The land of sheep and chocolate

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Levin Idol

First there was Pop Idol. Then there was American Idol. In Europe, there's Italian Idol, German Idol and Norwegian Idol, amongst many others including Albanian Idol. In this part of the world, there's Australian Idol and inevitably, there's NZ Idol as well. That sounds reason enough to avoid the TV on a Sunday night, I'm sure you'll agree. Afterall, Idol without cartoon baddie Simon Cowell is as pointless as The Apprentice without cartoon baddie Alan Sugar*.

And the statistics don't lie. All in all, out of approximately 642 series of Idol around the world, only Will Young and Kelly Clarkson have emerged as half-way credible artists. In a country with a potential audience of 4m record buyers, obscurity surely beckons for the NZ Idol winner within months.

But recently, something has happened which has made me revise my opinions of the Idol phenomena..

Doing nicely in the NZ competition is Levin's very own Idol, Matt Saunoa. He's made it all the way to the last two, to the grand final in Auckland and the town is going mad for it. Levin is a small place and this kind of thing is a big deal. Nothing much happens here at all, ever, to make the rest of the country take notice and Matt is putting the place on the map.

So, when he returned to town yesterday, to film a grand homecoming in the shopping centre, Jo, Lily and I were determined to be in the audience for possibly the biggest single event in the history of the town.

The venue was the Levin Mall, the central indoor shopping parade. The place was packed and the atmosphere was feverish. We entered through the side door and squeezed up with the crowds until we could see the side of the stage. The town had turned up in force, to the extent that they had to close the doors soon after we arrived. And I must say that there was a lovely atmosphere, a real sense of occasion, with kids on shoulders and lots of screaming.

When Matt did eventually appear the crowd went predictably bonkers and it was touching to see how moved he looked by the reception. How he must feel, leaving the town three months ago as a nonentity and returning to a heroes reception is anyone's guess. This is the kind of place where people would know his face, even if they didn't actually know him, and I almost felt like I was watching a huge family reunion.

As for our man on stage, he has a good voice and he knows how to entertain the crowd, but there's a touch of the honey-monster about him; he's a bit chubby and his moves are slightly awkward; he certainly can't dance. It just adds to his appeal though. With his cheeky grin he's like a young Tom Jones. That's like Tom Jones now, mind, only younger looking. He's not like Tom Jones was when he actually was young.

The final is next week and all of us will be glued to the telly. Pop Idol. It's a wonderful thing.

*Today's not the day to go into the American series of the Apprentice, in which tycoon Martha Stewart is nice (nice!) to the contestants.


At 5:48 PM, Blogger Kimhmm said...

I believe that one of the more recent Americal Idol winners - Carrie Underwood did / is doing very well over there. :-)


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