Format was stuck in idle
RICKI-LEE Coulter says she’s never tried to escape her Australian Idol connection. Though some contestants have been eager to distance themselves from the starmaking reality series for fear it may prevent them being taken seriously by the music industry, Coulter says she’s proud that Idol launched her career.
The popular gold record-winning singer and former member of The Young Divas says she had no hesitation about returning to the show this year to mentor the current crop of aspiring idols.
‘‘For four years people have asked me if I was keen to shake the Idol tag — why would I?’’ she asks. ‘‘There is no tag. I was a contestant on Australian Idol and I always will be. The media have created this idea of a tag or a stigma.
‘‘I have never been concerned about getting away from Idol because I have never seen it as a stigma. It’s given me a chance to get into the music industry.’’
Coulter says her experience as a contestant on the show has made this year’s singers feel more comfortable opening up to her than they would with co-hosts James Mathison and Andrew G.
‘‘I am proof that you don’t have to win Idol to have a career in the industry, and that you can be successful with an independent record label rather than one of the bigger ones.
‘‘I understand what they are going through because I’ve been there myself.’’
If this year’s revamped Big Brother was anything to go by, the new-look Idol is sure to attract its fair share of media attention and criticism.
Coulter is aware of the pressure she’s under coming into the revamped series, particularly because her new role takes her out of her comfort zone.
‘‘I’ve been interviewed a million times before but never done it myself, so there’s definitely been pressure,’’ she says.
‘‘I think I have become more comfortable as we’ve gone along.’’
It’s fair to say that after five series, Idol was suffering from exhaustion in 2007 and needed a makeover.
She says this year’s Idol will be a return to past form, with more focus on the contestants rather than the judges, plus a few changes thrown in for good measure.
‘‘The contestants had started to cotton on to how it all worked and use it to their advantage,’’ she says.
‘‘This year they have no idea what’s going on. We’ve thrown some curve balls in there. It needed to be freshened up.
‘‘The talent this year is better than we’ve had, not just last year but any year.’’