It's time for us to have another crack at New Zealand Idol.

That's right. I said it. Screamed it out on a national platform even. I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion and trust me, I get it. Normally, I'm pretty anti reality TV - lord knows we've got enough of it - but for some reason American Idol is the one show I still abide and I think there's room for the format to return here.

The singing competition, which - following in the footsteps of our very own hit series Popstars - helped pave the way for all the other talent contests we endure today, has been a part of my life for more than a decade.


I've been watching on and off since way back in season two, when Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken became household names for singing a few songs that weren't even theirs.

Since then, I've seen the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Jordin Sparks, Adam Lambert and more pass through the Idol gamut and go on to successful careers and lasting global fame.

My mum and I have made a weird kind of tradition out of watching, placing our bets on a winner and seeing whose contestant makes it the furthest.

But 15 seasons and about as many years later, things have changed.

While we used to watch and laugh mercilessly at the many singing fails and Simon Cowell's impressively shady reactions, the entire tone of the show has morphed into something that is encouraging, uplifting and celebratory rather than picking the worst people possible and sacrificing them to the public for ratings.

Nasty ol' Simon Cowell is gone and many judges have come and gone - lest we forget the incredible diva-off that occurred when someone foolishly put Mariah Carey on the judging panel with Nicki Minaj - and now the show is helmed by pop star Katy Perry, country star Luke Bryan and music icon Lionel Richie, who probably couldn't be mean to someone if you wrote him a script and paid him.

What's changed the most though is the sheer level of talent - most notably in America's teen hopefuls. The 15 to 18-year-olds who strut through the doors of Idol and belt out notes they shouldn't reasonably be able to with all the technical skill, gravitas, control and confidence of a seasoned pro.

The other glorious thing about them is they sound unique. It used to be that everyone was just trying emulate someone else, to be the next Beyonce. Now, these kids have found their own style, worked out their own arrangements, honed their own sound and come insanely prepared.


I have to assume the difference is these kids grew up with the internet and social media.

They've been exposed to different musical and vocal styles, been able to find their communities, to learn to sing without even leaving their bedrooms. They've grown up in a time where unique voices, personalities and styles are lauded rather than cut down and they've no doubt been singing on YouTube channels and Instagram accounts to global feedback for years.

And then they go to this competition where they are educated, supported and nurtured not just by the pros but by their fellow contestants.

This is why I think it might be time for New Zealand to try our hand at Idol again.

There's more talent now than ever before and these kids are confident and ready and just begging for an opportunity. The Kiwi cringe has lessened now we've had our share of Kimbras, Lordes, Marlon Williams, Broods and Six60s, what used to be an impossible dream is now an attainable goal, especially with global eyes on New Zealand to see what - or rather who - we will produce next.

Everyone's on the lookout for the next big thing, the stigma of being attached to a talent show has long since passed, and with the recent successes of the likes of The Beths, Bene, Aldous Harding and Drax Project, New Zealand has proved we're in a really in a good space to be welcoming new talent and, further, proved that talent can and will be embraced both here and abroad.

I can't possibly imagine who would host, judge, mentor or perform, but I do know that if we're going to continue going nuts with reality shows (we're remaking Celebrity Treasure Island for crying out loud!) then New Zealand Idol should 100 per cent be on our radar.