06 July 2006

Heavy Metal Bake Sale

Against my better judgment, I started watching Rock Star: Supernova. I really enjoyed VH1's Supergroup and I figured Rock Star would be a similar venture. It is, but it is also highly similar to American Idol -- both shows are glorified karaoke contests. Not that there's anything wrong with karaoke; I've done it a few times myself and it's fun, especially when you get to follow somebody who's memorably bad and then everybody thinks you're Robert Plant, provided you don't screw your selection up too horribly.

But anyhoo, on Rock Star, the goal is to win the singer slot in a nascent supergroup which consists of Gilby Clarke, Jason Newsted and Tommy Lee. The three stooges here have a hard rock/metal background, which means that the contestants should probably try and sing as much hard rock and metal as they can, and sing it well. Furthermore, image is a consideration, so the contestants need to look halfway comfortable on stage and perhaps most crucially, they need to look as if they actually belong on stage with Guns 'n' Motleytallica, er, I mean, "SUPERNOVA."

So naturally, in each and every contestant's introductory segment, they all glared and glowered at the camera, or else they stared soulfully into the middle distance, or they strode purposefully down dingy alleyways. Most of 'em did all three. You know, to exude street cred. They also all mentioned how rock they were. If you made a drinking game and took a swig of an alcoholic beverage each time one of the hopefuls said the word "rock" or any of its little friends (i.e., "rocked," "rockin'," "rocker"), you would die of alcohol poisoning before the second commercial break.

Fact: If you have to constantly tell people how rock 'n' roll you, or your outlook, or your attitude, or your way of life is? You ain't a rock star. You're a douche bag.

So the format goes something like this: Each singer picks a song, performs it with the house band (named "House Band") and then Supernova, plus producer Butch Walker (nice guy, but most of the stuff he works on is pop fluff) and host Dave Navarro (and seriously: these other guys are all sell-outs to some degree, but they have nothing on Uberwhore Navarro) offer criticism.

Keep in mind, this is supposedly a hard rock band. So does anybody bust out some Black Sabbath? Does anybody play a Motorhead track? AC/DC? Soundgarden? Pantera? Does anybody attempt a note-perfect Judas Priest cover, which would easily prove that you have vocal chops and a passing familiarity with metal? Negatory, good buddy.

The first singer, a lady named Storm Large (!!), did a decent version of "Pinball Wizard" while eye-fucking the camera every time it was pointed at her, which leads me to think she spends more time perfecting her come-hither looks than her vocal scales, but, well, heh heh, she is kind of hot, so I'll let her slide.

After that, a little sissy bitch named Ryan Star (not to be confused with the Ryan Starr who was on American Idol and then The Surreal Life) sang "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls, which kind of set the tone for the male contestants. Badass Ryan also spends a lot of time with a scowl on his face, as if he's just so ready to beat the living shit out of somebody, anybody -- but remember: he sang a fucking Goo Goo Dolls song. Dude, if you perform anything by them, you might as well tattoo the word "pussy" on your forehead.

Speaking of foreheads, there's an ugly little homunculus named Lukas something-or-other who bellowed a gruesomely affected Billy Idol song ("Rebel Yell?" I forget). Naturally, Navarro loved it.

Some unfortunate no-talent -- who would later, without the slightest hint of irony, refer to himself as one of the best singers in the world -- did a radically reworked version of noted hard rock staple "Roxanne" by the Police and thoroughly fucked it up. To his credit, Gilby told him it sucked.

A Pueto Rican goth chick sang that Evanescence song that everybody's sick of and made a hash of it, but since she too is kinda hot, Supernova graciously overlooked her vocal shortcomings. Navarro tried to bond with her by habla-ing some espanol and he sounded like the whitest Latino ever, which, of course, he is. Shut it, Dave.

One semi bright spot was Danila (sp?), a woman from Texas via South Africa who did a highly mannered version of "Lithium." She sounds just like Tina Turner, of all people, and when she rocks out -- take a swig! -- rather than try to bump and grind like the other chicks, she runs around and stomps and twitches. This will probably become very tiring after a few episodes, but beggars can't be choosers.

After the show as over, America voted and three douche bags were put in the hot seat. Each picked another song and then the Supernova brain trust voted on who would get the axe. The guy they booted was some geek from Chicago whose redemption song was, ahem, "Planet Earth" by Duran Duran. I don't think he understood the nuances of the show.

I'll keep watching this train wreck for now, if only to smirk at what are certain to be many more ridiculous song choices, as well as to enjoy the Hot Topic-flavored pulchritude of some of the female contestants. And I think at least once, I will play that drinking game I just invented and see what happens.

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