseley

Carl Riseley has always been musical, but rather than with singing, his adventure began as a trumpeter – in The Royal Australian Navy band. It was only a recent switch to singing for the navy rock band that saw him focus on his singing, and then decide to give the Australian Idol auditions a crack.

There was a mixed response by judges to his audition, aside from Marcia Hines who immediately saw Carl's potential. "You have chops," she told him.

Marcia was proved justified in pushing him through to the Top 100, where he thrived, and continued to improve every week. By the time he made it through to the Wildcard round his dazzling swing-style performance of The Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love" he had won everyone over, and the judges placed him in the Top 12.

"I'm a trumpet player, I've been doing it since I could walk," he says of making it into the Top 12. "I can't believe I'm here." Carl's first job was mowing lawns and even admits his favourite film is Love Actually. The 24-year-old says the highlight of Idol has been "hanging out with the most talented individuals I have ever met."

Natalia Gauci

Melbourne's Natalie Gauci caused a real splash in the audition room when Dicko proclaimed her "one of the best people we've seen". "You can win this competition," he told her. Having seen favourites lack public support in the past, Marcia was having none of it, telling the 25-year-old Dicko’s words were the "kiss of death".

Nevertheless, there was no arguing with the former hairdressing apprentice's talent. Natalie was chosen as a Wildcard entrant and then judge’s pick for the Top 12 after her sultry and note-perfect rendition of Nina Simone’s "Feeling Good".

"It’s very exciting," the gifted musician told the judges. "It was torture, but thank you for believing in me. Thank you so much."

Perhaps surprisingly for a performer of such obvious talent, 2007 was the first time Natalie auditioned for Australian Idol. "I was just waiting for the right time," she explains. "I really needed to be grounded and believe in who I am. Being judged by the nation, I'd like to show who I really am as best as I can."

Natalie is a lover of soul, blues, jazz and pop, Guy Sebastian and Doritos.

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