Rock Star Index | July 10-12 Review

 

Rock Star: Supernova

 

July 3-6: Shout, shout, shoutin' at heaven's door

 

Monday, July 3: [Note: The reality episodes each week are found on the MSN site.]

 

You would think that music written and performed by Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Jason Newsted (Metallica) and Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses) would keep me awake.  Unfortunately, you would be wrong.  There is a reason that the "reality" episodes are only being shown online.

 

The new cast (15 singers) meet the above-mentioned members of Supernova in a studio, where - despite assurances that this is not a heavy metal band - the boys are laying down a track that's about as close to heavy metal as you can get and still be called straight rock.  The first challenge is for the contestants to come up with a verse and chorus to fit this music and then sing it while Supernova watches them in the control room.  Everyone screams and/or moans their way through this exercise except for Zayra, who doesn't know what the hell she's doing, and Ryan, who decides that he's just not going to sing.  Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding!  We just found our bad boy for the season!  Wow...he even looks a little like J.D., too!

 

At the mansion, to no one's surprise, Ryan turns out to be the loner.  And then, blah, blah, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzz.... we eventually choose the music, which I believe will include: Black Crowes' "She Talks To Angels," Coldplay's "Yellow," Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love," Nickelback's "How You Remind Me," the obligatory "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" (one of my favorite songs, which of course means that Ryan takes it), and the Police's "Roxanne," which we are assured is a very tough song to sing.  Well, yeah, if you're going to try to sing it in Sting's key.  Duh.

 

And that's it.

 

I looked at the contestants' bios while I was there, and there are no theatah bois this season.  One Aussie, one Icelander, one Puerto Rican, and the rest (I believe) are all from the U.S. or Canada.  Eight guys, seven women.  They all have a ton of relevant experience, unlike most of the contestants on that other show [*cough* Idol *cough*], so I expect to hear some decent performances more often than not.

 

Of course, expectations are not always the same as reality.  We'll find out what happens on Wednesday night.

 

 

Wednesday, July 5:  First the preliminaries: There are fifteen contestants.  Dave's back, Brooke's back, etc., etc.  Brooke is wearing a dress with a neckline that plunges to her belly button to make up for her lack of charisma as a host.  Producer Butch Walker sits with Supernova members Tommy, Jason, and Gilby to judge the singers.  They spend a few minutes rehashing what the show is all about.  Then they finally get to the singing...or what passes for it.  Mostly it's a contest to see how loudly everyone can shout.  I've starred my top two, based on how well I think they did and how well I think they'd do fronting Supernova.

Storm Large (sings the Who's "Pinball Wizard"): The song's not exactly designed to showcase anyone's vocal ability, and the most excitement she can bring to it is screaming at the end.  Eh.  But thank you for the return of the House Band! Yes!

Ryan Star (sings the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris"): He tries singing part of it while playing an acoustic guitar, and he keeps looking at his left hand at every chord change to the point of distraction.  Plus his vocal delivery is more suited for metal than for a pop-rock song.  Supernova likes it, but frankly, he made a mess of one of my favorite songs.  Ppphhht.

Toby Rand (sings Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"): I guess he feels he has to overemphasize his Aussieness to stick out in the crowd, but the heavily accented "Mate, how ya goin'?" shtick is going to get old really fast.  Is he the Steve Irwin of rock or something?  The arrangement is nice, and the vocals at least approach melodic, although he tends to stay at the same volume throughout.  And we learn that "bad ass performance" will be Dave Navarro's catch phrase this season.

Patrice Pike (sings Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love"): Not quite as interesting a voice as Grace Slick, but this is the most melodic of anyone so far, and she doesn't rely on screaming to get across the point that she can rock.  Thank you.

Magni (sings the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"): The Icelander performs this like he believes the song is about getting satisfaction out of an audience.  Supernova looks absolutely bored during the performance, and he's told he needs to be "dirtier."  Whatever.

Zayra Alvarez (sings Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life"): The arrangement (with a little Latino flair) is interesting, but she's not strong enough vocally for the song, and her accent while she sings is a little too noticeable for my tastes.  The band is drooling over her looks, though, so she'll be around for a while.

Jenny Galt (sings Nickelback's "How You Remind Me"): Ah, yes.  The Constantine death song.  No one should perform this song.  Not even Nickelback.  She doesn't really help matters by just standing there and playing the guitar for the whole song.  It doesn't showcase her performance ability, and the vocals - well, they're fine on the verse, but when she hits the chorus, the band overwhelms her and she's stretching for that leap between "I've" and "been."  I'm glad we won't hear this song again.

Josh Logan (sings the Black Crowes' "She Talks To Angels"): I can't understand nine-tenths of the words, but the voice fits the song.  Sort of a nasal-soul thing.  Totally not right for Supernova, but I could listen to it for a song or two.

Matt Hoffer (sings Coldplay's "Yellow"): The expression on Supernova's faces says all too clearly: "We hate this song."  Matt does a decent job with it, but, yeah, those falsetto notes aren't going to be what Supernova is about.  He looks a little like the lead singer of Keane, too, which probably isn't endearing him to the band.  He's admonished to pick something "uglier" next time.

*Dilana (sings Nirvana's "Lithium"): This girl is scary-looking.  With her multi-dyed hair, multiple piercings, and heavy makeup, she is the anti-Idol.  Her voice has such a rough edge, I would think it would be shot by now.  I could just hear Simon say, "That was horrific."  But she gives the most intense performance of the night, and I can totally see her fronting this band - especially when she manages to leave Tommy Lee speechless.  Heh.

Dana Andrews (sings Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One"): I believe she's the youngest contestant, and the lack of experience shows in her performance.  Vocally, it's fine, but with that sweet face, I think she'd have better luck on American Idol.  I can pretty much guarantee that she'll cry when she's booted off the show.

Phil Ritchie (sings Living Color's "Cult of Personality"): He's got this quirky voice, and his idea of performance seems to be swaying his arms and walking around like he's tired.  And then Gilby proves that he's not too rock-n-roll to watch American Idol by using Randy's favorite expression, "It was a little pitchy."  I am totally disillusioned now.  Well, no, not really.  Next.

*Jill Gioia (sings Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart"): The woman is 4'11", but boy, does she pack a wallop.  A great rendition, although one scream is so piercing that even Jason has to hold his ears.  But of course they love her.

Chris Pierson (sings the Police's "Roxanne"): Note to Chris - "updating" a song does not mean that you have to turn the entire piece into a shout-fest in order to show that you can rock.  Ugh.  The band agrees, with Gilby summing it up nicely by saying, "It sucked."

Lukas Rossi (sings Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell"): With his round face and white jacket, he looks like an evil hobbit has met the 80s.  He sings with cotton in his mouth, to the point where even "More, more, more!" becomes "More, wor, woah!"  Yuck...but I suppose I should be glad they ended the show on this rather than Chris.

At the end of the show, viewers are urged to vote, and the preliminary results showed that the bottom three were Chris, Phil, and Magni.  Big surprise (not).  On Wednesday night's show, the bottom three will perform again, and Supernova will tell one of them, "You're not roight"...er..."You're not right for our band."

The excitement is killing me.

 

Thursday, July 6:  Wow!  Brooke got a boob job overnight!  Oh, no, wait - they've squeezed her into a tight leather vest to make it look like she got a boob job.  Don't breathe too deeply, honey.  They might pop out.

Tonight's show is an hour long, so of course we have to have all sorts of stupid filler.  Lots of pointless interviews with the rockers that tell us nothing new.  Brooke having ten-second pauses before announcing the bottom three as if this-is-the-most-exciting-thing-on-television-and-aren't-you-sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat?  The answer to that, of course, is no, I'm not, because it's going to take about eight weeks to get rid of the contestants who obviously aren't right for Supernova.  So just get on with it already.

But wait!  We first have to see the contestants back at the mansion, where it is revealed that no, Ryan isn't the bad guy after all - Lukas is!  After everyone gets drunk, Lukas "spoils" the party by asking people who they think will be in the bottom three, while he himself refuses to answer his own question.  Interestingly enough, the first person he asks this of (Dana) is one of the people he himself would put in the bottom three, along with Jenny and Chris, as he finally admits when pressed by Dave tonight.  Now, this is obviously such a setup that for the other contestants to get pissed about it just makes no sense.  Don't they know this is a Mark Burnett production?  There has to be a villain.  It's up to Dave to remind everyone that this is a reality show...er...a competition, so it's okay for Lukas to tell people that they suck.

[This is where I remind readers that all of the Rock Star episodes are pre-recorded, which is why you sometimes see cuts to scenes that don't quite fit with what was shown before.  I would rather it be live and get a sense of the entire interview and the true reaction of the audience, but this is the way they do things here, so I live with it.]

My take on Lukas's selections?  I knew he was right about Chris and wrong about the other two being in the bottom three - at least this week.  True, neither Dana nor Jenny will ultimately be right for the band, but they weren't the worst performers this week, and they're both pretty, so they'll probably be around a while longer while the more boring contestants get axed.

Okay, on with the show... Dilana predictably gets the encore tonight, and she's even scarier than the night before.  You go, girl.  Then we have the up-down, you-may-be-in, you-may-be-out business with Brooke, where six people stand up and then - DRAMATIC PAUSE - we find out one by one who is in the bottom three and who thus has to give THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR LIVES.

Chris is first, and he sings the Doors' "L.A. Woman." It's better than his "Roxanne" of the night before, but I don't think anyone will mistake him for Jim Morrison.  He's got a cute face, though.

Phil is second, and he sings Switchfoot's "Stars," which we find out is one of Tommy Lee's favorite bands.  Mike and I start giggling madly because Switchfoot is a Christian crossover band.  We love this song, but we hate Phil's rendition, in which he attempts to make it prettier than it should be and flails his arms so nonchalantly that he sucks all the passion out of it.

Matt is third, and he shoots himself in the foot by singing Duran Duran's "Planet Earth," which is most decidedly NOT what Supernova is about, no matter how rocked up the version is.  So it's no surprise when he's axed, although Tommy insists he's not a loser, blah, blah, blah.  Much hugs are given to him from the other contestants, although I have no idea if Lukas even bothered.

Now CBS starts the old switcheroo business.  From now on, the shows will supposedly be shown as follows:

Reality episode - Monday mornings at rockstar.msn.com
Performance show - Tuesdays at 9 PM EST
Results show - Wednesdays at 8 PM EST

Yeah, right.  Let's see how long this schedule lasts.

Review 2006 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.

 

Rock Star Index | July 10-12 Review