British producer Simon Cowell launched hit talent show The X Factor in 2004, after leaving Pop Idol. In April 2013 the Kiwi version debuted on TV3, after 6,000 hopefuls auditioned. Presented by Dominic Bowden, the first season was won by Jackie Thomas. She had survived elimination earlier on, after a campaign by judge and mentor Daniel Bedingfield. In 2015 Beau Monga won the second season. That year, judge Natalia Kills called contestant Joe Irvine "disgusting" for supposedly copying the look of her husband, fellow judge Willy Moon. The couple were fired the next day.
The first New Zealand final of The X Factor features emotional highs and lows, and judge's compliments aplenty. Three young singers made it through in 2013: Whenua Patuwai, Jackie Thomas and Benny Tipene. All would achieve NZ top three singles within weeks of the final. Among the highlights of the 95 minute special: Tipene's acoustic version of 'Hey Ya!', Patuwai's 'A Change is Gonna Come' and Thomas's emotional last number — not to mention the showstopping opening: Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky', featuring 13 finalists, an acrobat, and two dancers wearing mirrorball heads.
Before he became a chart-topping singer, Benny Tipene was a hopeful entrant on the first New Zealand series of global talent show The X Factor. For his audition in front of the panel of judges — including singers Stan Walker, Ruby Frost and Daniel Bedingfield — Tipene works his understated, folky magic on Outkast's 2003 party hit, 'Hey Ya'. It more than does the trick. Tipene would eventually come third; but he impressed enough to get signed by Sony Music and released a platinum selling solo album in 2013.