Kiwi hot favourite to win 'Australian Idol'

By Alice Neville

Stan Walker is a hit on  Australian Idol . Photo / Supplied
Stan Walker is a hit on Australian Idol . Photo / Supplied

The hot favourite to win the latest series of Australian Idol is a Kiwi who turned his back on a troubled youth to chase dreams of music stardom.

Stan Walker, 18, was born in Melbourne but grew up on a marae in Mt Maunganui before moving to Queensland with his family.

Walker said he went a bit off the rails in New Zealand because of problems at home.

"I was smoking dope, stealing, hanging out with the wrong crowd."

Now, he's a "good boy", crediting music and church for his turnaround.

He is the bookies' favourite to win the seventh season of the hit show, with odds of better than 3-1.

At least 10 Facebook groups have been set up in his honour, each with thousands of members.

But in true Kiwi style, Walker is humble about his prospects - especially after a stumble in his latest performance, which screened here on Friday.

"I missed the start and then I couldn't hear it and so I started in a different key," he says of his rendition of Pink's Dear Mr President.

Walker has a tattoo saying Ataahua - beautiful in Te Reo - on his neck and misses "everything" about New Zealand.

He reckons Kiwis who cross the Ditch and lose their accents are "plastics". "I never say I'm from Australia."

Former New Zealand Idol judge Frankie Stevens says it will be a "tragedy" if Walker doesn't win.

"There's a really large difference between him and the other singers. He really stands out so much above the crowd."

Stevens reckons the only thing that may go against him is the fact he's a Kiwi.

Australian Idol audiences traditionally back "Aussie battler" types.

And Stevens says Walker's success highlights why TV2's decision to drop New Zealand Idol after three seasons was wrong.

"The rest of the world still values Idol.

"Now there's nowhere for these kids to go, and that's why they go to Australia."

Walker has already been approached about gigs in New Zealand, whether he wins Australian Idol or not.

He wants to record and album as soon as possible and would love to work with any of his favourite Kiwi artists, including Fat Freddy's Drop, Katchafire and Nesian Mystik.

But he's clear about the kind of music he wants to make - and determined to buck the stereotype of soulless, manufactured pop stars.

"Modern music is meaningless and it's all about sex," he says.

"I just want to take it back to the real stuff, where music is supposed to be."

* Australian Idol screens on TV2 at 8.30pm on Fridays.

- Herald on Sunday

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