Rock Star: Supernova - Week four

Phil Ritchie is done on Rock Star: Supernova. This is not surprising at all. Most of his performances have been on the bland side, except for the one he gave last week. Maybe he needed a more intense song than the Wallflowers’ “One Headlight” to show his strength. In any case, his blandness returned, and he's on his way back home to Lennex. Tommy Lee said it was a “question of commitment”, because the band felt that Phil didn’t really want to front Supernova. As I said before, I think that’s the case with a number of the contestants.

Before I go any further, I want to commend all three of this week’s bottom three for their cool and unexpected song choices on Wednesday’s show. It made for quite an unusual hour of prime-time network TV. Phil chose a song called “Smoking Umbrellas” by Failure. It failed to save him, but at least he went out with something different. Patrice chose the Radiohead song “My Iron Lung”, and definitely showed us something different than her last four performances. And Zayra showed more depth than ever before (faint praise, perhaps) with the song “Not An Addict” by K’s Choice.

Having said that, it is surprising that Zayra has lasted this long, considering that she is such an obvious wild card in this competition. INXS would have gotten rid of her the first or second week. For better or for worse, she is fascinating to watch, and that is most likely the reason why she has lasted until (at least) week five. There is definite entertainment value in her oddball performances, and I suppose that’s what reality TV is all about. Her vocals on her Tuesday night performance of Blondie’s “Call Me” weren’t awful, but her timing was off. That sexy blue spacesuit was the whole show.

Patrice is a fine singer, but she’s not much of a TV performer; her Tuesday performance of the Black Crowes’ “Remedy” was better if you closed your eyes and listened. She clearly took Dave Navarro’s criticism of her none-too-showy performances to heart, not to mention her showing in the bottom-three. When she did the Radiohead song on Wednesday, she definitely seemed like a different performer.

Speaking of which, good-girl Dana unexpectedly went dark for her commanding performance of Nirvana’s “About a Girl” on Tuesday. Not only can she sing, but she can act, too! She may not go much further in this competition, but she has a bright future somewhere. I’m glad the young lass is learning to defend herself from criticism, and to separate good criticism from the bad. She may need that skill in this business.

Toby did okay with Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, but he’s looking less like a frontrunner than he did before. I liked Magni’s vocal on the Bowie classic “Heroes”, even if Supernova didn’t like his stage presentation. I’m getting fed up with Lukas. If you close your eyes during Lukas’ performance of the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”, it becomes apparent that he is nothing without his stage presence. I still agree with Jason Newsted’s criticism of Lukas. Do something about that voice already! And as for Josh: he is lucky he evaded the bottom three, or he may have been sent packing instead of Phil. His performance of Blind Melon’s “No Rain” was a disaster. And the “question of commitment” thing is definitely going to come up with Josh, since he has stated his disagreement with Supernova's musical direction. He’s on borrowed time.

Top honors go to the always-entertaining Storm for her knockout rendition of Dramarama’s “Anything Anything” (cool song choice, too!). Dilana was equally impressive with her warm rendering of the Cyndi Lauper ballad “Time After Time”. There is more to her than presentation after all. Jill belted out the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” with gusto. She was joined by Gilby Clarke on guitar, and Gilby criticized the short-skirted sex-bomb for her suggestive on-stage grinding. (I’ll bet his wife was watching from home – or backstage). Ryan let loose for Live’s “I Alone”, and it was his best performance yet. We’ll see what happens with him.

The online reality episode was interesting this week. The twelve contestants were broken up into three quartets of songwriters. Lukas revealed once again that he is a royal pain to work with; maybe he really is the next J.D. Fortune. And Jill continued to sound like a whiny little girl. Magni’s group – which also consisted of Jill, Dana, and Josh – came up with the best results. Lukas looked jealous.

One more criticism of Jill. While arguing with Gilby on Wednesday about her Tuesday moves, she made the unwise statement that everything has already been done in rock and roll. Uh, no, Jill. Would you want someone who thinks this way in your band? Rock and roll has now officially lasted for more than half a century. Some people like to say that it's dead, but those people can continue to wallow in their repetitive hip-hop world if they wish. The reason that rock and roll has lasted so long is because of the artists who have found new ways to do it. Of course, the rootsier rock musicians also deserve credit for keeping it alive. But rock and roll would not have lasted this long if it was done the same way every time. To paraphrase Little Richard, rock and roll hasn't died because it is continuously reinvented. Did we mention Radiohead earlier? A few years back, Rolling Stone magazine claimed that Radiohead "destroyed rock and roll to find themselves". Wrong! Radiohead expanded the boundaries of rock and roll by finding their own inventive way of doing it, and they have helped to keep it alive in the new millenium.

Jill Gioia, take a lesson: rock and roll would die if everyone had your attitude toward it.

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