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Rock Star: INXS

July 31-August 3: If he could only see...

Sunday (new day for mansion episodes, now on VH-1): The contestants have a drinking party wherein they take a chug of their wine every time they mention someone who is gone.  Because he did so well last week, Marty has a sappy reunion with his sister, while Suzie bawls about being separated from her family (hello? If you join INXS, you'll potentially be out on tour for longer than this!).  J.D. tries to be a jerk again by pretending to give Suzie a "better" song so he can have his first choice, but the person I really hate with that exchange is clueless Suzie who thinks he's "so nice" to "give" her that song.  What a ditz.  Poke her head with Ty's spiky mohawk and I bet her brain would deflate.


The contestants have a clinic with Kirk and a vocal coach.  Jessica surprisingly sounds the best of the bunch on "Never Tear Us Apart."  Although Brandon improves, he seems to think that he doesn't need coaching, and he forgets everything he's learned by the time he rehearses with the house band.  News flash: you need the coach.  35-year-old Deanna is more or less told that, since she's been singing with wrong technique her entire life, she's now washed up as a singer.  Much whining ensues on her part.  Oh, and Tara?  Must be perfect, since we don't see her coaching session at all.


If I voted, I'd throw sympathy votes this week to Jessica, because she really does seem to want to improve, and MiG, because anyone who can sit and listen earnestly and sympathetically to Suzie sob and then hug the poor thing has got to be a saint.


Tuesday: Our band INXS has toned down the Simon Cowellization that they bordered on last week, which makes for a dull "everyone's fabulous" week as far as comments go.  Fortunately, the singers managed to make the evening a little more exciting.


MiG ("We Will Rock You"): The crowd is already doing the stomp-stomp-clap thing when he comes out.  He's very good, of course.  Dave and INXS both credit him with being far better than J.D. last week, which makes J.D. stand up and good-naturedly give a bow.  Hee.  Like Dave, though, I wanted to see MiG with his shirt off.  And would I be in trouble for thinking that Constantine could have done this song a tad better?  'Cause he could.  I'm just sayin'.


Deanna ("I'm the Only One"): The vocals may be a little under the pitch throughout the song, but damn!  This is the most exciting we've seen her in the entire competition.  She walks over to INXS and Dave at the other side of the club and begins singing to and flirting with them, and I'm thinking that the boys are about to pee in their pants (or do something else in their pants, heh).  It almost comes across as too desperate of a move on her part, but it's a riot to watch.


Marty ("With Arms Wide Open"): This performance has all the energy I've come to expect now with Marty - I'm glad he didn't channel last week's J.D. performance.  Mike thinks he's the best pure rock singer of the bunch.  He's intense without looking like he's going to kill you (see J.D.'s review below).  He does this weird floaty thing with his arms that give me the creeps, though.  And I know that Creed is vilified in some circles, and he probably didn't want to imitate the Jesus poses of that band's lead singer, but if you're singing, "with arms wide open," shouldn't you, like, open your arms?  Our boys love him, though, so what the heck.


Ty ("Everlong"): This is fine, but to me it's clearly not the kind of song Ty should sing (it wasn't his first choice), and "fine" doesn't cut it when everyone else is kicking their own performance up a notch.  In fact, writing this review, I don't remember too much about it, other than me thinking at the time, "It was exactly this type of performance that got Constantine booted off of A.I."  Could be in danger.


Jessica ("Blister in the Sun"): She's back to slut-wear, crotch-grabbing Jessica, but in a song where you're singing "I strut my stuff," I guess it works.  She's trying very hard to make this totally non-vocal song work for her, and I give her an "A" for effort.  (This begs the question: why are these singers being given the option of songs that aren't designed to showcase anyone's vocals?)  Dave wants to see more of the "real Jessica," and she claims that what he's seeing is it, but anyone who watches the Sunday night shows knows that's not the case, because that Jessica is not at all slutty.  Bad answer, darling.


Brandon ("If You Could Only See"): Ho-hum.  About the only exciting thing about this performance was when he fell flat on his back early in the piece.  I'm still trying to figure out whether that was deliberate or if he just managed to trip on his own "I don't like vocal coaching" ignorance.  Kirk thinks that the coaching helped Brandon, and I have to disagree, because I don't hear any difference at all.  At risk.


Jordis ("The Man Who Sold the World"): Her moving rendition brings everyone to tears.  Even though I think it's possibly the best vocal of the night, I'm still annoyed that all she does is stand there.  That's generally what bothers me about her - except for last week, her performances have lacked a lot of energy in the physical department.  Which makes her more like Carrie Underwood tonight instead of Kelly Clarkson, except that I like her voice a heck of a lot more than Carrie's.  And the "333" on her hand, which I guess is some reference to the friend of hers who died?  It reminds me of half of "666," which makes me think she must be related to Satan...er...Dave.  Still, I bet she gets the encore tomorrow night.


J.D. (Joe Cocker's version of "The Letter"): With all that hip swiveling and intensity, I think he's an angry young Elvis who will stalk you and plunge a knife into your back if you don't vote for him.  His vocals are much better than last week, and this arrangement suits him perfectly.  He goes into his spastic-twitchy routine near the end, but unlike the very first episode our boys don't call him on it.  In fact, they think it's his best performance yet.  I happen to think that "Hand In My Pocket" should get that honor, but whatever.  Can he manage, just once, to smile in a performance?  Sorry, Dave - maybe you can sit through two hours of that intensity, but I sure couldn't.  Whew!


Tara ("Message In a Bottle"): In any other week, this performance would have worked.  But, like Ty, she's not really kicking it up the way the others are.  I like her voice, but she's not doing much to work the stage at all.  INXS asks her if she likes doing covers, which is an odd question, and you can see the wheels turn as she tries to formulate an answer, as if she's thinking, "What's going to get me in the least trouble?"  She sort of stumbles on her answer of "yes," which isn't a good thing.  One of the weakest performances of the evening.


Suzie ("Get Back"): I liked this.  A lot.  Maybe because she's the only performer tonight - outside of MiG, perhaps - who really looks like she's having fun.  She looks relaxed, she sounds great, and she lets her band play their solos and share her microphone.  I still doubt that she has a shot at this gig - most message boards I've read panned this performance, and she's probably more pop than rock - but I personally think she's the most improved person in that entire group, and I think INXS was impressed that she worked so well with the band as a whole.  So J.D.'s little plan may not have worked as well as he thought it might. Darn and snort.


Rankings were a little tough for me this week, except for the bottom three.  The top three, in fact, are mostly interchangeable.


1. Suzie - nice vocals (even if more pop than rock), enjoyable performance, terrific interaction with the house band, and just about the only person who had FUN. Audition for American Idol when you get kicked off this show, okay?
2. Jordis - best vocals of the night, okay performance
3. MiG - got the crowd going, a great opener for the show, but he's neither Freddie Mercury nor Constantine (squeeeeeeeeee!!! Oh...sorry.)
4. Marty - a true rocker, but don't show me that your arms are better suited for a circus, okay?
5. J.D. - vocals were very good, but his intensity is scarier than Marty's
6. Deanna - the girl has moxie, even if her vocals are less than stellar
7. Jessica - a decent performance of a song that doesn't showcase her voice at all
8. Ty - an okay rendition, but not the best song choice, and he needs to kick it up a notch
9. Brandon - relying on tumbles and blank expressions to generate interest is not a good thing
10. Tara - snore


Wednesday: As I predicted, Jordis sings the encore of her previous night's song.  It works better for me this time because she actually moves a little more, and I'm not distracted by "333" messages.  And for once, I get the entire bottom three right - Brandon, Tara, and Ty. J on and Andrew join the house band for the sing-off.  Brandon does a very bad imitation of Michael Hutchence on "Devil Inside," Tara mumbles through "Beautiful Girl" while looking like she's just given up, and Ty rocks out on "Kick," smiling and interacting with the band and throwing himself into the audience at the end for good measure.  Ty, of course, is declared safe first.  Tara is sacked.  Suzie loses most of the points she gained from her performance last night by bawling again.  If I was INXS, I would not want to be on a tour bus with her, because I'd be feeling like I'd have to babysit her all the time.  Ugh.  But Brandon should go next, because not only is he a bad singer, he's absolutely clueless that he is.  "I think last night was my best performance yet."  If that's your best, then...I'm sorry, Brandon.  You're not roit for ah band, INXS.  Go home.  Now.


Review 2005 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.


July 25-27 Review | Rock Star Index | August 7-10 Review