Rating the Rock & Role Reversals on an NBC Series

By Evan Serpick
Updated May 16, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Michelle Branch as Lesley Gore ”You Don’t Own Me” Branch is one of the few musicians with lines. Big mistake. She acts worse than she sings. C-

Usher as Marvin Gaye ”Can I Get a Witness” Usher’s stated obsession with Gaye pays off: He’s got the singer’s smile, tilted head, and boundless energy. A-

Ashanti as Dionne Warwick ”Walk On By” The pride of Murder Inc. conveys the Motown era’s stilted stage moves, but she can’t carry Warwick’s tune. C —

B2K as The Temptations ”My Girl” The hip-hop boy band turns in a surprisingly faithful, nuanced rendition, with black-rim specs and laughable wigs. B

India.Arie as Nina Simone ”Come Ye” Arie doesn’t sound like Simone, but when it’s this good, who cares? And Arie’s bothered swagger is dead-on. A —

LeAnn Rimes as Connie Francis ”Where the Boys Are” Rimes is the perfect belter to channel Francis, in all her glass-shattering glory. B+

Duncan Sheik as Bobby Darin ”Beyond the Sea” As the lounge-y singer, Sheik is dull. C As the arrogant backstage jerk, he’s a genius. A

Nick Carter as Jay of Jay and the Americans ”Come a Little Bit Closer” It may seem impossible, but Carter is even dorkier than the ’60s crooner. C

Wayne Brady as Jackie Wilson ”Baby Workout” No surprise that the only TV regular here does the best acting — but he’s also a great singer. B+

Vanessa Carlton as Dusty Springfield ”Wishin’ and Hopin”’ Carlton brings a bit too much of her swinging hips and vocal tricks to the part. B —

Vivian Green as Brenda Halloway ”Every Little Bit Hurts” The little-known soul siren (and Jill Scott backup singer) nails Halloway’s allure. A —

Third Eye Blind as the Kinks ”All Day and All of the Night” The rockers capture none of the Kinks’ energy and, for that matter, few of their notes. D