• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

OPINION: With his moustache and mullet, singer Brad Staley stood out amongst the show’s other South Island contestants. His song choice only added to that.

Apr 14, 2021

OPINION: “I’m more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” said Brad Staley, cracking up at his own joke as he waited for his Popstars audition.
The 23-year-old musician from Lake Tekapo loves making his music – and mixing his metaphors.
As the Popstars crew finished in Auckland and jetted to Christchurch on their hunt for the country’s next big chart-topping star, Staley had good reason to be nervous.
“I’m more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” said Brad Staley before his audition.
With his moustache and mullet, he stood out amongst the show’s other South Island contestants – a mixed bag of big-lunged balladeers, contemporary singer-songwriters, and a lone Dunedin rapper called ZËxÏÏ.
Staley’s music was different too.
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“I’ve entered Popstars because I want to bring something old school back,” said Staley, launching into a song he’d written that was “influenced by my upbringing”.
Called Diesel, Staley’s original song was indeed an ode to his love of a good V8 internal combustion engine.
“It’s not just a truck to me / It’s more like a pal,” crooned Staley, playing grungy guitar chords that seemed to be channelled from the mid-’90s. “It’s only a truck / But it always rings my bell.”
The song’s chorus was easy to sing along to: a simple spelling out of the word, ‘D-I-E-S-E-L’.
Surprisingly, for a show called Popstars, the show’s panellists enjoyed his performance.
“You’ve got your own thing going on,” said Vince Harder. “You’ve got a real soulful thing.” He said yes.
Nathan King agreed, telling him: “You’ve got energy, you’ve got sass … I love it.” He also said yes.
Holding Staley back from instantly progressing through to the show’s second round was Kimbra, who told Staley he should work on making his metaphors a little more subtle.
“It’s so important that you are saying something to us that we haven’t heard said before,” she said.
“That’s finding metaphors for the things that you’re talking about, approaching it with more of a poetic mind (and adding) a little bit of mystery in there.”
She told him she needed to “think about it more” and gave him a “maybe”.
Things weren’t always speeding along in the fast lane in Christchurch, with judges finding plenty of talent to give call back cards to.
They included Keira Jonkers, an 18-year-old who performs intense, Fiona Apple-style songs under the name Kei.
She impressed all three panellists with an original song called Working For the Devil that had Kimbra praising her “powerful lyrics”.
Keira Jonkers impressed all three panellists with an original song called Working For the Devil.
“I’ve been waiting for someone to make me feel like I want to get out of my seat and join in with you, and your performance did that for me today,” she told her.
Jireh Komene also got a call back for her performance of an R&B ballad called Real Love, with King saying: “I know that we can do great things with you.”
But the best performance came from Jaydin Shingleton, a guitarist and singer-songwriter who had already impressed the show’s pre-audition panel with a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
In front of Kimbra, King and Harder, he played a deeply personal original called Damn Love, a soaring guitar ballad about an “unfortunate, not-so-good relationship that keeps recurring”.
The best performance of the night came from Jaydin Shingleton.
Kimbra immediately said yes and King agreed, calling it “gold”.
“The hairs on the back of my neck stood up,” he said.
Harder had the most emphatic response. “There was a moment where I got a bit of a shiver down my spine,” he said. “There’s something beautiful about you, bro.”
Then, as Shingleton left the stage, Harder seemed to reveal, finally, after three full audition episodes, exactly what the Popstars panellists are looking for from the winner of this $100,000 reality TV competition.
And it doesn’t seem to be throwback songs about the trucking industry.
“That audition was killer,” said Harder, as Kimbra and King nodded in agreement. “He smashed it.”