September 11-14 Review | Rock Star Index
Rock Star: INXS
September 18-20: And the winner is...
Sunday: I'm glad I didn't listen to what Brooke announced about the time for the show, because it did come on at 8. Although, without any women present at the mansion, the show took itself much too seriously. Nothing beats Suzie licking frosting off of a place where J.D. just sat, you know?
In any case... The show starts with MiG, Marty, and J.D. sitting around toasting Suzie and each other. In a confession taped elsewhere, Marty says that he's more worried about MiG than J.D. He tells us that he felt sure that MiG was going home this week and is wondering if his fellow contestant has a strategy to save the best for last. Oh, right. MiG was lucky, Marty. Quit worrying.
The next day, Dave tells the singers that their Honda Civics will arrive the next day (first shameless plug), and that each Civic is equipped with a GPS system (second shameless plug), which they will use to find their way to the Gibson-Baldwin guitar showroom (third shameless plug). Once there, they'll each collaborate on a song with Andrew Farriss, using music that has been selected and recorded specifically for them on a Dell D.J. MP3 player, which Dave now hands to each of them (fourth and final shameless plug, although Dave incorrectly refers to the device as a "Dell D.J. Ditty").
As expected, MiG and Marty work hard on their songs. J.D., having learned nothing from his recording session with INXS three weeks ago, doesn't want to "overthink" it, so he doesn't really listen to it that much until the next day when he's driving to the session. Can you say, "unprepared"? I thought so.
[Side note to producers: I don't care how "cool" these black Civics are, Marty needs a convertible. That blonde hair needs to fly free. Mm-hmm.]
Andrew is impressed with Marty's lyrics, which have something to do with pieces. Pieces of what, I don't know, but they're all over the place in the chorus. For his part, Marty is trying to show that he's not an "over controlling" type of guy, and he and Andrew seem to treat each other with a great deal of respect. Very professional, very congenial. Andrew smiles a lot. So far, so good.
MiG's melody sounds oh-so-pop, but Andrew likes it. He wants to change the lyrics to be a bit darker, though, and MiG complies. Andrew tells us that MiG has "a strong sense of his own songwriting style and identity," but that he's basically too happy of a guy. Which, really, we could have all told you at least six weeks ago, Andrew. Oh, well. I guess they're not over Michael's death yet, so they want to be all dark and moody. If so, Marty's your man.
J.D.'s melody - what little he has - does sound the most like classic INXS to us, but he hasn't really brought a lot to this collaboration session, which mildly frustrates Andrew. However, as the session progresses, Andrew has to admit that he's impressed at J.D.'s ability to think quickly and "outside the square." He likes J.D.'s passion but wishes he had more of Marty's discipline. He doesn't mention anything about J.D. needing any of MiG's qualities. I guess he doesn't want J.D. to be happy.
At their final dinner at the mansion that night, Marty makes the comment: "This is our last supper." Must...avoid...religious...jokes... Marty and J.D. say that what they'll miss the most about being at the mansion is the women. MiG, who's married, wisely keeps his mouth shut.
The next day (at least, I think it's the next day), the singers find out that they will each sing one song at the finale. Uh...an hour long show, and they're singing only one song? I think not. My guess is that they'll each have to perform an INXS tune, too. Anyway, they can pick any song from the entire catalog that was featured during the course of the show. It has to be a song that will best show INXS that they're roit for their band.
Instead of choosing something new, I think Marty ends up choosing "Wish You Were Here" again, because he feels that he developed a new singing voice with that song. I say "I think" because I'm not quite sure that was made clear. I'd like to hear him sing something that isn't quite so safe a choice for him, but hey, it's not my decision. And he did perform it well.
J.D. chooses the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," because that's one of two songs he's stated in his will that he wants sung at his funeral (the other song is "Sympathy for the Devil"). Not surprising, but pretty funny. And, you know, the song he chose could very well be an appropriate swan song, if this week's clinic is any indication.
MiG chooses to do "Bohemian Rhapsody." Mike and I yell, "NO!" at the TV screen, but to no avail. A few weeks ago, he'd given that song up to Suzie because it was too close to his theater background (having sung in We Will Rock You), and, besides, he wasn't auditioning for Queen. Now he thinks that INXS will be impressed because he's choosing this for no other reason than because he wants it. Hello? Is there anything inside your head besides empty space? Or have you just decided to concede that either Marty or J.D. is going to win this thing, so you just want to go out with guns blazing and get in position for your own solo career? Oh, well. At least I feel reasonably sure he'll do better with the song than Suzie did - although I'm a little skeptical that he can do better than Constantine.
After this, the contestants pack their belongings and say goodbye to the mansion. I'm thinking, "Why? This week's finale isn't even going to be taped until Tuesday. Did another reality show need to get in the mansion early or something?" But maybe the producers just wanted us to get all teary-eyed about the situation. Or perhaps they ran out of money for fixing up the place. After all, during the final credits we get to see the three contestants throw chairs into the pool and joke about throwing in the piano. Ooo, wow, that's real cool, guys. Rock on.
Tuesday: Our major players (Brooke, the contestants, Dave, and INXS) all come out wearing black. I suppose this is meant to emphasize the SERIOUSNESS of this show as opposed to other cheestastic fare such as...oh, gee, I don't know, American Idol, maybe? Give me a break. Marty accessorizes his outfit with a red arm band, and MiG - being all goodness and light - wears a white shirt underneath his jacket.
Brooke introduces all of the previously eliminated contestants in the order of their elimination. Deanna is wearing a shirt with the name of her original song scrawled across it with a Sharpie pen. Ugh. Ty's spikes have grown a foot. Jordis's hair is even more massive than before. I seriously don't know how she manages to keep from toppling over. Everyone else? I'm sorry, I don't remember you.
We get treated to a montage of past performances that, except for one clever transition between "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Live and Let Die," is not much more than a snorefest.
Brooke asks Dave if he has any thoughts, and I smirk because she might as well have asked, "Do you have anything in your head?" In the one truly funny moment of the night, Dave says that rock is all about being bad and he asks J.D. if he thought about driving his new Honda Civic [ding! final product placement!] into the pool at the mansion. J.D. says he considered it, but then thought, "Where am I going to live if this doesn't work out?", thus ragging on his own over-hyped legend of being homeless for a while before this show began. Heh.
Dave asks Marty something...I don't know what...and Marty gives a boring answer about how they've all grown and they're better performers now than when they started and blah, blah, blah.
MiG is asked nothing. Or, at least, nothing that's made it to the edited tape.
MiG sings first, but before that we get subjected to a video of him talking about how he gave up a successful stage career to be here, boo hoo hoo. He sings "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's better than Suzie's version - he doesn't wimp out on certain notes - but it's obvious he's sung this on stage every night for the last two years because there is nothing spontaneous about it at all. Even the late entrances in the first verse seem planned. There are some strong notes in there, though, and I'm impressed with his range. Mind you, he hasn't blown me away the way Constantine did, and once again no one can do this song like Freddie, but it was a strong finish for him. And "finish," I'm sure, is the operative word here, because to me that performance just proved once and for all that while he may be roit for the theater, he's not roit for INXS. [Note: He seems excessively emotional at the beginning of the song because, when he came out on stage, someone pointed out that his wife and brother were in the balcony. He began to cry, which forced the producers to stop taping until he could control himself. Sorry, MiG, but rock stars don't lose it like that. You are so out of this competition.]
J.D. is next, and in his video he says that the song he's singing ("You Can't Always Get What You Want") defines his experience on the show. Um...okay. We are reminded that he was almost eliminated after the first performance show and that he's been a source of controversy throughout the season. Yeah, yeah, we all know that. He sings a pretty cool arrangement of the Stones' song, which starts off slow and then breaks into an up-tempo bluesy piece. He's good. Very good. No craziness, plenty of positive interaction with the audience and the house band. I'm thinking that this, more than the songs of the other two contestants, fulfills what INXS asked for: a song that shows why the singer should be a part of their band. Afterwards, Marty and MiG clap enthusiastically, but Marty's expression says, "Crap. I'm in trouble."
Marty gets all serious in his video and claims that he can carry the future of this band. Oh, really? From the sidelines, Jordis is smiling for her boyfriend...uh, buddy. Marty sings "Wish You Were Here," but to me it doesn't seem quite as confident or emotional as his previous takes on this song. In fact, it's such a restrained performance that at one point, he almost gets overwhelmed by the band. Odd. I'm not used to Marty being stressed out like that. Anyway, it was fine, but to me this song is not really INXS material.
The band deliberates for a while [since the taping lasted three hours, his deliberation obviously took a little longer than the commercial break]. When we come back, MiG is told that he's not roit. Dave says it's been such a joy to have MiG there, and I think, "Oh, come on. He was never one of your favorites." MiG gives props to the final two contestants and smiles and waves at his wife. Then he joins the other cast-off rockers to watch the rest of the show.
Tim says that INXS has been sitting on their butts and getting fat...um, sitting on their chairs for much too long in this competition. They will now play their songs with the final two contestants. *sniff* Goodbye house band. I love ya, even if no one else wants to acknowledge you in the entire frickin' finale.
But, ooo! When INXS plays, we get treated to a laser show and enough flashing lights to send an epileptic into a seizure! Marty is first up with "Don't Change." His voice sounds...well, not very well suited for it. I mean, it's an interesting take on the song, but he's trying too hard to be note-perfect. As a result, it doesn't sound as smooth as it should. And when Marty manages to include his signature screaming style and do one last mad conductor move, I'm thinking that he would rather change the chorus to "Won't change for you."
J.D. sings "What You Need." He sounds a lot like Michael Hutchence, especially in the beginning, and he interacts with both the band and the audience far more than Marty did. In fact, he looks incredibly comfortable up there...at least until he seems to lose where he is in the song toward the end and gives it kind of a slap-dash, I-don't-know-what-the-hell-I'm-doing ending. Way to go out with a whimper, dude. Overall, though, his performance was far more appropriate to INXS's classic style than Marty's.
After the break, Dave says that this was the best summer of his life. Shut up, already. Tim goes into an odd lecture mode where he tells the final two contestants that the outcome of this show means much more to INXS than to them, because now they'll be a complete band again. He tells J.D. that he sings with passion and that he's an amazing performer. Marty adapts well and is a riveting person to watch. Finally, Tim goes back to J.D., pretends to break down as if he's going to dump the guy, then grins and tells him, "You're roit for our band."
J.D. collapses on the floor in tears. INXS toasts him with some alcoholic beverage that they down in one carefully choreographed move, as if they'd made a vow before the show began that they'd touch no liquor until they'd chosen a singer. Yeah, like I believe that. Tim then tells Marty that they'd like to talk to him about opening for them on their world tour. Marty looks pleased, as he should be. Free exposure, gets to sing how he wants, and no ties to a specific contract? Cool!
Dave offers to play guitar for Marty if he needs a guitarist. That's almost pathetic. I guess Dave's gigs are drying up.
Marty congratulates J.D. and thanks INXS for making him a better performer and a better person. J.D. hugs everyone within arm's length. And over in the castoff's corner, Ty is applauding along with everyone else, but his face is stone. Ouch! [In an earlier interview, Ty was quoted as saying that if INXS picked J.D., they would be rewarding bad behavior. Not bitter at all, are we?]
Brooke now introduces the "all-new INXS" performing a world premiere of their new single, "Easy Easy." And it's bad bad. It sounds like a half-baked mish-mash of "What You Need" and "Need You Tonight." So they've had no new musical ideas in all this time? Yikes. To his credit, J.D. looks like he's doing fine with it, but apparently the song is so dull that Brooke has to speak over it to let people know that if they think they've got what it takes to be a rock star, they should check out the official site and send in their tapes. "Who knows? You may be here next year!"
Gee, I can hardly wait.
Review © 2005 by Patricia Lowhorn. For comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 11-14 Review | Rock Star Index