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Rock Star: INXS

 

August 14-17: Oo, baby I love your way

Sunday: I guess Ty has no time for a conjugal visit from anyone this week (or we're not going to hear about it - hmmm), because Dave Navarro announces that the remaining eight contestants have to divide into two teams.  Each team is given backing music from an INXS song that the band is currently working on and told that they have to work together to come up with lyrics and a melody.  They will then perform their song in front of Dave and Andrew (from INXS).  The winning team will get a fancy stereo designed by Quincy Jones and a night on the town with INXS.  The point of the assignment is to see which team works the best together.

Of course, whatever team J.D. is on is going to lose.

Sure enough, the team with Ty, Suzie, MiG, and Deanna start working together right away.  Deanna doesn't really look like she wants to be there - maybe because what comes out of this collaboration sucks all sorts of cutsie eggs - but at least she sticks with the team.  They all look like they're having fun, even if the end product, as Dave later says, sounds like it came from The Electric Company.

Team two, with Marty, Jordis, J.D., and Jessica should have come up with the better song.  But almost from the start, J.D. wants to do things his way, Jordis wants to do things her way, and Marty (who is supposedly the leader of this group) cannot get the two to work together and caves in to Jordis because...well, I don't know why.  From what we were shown, Jordis's lyrics are pretty lame, and I think J.D. has a point that even though they just have a short time, they should try to make this song as good as possible.  However, at the end of the day he predictably plays the diva card and says that he doesn't care about the stereo or the night on the town with INXS - he will not participate in something that he absolutely cannot support one hundred percent, and he storms out.  The team thus loses by default because the point of the competition was to see how well they work together.  J.D. gets some consolation in that Andrew - who is clearly appalled at the songs that came out of both teams - asks him to perform his version of the song.  It's better than anyone's.  Dave points out later that J.D. would make a great lead singer, but not a great band member.  Gee, ya think?

The winning team goes to a fancy restaurant with INXS and in what I hope was a moment of drunkenness sings their version of the song to the boys.  The band members giggle as if to say, "Damn, I'm glad I had ten beers before listening to this crap" - all except for Gary, who looks as if he needs to drink ten more beers to get the memory of that hideous sound out of his head.

Meanwhile, back at the mansion, J.D. is forced to eat chunky peanut butter sandwiches.

Next we see that the contestants, instead of duking it out over the song choices this week, are each assigned songs by INXS.  MiG is given Peter Frampton's "Baby I Love Your Way" and ordered not to rock it up.  Suzie is given a Sam Cooke song that she doesn't know.  And Marty, in a classic "let's really mess with this boy's head" move, is given Britney Spears's "Hit Me Baby One More Time."  BWAH!  I haven't laughed this hard for any reality show.  Poor Marty.  He's sweating bullets over this thing, too.  "I have to find a way to feel this song."  Oh, dear.

What's even better about this scenario is that the show this week is supposed to be all acoustic.  An acoustic version of a Britney Spears song?  That will be either a train wreck, the funniest thing on the planet, or positively brilliant.  I can't wait.

Tuesday: One thing I don't like about the Tuesday performance show is that it's not live. It's taped on Sunday, and - based on eyewitness accounts on various message boards - it then gets heavily edited for TV. Since a lot apparently got cut this week, I've included what viewers didn't see in brackets below.

The show starts off with Jordis wearing a real bitchface.  She is obviously still pissed about the clinic on Sunday's show.  [See her online blog on the MSN site, and you'll notice she has some choice words for J.D. that I am not about to repeat here. Let's just say that she's definitely showing that she's the youngest contestant.]  For the first few minutes of the show, Dave, INXS, and the contestants talk about what happened with J.D.  It's pointed out that J.D. had the best song, and Marty's group would have won if they'd worked together.  J.D. is asked to explain himself, and he calls the other songs "shit" [this word is tweaked to make it past the censors, I guess] and basically says that he's all about himself in this competition.  Marty argues that J.D.'s song sounded too much like a previous INXS song, and he didn't want to go that route.  (I thought: So you'd rather go with a sucky tune instead?)  There is some some confusion as to whether or not the contestants should work together or act like jerks to one another.  At the end, Tim calls a halt to it all by saying that the contestants now have to put the whole incident aside and get up and perform.  [This conversation actually went on for 15-20 minutes and was highly uncomfortable for the club audience.  The contestants got more pissed as time went by, because J.D. was increasingly praised for his initiative.  MiG suggested that next week they all have an individual songwriting contest, and one of the INXS members thought this would be a good idea.  All of this was cut.]

The show is all acoustic this week, which makes it rather dull in the end (with two, possibly three, exceptions).  I'd much rather hear the house band rock out.  So ditch the string quartet next week, okay?

Jordis ("Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan): This song should be sung passionately, or at least despairingly.  Jordis is smiling.  In fact, she reminds me very much of a rock version of Carrie Underwood right now.  This would be perfectly acceptable on American Idol.  Here?  Not so much.  INXS loves her, though, just as they have all along.  I suspect she'll make the final three.  [There were three standing ovations tonight, and she got one of them, as well as lots more love from INXS that wasn't shown here.]

Jessica ("Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia): This was possibly her best performance to date, but that's not saying much.  She still can't demonstrate much passion, she's still dropping her pitch at the end of every phrase, and she just doesn't have the subtlety of Natalie's voice.  Hello, bottom three.

Ty ("Maggie May" by Rod Stewart): A leather jacket over bright plaid pants?  Ugh!  I confess I was too distracted by the "refugee from a punk circus" look to pay much attention to Ty's singing for the first half of the song.  Then, once I really began to listen, I decided that I liked the arrangement, but I didn't much care for either his vocals or his performance.  Way too much smiling, way too much vibrato, way too much sticking out of his tongue.  Eeuw.  Go away.

Suzie ("Bring It On Home" by Sam Cooke): This girl is amazing me week after week.  She just keeps improving.  She has fun with this song, and her voice is absolutely perfect for it.  I agree with Mike that this is her personal best - until next week, when I'm assuming she'll be even better.  Dave and INXS are impressed, and Gary says she has one of the best vocals in the competition.  At this point, I'd much rather see her in the final three than Jordis.  You go, girl.  [She got the second standing ovation of the evening, which, again, you didn't see in the final edit.]

Marty ("Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears): Britney meets Nirvana, and I start laughing because I'm thinking that this is something Weird Al Yankovic would do.  I swear it sounds like Marty wants to kill this song.  Or maybe he just wants to kill INXS for giving it to him.  We still don't know why they did it.  They think he did fine with the song, though, and he's got enough "Marty love" going with the audience that he's not going anywhere this week.

Deanna ("I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt): Deanna thinks that breath control is all about having enough air to make it through a phrase.  What I want to tell her is that breath control is about controlling your breath so that not only do you not run out of air at inappropriate times, you have enough to support your dynamics and your tone.  And you certainly aren't going to get the air you need if you're going to stay bent over for your whole performance.  I mean, good grief, couldn't she have raised the microphone stand once she got out there?  Needless to say, her pitch suffers.  A lot.  When Tim asks you, "How do you think you did?" then you know you're headed for the bottom three.

J.D. ("As Tears Go By" by the Rolling Stones): I am fully expecting this to be horrible, and I'm stunned when it actually isn't too bad.  He shows some subtlety, he only resorts to the manic hand gestures once, and he even smiles a few times.  Tone it down just a bit more, and I think I'd be quite impressed.  Certainly it's better than some of his recent efforts.  Dave and the band, however, are less than enthused.  I think they've had enough of his antics and they now want to get rid of him, because some of their comments seem unusually harsh.  Oh, well.  He shot himself in the foot, so he's really only got himself to blame.  [The editors were kind to him here, though - what was edited out was him arguing at length with the band that he couldn't find the "sweet spot" in the microphone.  Yeah, yeah, whatever.]

MiG ("Baby I Love Your Way" by Peter Frampton): Having watched A.I. for three years, and now this show, I can say that there are three times that a TV competition performance has moved me so much that I was practically in tears.  The first was Fantasia's haunting version of "Summertime."  The second was Bo Bice's amazing a cappella version of "In a Dream."  The third is this song.  MiG accompanies himself on the piano in a heartfelt arrangement that proves that yes, he can do more than rock out.  Dave summed it up best by saying, "Normally I sit here during a performance and I think about what kind of comments I'm going to give to the singers.  This time I was thinking about how much I love my wife."  Indeed.  Beautiful, MiG.  *sniff*  Thank you.  [And note that this is the only standing ovation that is shown for the evening.]

My rankings for the night:

1. MiG - perfection
2. Suzie - if not for MiG, she'd get the encore this week
3. J.D. - surprisingly good, if still marred by the occasional crazy tic
4. Marty - creepy/scary, but how else could he have approached it and kept a shred of dignity?
5. Jordis - I'm just not feeling it, but the vocals were okay
6. Jessica - better than previous efforts, but not good enough for Our Band
7. Ty - weird outfit, weird vocals, weird faces.  I do not want to French kiss you, okay?
8. Deanna - definitely not her night

It's no big surprise when, at the end of the show, the preliminary voting results show Jessica, Deanna, and Ty in the bottom three.  I don't expect that to change too much, but then I was stunned last week, so who knows?

Wednesday: Before the recap, here are some other things that were added/left out of the final version of Tuesday's show:

 

Added: the audience "cheering" for J.D. when he was defending his actions at the songwriting clinic to the band.  In reality, no one was cheering.  It was very quiet.  The producers did, however, have the audience give various reactions (cheers, boos, oohs, ahhs) throughout the three-hour taping that they then inserted in certain spots.  I'm not liking that at all.  That's wayyyy too manipulative.

 

Left out: the sock puppet.  During Marty's performance of "Baby One More Time," he was looking at his hand at one point.  You couldn't see the hand because the camera was so tight on his face, but he was doing a sock puppet thing with it, having it sing along with him.  Bwah!

 

Okay, on to the elimination episode...

 

Tonight we start off by learning who the top three vote-getters were: Jordis, Marty, and MiG.  While not really surprising, the announcement is so annoying, because now everyone is going to assume that those three will be the last three standing and will vote accordingly - or stop voting/watching altogether, because who cares?  That's exactly why American Idol never tells you who polled the highest at this point.  But the announcement does give MiG a chance to be very classy.  When asked to do the encore, he gets Jordis and Marty to join him on the chorus.  This, unfortunately, makes the song less special than the night before, in part because I can't hear Marty at all and in part because I'm getting a real "ewww" feeling when Marty puts his arm around Jordis.  It is SO clear that he's in love with this girl.  Doesn't he know that Satan, Jr. is her boyfriend?  Worse, doesn't he know that the producers are going to milk this for all it's worth?  "Anakin, you can't let your feelings cloud your judgment" - or whatever the line was.  I wasn't paying that much attention to the last movie.

 

[This review interrupted because I'm giggling uncontrollably at the thought of Marty pulling an Anakin on Jordis's Amidala.  He could show his Kurt Cobain angry face and yell, "You've betrayed me!" once she wins this competition.  He'll then use the Force - in the form of a bitter Britney Spears anthem, maybe "Oops, I Did It Again" - to silence her sexy voice while MiG's Obi-Wan tries desperately to stop him.  MiG is so nice, of course, that he won't kill off Marty like he really should, and he'll probably sing a touching rendition of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," backed by a full orchestra, at Jordis's funeral. Behind it all?  J.D. as Senator/Emporer Palpatine, who has been secretly killing off all the other Rock Star Jedis while singing, "I Am the Champion." *guffaw*]

 

Ahem.

 

Anyway, after messing around with Ty's head about flirting with the bottom three, we find out that the real bottom three are Jessica, Deanna, and Suzie.  What the...?  Suzie again???  She must not be pulling in the overseas votes.  That's the only reason I can think of, because she was absolutely fantastic Tuesday.  Oh, well.  She sings a very emotional "By My Side" with none of her trademark giggling - although I think if she hits the bottom three again, she'll just give up.  Jessica sings a passable "Mystify," proving once again that she can sing INXS songs much better than any other song she'll ever sing.  Deanna almost gives me chills on "Never Tear Us Apart," as long as I close my eyes; I can't stand watching her J.D.-like motions.  And please, dear, stop grabbing your crotch.  You should have used the toilet before you got on stage.  Speaking for INXS, Tim declares that they all did well, but in the end, Jessica is just not roit, etc.  No big surprise there.

Next week, you can vote for who you want to do the encore.  I guess Our Band feels that everyone who is good enough has done an encore so far, so they don't need to pick anyone anymore.  Poor Suzie.  I've also read online that the results show next week is supposed to be an hour long, but they didn't mention anything about it tonight.  Maybe we'll get to hear every contestant do an INXS song for a change?  I'd really like to see if Jordis deserves all this love that people are giving her.  (P.S. - Go MiG and Marty!)

 

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

 

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