Rock Star: INXS 7/12/05 Recap: Elvis may be Dead, but Rock and Roll is Alive and Well
Welcome back to the hardest-rockin’ show on television, ladies and gentlemen . . . it’s time for our next batch of performances on Rock Star: INXS! Brooke Burke walks out on the stage of the Mayan Theatre to a chorus of cheers from the audience, and the air crackles with a tangible, electric excitement. This show has great performers, a phenomenal backing band, knowledgeable judges, and a hot hostess—for what more could you ask? A life-size model of Stonehenge?
Brooke welcomes everyone to tonight’s show and gives a brief recap of yesterday’s episode. If you’d like a not-so-brief recap of yesterday’s episode, just click here. In short, INXS, the celebrated Australian rock band who has sold over 30 million albums, is looking for a new lead singer. Tonight, fourteen of the best unsigned rockers in the world will be performing rock & roll classics in front of the judges—INXS themselves and Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction—but tonight, the world will be able to vote for their favorites for the first time and help INXS decide the ultimate winner! So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get rockin’! *fires cannon*
Soaring, Dancing, and Crawling like an Animal
Tonight’s first performer is the tattooed, bright-haired Heather, who will be covering Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Heather looks much more stylish tonight and launches into the song with powerful, soulful vocals that definitely resemble Grace Slick’s. Though Heather hangs just under the pitch in a few spots, it’s definitely a crowd-pleasing performance and kicks off the show nicely.
“Great job!” lauds Dave, though he also notes that her vocals were a bit “loose” on the top. Jon Farriss, drummer of INXS, adds that while yesterday she was funky, tonight she was simply rockin’, and that shows off her diversity.
Following is Marty, who is dressed in a hip, dressy slacks/vest/hat ensemble, and he will be taking on Franz Ferdinand’s beloved hit, “Take Me Out.” Marty’s voice sounds very nice, though he adds a slightly distracting fake accent. However, his performance is nearly as stylish and angular as Alex Kapranos, himself . . . the only thing Marty’s missing is a Scottish birth certificate. The crowd goes wild when he starts the robotic dance moves.
Dave commends Marty as a man who knows how to work the room, and saxophonist/guitarist Kirk Pengilly praises Marty for better pitching than last night’s performance. (Yes, he got twice the strikeouts tonight . . . yuk yuk!)
The next performer of the night is Daphna, and oh my, is she one sizzling goth mama tonight. She has chosen to cover The Doors’ “People are Strange,” and she infuses the song with a delicious, dark trashiness that would have made Jim Morrison proud. Her vocals shift from sultry to raw as the song progresses, creating a great contrast. I just hope she has a voice left in two years’ time! She makes one guy in the audience’s day for sure when she removes her leather top hat and places it on his head.
Commending Daphna for a great performance, Dave is equally impressed with her style tonight. “You know, Jim Morrison was known to expose himself during performances,” he winks. INXS guitarist Tim Farriss recommends that Daphna let her bee-yoo-tee-ful face show from behind her wild hair when she performs, and Jon cautions her to watch her pitch when she pushes her voice into the near-scream.
Yo, Dawg, That Was Hawt, Dude! You Made it Your Own, and . . . What? I’m Just Not Cool Anymore?
Now it’s Suzie’s turn on the stage, and she will be singing Blondie’s mega-hit “Call Me.” Can she prove her poise after forgetting the words last night? Why yes, yes she can. Suzie gives a sassy, strong vocal performance that is at once her own style and a nice homage to Debbie Harry. A vast improvement!
Dave applauds Suzie for having every lyric rock-solid, and Tim notes that now they’re hearing her full potential—and it’s great! “A ballsy choice,” chimes keyboardist Andrew Farriss, “but you pulled through, and it was amazing.”
Barefoot Brandon is out next, performing The Black Crowes’ “Hard to Handle,” and let’s just say he hasn’t mellowed out any since the last time we saw him. His vocals are spot-on, and he’s added a new trick to his arsenal of stage moves—wooing girls in the audience! The girl in question couldn’t look happier, and Brandon turns in a great performance with a song that suits him perfectly.
Clearly a fan of energetic performances and no shoes, Dave gives Brandon props. Kirk sums it up with a simple “Fantastic!”
Last night, a performance of a Nirvana song was met with frowns from the judges, and now another song by the mighty, mighty Aberdeen trio will be performed tonight—the chilling, dissonant “Heart-Shaped Box.” Can judge and fan favorite Jordis pull it off? Icy-cool Jordis, for being the youngest performer in the competition, certainly has a seasoned stage presence. She tackles the song almost effortlessly, her emotional vocals bringing a unique flavor to the stunning performance. She does Kurt, Dave, and Krist proud, and I think we have one to watch, ladies and gentlemen!
Dave applauds Jordis’ performance as being completely herself, rather than someone trying to be Kurt Cobain. Kirk says that he loves Jordis’ style, and Tim says he was blown away, adding “I think I love you!” with a grin.
How to Suck all the Energy From a Room Without Really Trying
Our next performer left his job of performing six nights a week in the London company of the musical We Will Rock You to pursue his dreams of stardom. It’s MiG, and he’s looking to rebound from his so-so performance last night with a rendition of The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night.” I love the Kinks’ classic, crunchy sound, and MiG does the style proud with a terrific performance. His vocals are, once again, very polished, and this time he’s singing in a more comfortable range. I notice his vocals don’t suffer one bit from all his jumping about and dancing, either!
“Right on the money,” says Dave, who confirms that he’s conquered his past performance. INXS bassist Garry Beers notes that MiG has made the progression from the stage to rock quite nicely, and Tim sums it up by stating, “You nailed that one.”
Last night, Deanna forced Dave Navarro to take a cold shower with her Janis Joplin soul singing, but can she do it again tonight with a cover of the only band that matters, The Clash? As she breaks out into the classic stomper, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” it’s obvious that she’s here to rock the casbah, and she possesses a very unique range . . . it sounds as though she’s singing about two octaves lower than Joe Strummer did! The performance is positively spilling with that classic punk energy, and the crowd and Deanna’s fellow contestants alike go nuts. They like her; they really like her!
Dave remarks that Deanna looks like a tiny, little bunny rabbit, but she has the voice of a lion. Rowr! Dave’s tattooed arms have chills. Garry says that she nailed a song that’s very precious to INXS, and Tim declares that Deanna’s not going anywhere.
Next up is Wil, who did a fine job of turning David Bowie’s masterpiece, “Heroes,” into a heart-throb crooner piece. In case you’re wondering, no, that’s not a compliment. Tonight, he’s taking on Jesus Jones’ “Right Here, Right Now,” and the moment he opens his mouth, all of the energy that Deanna built up with her number escapes like air from a punctured balloon. He makes “Conjunction, Conjunction, What’s Your Function” sound positively anthemic in comparison. Yeah, disappointing, to say the least.
“Wil, the ladies seem to enjoy you,” says Dave, as Wil grins a cheesy grin, “but I think you missed an opportunity to take it up in the chorus.” Jon adds that they wanted more from him tonight. Step aside, Enrique!
Now, even though she doesn’t have the benefit of thousands of screaming Japanese teenagers, it’s Jessica’s turn to hit the stage, and she’s singing Cheap Trick’s classic, “I Want You to Want Me.” Now, I know that rock & roll is supposed to be provocative, but Jessica’s performance seems to be more about the sexuality than the music, with her shimmying around amidst some dubious pitch. Regardless, it’s hard to completely wreck such a great song, and she makes the wise decision to acknowledge the incredible house band that’s backing all of the contestants tonight. And let me tell you, folks—these guys are amazing. Forget Jessica; yay band!
Dave and Garry (both instrumentalists, you know) are both pleased to see Jessica give the band some props, but Andrew suggests she concentrate more on delivering a knockout vocal performance next time.
From a “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” to “Raw Power” in less than a Minute
Tara, a judges’ favorite last night, chooses to perform The Eagles’ old chestnut, “Take it Easy.” Now, there are two sides to The Eagles—the peaceful, strum-strum-acoustic guitar side, and then there’s the rockin’ Joe Walsh side. Where will Tara stand in the spectrum? It seems she’s going the more polite route, and, interestingly, she doesn’t bother to change the lyrics of the song at all, so she sings “It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.” Guys in the audience are undoubtedly either titillated or horribly crestfallen.
Hearing this interesting bit with the lyrics, Dave immediately perks up as he ponders the implications of this. More bluntly, Tim exclaims, “I’m not even sure which way you swing!” Andrew remarks that the country-rock feel fits her so well that he’s not sure whether we’re rockin’ or now doing country. Methinks Tara is a bit out of her league.
Now it’s time for our next performance of the evening, and . . . oh my gosh, it’s Iggy Pop! Wait, wait, no . . . it’s just a shirtless Neal. Pass the eye-bleach, please! Neal performs Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” and I’m not sure if he sounds good or not. Frankly, I’m too disturbed by watching his half-naked gyrations around the stage. Unfortunately for Neal, he’s going to need some dance lessons and collagen lip injections before he can be like his apparent idol, Mick Jagger. Neal’s just a tad too “karaoke” for my taste, but the crowd loves it.
Dave says Neal’s performance was great, but after performing The Stones and CCR, he might consider picking a more melody-centered song next time. Kirk jokes that he loves Neal’s shirt, and Jon gives him a thumbs-up for “communicating” with the audience.
Clash of Titans!
Ty, the man of the golden voice, sharp clothes, and flashy mohawk, is now up on stage, and he has chosen—oddly enough—Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” for his performance. Once again, Ty delivers a smashing rendition, complete with high, wailing passages, a flawless a cappella section, and dramatic collapses to the floor. It’s obvious that Ty can sing anything, and he is rewarded by a frenzy of cheers from the crowd, Jon Farriss getting up and shakin’ what his mama gave him, and a standing ovation from several members of INXS. Not too shabby!
“Awesome!” exclaims Dave, who was particularly impressed by the a cappella section. Tim declares that Ty has nailed it again, and his mohawk, or “shark,” would be a hit in Australia.
Finally, J.D. will close out the night of performances with the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” “What!?” you may be asking? “What sort of a ‘rock’ song is that folksy thing?” Well, J.D. has arranged the piece, himself, and he has done a bloody fine job of it! His deep voice blends perfectly with the new, crashing rendition of the song, and though he plays to the crowd, he restrains himself from grabbing anyone’s hair by keeping one hand firmly behind his back. He’s also toned down the spastic dance moves, and the result is an energized, entertaining, and utterly awesome performance.
“You toned it down, and your performance was 100% better as a result,” praises Dave. Garry commends him for taking control and arranging the song, and Tim concurs, stating that he has completely turned it around in one night.
The Coda: It’s Time to Vote
With that, all of our performances are finished, and now it’s time for the world to help INXS choose their new lead singer. Tomorrow, the three lowest vote-getters will have the opportunity to perform one more time, and INXS will make the final call as one more potential rock superstar will be sent home. You won’t want to miss it!
I want you . . . to want . . . me! Mantenna@fansofrealitytv.com