Rock Star: INXS 7/11/05 Recap – How to Become a Superstar in Three Months!
Hello, ladies and gentlemen, punks and metal-heads, glam-rockers and fist-pumpers everywhere! Welcome to rock and roll’s latest foray into the world of television, Rock Star: INXS. My name is Manny, and it is my pleasure to help ring in this new show with you. Just for the occasion, I’ve dyed my hair pink, slipped into some leather pants, and inexplicably smashed an expensive guitar to bits. Why, you ask? Because I love rock and roll. Yeow! (This is why we’re not a webcam site, folks.)
This isn’t the first time rock and TV have met, eyed one another, shook hands, and formed a controversial partnership. Elvis caused a sensation by shaking his pelvis on television, America learned of a little group called the Beatles thanks to an unforgettable, televised performance, children everywhere learned how to use proper grammar through Schoolhouse Rock, and now, legendary Aussie rock band INXS will find a new lead singer. For those of you who are too young to remember—or were too busy listening to Air Supply in the ‘80s—here’s a quick refresher course on INXS.
Introducing the Band
INXS learned their rock chops in the pubs of Australia, which set them apart from the other new wave bands of the 1980s. Instrumentally, the band is Garry Beers on bass guitar; Kirk Pengilly on guitar, sax, and looking odd; Andrew Farriss on keyboards; Jon Farriss on drums; and Tim Farriss on guitar. Hmm. I wonder if they’re brothers?
INXS possessed a tight, stylish groove reminiscent of the Rolling Stones, and the vocals were handled by the charismatic, inimitable Michael Hutchence. With their 1987 album, Kick, the band rose to worldwide stardom that rivaled U2 in popularity and multi-platinum-selling success. Tragically, the band’s career was stopped in its tracks in 1997, when singer Michael Hutchence committed suicide. INXS was sidelined . . . until now. Now, in a three-month audition process, INXS will choose a new lead singer from fifteen wannabes who have nothing but rock & roll dreams and crazy hair. This is . . . Rock Star!
So You Wanna be a Rock & Roll Superstar?
It’s all so poetic. As the show begins, our fifteen contestants find themselves walking up a path to a stylish Hollywood mansion, acoustic guitars strapped to their backs and stars in their eyes. They could not have simply stumbled here by chance. As they eye the pool, manicured grounds, and spoilings of the rock star life, they are clearly hungry for more. “Ooooh, incredible!” sighs one of the ladies. With that, hostess Brooke Burke enters the scene. “Ooooh, incredible!” sigh the guys.
Ms. Burke welcomes the contestants to the mansion and outlines the process of the competition. They will be competing, through a series of performances, to become the new lead singer for INXS. We knew that. But wait! Is that . . . music coming from the mansion? Brooke informs the contestants that it’s INXS, themselves, jamming, but there is a special guest inside who will be very helpful to them. As they peer in the door, we see the guitar-wielding special guest is . . . Satan!
Just kidding. Why, it’s Dave Navarro, from Jane’s Addiction! The guys wrap up their jamming to wild applause from the contestants, and Dave explains that he will be here to help the contestants out, as he’s been in their shoes during his career. Dave briefly joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the mid ‘90s, so he, too, was the newbie in a well-oiled machine. “If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, I’m your guy to come to.” says Dave. Well, I’m sure parents everywhere are resting much easier now.
However, there’s no time to relax, as Brooke announces the contestants will be putting on their first performances tonight! They will be judged by INXS and Dave Navarro, and they will be performing in front of a live audience at The Mayan, where INXS played their final gig. No pressure. Oh, and they will be leaving in one hour. Panic in the streets of London!
Have YOU Taken Care of Your Voice Today?
The contestants are all very nervous and fly about the house to get dressed and prepared. Also during this time, they get the first opportunity to meet and greet their fellow rockers. Let’s meet them, too, shall we?
Wil, aged 28, is a musician from Pasadena, California. The ladies will surely love him for his purty looks.
Neal, from Queens, New York, is 29 years old and is a musician/”administrative coordinator.” Now, androgyny is not exactly head-turning in rock, but this guy seems to be aiming for Mick Jagger and pushing Jobriath.
Jessica, who’s 25 and hails from Chicago, Illinois, works as a barista by day and a musician by night. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Brandon, 31, works as a recruiter in Beaverton, Michigan. He apparently enjoys looking insane and taking a long pounding-of-the-acoustic-guitar on the beach by moonlight.
J.D. is also 31, hails from Oakville, Ontario, and is a musician. He’s intensely dedicated to winning and has apparently lived out of his car for Lord-knows-how-long.
Tara, from Toronto, Ontario, is 31 years old and a musician (I see a comforting trend here). Uh . . . she has red streaks in her hair and obviously doesn’t enjoy the camera, as I have no notes on her.
Deanna, 36 years old, hails from Reseda, California, and works as a musician.
Not to be confused with Dana, who is a 30-year-old musician, bartender, and yoga instructor in Studio City, California.
Heather, aged 27, hails from Atlanta, Georgia and works as a musician/bartender/nanny. Clearly a free spirit as further evidenced by her plenteous tattoos and bohemian style.
MiG, 36 years old and originally from Sydney, Australia, now works as a musician in London. Heh—and all this time you thought Ziggy Stardust wasn’t a real person. . . .
Ty, also 36 and from Las Vegas, Nevada, works as a musician and sports a wicked awesome mohawk. I think he will definitely be a fan favorite.
Jordis, from St. Paul, Minnesota, is the baby of the competition at 22, and works as a musician, waitress, and bartender.
Daphna, 29, hails from Los Angeles, California and works as a musician/legal secretary. She bears more than a casual resemblance to Siouxsie Sioux.
Marty is from Chicago, is 31 years of age, and works as a musician/real estate appraiser. At the same time, I wonder? Marty sports long blond hair and a raspy voice, and finds time to talk with. . . .
Suzie, who is a 28-year-old musician from Toronto, Ontario. Suzie, upon hearing Marty’s speaking voice, doesn’t even let the guy finish his sentence before speaking of polyps and nodes, and recommends that he gets his voice checked out. Marty thinks it’s a little strange, as do I.
With that, it’s time to head off to The Mayan and kick out the jams, m-agnificent readers. Hey, did you notice what’s missing? Two weeks of bad audition footage!
Here We Are Now, Entertain Us
The stage is set, the band—not INXS, but a group of talented players, nonetheless—is warmed up, the house is packed, and the people are jumpin’. It’s time for the performances to begin! INXS and Dave sit in a raised area behind the crowd, and Brooke announces each performer.
To kick things off, Jordis opens with The Who’s classic, “Baba O’Riley.” From the moment the instantly-recognizable electronic opening begins, Jordis commands the stage, and everyone is blown away when she begins singing. Jordis has a tasteful, slightly soulful voice that just, well . . . rocks! As the number ends, Dave remarks, “Well, we’ve found her. The end!”
Marty, though nervous about following Jordis, is up second and delivers an energetic rendition of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” Despite what Suzie may have thought, his voice sounds fine to me, but Wil thinks he’s “A little clichéd.” Perhaps because Marty’s gone from meek and mild to a borderline rock psycho? The judges like it, however, and the crowd loves the performance and wild eyes.
Next, Tara steps on stage and belts out The Pretenders’ “Middle of the Road.” Dave loves it, and one of the Farriss guys (I need another week before I’ll be able to tell them apart) remarks that she has a voice that can cut anything.
Neal remarks backstage that when he hits the stage it’s “sex and rock.” What, no drugs? Neal sings the Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” and everyone goes wild when he starts shaking his skinny lil’ hips. I suspect that 1950s guys everywhere are appalled, though.
Daphna charms the judges and audience alike with her rendition of Blondie’s “One Way or Another,” so much so that Dave holds up a sign that says “What’s your number?” This from the man who’s married to Carmen Electra, ladies and gentlemen.
Ty, backstage, gives props to his fellow contestants thus far, but tells us that he’s about to raise the bar. Can he do it? As he launches into Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality,” I think Dave and the band certainly agree! Ty gives a spectacular performance, throwing his soulful voice into acrobatic runs. The crowd goes insane and all of the contestants suddenly look a bit nervous.
Next up is Dana, who has decided to slow things down with Bob Dylan’s classic, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” which has been covered by everyone and their mother. Deanna sounds okay; a little off-pitch in places, but she shocks everyone when she breaks out into some sort of demonic howl midway through the song. Melodramatic, to say the least! Dave remarks that the growl in question was sexy for about five seconds, but then it became uncomfortable.
Deanna takes the stage, and she’s performing Janis Joplin’s timeless “Take Another Little Piece of my Heart.” Her voice is great, and she really works the crowd. INXS bassist Garry is very impressed, and says she could easily take the job tomorrow.
MiG, also a nervous one backstage, comes out to perform a truly archetypal rock song, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Dave, one of Nirvana’s generational peers, notes that it’s a tricky song as the guitarist begins strumming the familiar riff, and MiG is off and singing. Though he has a very nice voice, it’s never necessarily a good idea to take on Kurt Cobain, because you’ll rarely win. The crowd loves it, but Dave is not convinced.
Jessica follows with a performance of Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.” Coincidence? I think not. Jessica has a very low voice and certainly shows off her “Celebrity Skin.” INXS and all the guys in the audience enjoy it.
Next up is Wil, who performs David Bowie’s slow-burner epic, “Heroes.” He definitely decides to try to connect with all the ladies in the audience, and he’s got one particular cougar gazing right in his dreamy eyes. Or whatever his eyes may be. The all-male INXS isn’t necessarily impressed.
Now Heather is up, who chooses to perform the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.” Drummer Jon Farriss likes her style, noting that she’s “funky” and “her own person.”
Bare-footed Brandon takes the stage following Heather, and runs around, stomps, and belts out KISS’s “Rock and Roll All Nite.” The crowd loves it; Brandon is a larger-than-life performer.
J.D., the penultimate performer, opts to sing The Guess Who’s “American Woman,” and he certainly has some unique stage moves. He sort of twitches constantly, and grabs the hair of a woman near the stage. Hmmm. “I think he’s high on energy,” says Tim Farriss. “I think he looks possessed!” says Dave. I think the moody drifter here might be high on something other than adrenaline, but that’s just me.
To close out the first night of performances, it’s up to Suzie to take us out with The Black Crowes’ “Remedy.” She comes out displaying a lot of personality and stage presence . . . too bad she misses her entrance. This throws her off enough to come in with the second verse first, and, well . . . let’s say it’s a good thing she can sing. She manages to recover the performance pretty nicely.
And that’s it! Not a bad intro to the contestants; not bad at all. Everyone takes a bow as the audience gives everyone a standing ovation. Never mind that they’ve been standing the whole time.
Some Great Reward
Upon returning to the mansion, it’s all chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne, shrimp cocktail . . . you know—the good life. The contestants relax, chat and laugh together, and much alcohol is downed on this merry day.
Meanwhile, INXS is busily deliberating in the wake of the debut performances. No groundbreaking thoughts, as there were two obviously sub-par performances in Dana and Suzie, but you can tell that the bandmates have been around the block as they offer many thoughtful comments. And hallelujah—they’re not all spouting cheesy, scripted lines while one of them drunkenly flails about.
As INXS sorts through photos, the party at the mansion takes a short, four-hour break, until our rockers wake up and the revelry resumes. The contestants join in an impromptu jam session, with Brandon strumming on the guitar and everyone else joining in some great harmonies. The contestants are getting along very well—Heather remarks that it’s like church . . . with alcohol. During the jamming, Daphna breaks out into a tribute song for her dad, who passed away about a month ago. Everyone is touched by the song, and there are hugs all around.
INXS Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam
Later, the contestants and Brooke gather in a room of the mansion with Dave and Tim Farriss, and it’s obvious what time it is. Tomorrow, there are fourteen songs to perform; one for each of the contestants. Since there are fifteen contestants at present, that means it’s time to say good-bye to one of them. Before getting down to it, Dave and Tim have a few contestants to address. “Ty,” says Tim, “Incredible performance.”
“Phenomenal!” adds Dave. “You were like a superhero up there.” Ty grins widely.
Deana is also given praise for a great performance from Tim, with Dave chiming in that he had to take a cold shower after her performance, but the news is not so good for MiG, who takes some flack for his song choice. Dave says that the song wasn’t good for his range—the verses were too low and the chorus was too high—and MiG says in confessional that he was mortified to hear such comments.
Now, it’s time for business. Pulling no tricks, Tim says that everyone but three performed adequately to move on with no problems, and the three in question are J.D., Dana, and Suzie. J.D., Tim believes, looked very nervous on stage and was channeling his energy in too reckless a manner. “There are some lines you don’t cross,” he says. Hmm, such as pulling someone’s hair? However, the band is going to give him another chance.
So it’s between Suzie and Dana. Dana, Tim feels, would need the most work over the three-month audition process. As for Suzie . . . well, she forgot the words. No surprises there. However, Suzie has one trump card to play over Dana, and that’s her more polished vocal ability. Thus . . . Dana will be leaving the competition. Dave and Tim wish her all the best, and Dana feels very grateful for this experience.
Oh! Well, That’s Different
But wait! There’s one slight surprise before the episode ends. Brooke leads the contestants into another room to choose their songs for next week, and they learn of the catch. There are fourteen different songs in the room, and they have to decide among themselves who will be singing each song. Will there be blood? Just by glancing at some of the titles available next week, it looks as though it will be a doozy . . . “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash, “Somebody to Love” by Queen, and “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana? I’ll certainly be watching excitedly tomorrow, and I hope to see you there!
Can’t get those guitar riffs out of your head, either? Tell me about it at Mantenna@fansofrealitytv.com