Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Natalie Gaucci is the New Australian Idol

It was the night we had been waiting for with baited breath — the Grand Final of Australian Idol 2007.

From the spectacular Sydney Opera House, thousands have turned up to see whether Matt Corby or Natalie Gauci will be named winner. A string of stars also walked the events red carpet.

First up, hosts Andrew G and James Mathison crossed to Tim Bailey in Natalie's home town of Melbourne where her friends and family were going crazy, and then to Cronulla in Sydney's south, where the same goes for Matt's loved ones who were with Austereo's Labrat.

Outside the Opera House the concert was set to kick off and the judge's also headed out. Dicko was delighted. "In past years they locked us inside," he said. "But this is Idol for the people.

James revealed that less than 1% separates our Final 2 — the closest margin ever — as Young Divas kicked off the outside live show with their new single "Turn Me Loose". They got the crowd into a frenzy.

Next to take the stage was reining Australian Idol — at least until tonight - Damien Leith who performed "All I Want Is You". The singer, whose first two albums have debuted at No.1 is a model of what could lie ahead for tonight's winner.

Idol created another magic moment with the much-anticipated live return of Divinyls — their first public performance in 10 years. Preceded by a choir, the Aussie rock legends performed their hit "Boys In Town" — well known to Idol fans after Natalie Gauci took to the top of her piano to belt out the song curing the competition. Lead singer Chrissie Amphlett advised the winning Idol to "find their voice" and make sure their music comments on "now".

Then series one runner-up, and now a bit of a legend in his own right, Shannon Noll sang his newbie "In Pieces" and, in a sneak peek of the new Australian series of So You Think You Can Dance, a random selection of the Top 100 dancers performed a routine to Solitaire's "Move Your Feet".

My Mum Rocks winner Dani Fry had her special moment as she sings "Who's Loving You". The Melbourne mum's performance of the Smokey Robinson classic proved that mum's really do rock.

Rogue Traders — fronted by So You Think You Can Dance host Natalie Basingthwaighte (with a rather special hairdo) — made a spectacular entrance on motorbikes, through a sea of pyro, to perform "I Never Liked You".

Finally it was time for our Final 2 to arrive … in a stretch Porche. Making their way through the massive, screaming crowd, they finished at the top of the Sydney Opera House steps

"My heart is beating so fast right now I can't describe it," Natalie admitted. "It's pretty full-on."

Added Matt, "I feel really humbled."

Then the Final 12 appeared on stage to perform Lionel Richie's all-time party classic "All Night Long". Matt and Natalie appeared on stage to finish the song — and were surprised to be joined by very special guest Lionel Richie himself on stage. The gob smacked Idols - soon joined by the rest of the Final 12 — brought the house down with their new R&B legend pal.

Next was a medley, opened by amazing dancers Paul White and Christina Chan, Matt and Natalie sang Barbra Streisand's "Somewhere" before the rest of the Final 12 arrived for The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations", Smash Mouth's "Walking On The Sun", M People's "Movin' On Up" and Fatboy Slim's "Praise You".

Natalie Gauci, on the eve of her birthday, said that this time last year she was celebrating her special day.
"When I look back on this I know I'll say, ´Oh my God, did I do that?'" she said.
A look at Natalie's time on the show, a message from her grandparents who couldn't be in Sydney, and a cross to Melbourne to meet her best friend Naomi, music teacher, first piano teacher, music teacher and her uncle in a tutu followed.
Then a surprise: her grandparents actually were in the house!
Natalie then went into a performance of a song that proved to be a turning point in her time on Idol —Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror."

Matt Corby said he was prepared for an "emotional surprise" but hadn't spotted any wayward relatives backstage. James threatens to surprise him with a punch below the belt.
"That would help me sing ever harder!" Matt said.

We then saw Matt's amazing journey to the Final 2, and cross to Cronulla once again to catch up with his mates, who have dressed as Matt and show off his skateboard — which he loses so much that he's written his mobile number on it. Then we met Matt's primary school principal, and former band member Alyssa.
Matt's surprise guest — yes there was one — was Jarrad Klapper, who taught him to play guitar and sing.
Matt then performed a favourite from his time on Idol — The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony".

"You're my favourite, I love you," Kyle told him after the song. "I got into this business to find people like you."

As anticipation mounts, the night's final group performance was Snow Patrol's "Hands Open", which brought the audience to its feet.

In another surprise for the Idols, one of the Final 12 was chosen by a winner at home to win a brand new Mazda. The lucky finalist? Holly Weinert, who was the first Idol to leave the show.
"You must have been really impressive in that one show," James deadpanned.

And then it was time. James opened the envelope in his hot little hand to announce the winner was — Natalie Gauci!

A stoked Natalie shone her amazing smile, and runner-up Matt couldn't have been happier for her.

Natalie then sang the Winner's Single — her debut single — "Here I Am" in an emotional performance that did her proud.

"I really feel really honoured that a lot of people have voted for me," she said, "and I'm going to put on a good show [on tour], so I hope people come to see me!"

And for another year, that's it for Australian Idol. Thanks to everyone who has hit the website day after day to check out all the news.

And, most of all, congratulations Natalie!

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