X Factor Australia 2013 Kicks Off In Sydney!
April 2013

After much anticipation about the new X Factor Australia judge panel, auditions kicked off in style in Sydney for the 2013 season of the hit show.
With Guy Sebastian stepping down after many successful years and Mel B's legal issues, the new panel stepped up - Aussie ladies Dannii Minogue and Nat Bassingthwaighte (absent from Sydney), American LMFAO popstar Redfoo and of course, Ronan Keating, returning for his fourth year.
By coincidence, I was lucky to be part of the X Factor Australia audience last year. While visiting friends on the Gold Coast, I found out auditions would be at a venue nearby. Being both a fan of Ronan and the show itself for years, it would be be silly not to go along! Turned out to be a great two days with lots of laughs from both the auditions and the 'encounters' with Ronan himself, most memorably when an Australian girl I barely knew literally pushed me into the aisle towards him shouting "GO SAY HELLO!"

I didn't know then that twelve months later, I'd be living in Australia, so when the auditions arrived in Sydney's beautiful Olympic Park, fond memories and need for fun led me back to the audience line for not one or two, but three of the four days! What can I say... something kept drawing me back...!
The process of X Factor auditions is very familiar in a good way. It almost makes me feel at home. Something about this year seems different though - there is much more of a high-energy buzz in the air, maybe due to the introduction of Redfoo and the excuse to "wiggle wiggle wiggle" at every opportunity! Even the stage backdrop has been re-energised with the 'X' in fluorescent pink and blue rather than red. Elements of fun have been added in, from Redfoo's crowdsurfing to red carpet arrivals somewhere between a Hollywood movie premiere and a moshpit. On one of the days while waiting in the audience queue, I wasn't sure if I was hallucinating from sunstroke or if I really was seeing Ronan jumping up and down on the red carpet, livelier than an Energiser bunny, to the soundtrack of "Sexy And I Know It"! Just when I thought things couldn't get more bizarre...!

Due to legal reasons and my terrible memory, I can't give away too many details of actual auditions that took place but there are a lot of strong acts this year. Most memorable are the extremely young teens armed with guitars bigger than they are and voices that will simultaneously melt hearts and send votes sky high. Teenagers that have penned their own songs, as if they have had the life experiences of someone many years older. Having bumped into one of these young auditionees the day after their appearance onstage, I can only hope that the mentors use all their powers to keep them grounded, as the ego and attitude was already showing in abundance!
In the "Over 25s" the talent is high too. Ones to look out for are a man with a keyboard and a man with a keyboard... and a dog! With great talent and personalities to match, hopefully there are careers waiting to be launched from this category when Australia sees them on screen.

Maybe trying to duplicate Little Mix's success, it looks like the show is after another group this year, but this time a girl group. It will be interesting to see which judge gets which category, but for a change, I hope Ronan doesn't get the groups. Oh, and it really does make me feel old to hear him say to the auditionees "I used to be in a band a while ago, you may or may not know that" except, he's not being sarcastic or funny, just stating the fact!
The panel in Sydney of just three judges worked well as a trio with great chemistry and interaction. I knew very little (nothing in fact) about Redfoo before, so was intrigued about what he'd be like - his charisma, humour, experience, crazy clothes and that afro add light-hearted integrity to the judges' desk. Dannii was always one of my favourite judges on UK X Factor so having her on the Australian panel with her honesty, sentiment and fun is another welcome addition. Then there is Ronan, who we love, but bias aside, knows his stuff and says what he thinks, though quite often this makes him appear to be the bad guy. In contrast, he also has a lot of fun and it is clear to see he still enjoys his job on the panel. Thank you X Factor producers, for keeping the terrible novelty acts to a minimum this year, the show will be much better for it, though watching Ronan failing to hold in his giggles, turning into loud snorts of crying laughter with his head on the desk on many occasions was very entertaining!

Even though it is months away, I'm excited for the TV show to start. Not just because we'll get to see Mr Keating, occasionally in leather trousers, on TV three nights a week. For years I've loved the show in the UK and watched the Aussie version online - ok, yes, I admit, initially that was just because of Ronan, but hey, didn't we all? In 2013 the new panel, the energy, the fashion, that afro and our favourite Irish charmer, together with a stream of emerging talent, could prove that X Factor Australia may in fact be hotter than ever.
(Ps. X Factor producers, please show footage of Ronan attempting the Redfoo "wiggle" at least once, if not every week. Thanks.)

- By Nidhi

Photos from the Sydney auditions are in the gallery.