The ”Rock Star” finale: The band picks a winner
Finally, the Rock Star season is over, the band has chosen a singer, and I feel emotionally drained. I think I deserve a Verizon Chocolate phone for having watched every last minute of the season.
Tuesday’s final performance episode kicked off with ousted fan favorite Ryan Star returning to sing his ode to automotive sex, ”Back of Your Car.” Speaking of cars, it wouldn’t be a Mark Burnett show if somebody didn’t win one, so Ryan was awarded a Honda SUV like the one Toby won last week. Ryan took a moment to plug his new CD, Dark Horse (after Dave Navarro’s less-than-prophetic nickname for him), available at the Rock Star website. Don’t know how much he and the other contestants learned this season about fronting a band, but they sure seemed to have learned how to market themselves more effectively.
Speaking of branding lessons, Supernova learned one the hard way on Tuesday when a U.S. District Court judge ruled against them in a trademark-infringement suit filed by the ’90s punk trio of the same name. As a result, the new Tommy Lee-Jason Newsted-Gilby Clarke band won’t be allowed to tour, record, or sell merchandise under the name Supernova. The ruling doesn’t seem to have put a crimp in the new band’s winter touring schedule, but already on Wednesday, Brooke Burke and the contestants were taking pains not to say the word Supernova and to address the band as ”you boys.”
On Tuesday, each of the four finalists had to sing one cover and the original song he or she sang last week. Gilby complained that Toby’s cover of Radiohead’s ”Karma Police” got lost in the meandering melody, but the girls in the auditorium dug it, and they liked his original, ”Throw It Away” (easily the best of the contestants’ own tunes), with its now-familiar ”oh oh oh oh oh oh” hook, even more. Magni accompanied him on guitar, allowing joker Toby to scrawl his catchphrase ”evs” (his Aussie slang for ”whatever”) in Magic Marker on the back of Magni’s shaved scalp.
Lukas got stuck with this week’s wack track, Coldplay’s ”Fix You,” but he cannily chopped out most of the tune except for the loud coda. He followed that with his own ”Headspin,” which he performed this time as a solo acoustic guitar ballad. Dave praised the Lemur King in a roundabout way; spotting fellow music reality-show judge Paula Abdul in the audience, he said, ”It’s nice to see that when Paula Abdul wants to hear great singing, she comes to Rock Star: Supernova.” (Right, as if the Lemur King, with his two-tone spiked hair, eye shadow, and yowling rock vocal style, would last five minutes among the pop crooners at American Idol.) Dave added that he no longer questions whether Lukas has enough variety to keep paying audiences interested throughout a two-hour show.
Dilana sang a mesmerizing version of the Police’s ”Roxanne,” a song that tripped up Chris Pierson in the first week of the season, followed by her original anthem, ”Supersoul.” Backing her were the three remaining male contestants. ”Let’s hear it for my boyfriends,” she cooed. (Jason joked that they should wear matching outfits and have Lukas choreograph their steps.) I guess she had not only buried the hatchet with the others but had made them her love slaves as well. Waving a walking stick that looked like a scepter, she delivered the message that the guys were fine rockers, but she was the queen.
Magni closed Tuesday’s show with a set that included an incendiary version of Deep Purple’s ”Hush” that was the only performance of the night that had me dancing in my living room. (Oh, c’mon, you were dancing too, and you know it.) Unfortunately, he had to follow it up with his ho-hum original, ”When the Time Comes.” Even Tommy, who’s been the Paula of this show, had to tell Magni he found the song forgettable.
Early voting on Tuesday saw Dilana ranked on top, followed by Toby, Lukas, and Magni. At the beginning of Wednesday’s finale, the bottom two, who had to defend themselves from immediate elimination on Wednesday, were Magni and Toby. Magni sang Jimi Hendrix’s ”Fire”; Toby tackled Billy Idol’s ”White Wedding.” Both were solidly professional performances that offered nothing special. Gilby said he wasn’t sure whether Magni was auditioning to front the band or to blend into the band; given the Icelandic singer’s willingness to play sideman to all his pals, it’s easy to see the judges’ confusion. To no one’s surprise, Magni was the first of the final four to get the boot.
The remaining three defended themselves with songs that had served them well earlier in the season. Lukas, resplendent in black (the best outfit the Lemur King has worn all season), sang the Verve’s indestructible ”Bittersweet Symphony.” Dilana made one last sales pitch for herself, saying, ”Lukas is amazing, and Toby is incredible, but I’m the one.” (Toby, for his part, claimed that he’d be even more energetic onstage after a few beers, and that he was the tallest of the final three. Big selling points, those.) Dilana returned to her barefoot-witch persona to bellow the Cranberries’ ”Zombie,” and Toby spat out an high-octane version of the Killers’ ”Somebody Told Me.” The judges duly noted his energy, height, and sex appeal — and then unceremoniously axed him, eliciting gasps of shock and much booing.
How to pick between Lukas and Dilana? Hatchet man Tommy said that, after much deliberation, the judges had decided…to abide by the will of the voting fans. And who earned the most votes? ”Lukas, you’re our boy,” said Tommy. ”Welcome.” The Lemur King celebrated his victory by fronting his new employers on two tracks we’d heard earlier this season, ”Be Yourself” and ”It’s All Love.” Magni joined in on acoustic guitar — see, Gilby was right! (Read my interview with Lukas.)
Of course, I think Dilana wuz robbed, no matter how the vote turned out. I imagine she’ll find consolation in the immediate offers from Gilby to write and produce an album for her and from Dave to play guitar on it. She could still become the Clay Aiken of this season, especially since, unlike Lukas, she doesn’t have to worry about what name her CD will come out under.
So, readers, what do you think? Did the band make the right choice? How will Dilana and the other also-rans do on their own? And what should the Artists Formerly Known as Supernova rename themselves?