Then I had a revelation -- the reality show franchise Australian Idol had already done the hard yards for me. Host James Mathison (and former co-host Andrew G) said in almost every episode "It's time to vote Australia" or "Australia has voted". Australia's population (which currently stands at about 22 million) is a pretty large sample size. Could the population of Australia help me choose the album of the decade?
At the end of each season of Australian Idol, the winner releases an album in time for the Christmas buying season. They also release a compilation of songs recorded by all of the contestants who made it to the finals. By definition, each year includes 10-13 finalists who are the best musicians in the country. That means all I had to do was pick the best season in Australian Idol history, and the album (or compilation) of the decade falls right into my lap. Take that, Pitchfork!
Picking my favourite year for Australian Idol was a tough decision. Should I go for season 1, which introduced both Guy "Like a virgin" Sebastian and Shannon "Nollsy" Noll to the world? It was a very tempting choice, as the compilation also included the legendary Rob "Millsy" Mills singing a version of Dirty girl, which one can only assume was dedicated to his flame at the time Paris Hilton (who broke his heart when she stopped returning his phone calls).
Season 2 was also a contender; not only did it introduce the pint-sized Anthony Callea and the prolific winner Casey Donovan to the world, but in a strange self-propagating twist, it also found a future co-host for the show in Ricki-Lee Coulter when James Mathison decided to quit the show recently. Take that, space-time continuum!
In the end, I had to go with season 3 from 2005. Just like the classic animated sitcom The Simpsons, the Australian Idol franchise reached its inevitable peak in this season. While you could argue that the young Bendigo lass Kate DeAraugo was the major contributor to this (whose take on bogan chic was as patriotic as you could get), we must not discount the talents of the über-polished Daniel Spillane, who managed to suck all of the testosterone out the classic AC/DC rocker T.N.T. to allow him to grow that little tuft of hair on his chin. And who can forget the young rocker Lola Forsip, whose rendition of The Who's Won't get fooled again scored a touchdown from judge Mark Holden?
Season 3 was also the first season that resident bad-boy Kyle Sandilands appeared as a judge, replacing Ian "Dicko" Dickson, who decided that food interested him more than music when he became the host of My restaurant rules. While Dicko was a music mogul from way back, Kyle Sandilands was dating Tamara Jaber from reality show band Scandal'us (formerly known as Bardot), which immediately gave him the credentials to judge and criticise music.
Anyone who made it to the top 13 (and hence this CD) had to pass through the Kyle filter, and while it was an incredibly gruelling task, he ensured that any of the girls who were carrying a bit too much "baggage" were quickly dismissed from the show. After all, we didn't want those "tuck shop lady arms" getting in the way of the musical performances.
But what really elevates season 3 all of the other seasons is the talent of one very special person.
Come on people, this is a guy who wore a T-shirt of the US punk band The Misfits without having any idea who they were. He also wore a pair of Mötley Crüe shoes despite the fact that he could hardly name any of their songs. Step aside Iggy, the real Godfather of punk is right here.
Unfortunately some of his detractors have accused him of being a sellout bubblegum punk, a try-hard emo kid who wants to take the quickest possible road to fame. But isn't his behaviour as punk as it really gets? The original punk philosophy was about distancing yourself from the mainstream and the bombastic excesses of stadium rock. So what better way to show your punk credentials than appearing on a reality show? Surely 10,000 screaming and texting 12 year old girls cannot be wrong. Stick it to the man!
While many Australian musicians are taking the slow road to fame by playing the pub circuit, writing their own songs and actually dedicating their lives to music, the top 13 performers represented on this CD provide the real heartbeat of the Australian music scene.
It's my patriotic choice for the best album of the 2000s.
1In case you're wondering why I have created a new post with a new number 1 album, you may want to take note of the date of this post.