”Rock Star”: Britpop death wish
Here’s a tip: If you’re auditioning for a supergroup of metal vets, it’s probably wise not to sing any James Taylor, or Alicia Keys, or Keith Urban, or Barry Manilow, or Duran freakin’ Duran. A stylistic changeup like that is not an iconoclastic, ironic, punk-rock move; it’s just a bonehead play. And that’s why doe-eyed crooner Matt Hoffer was the first of this season’s Rock Star finalists to be sent packing.
When even Tommy Lee wakes up long enough to tell you that it’s all about song choice, you should listen. At the end of Wednesday’s premiere, you’ll recall, poor song choice had already left Chris, Phil, and Magni in the bottom three in early voting. On Thursday’s elimination show, cohost Brooke Burke announced that, at some point during the voting, Zayra and Ryan had also been at the bottom, but by the conclusion of the voting, the least popular singers were Chris, Phil, and Matt.
You could forgive the contestants somewhat for their choices on Wednesday; after all, the 15 singers had exactly 15 songs to choose from, so somebody was going to get stuck trying to emulate Sting’s falsetto in ”Roxanne,” as Chris was. But on Thursday, with a chance to redeem themselves by singing whatever they wanted, Chris and Phil chose songs that helped prove their rock-star cred. Matt, alas, did not.
Chris chose the Doors’ ”L.A. Woman,” a more conventional song that more comfortably fit his lower register, and while his performance wasn’t going to make anyone forget Jim Morrison, it was enough to make you forget Chris’ bleating Police cover. Phil also chose a song more melodically and rhythmically simple than his Wednesday cover of Living Colour’s ”Cult of Personality.” Although the Supernova pros were still left doubting his stage presence, he made Switchfoot’s ”Stars” a stronger vocal showcase. And then it was Matt’s turn.
Oh, Matt, Matt, Matt: Your Wednesday cover of Coldplay’s ”Yellow” was lovely, but the judges told you to follow it with something ”ugly” to show your metal chops, to ”bring the rock,” and what do you do? You dig deeper into the Britpop catalog and sing Duran Duran’s ”Planet Earth.” Jason Newsted was shaking his head at your self-sabotaging decision; so was Zayra, who must have been counting her lucky stars that she didn’t have to answer yet for her goat-like vocals on Evanescence’s ”Bring Me to Life.” There was no real suspense as the band voted you out.
Ah, but let’s not dwell on Matt’s folly. Let’s remember instead the searing vocals of Dilana, whose unearthly rendition of Nirvana’s ”Lithium” on Wednesday was so good that Lee, Newsted, and Gilby Clarke asked her to reprise it on Thursday. Second time through, her vocals again sent a scary chill down my spine. I still don’t think she can dance, but she certainly brought the rock.
What do you think of the judges’ decision? Who’ll be the next to go? And are you buying Dilana’s evil-scarecrow act, or do you have another favorite among the remaining 14?