Change she can believe in
''It's a problem, matching the personality to a formula,'' Fairfax music writer Bernard Zuel says of a record label's strategy for a star such as Jessica Mauboy. ''The formula with young women singing modern R&B is that they have to be out there sexually, thrusting physically and vocally. But that's just not who she is. It's like Tina Arena a decade or so ago: it just didn't seem believable, for the same reason.''
Zuel cites the recent backlash against Delta Goodrem as a prime example of what can happen when an audience ''can no longer identify with'' their star. ''The hostility she attracted [on The Voice] wasn't just mean-spirited from industry and journalists, it was a hangover from her saintly persona,'' he says. ''She was believable as a singer-songwriter, less so as a glitzy, sexy pop star. And that played a part in the responses to her on the show.''
Although Mauboy seems to have avoided a similar fate, Zuel believes she might shift gears again, before settling into a long-term groove.
''She could be a stage performer, and that's where she's meant to be,'' he says. ''Her pop career may have been the thing she had to do to get her foot in the door. But she clearly wants to be a pop star. So we'll just have to wait and see.''