(Sorry for the length, folks - but this was one helluva show to write about.)
So, I’m on my way out of the studio at the end of Sunday’s Live Performance Taping when I run into Executive Producer Dave Goffin. I say, “AWESOME show, dude!” And he replies, “Thanks! We’re really trying to crank it up.”
Are they EVAH!!! The show was TIGHT, the House Band was HOT, the audience was ROCKIN’ – and the Rockers really BROUGHT IT! But I’m getting ahead of myself…
We started out with some Mansion footage of Magni’s family visit (awwwww...), followed by this week’s Song Selection Drama. The Rockers were informed that Gilby would be playing on Won’t Get Fooled Again – yet no one but Dilana seemed willing to take the song. Well, Mr. Dave Navarro had some choice comments to make about that, saying that he was “stunned” that nobody but Dilana wanted the song and that he found it “insulting”. “If it were up to me,” he said, “Dilana would win this thing right now.” Tommy tried to lighten the mood a bit by mock-threatening the Rockers: “Don’t make us come over there!” But Dave maintained that he was “seriously freaking” about their lack of drive. The groundwork having been laid, it was time for Gilby to take the stage.
Dilana – Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who) – with Gilby on guitar
Another awesome performance by Dilana. Unlike the others who have performed with the SN guys in the past weeks, she looked completely natural and in charge the whole time. There was no bumping & grinding – just some nice, unforced interaction and a great moment when she shared the mic with Gilby. Dave led off the praise, saying that this didn’t look like an audition, it looked like a rock concert. He then commented to the other Rockers: “As if it didn’t suck to follow Dilana before.” Jason said that the moment when the two of them sang together belonged on the Rock Star Killer Moments list. And Gilby was ecstatic: “That was badass! After that, I have no doubt a woman can front this band.”
Jill – Mother Mother (Tracy Bonham)
Pity poor Jill. As Dave said, it sucks to follow Dilana. Though this would turn out to be one of Jill’s better performances – including a climactic jump down into the audience - it paled in comparison to what came immediately before. The judges all gave her props, however, with Dave saying her vocals were “killer” and Gilby saying that she “sang well and performed well”. Jason complimented her on her energy, but said that she lost part of her voice when doing all the physical stuff. Tommy thought it was the best performance he’s seen from her so far.
Ryan – Paint It Black (The Rolling Stones)
Who would have thought that Ryan (of all people) would top Zayra in the Most Theatrical Performance category tonight? Man, this was something else! He started back by the Supernova pod, dressed all in black with a feathered mane sticking out of the top of his hooded sweatshirt. After making his way through the crowd to the stage, he threw back the hood to reveal black shadow smeared in a band across his eyes. His performance from that point ranged all over the stage, including another jump off the drum riser. It was completely Over The Top – but I give him props for not aping Mick, either vocally or performance-wise. The judges, mouths hanging open, were besides themselves. Dave: "Wow! Ryan Star just showed us he is a contender." Tommy: "Where is the real Ryan Star and what have you done with him? I'm tripping right now." Gilby: "Over the past couple of weeks, your vocals have been killing it. Now your performance cranked it up." Jason: "It's a side of you we haven't seen before - that's why we're aghast."
Storm – We Are the Champions (Queen)
Storm takes on Queen and fortunately does not falter. It was, nevertheless, a somewhat surprising version of the song. It wasn't all in-your-face and anthemic, being more in line with her Changes of last week than her earlier performances. Dave said she did a "great job" and that it was "awesome". Tommy said she sang the hell out of it, but hoped they hadn't "spooked" her, because she's done 2 mellow(ish) songs back-to-back. Gilby stated that Storm and Dilana are the most vocally consistent; he then echoed Tommy's comments and hoped that Storm isn’t "forgetting" who she is. (She insisted that she isn't, but is just exploring different facets of herself.)
Zayra – All the Young Dudes (David Bowie/Mott the Hoople)
Everyone’s favorite space cadet toned it down a bit this week. Though she wore a skintight gold lame catsuit and a black top hat, she delivered the song with little of her Over-The-Top mannerisms. Dave started off by saying that, if this were Rock Star: Planet Pluto, she would win in a landslide. He did appreciate, however, how her performance harkened back to the Glam Era. Gilby was “diggin’ her showmanship”, but called her on being flat for most of the song. (Zayra explained that she can not hear herself through the floor monitors and that, if she had ear monitors, we would never hear another flat note out of her.) Tommy commented on her apparent confidence – before indulging in more sexual banter (by asking if her heels ever got caught in her hoop earrings.) Whereas Jason just wanted to know if she had “wow’d” herself.
Josh – Interstate Love Song (Stone Temple Pilots) – with Tommy on drums
In a surprise move, Tommy decided to join Josh on this performance and took his place at Nate’s drum kit. Unfortunately, Josh wasn’t able to take full advantage of the situation, as he was constrained by playing the electric guitar and remained fairly stationary. Vocally it sounded fine – but the whole thing still came off as a missed opportunity. Dave thought he “sang good”, but wondered whether “good” was good enough at this point in the competition. Tommy wished that Josh wasn’t playing the guitar, as it “freezes up [his] funk”. Gilby had high praise for Josh, however, saying that this was the song he has been waiting to hear from him. Meanwhile Jason told the rest of the Rockers to be on their toes – that surprises like Tommy (or all of them) deciding to play with them were bound to happen.
Magni – The Dolphin’s Cry (Live)
Following Josh on electric, we got Magni on acoustic guitar – playing solo, however, unaccompanied by the House Band. And he sounded terrific! I'm not familiar with the original, but I loved his version. It was a great vocal performance, with range, power, and a whole lot of intensity. The judges all sang his praises. Dave congratulated Magni on being the first to go completely solo. Tommy said, “That was killer, bro!” Jason called it “powerful” and “beautiful”. And Gilby said it was so good that next week, all the Rockers were going to have to “strip it down”.
Patrice – Instant Karma (John Lennon)
Patrice once again strapped on an electric guitar – giving us the third guitar-based performance in a row. She was unable to muster Magni’s intensity, however, and so her performance seemed, like Josh’s, to be limited by the guitar. At least she moved the mic stand out onto the catwalk at one point – which garnered her a lot of kudos from the judges. Both Dave & Gilby also commented on how the song choice was perfectly suited to her voice.
Lukas – Creep (Radiohead)
Like Tommy, can I just say “Hell YEAH!” Lukas Rossi is back! He pulled it all together and was just incredible tonight. His voice, his stage moves, his arrangement – everything was spot on. Dave and Supernova all gave him a Standing O. Dave asked, "Where has that guy been hiding? Unbelievable!" Tommy said he "got goosebumps". Gilby told Lukas that he caught him off-guard, that it was a "great, great surprise" and that he applauded him for it. And Jason said it was the first time that Lukas "used his gift" by opening up his voice properly. He went on to call it "beautiful" and "incredible". Well done, Lukas!
Toby – Burning Down the House (Talking Heads)
Toby faced the dual challenge of following Lukas and wrapping up the show. Thankfully, he did a great job – kicking all kinds of ass and delivering a super high-energy performance. Two-thirds of the way through, Zayra suddenly appeared on stage and handed Toby an Aussie-flag-draped megaphone. Toby proceeded to sing a verse through it, before blasting out a siren at the end of the song. The audience Ate. It. Up. So much so that Dave was roundly booed when he dissed the megaphone, saying it was cliché. Fortunately, none of the SN guys seemed to mind (that I could hear). Tommy said he would've liked the first verse to be in a lower register, but really liked what Toby did with the rest of the song. Gilby agreed, and thought it was Toby's best performance in several weeks. Jason said he "made it come alive" and praised Toby’s "up energy".
Well, there you have it! A Bottom 3 is kinda tough to call, but will probably be culled from the usual suspects: Zayra, Jill, Patrice, and Josh. But there is no doubt in my mind that Lukas will be getting the encore this week.