CAREER KARAOKE OR IDOL FAME PART 2- KATE DeARAUGO

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Maybe Tonight (D Bassett/J Cates/L Robbins) 2005 and Faded (J Origliasso/L Origliasso/M Gerrard/R Nevil) – Kate DeAraugo 2006

Katherine Jenna DeAraugo (1985) was born in Bendigo (Vic) and became a swimming instructor who yearned for a career as a professional singer. She unsuccessfully auditioned for Seasons One and Two of Australian Idol and relocated to the Gold Coast (Qld) to take singing lessons with Venetta Fields to enhance her chances of success. She successfully auditioned for Idol Season 3 as a Queensland entrant and in November 2005 DeAraugo and Emily Williams reached the first all-female Grand Final of Australian Idol. Throughout the contest DeAraugo had not received a single “touchdown” from judge Mark Holden, his accolade for an especially meritorious performance, but neither had she been in real danger of elimination, always finishing in the middle of the pack. Williams was favourite to win but as in the previous year’s Idol final, when Casey Donovan upset the hot favourite Anthony Callea, DeAraugo won by the narrow margin of 2%, and her debut single Maybe Tonight was released soon after in time for Christmas sales. Below Kate wins Idol Season 3, The Field of Contestants for that season, Artwork for Kate’s debut single.

At this time Idol winners and runners-up were expected to top the charts with their debut songs, Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, Casey Donovan and Anthony Callea had all taken this well-defined path to early chart success, and so would Kate. But not so Emily Williams, whose solo career stalled despite signing a record deal with Sony /BMG, after her debut album was shelved, and she found her way to the Young Divas, ultimately joining former Idol alumni DeAraugo, Paulini, and Ricki-Lee Coulter, in a quartet that enjoyed brief success. Young Divas L-R – Paulini, Kate DeAraugo, Emily Williams, Ricki-Lee Coulter

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Throughout the contest DeAraugo had shown considerable vocal dexterity and adaptability to deliver a succession of jukebox karaoke favorites from such artists as Stevie Wonder, Fontella Bass, Elvis Presley, Queen, Madonna, Anastacia, Patti LaBelle, and others, she avoided any big, dramatic, melisma-laden ballads and wisely worked within her vocal range. Her debut single, Maybe Tonight, was a collaboration by American tunesmiths Dave Basset (Vance Joy, Weezer), Jess Cates (Backstreet Boys, Shannon Noll, Nick Lachey), and Lindy Robbins (Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo), who all had experience in crafting power pop ballads for the “money moment” in the careers of Idol alumni.

The choice of song for DeAraugo’s debut release was predominantly made by Sony/BMG music and Fremantle Media/Network 10 personnel, it was a contemporary ballad which fulfilled the vague, thematic function of such a genre signature song – lyrics that came straight from greeting card homilies, IKEA wall plaque slogans, and snapchat memes, “Cried a lot of tears, faced a lot fears to get, right here/ Every chapter ends, before the right one can begin again, in the story of love…”

Musically it traded on gently orchestrated piano, synth strings and guitars, rising and falling in predictably manipulative tempo and volume shifts, to ultimately convey the anti-climactic narrative of a couple re-connecting after relationship breakdown.

Kate was compared to Katie Underwood – American Idol winner, and despite the generic nature of the song, she did imbue it with a credibility and relatability that were also features of Underwood’s performances.

The video was a low budget vignette about lovers struggling to re-discover each other, clearly in the pre-GPS era, and used flashbacks to  depict their lives – a young couple sitting under an umbrella on a motel roof (?), the young guy’s car breaks down, he falls off his bike and hurts his knee, he drops and breaks his mobile phone; this guy is so accident-prone it’s a wonder he ever found his way to the motel (that’s the one they were perched on top of at the start), where young Kate is patiently waiting for him to arrive and complete the happy ending.

It was a local #1 hit but with sales of only 70,000 it confirmed that Idol franchise winners were no longer big chart toppers, the debut hits of Guy Sebastian (360,000), Shannon Noll (300,000), Casey Donovan (140,000), and Anthony Callea (340,000) had monstered DeAraugo’s efforts, and her runner-up Emily Williams didn’t chart as a solo act at all.

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DeAraugo’s follow up single in 2006 was Faded, a collaborative effort by The Veronicas (Jess and Lisa Origliasso), and Americans Matt Gerrard (Delta Goodrem, Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus), and Robbie Nevil (the Pointer Sisters, Alison Moyet, Earth Wind and Fire), and it coaxed a very Kelly Clarkson-esque performance from Kate, who rocked a song that had some fire, grit, and girrrl power, about it, as she sent her cheating, insensitive, controlling, bad boy boyfriend packing  in his customized ute, as he “fades” from her life.

Cover versions by The Veronicas (who co-wrote it) and Cascada also have their fans, but this was a solid rock outing by Kate, and became her second top 10 hit.

It did OK business rising to #8 locally, and DeAraugo’s debut album A Place I’ve Never been To was also top ten, but by 2006 she had thrown in her lot with the Young Divas and they released a cover of Donna Summer’s This Time I Know It’s For Real which climbed to #2. The whole Young Divas concept was short-lived and it fell into the “seemed like a good idea at the time” category, individually Ricki Lee Coulter, Kate DeAraugo and Paulini had enjoyed some chart success but not Williams, and vocally they never seemed to jell because each wanted to be the lead singer and resume a solo career. Their debut release was Spice Girls-lite with a Stock Aitken Waterman blandness, and the promo vid, hurriedly thrown together with virtually no budget after Sony/BMG realized that the song was catching fire, had reversed a decision to not to shoot a video, but it was clunky, poorly shot and choreographed and repetitious, the Young Divas would start to fall apart in 2007 and were officially disbanded in 2008.

In 2008 DeAraugo was writing songs for her second album, and battling significant weight gain, Idol judge Kyle Sandilands had humiliatingly referred to her as having “tuckshop lady arms’ during Season 3 of Idol, and she was briefly a brand ambassador for Jenny Craig, but an undiagnosed lactose intolerance condition forced her to resign this position. She appeared on the weight-loss reality show Excess Baggage and admitted to having full- body liposuction in 2011, but both her physical and mental health were in decline, and the two singles she released in 2015, It’s True and Shut Your Mouth both failed to chart. Below- Kate battled to control her weight, and ultimately achieved success.

In 2017 DeAraugo was arrested twice for possessing meth amphetamine (ice) and being in possession of dangerous weapons (a tomahawk, axe, and knife), she pled guilty to all charges in the Bendigo Court in 2017 and although she was not convicted or incarcerated, she was fined and her driver’s license was disqualified for six months.  Below – Court attendances were stressful as Kate’s history of addiction was revealed

By 2019 Kate DeAraugo had teamed up with Australia’s Got Talent runner-up Greg Gould for their national club tour From Motown to Memphis, in which Kate and Greg performed the hits of Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield , and other musical legends.

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