Shine (M Gerrard/A Stochansky) and Lift (A Reily/B Jones/A Roachford/S Noll) 2005 and Now I Run (P Gordeno/S Noll/C Porter) and Lonely (A Reily/S Noll) 2006 and Loud (A Stochansky/J Michael) – Shannon Noll 2007
It was November 2003 and over 2,000 people had turned up at the Sydney Opera House to cheer on their favourites in the final of the debut season of Australian Idol, a TV audience of 3 million had also tuned in, a record number for a talent quest final in this country. Below – L-R Shannon and Guy, Idol logo, Shannon, Cosima De Vito, Guy.
Guy Sebastian with his disarming smile and flamboyant Afro sang Get You Along, by Robin Thicke, while the laconic country boy from Condobolin (NSW), with his “flavour saver” goatee sang the Moving Pictures 1982 smash hit, What About Me.
Sebastian won and went onto a successful recording career, the loveable larrikin Shannon Noll then blazed his own trail through the pop firmament, he was 28 and had already fathered two sons with his partner Rochelle Ogston, Cody (2001) and Blake (2002). He was definitely not your typical young, unattached, pop idol type, but he would take his first ten singles into the top ten as well as his first four albums, he didn’t look or sound like a guy who had just lost the biggest talent show contest in the country! Below – Shannon and partner Rochelle, and sons Cody and Blake, and baby daughter Sienna.
Noll was quick to realize that his appeal was linked to a country boy relatability that resonated with fans, in his early videos he wore flannel shirts, jeans, work boots and looked like the wheat and sheep farmer that he used to be, sporting an uncomplicated haircut and singing in a voice “that came from you and me”, to quote Don McLean’s description of Bob Dylan’s voice in his classic song American Pie. He was so damned ordinary, unpretentious, unprepossessing, and unthreatening, that he became the battler underdog that Australians love to embrace – and they did.
He cannily chose the song he had performed in the Idol final as his first single release, he was aware of his vocal limitations, not for him a song like Guy Sebastian’s debut hit Angels Brought Me Here from the Cheiron Stockholm hit factory, with its key changes that were perfect for Sebastian’s tenor voice, but beyond the range of Noll. He would ultimately aim for a vocal style somewhere between Bryan Adams and Keith Urban, a vocal bridge between rock and country, that would serve him well.
By mid-2004 Shannon Noll had notched up a #1 album and three top five hits to his credit, he was touring the country unrelentingly, commencing with an Australian Idol tour in 2004 which featured alumni from the show, and he immediately followed that with his first solo headlining tour titled The Overdrive Tour. In August 2014 he starred in a TV special on Network Ten titled Up Close with Shannon Noll, hosted by his old Idol judge Ian Dickson, wherever you looked you saw “Nollsy”.
At Channel Nine’s request he re-recorded the 1970’s cricket anthem C’mon Aussie C’mon, a #1 hit for the Mojo Singers in 1979, and took his version to #3 in December, with all proceeds being donated to the Red Cross in a selfless act of genuine charity by Shannon, which he would repeat two years later when he raised funds for beyondblue via a duet with Natalie Bassingthwaighte on their cover of the classic Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush recording of Don’t Give Up. Below – Artwork for Don’t Give Up and C’mon Aussie C’mon, Desmond Childs
At this time Noll had set his sights on breaking into the giant US market, he spent time with songwriting royalty there in Desmond Child who had written virtually every hit that Bon Jovi had, #1 hits for Kiss, Alice Cooper, Ricki Martin and many others in a career that included 500 million album sales and 80 top forty singles. He also worked with Dianne Warren who was a legendary songwriter having penned nine #1 hits and 32 top ten songs including hits for Celine Dion, Toni Braxton and Laura Branigan, and he collaborated with Brit Wayne Hector, the go-to songwriter for boybands Westlife and One Direction, as well as Olly Mars and Nicky Minaj, but few of these songs collaboratively written by Noll with these feted composers ever saw the light of day.
Noll claimed that he preferred to work with Australian songwriters, but there were other factors, the heavy hitters like Warren and Childs don’t come cheap and prefer not to share credits, Noll wanted to expand his influence into songwriting and get a share of the associated royalties, he would ultimately get a writing credit for eleven of the thirteen songs on his next album Lift issued in 2005.
He would indeed work with a lot of lesser-known non-Australian songwriters on that album including Canadian Matthew Gerard, Americans Andy Stochansky and Chris Gordon, and Brits Phil Thornalley, Andrew Roachford, and Peter Gordeno, two co-writes with Wayne Hector also featured, and some emerging local songwriters including Phil Buckle, Adam Reilly and Bryon Jones also contributed tracks to the album.
Lift would not be the breakthrough album in the US for Noll, but he remained a hometown hero as both the album and the single Shine debuted at #1, this song was a departure from the country-tinged rock and balladry of Shannon’s previous singles, he slipped into a Bryan Adams-like gentle rocker groove here, bass, drums and guitar lead the way, it’s uncomplicated, unthreatening and was very popular. It stayed on top for eleven consecutive weeks, a local record that was not broken until 2019 when Tones and I held down #1 with Dance Monkey for an amazing 24 weeks, including 21 of them consecutively.
The album Lift sold over 200,000 copies and Noll lifteded three more singles from it, in January 2006 he embarked on his second solo headlining tour, predictably titled The Lift Tour.
Lift was the second single from the album and aspired to anthemic status via an inspirational message to never quit, to defeat the bullies and the naysayers in your life. Visual images of boxing rings and fighters somewhat heavy-handedly reinforced that message, which was filmed by Noll’s go-to promo clip creator Anthony Rose, shot in a vacant warehouse in Marrickville (Syd.), Lift climbed to #9 and occupied the charts for 29 weeks.
Now I Run was an homage to Noll’s late father Neil who had been tragically killed in a farming accident in 2001, the following years were tough for Shannon and his two brothers who had to run their property during a period of severe drought in the area. The emotional impact of his father’s death and the subsequent decision by Noll to quit farming, finds eloquent expression in this song, a gentle acoustic lament about the close relationship between a father and his son which ended prematurely “Everything that I am, comes from a better man.” The song was highly praised by critics, it was a moving tribute and the promo clip which depicted Noll strumming an acoustic guitar in a farm shed, was simple and tasteful, it charted #7 nationally.
Lonely was the last single lifted from the album and it was a typically country-tinged, radio-friendly song blending steel guitar with power chords, as Noll took that familiar journey across the bridge from country to rock and back again, it continued Shannon’s amazing run of top hits, when it climbed to #10 to become his eighth consecutive top ten record.
Following the chart success of Don’t Give Up, Noll’s duet with Natalie Bassingthwaighte, although inferior to the original by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, would be followed by Noll’s tenth consecutive top ten hit single with Loud in 2007, when lifted from his third album Turn It Up.
The single climbed to #2 but was an utterly generic attempt at anthemic power pop, with few redeeming features, slowly strummed bass guitar dominates and variations in tempo and volume seek to manipulate the listener, it was popular as a pre-game crowd favourite at the NFL Finals in 2007. Noll’s third album was also a hit and peaked at #3 and sold 70,000 copies. In the same year Noll made his theatrical debut as Parson Nathaniel in Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of War of the Worlds, a role he would return to in 2009.
The next year he left Sony and signed with Universal Music, and released his fourth album A Million Suns in 2011, it peaked at #8 with sales of 70,000 copies, but there were no successful singles forthcoming. At this time there was a serious hiatus in Noll’s career, he would issue no less than 13 singles between 2011-2021 and only Switch Me On in 2011 would penetrate the top 40, he switched labels again to Warner Music in 2018 and released his fifth album Unbroken which climbed to #7 but sold less than 15,000 copies, his last album was Raw released in 2021 on the Red Dog label and it charted #2 but again sold less than 15,000 copies. Despite little chart success Noll continued to tour off the back of unsuccessful albums/singles, for ever- diminishing returns, he dabbled in reality television with appearances in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (2018) and Dancing With The Stars (2012) where he seriously injured his spine attempting a lift with his partner. Below L-R – Shannon and Rochelle’s Wedding Day, Leaving Court after DUI Hearing, Tabloid coverage of Adelaide Club Bouncer Incident.
The post-Idol years for Shannon Noll have been distinguished by the career highs and lows as experienced by many of the Idol alumni, he has sold over 1.5 million records, many in the years when he capitalized on his Idol momentum and celebrity. He has been an enthusiastic live performer and toured the country extensively, his personal highs would include marriage to his partner Rochelle Ogston (2004), the birth of his third child Sienna (2006) and his third son Colton (2019). His personal lows would include a DUI conviction in 2004 (0.11) and 9 months license disqualification, arrest for assaulting an Adelaide strip club bouncer in 2017, an expletive-laced rant at an unruly member of the crowd at a Picnic Race meeting at Nyngan (NSW) captured on phone camera, and in 2018 he would plead guilty to a charge of possessing cocaine, and was placed on a 12- month good behaviour bond. Below – Shannon and Rochelle with their family – Cody, Blake , Sienna and baby Colton.