'Idol' friends help keep him singing

Last updated 05:00 18/06/2014
Michael Murphy
'I'M STILL HERE': Michael Murphy was narrowly beaten on text voting in the televised NZ Idol contest in 2004.

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In 2004, a 17-year-old schoolboy from Taupo was named runner-up in the country's inaugural NZ Idol competition.

Where is Michael Murphy now?

Murphy, 27, was narrowly beaten on text voting in the televised NZ Idol contest in 2004 by winner Ben Lummis.

The series had its roots in shows including Pop Idol in the United Kingdom and American Idol. Reality television was a newish concept at the time.

Ten years on, Murphy still gets recognised in the street.

"It is strange - considering a decade has passed. I am sure I do not look like the same guy, but apparently I do. There are lots of photos up on my parents' walls. It is kind of hard to get away from," he says.

A lot has changed in the music industry in 10 years, Murphy says: "It is far easier to get your music out there."

But one thing has stayed the same - he is still singing and performing.

Murphy signed with Sony BMG soon after NZ Idol, went on to record a best-selling single, put out a solo album and later joined three old schoolmates to form 5 Star Fallout.

The band toured New Zealand and the United States before breaking up a few years ago.

A lot of what Murphy does now, including weekly corporate gigs with singer Rebecca Wright, comes down to relationships he formed on NZ Idol.

He is working on a project with friends who released independent New Zealand film Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song last year and want to turn it into a stage show.

He also contributed to the soundtrack for New Zealand film Three Mile Limit, the story of Radio Hauraki, with Suzanne Lynch - his singing coach on NZ Idol.

Murphy says he and Lummis were "really, really good friends" on the show; however, they have grown apart - for no particular reason.

"We bump into each other every now and again. He works pretty hard. He is still singing and is also a youth worker. He is a cool guy," he says.

Murphy is in the process of "hopefully" forming a new band with friends.

The genre will be "somewhere along the lines of rock".

"That has not changed at all. That is what I love and do best," he says.

"I am not right out there, so it is very easy for people to go, ‘Where has he gone?', but I am still here. This has just been my job since I was 17."

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