I think it's time for a long overdue update on three of my favourite Australian Idol alumni. Jessica Mauboy, Ricki-Lee and Paulini have all been regulars on this blog over the years, were all members of Young Divas and all currently have new music out. Unfortunately, for Ricki-Lee and Paulini - that's where the similarities end. 2009 has been Jessica Mauboy's year. She's released a platinum album, scored five top 20 hit singles and somehow survived wearing the most unflattering outfit in ARIA history with her reputation still intact. I love Jess and think she has almost limitless potential but Sasha Fierce via Target is not the look! Anyway, Sony has squeezed out a 6th single from "Been Waiting" and it's one of the best so far. "Let Me Be Me" is a cute, mid-tempo urban pop tune written by long-time Kylie collaborator Karen Poole and new Sugababe Jade Ewen. I'm guessing it might have been intended for Jade at one point but it suits Jessica perfectly. The lyrics are sweet and the production (courtesy of The Deni's former righthand man 'Fingaz') is slick without being sterile. The video clip completely rips off Beyoncé's "Halo" but Jess has never looked lovelier. I wouldn't be surprised if this is yet another top 20 hit.
At the other end of the success spectrum is Paulini, who was dropped by her record label and reduced to appearing in tragic gay clubs across the nation. It's a shame because I honestly believe Paulini has the best voice to come out of Australian Idol. She just hasn't had a lot of luck selecting appropriate material or marketing herself as a pop star. Unfortunately, I don't think her latest release is much of an improvement on either front. "Scarless" is a beautifully performed ballad and showcases her glorious pipes but it doesn't exactly scream hit. I know it was released independently to raise money for victims of domestic violence but it would be great to hear Paulini belt out another upbeat pop tune ("Rough Day" or "Last Love") or an urban club banger like the fabulous "So Over You". The proceeds of "Scarless" go to charity, so download it from iTunes. The film clip is a surprisingly classy affair and deserves a look. Fingers crossed that this is the start of a full blown comeback next year.
Last but not least is Ricki-Lee. There was a time when I was completely obsessed with Ricki. I loved her second album and wrote about her every other week on Pop Trash Addicts. However, my interest has really waned this year. Returning to Australian Idol as a host was embarrassing, "Don't Miss You" left me cold and her turn as a Ralph cover girl reeked of desperation. It got so bad that I didn't even bother checking out her latest track until the physical single (above) arrived in the post. Imagine my surprise when I gave it a spin and realised that it was actually a stunning return to form. "Hear No, See No, Speak No" sounds like a cross between Ke$ha and Katy Perry. It's an effortlessly catchy serve of electro dance-pop with lashings of guitar to keep things interesting. The production is top notch and Ricki-Lee tears up the vocal. Disappointingly, the song is shaping up to be the biggest flop of the diva's career - stalling at a lowly #46 thus far. I blame the hilarious dominatrix video (below). Ricki needs to save the leather corset and riding crop for her home movies! "Hear No, See No, Speak No" is a future trash classic. I just wish there were remixes.