After her guest week on Australian Idol last year, Marcia Hines must have been pleased to be asked to return to the judging panel in 2024 right?
“I wasn’t pleased, I was stoked, honey,” she tells TV Tonight.
“You need to know something. I’ve always love Idol. It was very challenging for me in the very beginning, I actually found it really hard. Then I sort of found my straps and I was cool with it.
“But you know, all these kids, they just want to do what I do. They just want to be in the industry so why not encourage them and try and give them a career in a wonderful industry? As you know, it’s trying, it’s a lot of things, but if you do you it well and you have a little bit of guidance, it’s a great gig.”
OG Idol judge Hines has rarely been busier, having finished a 50th Anniversary tour, a new Gospel album, currently performing as Teen Angel in Grease in Melbourne, and juggling shoots for Idol in Sydney as it ramps up to its performance shows.
Having first arrived in Australia as a 16 year old for Hair, followed by Jesus Christ Superstar, she made Australia her home, claiming citizenship in 1994 and becoming a household name thanks to her pop career and Countdown appearances.
“Molly introduced us weekly to the Australian public”
“We all loved Countdown. It was such a great platform for all of us,” she recalls.
“But also, that was Molly. We all say it to anybody who wants to hear it. Molly encouraged us and Molly introduced us weekly to the Australian public.”
Australian Idol, which first ran from 2003 – 2010 also created career longevity for the likes of Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, Casey Donovan, Anthony Callea, Jessica Mauboy, Rob Mills, Courtney Act, Matt Corby, Stan Walker and Seven host Ricki-Lee Coulter.
This year alongside judges Kyle Sandilands and Amy Shark she hopes to help create the latest pop discovery who will land a $100,000 prize and a Sony Music contract.
“We have a great talent pool here”
“I think we’ve done a good job, this year. Kyle, Amy and I were quite surprised -and stoked, by the way- that we uncovered such good talent this year,” she continues.
“We have a great talent pool here. My soapbox is, if Australians took music as seriously as they take sports, nobody in the world could touch us. Nobody.
“We really are an amazing country and we’re allowed to be our own people… you can be an individual and it’s not a problem, whereas a lot of countries, it’s a lot about cookie-cutters. The really outstanding performers, they stand out. I think England just creates some amazing singers, look at Sam Smith, George Michael. I look at people like that and think, ‘They were allowed to be themselves, and they have been.’ It’s wonderful.”
But the music industry has also evolved since Idol‘s first run. Music has shifted to digital, marketing is underpinned by social media. Artists draw upon YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook to connect with their fanbase and to build a profile.
“It’s called 2024 and that’s just the way the cards have fallen. So we have to all just deal with it and be present in 2024. Back in the day when I first did it, the kids were looking at social media and I would say to them, ‘Leave that alone, because these people don’t know you.’ But that was back in the day! I wouldn’t even try and say it to the kids now, because they live it. Social media is their life. Is it right, is it wrong? I don’t know. It just is….,” says Hines.
“Some people are brilliant at auditioning”
However, auditioning does not come naturally to all artists, especially with the scrutiny of television cameras. But it does create TV drama.
“Some people are brilliant at auditioning. Some people aren’t, and some people addition incredibly well, and then crash and burn.”
For others, ego can get in the way, but the always-supportive Hines well knows the pressures of performance and how to coax the best, provided they are prepared to listen.
“I’d probably have a quiet word. I’d say to the kids, ‘You’re probably not showing yourself in the best light that you can.’ And it’s probably not even an ego. It’s probably nerves.”
Television has also evolved. This year Idol will tweak its auditions so that viewers see some artists a second time before they proceed to the next stage. This helps address the gap between auditions and performance shows. Hines sees the sense in the change, but remains focussed on her role.
“Let me be honest, back in the day, people would sit and watch stuff. But now people put things on pause and walk away,” she suggests.
“We’re just trying to make it really tidy and succinct, which makes sense to me. I’m on the panel, and the powers that be make all the decisions when it comes to how the show is presented. My job is to try and find the talent.”
Australian Idol premieres 7:30pm Monday on Seven.