After Melissa unexpectedly reached number 1 with the divine “Read My Lips”, it was only a matter of time before the show’s other teenage star followed suit. Toni was quickly snapped up by Mushroom Records and released her debut single, “In Your Room”, in 1992. “In Your Room” is one of the sweetest bursts of Australian bubblegum pop to be released in the 90s. Instantly catchy and undeniably cute, the song was a deserved top ten hit and eventually went gold. With the release of her second single, the equally excellent “I Want You”, Toni appeared to be a legitimate rival to the Minogues and Melissa. “I Want You” still holds up as a gorgeous slice of mid-tempo pop. It's almost too high quality for a trashy soap star turned pop diva. “I Want You” peaked at #10 in 1993 and became Toni’s second and last gold single.
The failure of Toni’s subsequent releases is probably explained by the fact that they were quite shit and released almost a year after her two top 10 hits. Toni spent most of 1993 recording her debut album “Intimate”, which was eventually released in 1994. “Intimate” is a surprisingly good pop album, which is only marred by a handful of plodding tracks aimed at the American market. The album was launched with Toni’s third single, “Walkaway Lover”. Unfortunately, the song limped to #35 and “Intimate” could only manage #56 on the album chart. “Walkaway Lover” is a cover of an old Sonia track and probably the closest that Toni ever came to tacky Euro-pop. I like “Walkaway Lover” but it poorly represents the polished American sound of “Intimate” and basically killed the album. The funky title track would have been a much better choice to launch the album or perhaps the camp “Looking At You”. A further single, “Joy”, was released in 1995 but Toni’s time had passed and the song could only manage #71 despite being a rather lovely pop anthem.
Toni returned to television in 1994 with a brief stint on “Home & Away” and even managed to star in a couple of films, most notably the classy “All Men Are Liars” in which Toni memorably fell in love with a drag queen. Toni left Australia in 1995 to pursue music and acting opportunities in the US and somehow managed to score a deal with Chrysalis Records. Despite staying in Los Angeles until 2003, Toni never managed to score a role or release a solitary song. The most fabulous part of Toni’s American exile was her column in Woman's Day, which reported on her "glamorous Hollywood lifestyle" with fellow no-hoper Kym Wilson. Toni finally came to her senses (unlike Kym who now works in a Los Angeles clothing store) and returned to Australia to host "Australia's Funniest Home Videos" in 2003. Since her return, Toni has hinted at reviving her music career and has performed at Carols By Candlelight and made an appearance on “ABBA Mania”. Toni's tens of fans wait with baited breath for her next pop masterpiece!
Sadly, Toni's stunning album is not available on iTunes. It does, however, turn up frequently on Australian Ebay.
Australian Pop Queens - Melissa Tkautz & Toni Pearen