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Amy Shark: 'How Did I Get Here? How Am I Next To Marcia Hines On Australian Idol?'

7 February 2024 | 4:47 pm | Mary Varvaris

As Amy Shark promotes her "favourite song she's ever written", 'Beautiful Eyes', she talks about 'Australian Idol', and covering a Kylie Minogue classic.

Amy Shark

Amy Shark (Credit: Cybele Malinowski)

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Kylie Minogue has heard Amy Shark’s version of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, and that’s all she cared about after covering the Fever classic for Mushroom 50’s anniversary album.

The Music catches up with Amy Shark just as Australian Idol returns to screens for a chat about reflection – and the future.

Shark experienced a surreal 2023, winning the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Popular New Talent for her work as a judge on the first reboot season of Australian Idol at last year’s Logie Awards, being named ambassador for Ausmusic T-Shirt Day alongside Jimmy Barnes and Budjerah, featured on the Mushroom 50 tribute album (and concert) and opened for Coldplay at Perth’s Optus Stadium.

It's a lot. And yet, she reached her proudest achievement last month when she released her favourite song she’d ever written. Beautiful Eyes is a breathtaking track from Shark. It displays her seemingly effortless storytelling and melodic capabilities as she strums the acoustic guitar and sings, “If you spend enough time with someone, chances are you’re probably gonna fall in love”.

Following the song’s release, Shark described it as “A pure stream of consciousness” in a statement. She added, “I wrote it when I was on tour, and I had a lot of time alone to think about the past and the future and my life and all the people in it.”

Shark admits that it was nerve-racking” to put out Beautiful Eyes. She recalls, “I remember the day I wrote it, and I really needed to write a good song that day. It just needed to happen for my mood and for my mental health; everything was kind of deteriorating on this [42-date] tour.

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Luckily, Beautiful Eyes was one of those songs that she didn’t have to work for; she just felt it. “I didn't have to try too hard; it was just kind of happening,” she shares. Telling The Music that “you only get one of those songs every now and then”, the singer explains that her apprehension stemmed from wanting listeners to hear the same magic that she knew she captured.

“I just really wanted people to hear what I heard, which was just the story and the melody, and I really love that guitar riff, as well,” Shark says. “I just thought that was so different. I just felt like everything worked with that song. Every time you put a song out, you just hope for the best, and you just hope that people can hear the magic that you can hear.”

The music video for Beautiful Eyes was inspired by Shark’s ideas to feature “beautiful and exciting imagery” and to be quintessentially Australian.

The video depicts the singer looking totally free, performing burnouts and all. She laughs, “I love the burnouts, and it was surprising because I love a lot of the underwater stuff, but that was the hardest thing to do. Like, I've never been so waterlogged in my whole life. It was really difficult but worth it.”

“I think we've got such a beautiful country,” Shark says about the video that was filmed by Hype Republic over two days near Byron Bay. “I could have potentially gone overseas or thrown a bunch of money at it and done something crazy, but I just wanted to tell a beautiful story that I wrote when I was on tour in regional Australia. I felt like I would get the feeling across better if I was at home.”

Shark has to remain tight-lipped about what new music will follow Beautiful Eyes, but for now, you can watch her on season nine of Australian Idol alongside fellow judges Kyle Sandilands and Marcia Hines.

On working with Hines, Shark says it’s a “pleasure” to work beside her and cites “incredible” stories the veteran musician has shared with her. “She’s got endless stories, honestly, we talk until the last second,” Shark grins, “She has so many incredible stories about her time in the OG series of Idol, about when she first came to Australia, even all the musicals she's been in; she's still gigging.

“We talk about certain venues that we’ve both played at, like in regional Australia, and we get along so well. But it took me a minute because even seeing her sit next to me was just… I had a moment like, ‘How did I get here? Who am I? How am I next to Marcia Hines on Australian Idol as a judge?’ It's so crazy to me, but she is a legend, and Kyle is hilarious.”

Shark admits that she had mixed feelings towards the reality singing competition when the original series of Australian Idol was on the air (2003-2009). “I didn’t know how I felt about it, but then I had a friend who got on it, and her name was Ricki-Lee,” she shares. “Once you have a friend on it, you're like, ‘Well, my friend’s on television!’ After I watched her, I started seeing the Lisa Mitchells and Matt Corbys, and I was like, ‘Wow, there's some serious talent on this show.’”

But Shark certainly never saw herself as an Australian Idol. “I didn't have that belief in myself that I could woo someone in like, five minutes,” she says, “I didn't have that voice. I thought you had to sound like Mariah Carey back then to go on it.” This season, she says, is thrilling and packed with “hot talent and really unique voices”.

On her Logie Award, which she won for starring as a judge in season eight of Australian Idol, Shark still can’t believe it. That doesn’t stop her from joking around with the crew of Idol, though.

“It's one of those awards that’s so left field for me; I just never expected that. When I'm reminded, I'm like, ‘Oh, that's right. I'm a bloody Logie winner!’ I stir everyone now at Idol. I say that I'm keeping the lights on here,” she laughs, before remembering that on the night, she tried to leave early, thinking she had “no chance” at winning in the category that featured Ayesha Madon and Chloe Hayden (Heartbreak High), Love Island Australia’s Flex MamiRuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’s Kween Kong, and Surviving Summer’s Lilliana Bowrey.

The Logie win was another “crazy” moment of 2023 for Shark, who covered a Kylie Minogue classic and won Australia’s Queen of Pop’s approval. “She has heard it, and that's all I cared about,” Shark laughs. “I'm so proud to be a part of the Mushroom family because from the very beginning, Michael [Gudinski] really believed in me and I knew him as a rock guy.

“Any time he showed interest to a pop artist, I was like, ‘This is cool. He must like the music, and that's great.’ Mushroom said to me, we'd really like you to do a Kylie song and I felt privileged. But with that comes a lot of responsibility of not butchering it,” she explains, “So yeah, she's heard it, she loves it, she's started DMing me on Instagram, and I kind of lost my mind.”

Another moment where Shark nearly lost her mind was when she nearly became the touring guitarist for the pop-punk band New Found Glory. Shark has contacts in the pop-punk scene, nabbing blink-182’s Mark Hoppus for her Love Monster track Psycho and developing friendships with other bands. Shark’s come a long way from the days of being a “sweaty little emo”.

The story goes: “I surprisingly talk to a lot of them [pop-punk bands] now. Like, I've spoken to Deryck [Whibley] from Sum 41 and I've spoken to New Found Glory. I nearly went on tour with New Found Glory, playing in their band,” Shark says. “That's something I haven't said out loud! But I had Australian Idol, and that was coming about the same time we were working out if I was going to do Idol or not.

“One of their guitarists [Chad Gilbert, who was receiving intense chemotherapy for a rare cancer called pheochromocytoma in February 2023] is not well, and I’m like, I know so many New Found Glory songs. They're like, ‘Do you want to come and be in the band?’ And I was like, What a crazy idea, but I kind of like it! So, yeah, I nearly went on tour with them.”

She hopes that more pop-punk collaborations are in the pipeline, but for now, she’ll enjoy watching blink-182 on their Australian tour, which starts tomorrow. “I have seen them many times, but not since I was a sweaty little emo in the mosh pit,” she says. “So, now as a lady, I'd love to go there all professional and just enjoy the show.”

Beautiful Eyes is out now via Sony Music Australia. Australian Idol continues tonight at 7:30 pm on Channel 7 and 7plus.