"Stripped-down" night of "Rock Star" wasn't as much fun as last season's (which gave us Jordis' "Knocking on Heaven's Door" and Marty's "Baby One More Time," among other highlights), but there was some interesting stuff going on, including my first near-violent disagreement with the judges. In order after the jump...
Zayra, "Lluvia De Mar": Best performance she's given this season, and they should send her home for it. And no, those two clauses aren't contradictory. Listening to her sound so much more confident and melodious doing a Spanish ballad should erase any doubt that she's all wrong for this band. With Josh gone, she's the squarest peg left.
Magni, "Starman": Every time I see that vein on the right side of his head throb, I keep worrying that he's going to wind up in the ER -- especially when it goes that berserk even on a relatively mellow song like this. He's a much better pure singer than I had realized in the early weeks, but, like Tommy with Storm after the previous two episodes, I really want to see him go bananas, and soon. Can he be as interesting on a song that's faster, or angrier, or more upbeat, or anything that sounds closer to the kind of music these guys want to do?
Patrice, "Message in a Bottle": For the first two thirds, this was the best I'd heard her sound since "My Iron Lung," but she ran into some trouble at the end (ironically, the part that the judges liked the best), and the smiling was once again all wrong for the lyrics. While I think Zayra should go home tomorrow, I think Patrice will. She has obvious talent, but she's plateaued, and the audience doesn't seem into her.
Lukas, "Hero": And he's dressed as an androgynous priest why, exactly? Not as powerful as "Creep" or as energetic as some of his incoherent early numbers, but I'm starting to like the stupid little hobbit. After Dilana, he seems most sure of who he is and how to play to the crowd.
Storm, "I Will Survive": I call seven levels of bullshit on this. First, what the hell is this song doing on the show at all, let alone on the acoustic night? Storm or someone else could have ripped the daylights out of this one on a regular evening, but whoever got the song this week was starting out with both arms tied behind their backs. (And, yeah, Marty had to sing Britney Spears on this night last year, but the acoustic format was an ideal change of pace for that, whereas Gloria Gaynor was already singing a ballad.) Second, given the limitations, I thought Storm did a great job on this, finding the ugly, raw emotion at the center of the song and making it sound like something that, if not exactly right for what Supernova wants to be, at least something that would belong at an arena rock show. For me, this was at least the second-best of the night, and she had a much higher degree of difficulty than the potential top dog. I'm so irked with Dave and the guys for dumping on this that I actually went over to MSN and voted a few times, and I never do that for any of these shows.
Toby, "Solsbury Hill": Is it me, or did Toby make as bad a hash of the lyrics as Lukas did on "Celebrity Skin"? It felt like he was mixing and matching lines from different verses and at times introducing entirely new words (and not intentionally, the way Storm did on "IWS"). And while the singing was some of Toby's best for the first minute or so, once he made the move over to the bongos he got very screechy. Plus, this isn't really the week to fight for the chance to play with one of the guys, since this set-up is so unlike what the band is generally going to do.
Ryan, "In the Air Tonight": No piano and Neo coat aside, this felt like a carbon copy of his "Losing My Religion" from a few weeks back. Like Patrice, I think he's as good as he's going to be on this show; the only difference is that he started off so poorly that he's giving the band this false belief that he's only going to get better and better. Bored now, except for the string quartet, who sounded killer on this.
Dilana, "Cat's in the Cradle": Probably the best of the night, though her version was much more faithful to the original than what Storm did. Also, she took the song in an angrier direction than I think it probably should go, even though it fits her style. But she has such incredible stage presence that, unless she gets too cocky and starts coasting, everybody else is playing for second.
What did everybody else think?