Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Rock Star: Stepping up

First "Rock Star" performance episode I've been able to watch in its entirety, as aired, since the season premiere, and it was a pretty solid one, I thought, albeit with two fiascos and one invader from Mars. (And no, it wasn't the person singing the Bowie song.) Singer-by-singer breakdown, in order, after the jump...

Patrice, "Higher Ground": I hate to say it, because I like her voice, but I would definitely put her in the group of 8 people Dave think would just disappear in front of Tommy. (The three who wouldn't, IMO, are Dilana and Storm, because they kick ass, and Zayra because she's an insane freakshow.) Even with the faux-hawk and the pointing and the singing directly to Tommy, she still got way overwhelmed by him. (The constant cuts to him drumming didn't help, but even in the wide shot I was more focused on him.) She and Magni both have signed leases to the middle of the pack, and this sure isn't going to lift her out of that. If she somehow winds up bottom three tomorrow, I wouldn't be stunned if they sent her home.

Josh, "Santeria": The most in his element Josh has been since the opener, but that element is all wrong for this band and this show. I understand the real reason Supernova dumped Phil last week is because he gave a newspaper interview where he admitted his only reason for going on the show was to publicize his own band and that he didn't want to win; Josh may not be quite that dumb, but Gilby, Jason and Tommy have to be bright enough to see that Josh is only in this for Josh and has no realistic chance of working with them. Fun performance, but so what?

Dilana, "Can't Get Enough": Not as blow your mind amazing as some of her earlier numbers like "Lithium" and "Zombie," but she showed that she can be almost as good when the song doesn't call for her to scare the daylights out of the audience at home. I prefer corset-wearing growly witch Dilana to leather-clad up-tempo Dilana, but that was still entertaining. Is there any chance at all that the guy who gave her the piggyback ride doesn't work for the show and didn't rehearse that with her?

Toby, "Pennyroyal Tea": Maybe it's because this was the only song of the evening I didn't know, but I wasn't feeling this. Toby had pretty clearly established himself in that group of four (with Dilana, Storm and Lukas) that was significantly ahead of the rest, and this was bland enough to maybe slide him back to Patrice/Magni country.

Zayra, "867-5309 (Jenny)": She should have gone home at least twice before now, but I've gotta admit I occasionally enjoy her sideshow, and this was one of those times. Awful, awful vocals, but the arrangement was better than I was expecting after seeing the House Band slag it during the webisode (the first time I watched one this year), and Zayra's superhero meets stripper costume and moves made me laugh, and laugh and laugh. I don't even find her that attractive (as opposed to the Supernova guys, who all clearly want to jump her), but in terms of people I want to see on my TV for a while, I'd rather be stunned/appalled by whatever the hell she's going to do next than sit through some of the more competent but bland performers. And speaking of which...

Magni, "Clocks": I'm glad that the show is flying his family out to see him, since I can't imagine him winning, unless Jason (who seems way more impressed with him than anyone else) has a whole lot of pull. Magni's good, don't get me wrong, and his voice has a kind of poor man's Bono quality even when he isn't wearing the Bono shades, and if I saw him at a bar, or even opening for a bigger act, I'd be perfectly happy with him. But I have yet to hear anything special from him, and choosing the most boring song of the millennium sure didn't help, even though he sang it well (outside an ill-planned attempt at a falsetto two-thirds of the way through).

Jill, "Don't You Forget About Me": Two minutes of shrieking. Next.

Ryan, "Losing My Religion": When I heard he was doing this, I laughed, because the guy already was way too mopey and now he was singing the mopiest song the very mopey R.E.M. ever recorded. But he made it work by changing the arrangement and making the tone angry instead of mournful. In the webisode, he comes across like a complete dick, but this is two strong performances in a row; if Toby's not careful, Ryan could usurp his place in the Big Four.

Lukas, "Celebrity Skin": Was there a single lyric he got right? Either he was creating entirely new words or he was transposing lines from Verse A into Chorus B. At least he had the decency to cop to it, but that was bad, bad, bad. Plus, the more he does it, the less interesting the Tipsy McStaggering becomes, because it comes off like the act that it is.

Storm, "Changes": I've enjoyed ballsy rocker chick Storm much more than others (her "Anything Anything" has been in constant play on my iPod for the last week), but this was a nice change of pace. Could have been cabaret, but she has too much charisma for that, even in the black suit and the mood lighting. The lack of over-emoting (the one downside to her up-tempo stuff) also helped. Great voice, great presence, can stand up to the band and seems like the most sane person in the house; what's not to like?

Dana, "Baba O'Riley": Jordis' rendition of this in season one is one of my favorites from this entire series. This wasn't as good, but it was a lot better than I was expecting from Dana. She's always had the voice, but she seems to have made the leap to where I almost believe her when she's acting tough and rebellious. Like Ryan, she's moved up several notches in the last few weeks.

What did everybody else think?


Adam said...

We're pretty much in agreement this week.

Let me ask you this: I really didn't watch season one. What performances should I be trying to find on YouTube, for entertainment value?

Kristen said...

I agree with most of your assessments: I loved Dilana, Storm, the dude who did the piano version of the REM song, and Dana's Baba O'Riley wasn't quite Jordis-level, but it was pretty good.

That said, I did like Zayra more than you did. There's something about her voice and her inflections, that when she finds the right song, just absolutely work. This was one of those songs, and it shouldn't have been. The superhero costume, the weird jerky movements, the stupid one-hit-wonder song we can all sing in our sleep -- this should have been a disaster. But it wasn't, it was actually...moving, almost. I understood why the guys needed a minute to recover; we did, too.

I'm sure next week she'll pick the wrong song, but this week, she deserves to stay, way more than Jill, Patrice, Toby or Josh do.

And OMG can we get rid of the Glam Hobbit already?

Kristen said...

Adam, you should look for:

Marty: "Baby Hit Me One More Time", "Trees", "I Alone" and his acoustic "Mr. Brightside"

MiG: "Baby I Love Your Way" (still gives me chills)

Jordis: "Man Who Sold The World", "Baba O'Riley"

JD (whom I didn't like, but have to give props for creativity): "California Dreamin'"

bill said...

Adam, Kristen provides a good list. I'd also look for Jordis' "Imagine." There's a song I'm completely tired of and I'd be perfectly happy never hearing it again and she made me emjoy it.

Marty's "Trees" is probably my favorite song from last year--not just the show, I mean all music. Just can't get the silly thing out of my head.

bill said...

Also look for the two versions of "Bohemian Rhapsody":

Suzie McNeil
Mig Ayesa

Alan Sepinwall said...

To those I would add:

-"Hand In My Pocket" by JD Fortune (the first time we realized this was a show where you could radically re-arrange songs and get away with it);

-"Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Jordis (who was the Dilana-esque favorite by a mile for half a season and then fell off a cliff)

-"Maggie May" and "No Woman No Cry" by Ty Taylor (his "Somebody Told Me" was also pretty good)

-"Take Me Out" by Marty Casey

-"Start Me Up" by Suzie McNeil

A deeper overall talent pool last year, though I would probably take Dilana and Storm over all but maybe one or two season one contestants.

Kristen said...

Oh, yeah, "Imagine" was great, and Suzie's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was awesome. She also did a fabulous slow bluesy song, the name of which escapes me right now...

Bill, "Trees" is my favorite from last year, too. I've it and MiG's "Baby I Love Your Way" on rotation on my iPod again these days. The version from the Rock Star CD is much better than the Lovehammer's version they put out after the season. The live version has way more energy and quirkiness.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, something I mean to keep mentioning about Patrice: when I was at the mansion and the concert began, she spent most of the time sitting very ladylike in a chair -- perfect posture, legs neatly crossed and hands neatly folded on her lap -- in a bizarre contrast to all her tats and streaked hair. Somebody on a message board said she seems like a soccer mom playing dress-up, and ever since that night, it's been hard for me to see her any other way.

I hear she's a good songwriter, so maybe if she can survive to that phase of the contest, she can shine. (That's the point where Marty really established himself and Jordis began her nosedive.)

Anonymous said...

I did not watch at all last year but, based on comments here, watched a number of performances on YouTube. Must say, the men last season were much, much stronger compared with the men this season (esp. Marty and MiG from the clips I watched -- shocked Marty did not win). Contrast to this season where the women seem stronger (esp. Dilana and Storm).

Having not watched the show before this season, when does the songwriting come into play (how many contestants are left)? How does it work.


bill said...

I keep thinking Patrice will be this season's Suzie: singing ability overcomes her lack of personality. Don't think she'll last long enough to find out, though. My review.

Short version: thought Ryan was horrid--worst performance of the night, I've never understood the Storm attraction, and Lukas exposed himself for the one-note performer that he his. No one is even close to Dilana and I think she's too experienced to suffer a Jordis meltdown. Most everyone else is too inconsistent to honestly rank.

Tosy And Cosh said...

Jordis was the only contestant I really latched on to last year, and I keep waiting for the announced album to appear. I agree about her "Imagine" - I think part of ehat she did was to treat it, not as a hippie-dippy, feeling-good, fantasy song but as a tragic, heartbreaking song.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what happened to ty, jordis, suzie, mig etc. I did buy Marty's album and have the whole thing in rotation on my ipod. Ironically, I didn't buy JD/INXS.

bill said...

As I'm already in the minority by stating that Ryan's "Losing My Religion" sucked, let me dig a deeper hole by also admitting that Ty Taylor's "No Woman No Cry" was my least favorite performance from last season. I felt he completely ignored the content of the song and was emotionally tone-deaf. What, in the original, is deeply personal and defiant, Ty turned into a peppy cheer. I usually don't take my music that personally, but I was insulted. After that, he couldn't lose fast enough for me.

Katie, Jordis is supposed to have a CD out any month and Suzie is singing backup for Pink. Ty and Mig, I have no idea. If Marty, Jordis, or Suzie had won, I'd probably have bought the INXS CD. JD? Nevermind.

Anonymous said...

I loved Ty's Everybody Hurts much more than No Woman No Cry.

Kristen said...

Bill, I didn't like any of Ty's songs, either. He just rubbed me wrong, and none of them struck me as memorable.

EXCEPT. Ehenever we hear INXS's "Pretty Vegas", my husband sings to himself, "Stop, go!"


Adam said...

So if everyone loved Marty so much, why didn't he win?

Alan Sepinwall said...

A couple of reasons:

1)Marty had made it very clear that he wanted to move the group in a more contemporary direction, while J.D. seemed content to stick with the band's traditional sound. (He even could make himself sound like Hutchence when he wanted to.)

2)INXS loved "Pretty Vegas." From the minute J.D. first performed it on the show, you could see the Farris brothers drooling over the prospect of recording the thing.

It was definitely the right final two, and an interesting contrast. Marty was the guy who started off awkwardly and grew increasingly confident as a performer as the year went on, really taking the band's less-is-more advice to heart. J.D., meanwhile, was cocky as hell from the jump and would either be brilliant ("Hand in My Pocket," "California Dreaming" or awful "We Are the Champions"). But I think "Pretty Vegas" is what tipped it for him.

Anonymous said...

I never personally liked JD, but in the end I thought he was the right choice. I really liked the INXS album they recorded.
As for this season, it comes down to Dilana and Storm.

bill said...

What Alan said. JD was a better match for a traditional INXS. Personally, I think Marty would've been a more interesting choice, just didn't think INXS wanted to deal with changing their sound that much.

I remember reading somewhere last year that the show may have shot itself in the foot somewhat last year by making JD the "bad boy" of the show. By the time it was clear that INXS liked him and he was a frontrunner, there was already a heavily entrenched group of JD haters. Obviously we didn't have much of a negative impact on CD sales or concert tickets, so it's hard to argue with the selection.

Anonymous said...

Bill wrote: >>Short version: thought Ryan was horrid--worst performance of the night,<<

ITA. I could not stand what he did to that song (and I disagree with Alan that it's the mopiest of the mopey). Toby was totally off last night as well, and as entertaining as the Zayra freakshow can be, she really has no business being there.

I think Jill will go next because it's obvious SN hates her.

Still rooting for Dilana to come in second because she doesn't deserve to have to fend off Tommy's advances the rest of her life, plus she's just too good fro them. Storm seems the most likely to win right now, and I think she can handle the boys just fine.

Courtney Love needs to bitch-slap Lukas to hell and back for what he did to "Celebrity Skin." Good Lord, that was a suckfest!

Tosy And Cosh said...

Just wanted to add - anyone calling "Losing My Religion" REM's "mopiest" song, clearly needs to listen to Automatic for the People more. Talk about mopey . . . ;)

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'll cop to not being an REM obsessive, but I did once have a summer school roommate who would obsessively sing his own upbeat, sub-Weird Al version of the song ("That's me in the wacky corner!") such that I grew to hate the original with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

Anonymous said...

Just shows you how Eye of the Beholder this show is. I think Patrice has consistently shown more talent and chops than any other on the show. I know for sure she has the most credibility (and to some extent success) as a singer/songwriter. I do agree she's not there to win-- I don't see much interest for her in fronting a Gilby (in G-n-R for a minute) hard rock band.

She's playing for a chance to showcase her own songs. I, for one, hope she makes it that far.

Aren't Dana, Jill, Toby, and Zayra just easy cuts at this point!?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate someone FINALLY bringing up that Lukas had no idea what the hell any of the words to that song were. No one seemed to notice, and that upset me verily.

I actually think that Zayra should stay around for a while, believe it or not. She's at least TRYING to give Supernova the rock edge they're looking for, unlike Josh, who seems to think that Gilby, Tommy, and Jason are auditioning for HIS band.

Anonymous said...

Just stopping by to comment that Zayra's vocals seemed fine, if not spot on, on "Jenny". I don't think she has a problem with pitch at all, despite Gilby Clark's comments. I found it to be a very cool interpretation, exposing the creepiness of the song, and I think Zayra's strength is that she does interpret the music, at times radically. Patrice, among others, seems to imitate rather than interpret.

That said, how did you get the music on your iPod? I didn't see them on iTunes, just MSN. Can you get the songs onto your iPod from there? I would love to get Dilana's Zombie and a few of the Zayra performances.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Six letters, anonymous: Google. (And if I could buy the stuff from MSN with my Mac, I would; when a bunch of season one songs popped up on the iTunes music store, I paid for them happily.)

Anonymous said...

I have a quite a few of the RS:INXS songs on my MP3 player. I admit to liking Suzie's "I Can't Make You Love Me", Ty's "Heartbreaker", Ty's "Proud Mary", Dana's "My Truth" (original song), and Suzie's "Bring It On Home To Me" as well as many of the other songs others have already listed.