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EXCLUSIVE: Australian Idol host Ricki Lee on why the TikTok generation are made for stardom

"I think Australians are going to really love this new era!"
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As we get ready for Australian Idol to return to our screens, WHO spoke with Ricki-Lee Coulter, who is returning as a host to the show where everything started! 

Watch Below: Australian Idol 2023 Trailer

What can audiences expect from this new reboot of Australian Idol?

I mean, Australia has so much love for the show and it’s been such a big part of so many people’s lives over the years, not just the show when it was on, 20 years ago, but even up till now. 

I think what you can expect is everybody has felt the pressure to definitely step up and make sure that the legacy of Idol continues and that we find amazing singers that are going to blow the minds of people all around the country. And I really, truly think that we’ve delivered that. We travelled all around the country, we went east from west, as far north as we could go and as far south as we could and we looked everywhere. We took the big Australian Idol truck around the country and travelled to regional parts of Australia to go and hand pick and find people from all sorts of backgrounds, all different types of singers. 

We really put in the time and effort and energy to make sure that we’ve got great talent and I can honestly say that I am personally blown away by the talent that we found and I can’t wait for Australia to watch this new era of Australian Idol and really get behind everyone on the show like they did for me back in the day.

Ricki Lee
“I can’t wait for Australia to watch this new era of Australian Idol and really get behind everyone on the show like they did for me back in the day.” (Credit: Instagram)

And what is it do you think about Australian Idol that resonates with audiences so much, even 20 years later?

I mean, I think you know, 20 years ago, we didn’t have social media, right? And we didn’t have access to all the shows that we have and it was a real family thing, sitting down at seven or whatever time it was on and watching a show. It was funny. It was heart-breaking at times, it was a real roller coaster and I think that family element of sitting and watching a show together, people really love that. 

I think Idol really did steal the hearts of Australia. We had millions and millions of people watching the show. People got really attached to the people on the show, people loved seeing their transformation as they went through the show and people picked their favourites from the start, who they loved and who they wanted to win and they backed them. They really got to know you and they felt a sense of ownership over you, that they voted for you because they chose you and then that they supported you throughout your career and I can vouch for that. 

You know, I have people that still to this day come up to me in the street or on social media or, you know, doing my groceries and people say ‘oh my gosh, I couldn’t go to school for like weeks after you got voted out, I was devastated.’ Like people loved the show deeply and it was a real part of their lives. I think that nostalgia and that love for the brand of Idol and what it has represented and the artists that it produces –  I think Australians are going to really love this new era.

Ricki Lee
“I think Australians are going to really love this new era.” (Credit: Instagram)

As you were saying, in the years since Idol has been off-air, the music industry has evolved. Do you think TV talent shows still have the opportunity to create stars as they once did?

Absolutely. Because a lot of people that are auditioning, they’re not as scared to perform, like we all were 20 years ago. There was no social media, there was no ability to sing to 1000s of people through a screen. Like that concept was just wild. 

It is a new generation. It is a new era and these guys who have grown up in this technology-based era, where they are used to performing for people – they’re not scared, they’re a lot more confident, but not in a bad way. They’re just used to it and I think that provides comfort and a sense of ease and they’re not as nervous as some people would think because, you know, performing in front of cameras is not so daunting.

It really is a new generation of artists and it is different but it’s amazing to watch crazily, insanely talented people sing their faces and sing their hearts out and I’m so happy that I was back because Australia does love the show. And I know that they’re going to love the talent that we found because it blew my mind at auditions. 

Watch Below: Scott Tweedie shares BTS of Australian Idol Perth auditions

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And what was it like working with the new panel of judges?

It was amazing. I’ve known Kyle [Sandilands] for my whole career. He’s been a huge supporter of mine for the last 19 years. He’s a friend in the industry and I really have appreciated his support. So I have loved doing the show with him and hanging out and travelling around Australia and getting to spend more time with him. 

And then Amy [Shark], I have known since we’ve been friends in primary school. She’s my girl! I love that we’ve been able to go on to have these crazy, crazy lives and live our dreams. And now we get to do the show together, it’s really cool. So I’m really happy to be part of it. 

Meghan Trainor is awesome. She’s hilarious. Beautiful. She’s got an amazing energy about her and she’s lovely. She’s come out to Australia with her whole family which is really cool and she’s very down to earth. She’s really, really funny and super sassy. And she’s been a great judge. 

Harry Connick Jr. is wonderful and he’s a real Southern gentleman type, he’s thoughtful and he’s kind and it’s been a really nice experience. Also my co-host Scott Tweedie –  it’s been awesome getting to know him and getting to work with him. It’s been awesome. I absolutely love being back on the show and it’s a real honour to be back and hosting.

Ricki Lee
” I can’t wait to get new music out there and tour again! (Credit: Instagram)

Going back to your time on the show, do you have a favourite memory from your season?

Back when we did the show, once you made the top 12 we moved into a house together and it was so exciting. It was like oh wow, this is a taste of the good life. But what I remember, we had a big cast, we had security, we had a chef. But I had quite a simple palette in terms of food as an 18-year-old girl from the Gold Coast. And as amazing as it was to have a chef, it was a little bit fancy for me. I remember I used to always order pizza to the house. But I didn’t want to offend the chef, so I ate a bit of food and then I’d order pizza and get the security to bring it down the side of the house and I’d go down into my bedroom and I’d eat it!

And Australian Idol aside, Do you have anything else exciting in the works for 2023?

Absolutely! I spent the whole of 2022 in the studio writing a new album and working on new music so we are putting all the final touches on the music. It’s almost there. I’m so excited to actually be putting an album out! The last album I released was in 2014, so it’s been a while but I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get new music out there and tour again!

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