‘Oh My God!’: Nicole Scherzinger’s shock at AGT stunts
NICOLE Scherzinger had tears streaming down her face, her voice cracking with emotion, as the contestant delivered a deeply moving song.
Another moment has her howling with laughter and backing off in mock horror from a magician whose act was definitely not as advertised.
And during the death-defying escape stunt from former Bacherlorette favourite Apollo, her genuine fear as he was set alight and his arm caught fire prompted shrieks of terror and a string of "Oh My God's" and "no, no no's".
In the heavily scripted, conveniently edited era of television talent quests, the new host of the rebooted Australia's Got Talent on Seven is that rare presenter who puts the real back into reality.
Every single one of her reaction, whether it be the contestants or to her fellow judges Lucy Durack, Manu Feildel and Shane Jacobson, both mirror the natural response of an audience and signal this season is back with more feel-good factor rather than confected drama.
"I think that's the beauty of the brand of AGT," she tells TV Guide/Watch.
"They are quite selective about what they are looking for and that's family fun.
It's more about positivity than stripping people down and I love being a part of a show like that."
Scherzinger shot to global fame as the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, the girl group assembled by Robin Anton, who had created a burlesque dance troupe of the same name in Las Vegas.
Over just four years and two albums - PCD and Doll Domination - Pussycat Dolls became one of the biggest selling girl groups of all time, with 54 million album sales and a string of hit singles including Don't Cha, Buttons, When I Grow Up, I Hate This Part and Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) to their credit.
Scherzinger's role as the frontwoman, who not only did the heavy-lifting when it came to singing, but also contributed to songwriting, fomented tensions within the group and they disbanded in 2009.
She continued to pursue her pop solo career, but a lucrative side-hustle emerged when she was signed up as a judge of the short-lived American talent show, The Sing-Off, in late 2009.
She won season 10 of Dancing with the Stars, and then was courted to co-host the launch series of The X-Factor USA, switching to the judging panel to replace Cheryl Cole.
X Factor supremo Simon Cowell then shifted her to the UK franchise to take Kelly Rowland's vacant spot.
Her popularity and rapport with audiences has kept her in television jobs ever since, including the first season of the bonkers new format, The Masked Singer which will launch here soon on Ten.
Scherzinger says it took some time to feel comfortable with the switch from pop artist to presenter.
"I think it took me a few years to get really comfortable and come into my own, and also to be a great ambassador for artists and contestants now I was on the other side," she says.
"At the same time, despite what some might think or attempt to stereotype me as, I am down-to-earth, I'm extremely relatable and I was finally able to showcase the other side of who I am, my sense of humour and how I want to serve and give back to others. I really care about these people."
Switching between formats has kept her own enthusiasm levels high.
Those behind the scenes on AGT describe her as effervescent and passionate.
"Everything is new for me with this show so I'm excited, really excited. Every time I come to these shows, I'm not jaded, I feel like I'm seeing it all for the first time."
Ask her how she feels about her fellow judges and she gushes but not with saccharine platitudes.
Scherzinger has a finely-honed BS detector after a couple of decades working in the music and TV industries and is also keenly aware bad chemistry among judges will turn viewers off.
"I get along pretty well with most humans. In this situation, you have to make it work and have a great chemistry; people feel that at home," she says.
"But I don't have to make anything work on this panel, I truly adore them. With Manu, I didn't know how funny he was, how much of a team player he is; Shane is making us laugh constantly and Lucy is a Disney princess brought to life, she's sweet as pie and that shows in her spirit."
Ratings will ultimately determine whether the latest incarnation of AGT has legs and will keep Scherzinger coming back to Australia.
The future also depends on her day job, with the singer posting recently that she is back in the studio and working on new music.
"I am very grateful for the show. My heart and soul is music and every chance I get in my schedule, I am doing a writing session or getting into a studio."
"I have so much music. But times have changed so much with streaming, it was about albums and it's now all about singles, so I guess I have to evolve and let go of some of this music.
"It's not about wanting to be out there competing or trying to be cool or relevant. It's got to touch people at the right time."
* Australia's Got Talent, 7pm, Sunday, 7.30pm, Monday, Seven