Sitting on Top of the World (D Goodrem/J Shanks) and Wish You Were Here (D Goodrem/G Clarke) and Dancing With A Broken Heart (D Goodrem/V Pizzinga/J Shanks) – Delta Goodrem 2012
It would be five years before Goodrem’s fourth album, Child of the Universe was released as a follow up to 2005’s Delta. In the interim Delta had relocated to LA to live in 2010, had terminated a 7-year relationship with Brian McFadden, and become a judge on the premiere season of The Voice Australia. She had generated impressive total sales of 8 million records to date, but the early momentum generated here and overseas by her debut album had dissipated, and she needed some serious image re-invention and re-direction, if her global chart fortunes were to be revived in the future. Below L-R – Delta and Vince Pizzinga, John Shanks, Gary Clark, her co-writers.
No less than 6 producers and 8 songwriters contributed to the creation of her latest album, Delta was a co-composer on all 15 tracks and Vince Pizzinga (6 songs), Gary Clark (8 songs), and John Shanks (4 songs) were all experienced tunesmiths and prime co-collaborators, who had international hits to their credit, and were deemed to be Delta’s A-Team creatively.
Three singles were pre-released to pique interest in the album – Sitting on Top of the World, Dancing With A Broken Heart, and Wish You Were Here. The album was a genre-hopping attempt at showcasing Goodrem’s obvious versatility and vocal talents, by embracing contemporary musical styles while also delivering the familiar anthemic ballads with which she had become identified. Standout tracks included Hunters and Wolves which used tribal rhythms to turbo-charge its sexy lyrics, the Christine Aguilera-style rocker When My Stars Come Out, the Kylie-inspired disco dance beats of Touch, and the Mariah Careyesque harmonies on Safe To Believe, which were all songs that drew praise, but never made the cut as singles.
The first song lifted off the album was Sitting On Top of the World, a bouncy, power pop song with a positive vibe, that used guitar, keyboards, and synth strings to convey the message of universal joy and happiness. The promo video featured Delta in exterior scenes with a daisy chain headband, lots of dancers and colored balloons, she occasionally played piano, and started dancing again, only briefly, but she seemed to be enjoying her work. Delta’s dancing did attract some uninvited criticism in the US in 2014 when she attended a Beyonce and Jay-Z concert and strayed into comedian Marlon Wayons lane on the dancefloor, as she executed her signature dance move, “the sprinkler”. Wayons posted a shot of Delta on Instagram, and observed “most unrhythmic white woman in the world”, for which he copped criticism, but Delta saw the funny side, and posted the famous clip of Elaine’s uncoordinated dancing on Seinfeld, to prove that there is at least one other white woman more unrhythmic than her. Below L-R The Instagram shot Marlon Wayons posted of Delta dancing, the Elaine dance sequence from Seinfeld. and Delta busting some moves in her video posted above.
The song was a #2 hit in Aust and #24 in NZ, and with sales in excess of 200,000 copies, it was a euphoric pop banger that ended the four- year drought of top ten hits since, I Can’t Break It To My Heart, back in 2008, but it was criticized by some for being too derivative of Arcade Fire’s hit Rebellion (Lies) from 2005.
Dancing With A Broken Heart was the second single lifted off the album and not one of Delta’s best, it was intended to build an uplifting message song into a dancefloor banger, and its studded with lots of gauche, self-help one-liners, like “what doesn’t kill you makes you so much stronger”’ “fight fire with fire”, “this is the time of my life” and awkwardly “I won’t let dogs’ lie in the peace and quiet”. In the hands of Kylie Minogue, with a slinky bassline, pulsating Europop dance beat, and simple lyrics about dancing you way to lust and love, it may have been a very different song, but that said the music simply drowned out Delta’s vocals anyway, and the promo clip was a confused jumble of well-meaning but incoherent images and an incomprehensible narrative, it crept to #15 locally.
Wish You Were Here was inspired by the death of Delta’s close friend Liam O’Flaherty in a motor cycle accident in 2009, it took her several years to find the words and music that she felt would be a proper tribute to O’Flaherty “They told me who was in trouble/ I couldn’t breathe on the other side of the world /And there was nothing I could do to help you /And it’s true today it’d be your birthday It would’ve been your 27th year/ And I miss you in the earth’s atmosphere, I wish you were here/ I wish you were here.” Gentle percussion, restrained keyboards, strings, and a choir created a reverent, hymnal ambience, it was a heartfelt piano ballad, that resonated with fans and climbed to #5 locally.
Several other songs on the album were inspired by Delta’s breakup with Brian McFadden, including Lost All Love 4 You – “Go and live your life, find another wife., and I’m Not Ready – “I am broken, there’s a stranger on the phone, something is missing from seven years ago.” Below – Brian McFadden with first wife Kerry Katona and their two daughters, Brian with second wife Vogue Williams and Delta Goodrem far right, Brian with grown-up daughters Molly and Lilly-Sue and prospective third wife Danielle Parkinson (2019)
Clearly it was Delta who had ditched McFadden and initially he tried to patch things up, but she now found him annoying and had moved on. But by 2012 McFadden had wed Irish model and reality TV star Vogue Williams, and declared the two were “soul mates”, and she took issue with Delta’s song lyrics “You say you don’t want to discuss your personal life so DON’T! But please stop using it to promote yourself, it’s embarrassing…#fake.” Delta and Brian had apparently signed a confidentiality agreement to ensure that only a sanitized, airbrushed version of their time together emerged, so the dismissive song lyrics did seem to be a cheap shot, Vogue certainly thought so, but she also lost interest in pursuing the matter too, after she divorced McFadden in 2015.
In 2012 Delta became a judge on the premier season of The Voice on the Nine Network, her fellow judges were Keith Urban, Seal, and Joel Madden, and it would be a ratings winner with an average weekly viewership of 2.375m per week. The Voice is a scripted reality show which assigns celebrity coaches to individual contestants/acts who are mentored through succeeding weeks of elimination challenges until one act and one coach are declared the winner. Karise Eden was the Season One winner and she subsequently took several records onto the charts, although her fame was short-lived. Delta Goodrem has been a ubiquitous presence as a judge on eight seasons since it premiered, only absent from Season 3 when she was co-hosting a spin-off show called The Voice Kids, which flopped after one season.
Despite initially scoring solid ratings and winning several TV Logie Awards, The Voice Australia has the unenviable reputation of being the singularly least successful reality talent contest of its genre, when assessed on the basis of the ultimate chart success of its season’s winners. In fact, as a global franchise it has no notable success stories, and in the USA the show has been staged every six months for ten years, to the point where the brand is now completely trashed there. Below L-R Dami Im (X Factor), Jessica Mauboy (Idol), Guy Sebastian(Idol) with Kelly Rowlands, have all built careers on X-Factor/Idol exposure.
The Voice Australia would also plummet in the ratings over the period 2012-20, falling by 60% to .928m viewers per week in 2020, and then pop up on the Seven Network in 2021, without Goodrem on the judging panel, where its viewer numbers trended inexorably downward, and none of the finalists appeared to possess the talent of a Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Dami Im, or Samantha Jade – the ultimate winner was Bella Taylor Smith. Below L-R Jessie J and Delta.
Delta was heavily criticized and even trolled, during her tenure as a Voice judge, for being aloof and overly dramatic, all style and little substance, and lacking the experience and composure of an established performer, and yet by 2020 in her last season as a judge, she reputedly commanded a fee of $2.0m and was the highest paid member of that judging panel. She also had issues with other judges along the way, falling out with British singer Jessie J in Season 4 in 2015, when she stormed off the set accusing the Brit of being overly critical of contestants. She also accused the Madden brothers Ben and Joel of bullying other judges and contestants, however it’s hard to confirm just how genuine these judge’s spats were, given the show’s producers propensity to contrive such shenanigans to spice up ratings. Similarly rumors of an affair between Delta and show host Darren McMullan during the first season of the show, and Delta and fellow judge Seal who were also the subject of the rumour mill several years later, all seemed to coincide with the show’s falling ratings.
In 2017 Team Delta did successfully coach two contestants to win seasons 5 and 6 in 2016-17, however neither Alfie Arcuri nor Judah Kelly enjoyed great chart success, and like other winners such as Anja Nissen, Ellie Drennan, Sam Perry, Diana Rouvas, and Chris Sebastian, would all fall into the “where are they now” file. Below – L-R Delta with Alfie Arcuri, Judah Kelly, and Jessie J with Ellie Drennan.
Delta would continue to release albums and singles which charted respectably locally, but Child of the Universe, her fourth studio album, sold only 35,000 copies globally, her international markets had disappeared, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Adele, Rihanna, Beyonce, and others dominated the global scene that Delta had once sought to conquer, and they were often recording hit songs written by Australia’s Sia Furler, a gifted local girl with whom Delta never collaborated, but whom Kylie Minogue had recruited to executive co-produce her 2012 album Kiss Me Once. In the future she would become better known as a judge on The Voice. Below Sia with Beyonce and Jay-Z.