Rock Star: Supernova - Week one

The second season of Rock Star began this week. This is the TV reality show which INXS used to select their new lead singer J.D. Fortune last summer. This summer, the band searching for a singer is Supernova, a new supergroup made up of Tommy Lee (the drummer from Motley Crue), Jason Newsted (the ex-Metallica bassist), and Gilby Clarke (the early-'90's guitarist for Guns 'N Roses). The show's format is essentially the same: 15 contestants are vying for the job. Each week, the contestants each perform a classic rock song backed by an adept house band. The three contestants who receive the fewest viewer votes are brought up for elimination the following night. This season, the contestants are able to choose a rock and roll song of their choice for their elimination night performance. Based on those three performances, the members of Supernova eliminate at least one contestant from the competition.

When INXS introduced the show last year, it was a matter of which contestant would be best suited to replace a well-known singer (the late Michael Hutchence) in an established band. In this case, the band in question does not yet fully exist, and whoever becomes the band's singer will define their vocal sound. Although the members of Supernova all come from heavy metal bands, they have said that their new band will not necessarily be restricted to that genre. They say it will be rooted in heavy metal, but they intend it to be versatile. However, they have begun to inform the contestants that Supernova is a "dirty rock and roll band", and that they need to take that into consideration immediately.

The 15 contestants are a diverse group of talents, but for my money, they are less interesting than last season's ensemble. Maybe they just need to grow on me. There are eight males and seven females. There are some colorful characters; in fact, two of them look nightmarishly freaky. Of course, that may make them ideal candidates to front a "Tommy Lee project".

Sure enough, the freakiest female was the one who was asked to give an encore performance on the elimination show. Her name is Dilana, and she originally hails from South Africa. During her wild performance(s) of Nirvana's "Lithium", she seemed to be doing an imitation of the Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars episodes 3 and 6. She made the strongest impression this week. We'll soon find out if she has versatility.

As for the freakiest male: he's a bizarre-looking glam-goth creature named Lukas Rossi. His first performance (of Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell") did not impress me vocally, though he displays plenty of attitude. He has now shown himself to be something of a troublemaker as well, putting down some of his fellow contestants on camera, and trying to encourage others to do the same. Can you say "J.D. Fortune"? Lukas may not be the guaranteed winner of the contest, but it will be a long time before he is eliminated. Reality TV viewers just love (or love to hate) his type.

Some other standouts: a woman named Storm Large (her real name) opened the show with a bang with her confident performance of the Who's "Pinball Wizard". An Aussie named Toby Rand did well with Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", the song that was the kiss of death for the first season's first eliminated contestant. One contestant named Magni comes from Iceland, the land of the avant-garde, although his performance of the Stones' "Satisfaction" sounded rather ordinary. We'll see where he goes from here in the competition. Josh Logan seemed to make a good impression with the Black Crowes' "She Talks To Angels", although he sounded somewhat stilted to me. I'm interested in hearing how he does other songs. I was impressed by Jill Gioia's delivery of Janis Joplin's "Piece Of My Heart". We'll see if she can keep that up, or if she's merely this season's Deanna Johnston. I was also impressed by Zayra Alvarez's presentation of the Evanescence song "Bring Me To Life". The guys in Supernova seemed to like her, too, but I don't see her fitting in with them.

And now, for the three guys who landed in the bottom three. Chris Pierson fell flat on his face with his performance of the Police's "Roxanne". To be fair, that's a hard song to cover. If you try to sing it the same way Sting did, you'll sound silly. Chris tried it his own way, but his overheated arrangement had no feeling at all for the song. Phil Ritchie's performance of Living Colour's "Cult Of Personality" lacked the vocal power that the song requires. Matt Hoffer's performance of Coldplay's "Yellow" was actually quite good. He wasn't perfect, but he hit most of the notes right.

So who ended up being the first eliminatee? Matt Hoffer, who seemed to me to be the most talented of the three. His fatal mistake was choosing a Duran Duran song ("Planet Earth") for his elimination night performance. He did fine with it, but come on -- those three Supernova guys surely aren't looking for that. He may still have a future in the business; if not, he's got a degree in Finance to fall back on. I'm not worried about the guy.

Song selection (which Tommy Lee stressed as an important thing) saved the other two guys -- for now. Phil Ritchie was fortunate enough to pick a song (Switchfoot's "Stars") that Tommy liked, but Phil's vocals still failed to impress. Chris Pierson picked a Doors song ("L.A. Woman") to redeem himself. His performance was adequate, but he still has more to prove. Oddly enough, his vocals resembled those of the Cult's Ian Astbury, who replaced Jim Morrison in the 21st century Doors reunion. As far as stage presence, he resembled Michael Hutchence more than he resembled Morrison. Wrong season, Chris!

It will be interesting to see how this season shapes up. One thing I hope will be improved is the official website, which is difficult to use. It seems to give the option to turn off the intrusive background music, but it doesn't work! Fixing that problem would help immensely.

Official site:


Lynne said…
I liked Phil. Chris needs to go SOON.
Missed the first show so can't comment on any except Storm Large because I watched her perfomance online. She rocks!