Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rock Star: Supernova - Week nine

And the dark horse is out of the race. Ryan Star was eliminated this week from Rock Star: Supernova. This is one of those weeks in which I hated to see someone go. It has been entertaining to watch Ryan improve his performances over the course of the show. When the season began, he made no impression on me at all. And he got off to a bad start in the first reality webisode, when he refused to do the impromptu singing that Supernova asked the contestants to do. Jason Newsted remarked that Ryan needed to work harder to get up to the same level as the other 14 original contestants. As it turned out, he outlasted 9 of those 14, because he did work hard to stand out. His methods during the first three weeks were weak, but once he hit his stride, he became an interesting performer, generally improving from one week to the next. He only fell in the bottom three twice these past nine weeks, but the second time was his last. Of course, he is now free to continue his solo career (he has already released an indie label CD) with benefit of wider fame.

Ryan’s Tuesday night performance of Coldplay’s “Clocks” boasted great showmanship and found him in good voice. But his Wednesday performance of the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” fell short in both departments, and his stage-hopping interfered with the timing of his singing.

Suffice it to say, that was par for the course this week. The Tuesday night performance show was a knockout, but Wednesday night’s elimination show was underwhelming. Maybe the contestants were hung over.

On Tuesday, Lukas rearranged the Nirvana song “Lithium” to his liking. The performance wasn’t bad, but Dilana’s version from the first week was much better. Also, Lukas didn’t bother to learn all of the words; he sang the first stanza twice. On Wednesday, he was chosen to front Supernova for their original song of the week. The song was okay, and Lukas seemed to fit Supernova like a glove. This may be a sign of things to come.

Magni nailed Live’s “I Alone”, which is hardly surprising at this point. I hope his head really is okay after Dilana’s glass-breaking spasm in the mansion gave him a small flesh wound. I’m glad to see that Magni was nowhere near the bottom three this week, because he has more than earned his right to stick around. He bled for it.

The Evanescence song “Bring Me To Life” was definitely a wild card for Storm, but she handled it well in her own way. Her voice is not the voice we are used to when we hear that song, but it worked. For her first-ever bottom-three performance, she tackled the Beatles’ hard-rock classic “Helter Skelter”, but didn’t quite tackle it as well as I expected her to. Her voice sounded a bit strained in spots (although, knowing Storm, she may have been doing that on purpose). I’m at least glad she’ll still be there next week.

Toby gave his best performance in a long time with Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”, earning the encore and avoiding the bottom three. He works well with chicks (namely Storm and the dancing groupies). He and Tommy Lee would probably get along a little too well.

Dilana, needing to save face after the drama at the mansion, was amazing doing Tracy Bonham’s “Mother Mother” on Tuesday. Her singing was on-target, and she nailed the visual aspect as well. I almost felt as if I was watching a hair-metal video from the ‘80’s. She knows what band she’s auditioning for. Unfortunately, her Wednesday performance of the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” was a mess. Her voice was strong in spots but weak in other spots, and her timing was way, way off. She’s lucky she has built up a good credit rating with Supernova. And, if she continues to consume alcoholic beverages, I hope she uses only plastic drinking glasses from now on.

The competition is now getting near the home stretch. Next week, the five survivors will write and perform original songs. This is what I’ve waited for.

Official site:
http://rockstar.msn.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rock Star: Supernova - Week eight

To no one’s surprise, Patrice Pike was eliminated from Rock Star: Supernova this week. I thought she was going to go sooner, but I’m glad she didn’t. I thought she was deserving of the opportunity to sing an original song of hers in front of millions of viewers. Patrice’s song “Beautiful Thing” really took me back to the ‘90’s, like I was watching a second-stage performance at the H.O.R.D.E. festival, and that’s meant as a compliment. I’ll probably be purchasing a 99 cent download of the song from MSN Music. Her Wednesday performance of the Pretenders’ “Middle Of The Road” was adequate, but adequacy doesn’t quite cut it at this point in the competition. I hope to see more of Patrice in the future.

Magni made a second undeserved appearance in the bottom three. He did well with Nirvana’s smash “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and probably would have done it even better if he wasn’t feeling ill. On Wednesday, he brought down the house with Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire”, keeping him safe for at least another week.

Toby’s modern rearrangement of Eric Clapton’s classic “Layla” was awkward. His vocals weren’t bad, but I wish he had remembered to keep singing while he was running around shirtless. This is a vocal competition, right? For his first trip to the bottom three, Toby did STP’s “Plush”. His rendition of that song was good, but not great. But this was still Toby’s big week, because he was the one who was chosen to front Supernova for this week’s band-written original. With Toby singing, Supernova sounded something like the Offspring, and that may reflect well on him. Despite his missteps, Toby could be a frontrunner again.

Ryan Star was the other contestant who got to perform an original song on Tuesday. His song “Back Of Your Car” was impressive, with intense vocals and fairly potent lyrical imagery. Still, his girlfriend ought to smack him for what he told the world afterward. And Dave Navarro ought to buy him a new guitar after encouraging him to break the one he used.

Storm did a good-enough job on Aerosmith’s difficult “Cryin’”, avoiding the trap that Jordis Unga fell into last season when she sang “Dream On”. But at this stage of the competition, Storm's limitations are beginning to show through.

Dilana did a fine job with the Police’s “Every Breath You Take”. Her consistency is remarkable, although her cocky attitude is beginning to rub me the wrong way. Maybe she wasn’t kidding when she said that she and Lukas are much alike.

When Lukas began his performance of the Killers tune “All These Things That I’ve Done”, I thought we were getting something special. His intro sounded great, but then he reverted back to his usual voice for most of the rest of it. I’m still not a fan, but I thought he looked cool this time, especially when he looked at his reflection in someone else’s guitar. Either the guy’s in love with himself, or he’s a clever showman, or both.

I apologize for the error I made in last week’s post, when I said that this would be the all-request week. Apparently, that’s next week. I hope the contestants get to sing their original songs next week along with those meager choices.

And…Brooke Burke has been saying that September 13th will be the day of the season finale. That’s just three short weeks away. Assuming that they are following the same basic format that INXS went by last year – that is, finishing off with three contestants for the final show – we can expect another double-elimination, either next week or the week after.

Official site:
http://rockstar.msn.com

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Two solo albums from Cars members are reissued

This week, the reissue label Wounded Bird Records has released two mid-'80's solo CDs from members of the Cars: Elliot Easton's Change No Change (1985) and Benjamin Orr's The Lace (1986).

Elliot Easton was the Cars guitarist, and was the catalyst for the current New Cars fronted by Todd Rundgren. His solo album is mostly un-Cars-like, except for one song called "I Want You". The rest of the album is guitar-based singer-songwriter rock. Easton partnered with Jules Shear for the songwriting duties on the ten proper album tracks. Change No Change gets good marks for effort, but Easton is no singer. His flat vocals are the album's downfall. The reissue features five bonus tracks which were recorded in 1993 by an Easton-led group called Band Of Angels.

Benjamin Orr was the bassist and sometime lead singer of the Cars. Orr died in 2000 from pancreatic cancer. The Lace is his only solo effort. If you remember the hit single "Stay The Night", you have a good idea of what to expect from the album as a whole. It's best described as Cars Lite, containing smooth, soft synth-pop without the tension or quirkiness that Ric Ocasek imparted on the Cars. The mellow songs were co-written by Orr and his then-girlfriend Diane Grey Page; Easton plays guitar on some tracks. The Lace is easy to swallow, and just as easy to forget.

Wounded Bird Records
http://www.woundedbird.com/

Rarebird's Cars solo album reviews:
http://rarebird9.net/cars.html

Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson split

You've probably heard by now that actress Kate Hudson is separating from Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson after six years of marriage. The American media is claiming that Kate's relationship with Owen Wilson is the reason for the split, although Wilson's lawyer says that Wilson didn't cause the split. I'll leave the gossip to Us Weekly:

http://www.usmagazine.com/blog/2006/08/16/inside-owen-and-kate%e2%80%99s-romance

It doesn't seem like six years to me since Hudson and Robinson were married. The year 2000 almost seems like yesterday to me.

Of course, 2000 was the year in which Hudson received an Academy Award nomination for her role as a groupie named Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. If you haven't yet seem that film, which is based on Crowe's experiences as a 15-year-old reporter for Rolling Stone, I highly recommend renting it. It is one of the best rock and roll movies ever made, although I realize that sounds like faint praise.

If you like the movie as much as I do and wish to purchase the DVD, I recommend searching out the "Director's Edition", also called the "Bootleg Cut" (Dreamworks 88751), which is unfortunately out of print. It contains two DVDs: the theatrical version, which runs 123 minutes, and the director's cut, which runs 162 minutes. It's still a solid movie with all of those extra 39 minutes added. The extra footage also beefs up Hudson's role. The DVDs are loaded with interesting extras, including Crowe's film commentary and seven of his Rolling Stone articles from the '70's. There also is interview footage with the late, legendary rock critic Lester Bangs, who is portrayed in the film by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

And...this set also features a CD with six songs by Stillwater, the fictional rock band from the film. Stillwater was based partially on the Allman Brothers, and the six songs on the CD are reminiscent of them, with bits of Zeppelin and Skynyrd tossed in as well. The first four songs were co-written by Crowe and his wife Nancy Wilson of Heart; Ann Wilson also contributed to "Chance Upon You". The other two were co-written by Peter Frampton, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Gordon Kennedy.

Stillwater (Dreamworks DRWR-13824-2) track listing:

1. Fever Dog
2. Love Thing
3. Chance Upon You
4. Love Comes And Goes
5. Hour Of Need
6. You Had To Be There

Redbone impostors played at Montana state fair

If you ever go to see a show in your town by a forgotten band who are best known for a decades-old hit song, you can sometimes expect to see no original members on stage -- but this is ridiculous. A band who played at the Butte-Silver Bow Fair in Montana claimed to be Redbone, a '70's group best known for their 1974 hit "Come And Get Your Love". Redbone does still exist, but the band that played under that name at the Montana state fair were impostors! Here is the story.

My first question is: who would have the 'nads to pull a stunt like this? And my second question is: why would anyone want to impersonate Redbone?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rock Star: Supernova - Week seven

Goodbye, Zayra. Zayra Alvarez was finally eliminated from Rock Star: Supernova, a number of weeks after she was expected to be. INXS would have eliminated her at least three times by this point. Her performances on the show were often bizarre renditions of classic rock selections, sometimes bordering on camp. I think everyone was well aware that there was no way Zayra would fit into Supernova in a million years.

So, why am I so sad to see her go? This may be the first time since week one that I hated to see someone go this much. Say what you will about Zayra, but she was never boring. For better or for worse, she has been a standout contestant every week. I am totally going to miss her strange-yet-sexy stage presence, and her way of rethinking songs. Granted, she lasted as long as she did for entertainment purposes. But now that she has been sent packing, Rock Star will be a bit less entertaining in the coming weeks.

But I doubt that Zayra is very sad to go. In my view, she was not in this competition to win; she was in it for TV exposure to launch her own career. And I would say she got full mileage out of it. Besides getting to party in Vegas, she also got to perform an original song of hers on TV. “Lluvia De Mar” was the name of her pretty Spanish-language pop song which she performed on Tuesday. It was far from rock and roll, but she may have a future as a Latin pop star. On Wednesday’s elimination show, she did what I hoped she would do: she chose an obscure song (“Razorblade” by Blue October) and gave a thoroughly riveting performance. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark Burnett is waiting to sign her to his record label.

I’m a bit surprised that Patrice was not the one to go. Don’t get me wrong – I like her a lot. She managed to do a passable rendition of the Police’s “Message In A Bottle” on Tuesday, and Police songs are not easy for a singer to interpret (see Chris Pierson’s disastrous performance of “Roxanne” from the first week). But when she sang Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” on Wednesday, the necessary intensity was missing. The problem wasn’t her voice – heck, she’s a much better singer than Courtney Love – it was her stage presence. Patrice has been a remarkably consistent performer, but the remaining contestants outshine her in the TV eye.

What on earth was Magni doing in the bottom three? “I don’t belong here” is right! His Tuesday performance of Bowie’s “Starman” was nearly solid, except for one flubbed line which was easy to overlook. His Wednesday performance of Radiohead’s “Creep” was also a knockout, easily outshining Lukas Rossi’s, as well as Marty Casey’s from last year. If he had been sent home, I would have spit at the TV screen.

Speaking of Lukas, I still fail to see the appeal. His performance of Chad Kroeger’s “Hero” was one of his better ones, and I didn’t mind that he sat down for it. But I think the Wednesday performers demonstrated how overrated Lukas is. Like I said, Magni’s performance of “Creep” put Lukas’ to shame. And Patrice’s less-than-stunning performance of “Celebrity Skin” outshone the one Lukas gave. What do Supernova and the voting viewers see in this guy? I just don’t get it. I guess you have to be there.

Storm really let me down this week. If she had just been her old energetic self for her performance of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”, she might have ripped it up and turned it into something special. But her contempt for the song was her undoing. She was intent on destroying it (a la Cake), and nearly destroyed herself in the process. Don’t get weird on me, babe! I definitely don’t share Supernova’s effusive enthusiasm for Dilana’s rendition of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle”. It was an odd choice for her, but even after I got around the weirdness of her playing the dad, I thought she oversang it a bit. The stanzas sounded fine, but it was a bit much when she turned it up a notch for the choruses, and she let go too much at the end. I wasn’t impressed.

Ryan continued to use emotional expressiveness to his advantage, giving two commanding performances of “In The Air Tonight” from Phil Collins’ first solo album. Toby also did well with “Solsbury Hill” from Peter Gabriel’s first solo album. (No, I’m not reading anything into this). Toby’s voice added unexpected flavor to the song, and his use of bongos was a nice touch. I could have done without his lyric changes, though.

And, what do you know! We even got to see Supernova perform this week. They chose Dilana to be their singer (for this week, that is) when they performed an original song on Wednesday. It was, um, okay. It was the second time this week that I wasn’t particularly impressed with Dilana (or maybe it was the band who wasn’t doin’ it for me).

But Supernova are already making their big plans, with an album release date scheduled and everything. We can even pre-order the CD on the official site already. Thanks, but I’ll hold off for now.

Next week is “Request Week”, or “Fan Selection Week”, where we get to vote on the website for the songs that we want the contestants to perform next week. It seems like quite a non-event, but if everyone votes for the “wild card” selections, the results could be somewhat interesting.

Official site:
http://rockstar.msn.com

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rock Star: Supernova - Week six

Ooh! Double elimination! I was wondering if and when it would happen. INXS did it last season. The difference is that INXS did it to two contestants whose performances stuck out like sore thumbs that week. This week, the two unlucky contestants didn’t perform all that badly. In fact, no one performed badly this week – which is not to say that everyone sounded good.

Josh and Jill were the ones who got the dual axe. I think it has more to do with time constraints (there is now talk of Supernova tour dates!) and with past performances than with their performances this week. Josh and Jill were both on borrowed time for different reasons. Besides, this double-axe gives Supernova one less person to take to Las Vegas.

On Tuesday, Jill did a decent job on Tracy Bonham’s demanding “Mother Mother”, although her stage antics got in the way, even causing her to miss one crucial note right near the end. On Wednesday, she did okay with Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, but she didn’t hit it out of the park. I’m at least glad that she didn’t whine about being let go.

On Tuesday, Josh did well with STP’s “Interstate Love Song”, with surprise backing by Tommy Lee on drums. But that’s beginning to look like a jinx, because this is the second time Lee didn’t save someone from the bottom three. On Wednesday, Josh sang Bad Company’s classic “Shooting Star”. He claimed it was one of his favorite songs, but he didn’t sing it as if it was. His performance was passable at best, and his head movements were distracting.

Josh and Jill both have talent but neither of them were contenders in this competition. In fact, Josh seemed relieved to be going, just as Dana did last week. Josh and Jill both have six weeks of TV exposure behind them, and now they are free to do their own things. And both might be more interesting when they do their own things, instead of doing covers. I think we will see more of both of them.

The big surprise this week was Lukas. He finally proved that he is not a one-trick pony, with his dynamic performance of Radiohead’s “Creep”. (Maybe that song is just a little too right for him, heh heh heh…). He finally let his vocal chords loose, especially for the “ruuuuuuuuuuuuun!” moment. He deserved his encore.

And I was glad there were two encores allowed this week, because Magni was equally deserving of one. His heartfelt rendition of Live’s “Dolphin’s Cry” stood out in an episode full of good moments.

Ryan, of all people, played the theatrical card this week when he performed the Stones classic “Paint It Black”. He came out on a darkened stage, and then was revealed wearing a hood with a mohawk wig attached(?), and wearing dark eye make-up in the shape of a mask. Oh yeah, and he did okay singing it. This bizarre display didn’t save him from the bottom three, but it probably saved him from elimination this week. When he chose to do Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence” on Wednesday, I almost thought Supernova would give him the Matt Hoffer treatment. But they apparently appreciated his mood-swinging interpretation of the song. Of course, “Zayra” and “theatrical” belong in the same sentence every week. Zayra sang the Bowie-penned Mott The Hoople hit “All The Young Dudes”. As always, her outfit was eye-catching, and (strangely enough) it did evoke a ‘70’s glam-rock feel which was appropriate for the song. Her vocal, however, did not go over well. She missed far too many words, and her voice was way off-key. Most of the feeling for this song came from the house band (and possibly from Magni on guitar).

Dilana got the pre-planned perform-with-Gilby song, and didn’t even have to fight for it. The other contestants were probably afraid that Clarke would criticize the singer, the way he criticized Jill. (So, don’t grind on him, then!). Dilana and Gilby had good chemistry together, although their performance of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” somehow didn’t work for me. Also, Dilana’s corny lyrics from the songwriting competition make me wonder if she is still a strong frontrunner.

Patrice did a predictably good job on John Lennon’s “Instant Karma”, and it saved her from the bottom three. Lucky for her, because the double-axe probably would have hit her. Toby had fun with the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House”, using a megaphone and siren as props. The megaphone didn’t really enhance his performance, but it helped him stand out for the first time in weeks. (Side note: I don’t remember Dave Navarro criticizing J.D. Fortune for using a megaphone last season). And Storm loomed Large once again, keeping her performance of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” under control, and excelling.

Now that two contestants have been eliminated at once, it should be fun to see how the remaining eight singers step up their game in the next few weeks.

More Cure deluxe editions

Following the 2005 releases of 2-CD deluxe editions of the first four Cure albums, Elektra has now released three more this week. The Top (1984), The Head On The Door (1985), and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987) are the three latest Cure albums to receive the expanded treatment. The first disc of each set contains a remastered version of the proper album. The second disc of each set contains a lengthy set of bonus tracks, mostly consisting of related demos and live recordings culled from bootlegs. These deluxe editions are mainly geared toward Cure fanatics.

The Top has been out of print in the U.S. for some time, so it is good to have it available again in some form. This album was recorded at a time when leader Robert Smith had temporarily become a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees as well as the Cure, and his health suffered as a result. On The Top, Smith is noticeably stressed out, seemingly unable to decide if he wanted to stay with the Cure's earlier doom-and-gloom approach or move in a more accessible direction. The resulting album is drenched in the type of moody atmosphere that marked the Cure's albums from the early '80's, but with the type of polished production that was displayed on Japanese Whispers-era recordings. This album seems to divide Cure devotees between those who love it and those who hate it. I tend to lean toward the former. The Top is a mess, but it's certainly not a boring one.

The Head On The Door was the Cure's commercial breakthrough, and it stands as one of their finest achievements. On this album, Smith and company reduced the noise level, and accomplished the balance between gloom and pop that they seemed to be hinting at on The Top. "In Between Days" was a New Order-like pop gem that became their first hit single. "Close To Me" was a playful low-key delight. The album's moodier songs are presented with a subtlety never before (never since?) heard on a Cure album.

Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me was an enthusiastic continuation of Smith's expanding sensibilities, containing 72 minutes of eclecticism and accessibility. It contains the classics "Just Like Heaven" and "Why Can't I Be You?", and 15 other tracks of Smith and company aggressively exploring new ground. It's a strong album that probably defines the Cure's career more than any other individual album, although its experimental qualities make it less consistent than The Head On The Door.

Will I be buying any of these pricey reissues? I might purchase The Top for the sake of replacing my old cassette copy. But expanded editions in general tend to be redundant. Much as I love The Head On The Door, I'm not particularly interested in hearing the demos. And as much as I like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 72 minutes of it is enough for me. There are some Cure fanatics who want to hear and own every recorded second of Robert Smith's work, but if I ever had such tendencies, the Join The Dots box set has Cured me of them.

It is worth noting that the 1983 release Japanese Whispers does not seem to be slated for such a reissue. It may be because it was not so much a proper album as a collection of singles and EP tracks from its period. Either that, or they couldn't find enough bonus tracks for it (well, okay, maybe it's silly to suggest that...). Japanese Whispers remains out of print in the U.S., but its three key tracks ("Let's Go To Bed", "The Walk", "Lovecats") are currently available on compilations. If you must have the other five tracks, Japanese Whispers is obtainable as a German import.

Interestingly enough, a deluxe edition has also been released of the obscure 1983 album Blue Sunshine by the Glove, a short-lived side project by Smith and Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees. (Ol' Robert was quite a busy guy at point, wasn't he?). Most of the vocal duties on the album were handled by a singer named Jeanette Landray. This album was previously only available on CD in Germany. I haven't heard it, and it may be worthwhile for me to check it out, since the deluxe edition costs about the same as the German import, and has a whole disc's worth of bonus tracks as well.

So, how much further do you think they'll go with these expanded Cure reissues? It's easy to imagine Disintegration (1989) getting the deluxe treatment; such long-lost supplemental items as Entreat and Integration contain plenty of tracks for a bonus disc. But if they go so far as to release 2-CD editions of Wish (1992), Wild Mood Swings (1996), and Bloodflowers (2000), even fanatics may feel Cured to death in the end.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Arthur Lee of Love dies at 61

Arthur Lee, the founder of the '60's cult band Love, died yesterday from leukemia at age 61. The troubled Lee did not attain much commercial success with his band, but he is regarded as a major influence on other rock veterans. Robert Plant has said that Love's 1968 album Forever Changes is one of his all-time favorite albums. Others who claimed a Lee influence include Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Syd Barrett. Lee must be receiving quite a hero's welcome somewhere.

Rolling Stone has a good article on Lee, with a playlist of essential Love tracks, here.

The first three Love albums are the only proper ones currently in print in the States: Love (1966), Da Capo (1967), and Forever Changes (1968). The best place to start is the 22-track compilation The Best of Love, which contains the essential songs from the first four albums. Those who want to investigate further should try Forever Changes. It is an odd but brilliant album which requires multiple listenings to fully appreciate. The first two albums are somewhat less impressive, but are still enduring specimens from their time. Love consists of Byrds-like folk-rock, while Da Capo stepped into psychedelia.

If you love those albums and want to go further, the fourth album Four Sail (1969) and the sixth album False Start (1970) are obtainable as imports. The U.K. CD Out There contains some tracks from the fifth album Out Here (1969), and some from False Start. Lee is the only original member of Love who plays on those albums. By that time, Love's sound became harder and less majestic.

Those who wish to splurge right off the bat might want to spring for the 2-CD set Love Story 1966-1972. It contains most of the tracks from the first two albums, all of the tracks from Forever Changes, and highlights from the next three albums. In other words, it provides all of the Love that most people will ever need.

I also recommend watching the DVD The Forever Changes Concert, which documents a live performance of the album by Lee and a new Love lineup, shortly after Lee's 2001 release from prison. Lee's performance was solid, and the backing musicians were faithful to the original material.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rock Star: Supernova - Week five

Dana Andrews is the latest contestant to be eliminated from Rock Star: Supernova. She took it well, and went out with a smile on her face. The guys from Supernova chalked it up to maturity on the part of the 22-year-old. That may be true, but I also think that Dana was relieved. Even with her new dark-and-damaged look, Dana was much too nice to front Supernova, and everybody knew it. In order to stay on the show, Dana would have had to continuously (and increasingly) act like someone she wasn’t. And for what? I don’t think the girl was in this competition to win it. She has her own band (called Everything After) and now has had five weeks of TV exposure to use as a springboard. Her chances of getting a recording deal are good, and she’ll probably be quite the local hero when she returns to her hometown. Besides, she clearly wasn’t happy with the criticism she was getting from the other contestants in the mansion. I’ll bet she’s not sad to be leaving those trappings. Dana’s performance of the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” on Tuesday night was okay, but it didn’t save her from the bottom three. “House of the Rising Sun” was not a good song choice for her on elimination night, and her vocal timing was noticeably off. I knew then that she was going to get the axe.

On Tuesday night, I had originally predicted that Jill would be the one to go instead. Her overbaked performance of the Simple Minds classic “Don’t You Forget About Me” was just awful. Her shrill delivery had no feeling for the song whatsoever. But she saved herself (again) by choosing a song on Wednesday that played to her strengths: “Alone” by Heart. Considering that Gilby Clarke has played with Heart in the past, it meant something when he took part in Supernova’s standing ovation for Jill. She has redeemed herself – for now.

Patrice was the one who got to perform with a member of Supernova this week. On Tuesday, she sang “Higher Ground” (based more on the Chili Peppers than Stevie Wonder) with Tommy Lee banging away at the drums behind her. She sang it well, she had good rapport with Lee, and she looked sexy in a metal-chick get-up. But she still landed in the bottom three. I like Patrice, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before she became a bottom three regular. She’d better be prepared to perform every Wednesday night until she’s gone. This Wednesday, she saved her neck by choosing an unexpected song (“Eternal Life” by the late Jeff Buckley), and doing a good job of putting it across.

The once-unimpressive Ryan Star got the encore performance this week, allowing him to give us another helping of his solo piano rendition of REM’s “Losing My Religion”. His emotional vocals made it gripping both times. Based on this and the songs on his MySpace page, I think we are beginning to see the real Ryan Star, though I am now puzzled as to why he thought Dana was “too pop”.

And how about that Zayra! I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I voted for her this week! Her outlandish rethinking of Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny” was horrific, hilarious, and creepy all at once. In short, it was exhilarating! They’d better eliminate her soon, because I’m starting to like her.

I have to say that Josh made a solid comeback this week. His soulful performance of Sublime’s “Santeria” was near-perfect, and was well-suited to his talents. He’s still no frontrunner, but it will be interesting to see what else he does.

I also enjoyed hearing Dilana’s Tina Turner-like vocal treatment of Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough”, and Storm’s restrained performance of David Bowie’s “Changes”. Both of them are still frontrunners. I’m not sure if Toby still is. Not that there was anything wrong with the way he sang “Pennyroyal Tea” (what’s with the constant use of Nirvana songs, anyway?), but he doesn’t stand out like he used to. Magni sang Coldplay’s “Clocks” with class, but class may not be what Supernova want. (It’s nice of Tommy Lee and company to have Magni’s wife and baby flown overseas to visit him).

Now it’s time for me to get ugly. What on earth is Lukas’ problem? Last week, I suggested closing your eyes during Lukas’ performances to hear how shallow he is without his stage presence. This week, you didn’t even have to do that. He dithered through his rendition of Hole’s “Celebrity Skin”, singing wispily, forgetting lyrics, pacing back and forth pointlessly on stage – what a mess! It sounded like Buster Poindexter doing Courtney Love, except that David Johansen’s alter ego would have been much more entertaining. Even the Supernova guys couldn’t think of anything good to say about this clown this week. Of course, this goofball has a following who keep voting to keep him out of the bottom three, so he’ll be around for a long time yet. Sheesh.

What did Gilby Clarke say just before Dana was eliminated? Each individual contestant is going to be asked to write lyrics and melodies for a Supernova song next week? This I’ve gotta see.