With their bad choices (both in songs and in style) and back talk, some of the ''Rock Star: Supernova'' contestants seem to be asking to be eliminated

By Gary Susman
Updated July 13, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Chris Pierson: Monty Brinton
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”Rock Star: Supernova”: Risk factors

I’ve found my new catchphrase of the summer: ”Show me some boat, bitch!” Coiner of the phrase is Tommy Lee, responding to Ryan Star’s energetic but unpersuasive performance of the Rolling Stones’ ”Jumpin’ Jack Flash” on Tuesday’s Rock Star: Supernova. Saying that he felt Ryan’s run-through didn’t have enough Mick Jagger-like showboating, Tommy dropped the phrase that I’ll be repeating for months, to the annoyance of my family and co-workers.

Alas, that was the problem with this week’s performance episode: lots of show, not enough boat. As they did last week, many of the singers made foolish song and arrangement choices. Some contestants desperately tried to fix things that didn’t work last week by making radical, shot-in-the-dark changes, and some tried to fix things that weren’t broken.

Again, the guys were outsung by the women. Only Magni and Toby delivered unassailable numbers, with Magni kicking off the show by ripping ferociously through the Who’s ”My Generation” and Toby wrapping it with a blistering take on the Killers’ ”Somebody Told Me.” (The judges rewarded Toby with the encore slot on Wednesday.) But then there was Chris, who just missed being voted off last week, returning with a monotone walk-through of Franz Ferdinand’s ”Take Me Out.” Phil, another near-ejectee last week, responded to criticism that he lacks stage presence by introducing some rubber-limbed dance moves to his rendition of Tonic’s ”If You Could Only See.” The judges, however, remained unconvinced. Josh once again displayed his pretty voice, along with some melismatic vocal runs, but it was on a wankeriffic song, Creed’s ”With Arms Wide Open.” Jason Newsted and Dave Navarro reminded him that a little melisma goes a long way. (In other words: Dude, this ain’t American Idol, and you’re not Stevie Wonder.)

Lukas, who did such a fine job last week with Billy Idol’s ”Rebel Yell,” sang Coldplay’s ”Don’t Panic” as if the band were fronted by…Billy Idol. Not only did that combo not work (Jason criticized him for straining his vocals), but why would anyone choose Coldplay when a similarly pretty song by that band helped get Matt voted off last week? By the way, am I the only one who thinks Lukas, with his spiky, multi-hued hair and his dark rings of eye makeup, looks like the king of the lemurs from Madagascar?

The women took even bigger risks. Once more the standout was Dilana, who took a big chance with a country tune: Johnny Cash’s ”Ring of Fire,” slowed to ballad tempo. But it worked; the song suits her deep, rumbling alto, and in singing about plunging into a helpless, burning obsession, she was frightening and thoroughly mesmerizing. Definitely showing some boat.

The risks didn’t always pay off. Jill, who dressed in leather fringe to knock a Janis Joplin song out of the park last week, sang Hole’s ”Violet” in a Courtney Love-ish wedding gown (which nearly gave CBS another Janet Jackson moment) and tossed flowers at the audience. (Criticized by the judges for screaming rather than singing, and for the clearly derivative performance gambit, Jill disingenuously denied being influenced by Love’s onstage style.) Storm also went riot grrrl, dressing as a ponytailed teen to sing Cheap Trick’s ”Surrender.” Dave, who has offered some of the most astute advice and constructive criticism on the series, liked her singing but warned her that she was a little too Broadway, that there’s a difference between having character and being a character. (That way lies Meat Loaf.)

Jenny sang Soft Cell’s ”Tainted Love,” and while you’d think the contestants would avoid New Wave Britpop after Matt’s fatal Duran Duran disaster, her arrangement put some hard crunch into the synth-pop staple. (Still, I think the judges are responding more to her blond good looks than her singing.) Patrice decided that what worked for Dilana last week might work for her and chose a bleak Nirvana tune, ”Heart Shaped Box.” I thought the arrangement swallowed her voice, but the judges’ only complaint was Tommy’s gentle suggestion that she sling her guitar lower on her hips. ”You know I’m 5 foot 2, right?” she replied.

Dana, apparently stung by criticism that she’s too much of an ingenue, tarted up this week, wearing a bustier and a miniskirt and singing Steppenwolf’s ”Born to Be Wild.” While she has a big, twangy voice, I think she’d do better trying to be the next Faith Hill or Gretchen Wilson than fronting a metal band. The judges were also unconvinced. (”I got the leopard-print,” she pleaded. ”Fishnet. I even headbanged, dude.”) Least convincing of all, though, was Zayra, who delivered an oddly Middle Eastern-tinged arrangement of the Kinks’ ”You Really Got Me.” Her sound and look, while exotic, hardly seem like what Supernova is looking for. ”Do you even own any record that any of us have ever been on?” asked Gilby Clarke. ”I’ve heard of your music,” she said, prompting boos. Then she added, ”Baby, I was in diapers when that was out.” Ouch. Way not to get on the good side of the people you hope will hire you. Unsurprisingly, Zayra, Jill, and Chris were at the bottom three in the early tally at the end of Tuesday’s show.

The three of them remained there at the end of voting, though Brooke Burke said Jenny had briefly been in danger as well. Jill redeemed herself Wednesday with a more melodic, less screechy song, Evanescence’s ”Bring Me to Life.” No one mentioned that Zayra had sung the same tune last week, and she seemed to be shooting daggers at Jill with her eyes throughout the latter’s performance. For her own part, Zayra made the seemingly suicidal decision to sing ”You Really Got Me” again, but she sold the song more confidently this time and kept herself alive.

Chris said he was finally going to show the judges the ”real Chris,” but the real Chris turned out to be Phil; Chris sang an acoustic version of the same Tonic tune Phil had offered on Tuesday. It may have been Chris’ finest moment, but Supernova couldn’t ignore that he’d been in the bottom three twice in a row, and they took him out.

What do you think? Did the judges send the right singer home? Who’s your favorite so far? And who still needs to show us some boat?

Rock Star: Supernova

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