How did one singer’s audition bring Guy Sebastian to tears? Cameron Adams
IN reality TV shows, back stories are designed to provoke tears. When said waterworks come from a male judge, even better. In the first episode of this year’s The X Factor, judge Guy Sebastian becomes the person he swore he’d never be — someone who cries on TV.
Some back story to the back story that made Guy cry — he wept after contestant Samantha Jade auditioned. It wasn’t her talent, to the contrary. Sebastian is a friend of Jade, 25, something he admits on camera from the get-go.
Jade had a charmed start to her career. Signed to US label Jive (home to Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, ‘ N Sync), her family moved from Perth to LA in 2003.
‘‘ Sammy was being flown around the world first class when she was still a kid,’’ Sebastian says. ‘‘ She was signed to Britney’s label and when Britney took off she kind of got sidelined.’’
With her album never released after years in record company limbo, a disillusioned Jade moved back to Perth and by the time of The X Factor auditions was working at her father’s company. When she says it’s her last chance to make it in music, Sebastian breaks down.
‘‘ I tried to brush it off, but of course the other judges saw it,’’ Sebastian admits.
‘‘ I’ve seen her at her wit’s end. It just hit home because I knew her story, I knew how desperate she was. I was lucky, my struggle literally lasted for eight months after I left uni to do music. Those eight months (before Australian Idol) seemed like an eternity. But what about the people who’ve been trying to make it for 10 years?’’
Sebastian is sensitive to claims he may show favouritism to Jade; he was heartbroken when his friend and backing singer Carmen Smith got booted off The Voice for featuring on one of his singles.
The judge says it’s no surprise singers know other people doing the same job.
‘‘ Australia’s such a small place. I knew 60 to 70 per cent of the people on The Voice. I’ve auditioned tons of singers for my band. I don’t want anyone to say Sammy’s only on there because she knows Guy. But when people hear her there’s no way you can argue with that voice.’’
Sebastian admits the judges occasionally get briefed on particularly emotional back stories before an audition.
‘‘ You want the contestants to tell their story themselves rather than it be told in a voice over,’’ Sebastian says, aptly demonstrating his knowledge of how TV works after several seasons on The X Factor.
‘‘ So you’ll ask ‘ What does this mean to you’? because on a TV show like this the back stories are very important. It was the same with The Voice. Karise (Eden’s) journey wouldn’t have been as powerful without understanding where that emotion and that rawness in her voice came from.’’
Sebastian is not worried viewers may be suffering talent show fatigue after the runaway success of The Voice.
‘‘ I was stoked The Voice did @RobSchneider AKA Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo star Rob Schneider gets unexpectedly philosophical AUDIENCES are about to see a lot more of Ronan Keating (top left). The X Factor judge makes his feature film debut in Goddess, in which he is seen undressed in a number of love scenes. His screen wife is played by West End musical star Laura Michelle Kelly. Keating, meanwhile, has split from his real-life wife, Yvonne.
judge. Real tears: Guy Sebastian is an emotional so well, because if three million people are tuning in and the talent is quality and people are championing others to do well, that’s a really good sign.
‘‘ I’m hoping The X Factor follows the same path as The Voice where it’s talent that bolsters the ratings. Everyone says it in every show but this really is the best talent we’ve had. This is the first time where there won’t be any duds in the top 12.’’
Unsurprisingly, there are also a few young men hoping to imitate the UK X Factor’s licence to print money — boy band One Direction.
‘‘ We started constructing a group in our head due to the dismal nature of groups on offer,’’ Sebastian admits — following the Simon Cowell blueprint that assembled One Direction on camera.
‘‘ Some people aren’t so strong solo but they’re great in a group. Then this awesome boy band walked in.’’
That band, What About Tonight (‘‘shocking name,’’ Sebastian notes), met via YouTube videos and are proud to attempt to be an ‘‘ Australian’’ One Direction.
Fellow X Factor judge Ronan Keating was ‘‘ papped’’ with One Direction in London, spoiling the surprise that he’ll work with the chart-topping band as they mentor Australian talent. Pop tart Ke$ha, urban hero Usher and classy R&B singer Alicia Keys have also filmed guest mentoring sessions overseas. The X Factor, Channel 7, Monday, 7.30pm