August 28-31 Review | Rock Star Index | September 11-14 Review
Rock Star: INXS
September 4-7: It ain't pretty when the pretty leaves you
Sunday: We start the show mourning Ty's passing...er, departure. Jordis feels that she's the one who should have gone. No, dear, that would be J.D. But never mind about that. J.D. tells her that her poor performance is her own doing and that she should use that experience to be that much more powerful next week. Or some such drivel. I don't listen too much to what comes out of his mouth anymore.
Next we have the obligatory product placement, where the contestants pile into show sponsor Honda's Ridgeline and head into L.A. for their next clinic. This week, we get away from substance (music) and head back to superficial with a photo shoot for Levi's. Yes, this will really tell me who should be the next lead singer for INXS [rolls eyes]. The contestants are dressed by stylist Ellie Mae, the woman responsible for Brooke Burke's horrendous outfits. This does not bode well.
First up, J.D. He's dressed in mostly black, and he doesn't look too bad. The photographer feels that he's really comfortable around the camera. Is anyone who has watched this show for any length of time surprised by this?
MiG enjoys himself, and even though the white vest with no shirt looks a little goofy to me, I'm enjoying seeing more of that chest. He apparently is too sexy for the Levi's look, though, and the photographer doesn't like his bedroom eyes. Okay, Mr. Photographer, maybe those eyes are a turnoff for you...
Jordis is wearing huge bell bottoms that make her look like a circus parade refugee. She's self-conscious about having her picture taken, and the photographer says that she's the least comfortable of any of them. He gives her helpful suggestions like, "Look through me," without explaining what that means. Ppphht.
Marty is wearing...what is he wearing? They look like denim capris. On a guy. And lots of eyeliner. Eeuw. He does his crazy conductor moves, then he bends back so far that I think his spine is made of rubber. The photographer likes him. Yes, yes, very limber, very rock star. We get it.
Suzie wears kind of a nondescript rock chick outfit with boots and a fan blowing on her hair. We don't really hear how she did, but she worries about the same thing she did at the very first clinic: "Am I too sexy?" Trust me, you're not.
I'm waiting for Tim of INXS to look at the photos and do an America's Next Top Model Tyra-like intervention ("MiG! I'm really ashamed that a fellow Australian would embarrass us by looking too bloody sexy!"), but no, we're back at the mansion. It's J.D.'s birthday, and he gets a cake consisting of two wings that have "Human Being" written on them. BWAH! He decides he'd rather have a food fight than eat cake, and the singers trash the room. They then take a group shower together and drink a lot of alcohol, some of which pours down J.D.'s nearly naked body while Suzie sucks his toe. Did. Not. Need. To. See. That. I hope the show's producers pay housekeeping triple wages.
The next day, the contestants are told that they are singing songs that were requested by fans online. They are also each singing their original songs, although it's not clear if MiG is going to have to come up with a brand new original song or repeat the one he already sang (or maybe he'll rearrange his song to make it more "INXS-like"). The audience request songs are:
MiG: The Black Crowes' "Hard to
Marty: Foo Fighters' "Everlong"
Jordis: Queen's "We Are the Champions"
Suzie: Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"
J.D.: Nirvana's "Come As You Are"
Fans have left notes for each of the singers, but J.D. doesn't really want to see what the fans have to say because...well, I don't know why. Will it jinx him? Make him nervous? In any case, we find out that some fan thinks he has a Han Solo cockiness about him. Um, no. Han Solo usually delivered, you know?
Marty is excited about his original song, while Jordis agonizes over hers and allows the house band to arrange the hell out of it. She looks really out of her element here, but I'm wondering if this is all just one big setup. She's probably going to blow the roof off the club come show time.
During final credits, in one final disgusting display, we see J.D. sitting in his cake. Later, Suzie - whether unwittingly or not - comes up and runs her finger through the spot where he just sat and then licks the frosting from her finger. Mike begins to look for somewhere to barf.
I think I'm going to have nightmares for the next week.
Tuesday: Tonight, Brooke wears a silk nightie, thus honoring the fact that some of us need to be in bed when Rock Star airs on the East coast. Awww.
Each contestant sings two songs in a row - the first one a (severely) chopped up version of the song that fans have chosen for them to sing, and the second their original song. [Extra stuff either edited out or not clarified is in brackets.]
J.D. (sings "Come As You Are" and "Vegas Pretty"): Wow. He starts "Come As You Are" as a very pretty acoustic piece which actually almost makes me like Nirvana. He can be soft and sensitive without sounding like Elvis. And then he sings his original song, which is about desperately wanting something and, when you get it, realizing it's not what you thought it was. Musically, the tune is absolutely an INXS song - so much so, in fact, that the INXS boys are playing air guitar and jumping up and down with glee. J.D. interacts with the house band and the audience in ways that neither creep me out nor scare me. For the first time, I can see him fronting INXS. Hell has just frozen over.
Dave and INXS are all impressed and basically proclaim that J.D. is back in the contest. [Dave incorrectly calls the song "It Ain't Pretty," but at the taping it was made clear that the song was titled "Vegas Pretty." Also cut from the show: J.D. being asked if his song related to how he felt about the contest and/or singing with INXS. He sort of skirted around that question.]
Brooke pauses to tell us that Mark Burnett Productions, INXS, and anyone else involved with the show are donating all their profits from MSN downloads of the show's music in September to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Very nice.
Suzie (sings "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "Soul Life"): Wow - can the slit in that denim skirt go any higher? The first song is very beautiful and quite sensitive, although I think Kimberley Locke performed it a tad better on American Idol. (Sorry, but when you sing a song that people have done a dozen times before on another show, comparisons are inevitable.) The second song is dedicated to Ty [who also co-wrote it] and is a very catchy, very soulful tune about staying true to who you are. I like it, although it's not exactly INXS material.
Dave isn't sure that the song is relevant to INXS, either, but he claims that Suzie is the strongest vocalist there. Tim says that if they were to play the song, they'd make it their own. Garry gives the faintest praise: "With the amount of time you had to put it together, it was incredible." Hmm.
MiG (sings "Too Hard To Handle" and "Home In Me"): He performs tolerably well and MiG-like on the first tune, although I have yet to understand most of the words in this song, no matter who performs it. He starts to take off his shirt near the end of the song, causing Garry to cover his eyes - no doubt he was blinded by the overwhelming sexiness of the man. Hee. The second song is a ballad about a friend who died and how you have to move on. It sounds like it was written by Richard Marx - wistfully pretty, but ultimately boring. I'm very disappointed, especially since the last time MiG did an original song, INXS specifically got on his case about the song not being very INXS-like, and this one seems to be even less so. *Sniff* MiG, how could you do this to me? I'm also a little puzzled that they allowed him to do a song that was co-written some time ago with someone outside the mansion. Maybe they gave him some slack because he'd already performed an original song on a previous episode.
Dave says that the set shows MiG's musical range, although the original song isn't very INXS. MiG tries to point out that lyrically, it very much is an INXS song, since they lost their singer and they're moving on. Um, has he taken over Ty's cluelessness here? Tim slams him and says it's not their thing, although Garry softens the blow by again pointing out MiG's range. I think it's safe to say that he's in trouble.
Jordis (sings "We Are the Champions" and "Try Not"): Okay, the first song wasn't the train wreck that it was when J.D. performed it, but it's still...underwhelming, to borrow Tim's word from last week's elimination round. It lacks energy, and you just can't sing Queen without energy. In that respect, even Suzie's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was better. And boy, the audience looks bored here. Not good. The second song - co-written with Marty to describe how Jordis feels being on the show, with lyrics like, "I'm losing what I'm all about" - simply demonstrates her point. In other words, this is a Marty song. I can hear Marty singing it, with all the screaming and intensity he can put into it. It's not a Jordis song, because she's not a screamer and she's not intense. I'm therefore guessing that Marty wrote most of the music.
Dave asks Jordis if she's losing a little fire, and she has no idea how to respond. Jon tells her she's doing well being the youngest in the competition. And those are the only comments we hear. [Apparently, this turned into a huge Jordis love-fest, with the band all acknowledging how young she was but saying she was doing a great job and that they were watching a star being born. Um, maybe they are, but not on this show.] I'm thinking MiG should probably be grateful that she did so poorly.
Marty (sings "Everlong" and "Trees"): He performs an acoustic version of the first song, and I guess it's okay. I believe he's missing the pitch on a few notes, but I can't really tell because - even though Ty performed this before - I really don't know the song. I'm thinking it doesn't lend itself to acoustic very well, though, because it's got such a strange melody. But, of course, by performing in this way, Marty shows that he's got a softer side. His original tune is about a man trying to get a woman to fall in love with him. [It's also a slightly rearranged tune that he's already performed numerous times with his own band.] It has weird lyrics about being in trees together and talking to forests and clouds. It's kind of catchy, and Marty manages to show he can do an intense rock song without screeching, but it's not a song that I'd rush out to buy. Someone in the audience disagrees with me, though, because they throw a G-string at him. Eeuw.
Obviously, my tastes are nothing like INXS's, because Jon proclaims Marty's original song to be the "hit of the night," and the audience is squealing its heart out. Um, okay. I guess this is the direction they want to go? Whatever. Later on, we see that in the preliminary voting, Marty is the top vote getter, followed by Suzie, J.D., MiG, and Jordis. I can live with that, but I guess I'm just out of touch with what people like in rock music nowadays. Oh, well.
[What was mentioned at the taping was that whoever gets the highest audience vote this week will get the encore - but maybe they've changed their mind about that. Or maybe there'll be two encores again.]
Personally, I'd rank the contestants as follows:
1. J.D. - best performance, best
interaction with band and audience, a song that sounds the most like INXS.
2. Suzie - solid performance, nearly perfect vocals, although still a little bland in presentation.
3. Marty - the pitch may not always be there, but the intensity is. The original song isn't my thing, but he performed it well.
4. MiG - great vocals, but sappy original tune and a cluelessness that's going to get him kicked off either this week or next.
5. Jordis - who?
One more elimination round, and then only two weeks left in the show. Yippee!
Wednesday: We start with an interminable recap of everything that went on this week - including yet another shot of Suzie sucking J.D.'s toe, and then Dave asks the contestants about the photo shoot. He would be happy to see a photo of Jordis mowing the lawn, and he says that "Sweet Suzie McNeil" (which he's referred to her as so much I expect her name to be listed that way on any album she does) has "transformed" herself from what she was when she first entered the competition. He wants to know more about J.D.'s birthday party. Suzie says that J.D.'s cake tasted good. Just...gross.
I apparently misunderstood the voting system last night, but since I've never voted and I got my info from a message board, I should be cut some slack here. The audience got to vote for their favorite peformances, as usual. They also got to vote for the encore performance. So now we find out that J.D. and Marty were neck and neck for the encore vote, but ultimately J.D. won. For his opening act, though, INXS and Dave Navarro will play the song "Us" that was part of last week's studio clinic, and all the contestants will sing. Oh, groovy. I'd thought I'd left behind the sappy group songs with American Idol. Okay, it wasn't quite as bad as that, but the lyrics are a little too touchy-feely for my tastes. It just sounds like...tired INXS. That's the best I can come up with. Michael, we miss you. Anyway, each of the contestants gets some type of solo or opportunity to wail during the course of this song except for Marty. The most we really hear from him is a short duet with Suzie, which just didn't work. Oddly enough, the best duet in this is with MiG and J.D. - they blend quite well together. That's kind of scary. So is that weird moaning at the end with MiG attempting to screech some "yeah, yeah"s. Stop it already!
Whew. It's over. J.D. performs "Pretty Vegas" again, and it's great, and Tim is singing along with it, which I take as a Very Good Thing. And I now know that the correct title really is "Pretty Vegas" instead of "Vegas Pretty"...as if it really matters.
Next, we're treated to more "drama" as we see what the contestants talked about at the mansion after their performances. Basically, everyone but J.D. is nervous. Ho-hum. Then Burke needlessly drags out telling us who the bottom three are. Honestly, she needs to attend the Ryan Seacrest School of Hosting. A long, silent pause before your announcement isn't exciting. It's just boring. I mean, at least Ryan would say something stupidly humiliating like, "One of these people is going back to flipping burgers." She shares the initial results of last night's voting and has all the contestants stand. We find out that, of course, these results can change (like we didn't know that after numerous weeks of this crap). She finally announces that the first contestant in the bottom three is Jordis.
Jordis steps forward and is told to sing "Need You Tonight." It's as uninspired a performance as last week's "Listen Like Thieves," and she screws up the words so obviously that even I notice this week. Garry asks her how she feels about that ("great!") and whether or not she thinks she's the right person for INXS ("I hope so."). I hope not.
Next up - Suzie. She gets "Never Tear Us Apart." Vocally, she's got a lot more energy than Jordis, although she keeps coming in late for the first verse, and it's all rather disorienting for me until she and the band finally pick a tempo. Still, I like her voice on the old INXS stuff. She's asked if she thinks she can lead INXS. After flubbing what she wants to say, she tries again and says something to the effect of, "I may not have a command of English, but yes, I can lead your band." Okay, that got us to giggle.
Mike and I both expect that MiG will be the final person chosen for the bottom three, but after yet another yawn-inducing minute of "tension," I start thinking, "No, it's not him, because they wouldn't wait this long to tell us." And, sure enough, it's announced that J.D. is the third person. Huh? Boy, you Aussies must really love your sole representative. MiG is shocked, as he should be. J.D., however, gives a decent performance of "Mystify" where he makes everyone in the audience snap their fingers and causes Garry to put on an evil grin. But what is it about being in the bottom three and grabbing your crotch? Jordis did it, and now J.D. does. Are they catching something up there? Maybe they need to disinfect the stage.
Kirk asks J.D. where he would take their band if he was the lead singer. J.D. gives a totally silly response: "I would take you into my heart and give you back everything you've given me over the past twenty-five years." Gag. Boy doesn't know how to think well on his feet, does he?
In the end, it's no real surprise when Jordis goes home, although the tears flood the room. Tim insists she'll have a wonderful solo career, and the cynic in me is thinking, "Yeah, but are you going to help her with it?" Oh, well. One more episode down, two more weeks of manufactured drama to go.
Review © 2005 by Patricia Lowhorn. For comments, e-mail email@example.com.
August 28-31 Review | Rock Star Index | September 11-14 Review