The tears never lasted long though, with Coulter proving to be one of the most upbeat and unique radio hosts on Aussie airwaves recently. “I get to just go and talk rubbish on the radio with my friends for two hours a day, like it’s ridiculous,” she jokes of the dream gig.
While Coulter acknowledges she had big shoes to fill by replacing beloved host Kate Ritchie, fans have been lapping up the star’s candid confessions and amazing anecdotes. Coulter also admits it’s been nice to put her own stamp on the show.
“I’m nothing if not myself at all times,” she says. “The millions of people that listen to us have been able to get to know me, not just the Ricki that they thought they knew from Idol or from seeing me doing interviews or from releasing music. They get to know the real me and I think that’s been the most fun. People know my sense of humour now and they know I’m a bit wrong.”
Although showing off her silly side on the radio has been a joy for Coulter, she’s also enjoyed stepping back into the role of host on the reboot of Australian Idol. And as the next season approaches, she admits that hosting this year will be particularly poignant, given it will be two decades since she walked out to audition herself.
“This show is the reason that I got my start in this industry [and] the reason that I’m here today,” she reminisces. “It’s a real full-circle moment. I’m back as the host, which means that I get to be a part of it with every single person that walks through those audition doors.
“I know exactly how they feel because I’ve literally walked in their shoes, I have been through this process and I’m proof that if you work hard this show can be a life-changing opportunity,” she says. “My life was never the same after I walked through those audition room doors.”
This season, she’ll also reunite with one of the very judges that helped kick off her career on the show, Marcia Hines, who returns to the panel after a long absence from our screens. “Marcia is the queen. She’s the OG,” Coulter gushes. “She has been such a wonderful presence in my life and my career.”
Coulter also has a lot of history with the other judges, and admits that they are “like a little family for me”.
“Kyle [Sandilands] has been one of my biggest supporters for the 20 years of my career, I love him so much,” she shares. “And then Amy [Shark] is one of my oldest friends. We’ve been friends since primary school.”
Alongside watching others sing their hearts out on Idol, Coulter has also been busy putting the final touches on her own batch of ballads and bops. Her first in almost a decade, the singer says her fifth studio album – due for release in March – has been a labour of love.
“This is probably the most personal album I’ve ever made,” she says. “We’ve been able to really kind of peel back the layers and delve into my life and experiences, and figure out the stories that I want to tell and how we want to tell them. And that’s been really cathartic.”
While the music itself is extremely intimate, Coulter has put her heart and soul into the making of the album too. For the first time in her 20-year career, the singer is releasing all of her music through her own record label.
“I think what I’m most proud about is that, you know, we call the album On My Own, because I am doing it on my own,” Coulter explains. “There’s something quite huge about deciding to, as an artist, especially a pop artist, to do it on your own and own your masters and I definitely have looked up to people like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.”
Much like her pop peers, the move has also given Coulter a newfound sense of confidence – one that saw her take to new heights (quite literally!) to film the music video for the album’s track ‘Ghost’.
“I think it’s really nice to be in the driver’s seat instead of [being] a passenger,” she shares. “I do have that confidence now after 20 years of doing this, that I know what I’m talking about with a lot of things and if I want to do something crazy, like take a helicopter up to the top of a glacier and film a music video, I can do that.”
While Coulter admits she has “no idea” how she managed to make it all work this past year except for getting “very little sleep”, the singer wouldn’t have given up a single thing. “The saying, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’ is so true,” she shares. “And this year has proven that to me because I love all of my jobs.”
She has also built “a wonderful support system” around her, including husband, Richard Harrison – who is not only the love of her life but her manager of many years as well. “My husband Rich is amazing, he’s incredibly supportive,” she gushes.
Despite his dedication, though, Coulter acknowledges the strain the last 12 months has put on their relationship, with her busy schedule meaning that “sometimes we feel like strangers to each other”.
“It’s been harder,” she divulges. “We usually have our little rules of like, when we’re having dinner, we don’t talk about work, and when we go out, we don’t talk about work. We don’t wake up in the morning and roll over in bed and start talking about work, generally we’ll have a switch off time. But because it has been so busy, those rules have been thrown out the window a little bit just because of time. There’s only so many hours in a day.”
To get through it, the pair made a pact to jump at any opportunity to relax together and go on a holiday – with one such occasion proving quite memorable! “We were on a plane coming home from a gig and we just decided we should go and see Beyoncé [in Texas],” Coulter recalls. “I had a week off and it was like, ‘We have this week, should we go?’ So we booked! It was spontaneous and fun.
“We haven’t been able to do that for a whole year and that’s usually what our whole life is like,” she continues. “Whenever we get that chance to just go do something fun, just the two of us, that’s what we do … even if it’s like an afternoon on the couch watching Below Deck with a glass of champagne. It’s the little things at the moment.
Australian Idol returns Monday, January 29 on Channel 7 and 7plus