Damien, Damo, Mr Leith – Damien Leith. You may have seen your name pop up last month while browsing PEDESTRIAN.TV.
Or, if you’re not one of our readers, then perhaps your agent may have been pinged after your name came up as a keyword in Google News. Regardless of how you may have been alerted to the article I wrote about you, I’m here to say: I take some of it back.
When I set out to prove Jessica Mauboy was robbed when you won Australian Idol in 2006, my recollection had clearly faded over the 14 years since the event. I was both nostalgic and aggressive – a dangerous combination.
I copped some flak from the article, and rightfully so. Just hours after posting it I received the following message on Twitter:
Hey @zacrellin next time you pen an article about someone being robbed I suggest you check your facts & the votes received. Not a slim margin, a huge one. Also please get up to date on post Idol careers. Who has Intnl song writing awards, Aus Song of the Year, Golden Guitar award
— Braffy (@Braffy) June 8, 2020
The account made in 2009, had 180-odd followers, lacked a real profile picture, and – I shit you not – this was its bio: I am a proud Australian and Damien Leith supporter.
“Damien Leith supporter.” I didn’t even realise such a thing existed and yet somehow, I managed to strike a chord with the Damien Leith stans. Ouch.
Facebook was no better. One commenter literally called my article a “bizarre, random and unwarranted little diatribe against Damien Leith”. They were right.
Here I am, not with Jessica Mauboy’s “Burn” or any of her other songs stuck in my head, but with your song stuck in my head, Damien – the one which I claimed not to even know the name of in my original article.
After reading those impassioned comments I went back an watched those fateful final nights in 2006. It was clear that your rendition of the winner’s song was the better of the two. Was that because it was more attuned to your vocal style? Perhaps, but I can’t deny that it was a great performance nonetheless.
‘”Night of My Life” slaps so hard, in fact, that it’s still stuck in my head, all these weeks later. My internal monologue has been ringing “I had the night of my lifeeeeeee” for ages now.
And how about those verses. They’re not the filler I thought they were – they’re good. Tell me more a bout how “nothing’s made to last forever” in your angelic voice, Damien.
The bridge… the chorus… it’s poetry. I had for far too long dismissed it as a generic singing show winner’s ballad but like, it’s so much better than that. And I reckon a lot of singers couldn’t pull them off the way you did, either.
‘Cos this kind of moment, is only on loan and,
I wanna remember the look in your eyes,
When it’s all over I want you to know that I was with you when I…
Had the night of my lifeeeeeeeee
Seriously, I love your voice and I was wrong for shitting on you. I can’t explain it but for some reason it gives me massive Goo Goo Dolls or The Calling vibes. That’s not a bad thing at all.
Suddenly, all those local and international awards I was lectured about on Twitter made sense. Aside from your slew of ARIA certifications from your debut album, it’s now clear to me how deserving you were of the songwriter of the year title form both the Country Music Association of Australia and the Australasian Performing Right Association/Australian Songwriters Association. Well-earned, Damo.
There are countless songs from the 2000s which were of questionable quality back then but which hold up extremely well nowadays. Regardless of however I may have felt in the immediate wake of your win (and Jessica’s loss), it’s clear that “Night of My Life” is a certified, undeniable banger.
This should be the part where I go through your whole discography and talk about how great it is. If I’m honest, it’s not what I usually listen to, but that’s OK.
Just because it’s not my thing, doesn’t make it bad. “Night of My Life” is more than enough to satisfy the hearts and souls of the masses, including formerly-belligerent haters such as myself.
After a few days/weeks of soul-searching with your voice stuck in my head, it must be said: I too am a
proud Australian and Damien Leith supporter.
Image: Getty Images / Kristian Dowling