On ''Rock Star: Supernova,'' the judges seem to be concentrating on image, so Dana the ingenue gets a tattoo

By Gary Susman
Updated August 03, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Dana Andrews: Monty Brinton
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”Rock Star”: More mystifying choices

Priorities, priorities. I think everyone involved in Rock Star: Supernova has misplaced his or hers. The singers, the judges, and the voters all made baffling choices this week. There was Dana, pampering herself at a spa instead of attending rehearsal. (Surprisingly, the judges praised that display of irresponsibility as a very rock & roll-singer move and joked that she should get the job by default.) There was Magni, who has missed his baby’s first steps back home in Iceland. There was Jason Newsted, admitting to rocker from outer space Zayra that the judges keep her around because they want to see what nutty thing she’ll do next. And there were the voters at home, keeping Zayra alive (as well as Toby and Lukas, who performed poorly this week) while sending much stronger competitors to the bottom three.

Almost all the contestants responded this week to the band’s repeated calls to do something risky, with mixed results. Patrice kicked off Tuesday’s show with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ fiery arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s ”Higher Ground,” accompanied by her prospective boss, Tommy Lee, on drums. Mr. Show Me Some Boat, Bitch! was certainly showboating himself, ending the song in a double-time coda that let him demonstrate just how hard he can pound the skins. While Patrice’s performance was perfectly fine, Tommy clearly upstaged her, and Dave Navarro wisely warned her and the others that they’d have to display some real stage presence not to disappear in front of Supernova’s ebullient drummer.

Dilana showed she could share the stage with Supernova by getting in their faces for her rendition of Bad Company’s ”Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” her hardest-rocking number to date. Even wearing pants that appeared to be half leather and half fishnet, Dilana remains the class of this competition. Supernova should just give her the job right now, but then we wouldn’t get to sit through time wasters like Josh Logan’s fumbling cover of Sublime’s ”Santeria.”

Toby gave his second straight surprisingly slack performance with Nirvana’s difficult ballad ”Pennyroyal Tea,” and his sojourn into the audience looked shopworn after Dilana’s similar move. Zayra destroyed Tommy Tutone’s ”867-5309/Jenny,” but she deserves props for punking up the arrangement and for wearing another memorable superheroine ensemble — black cape, gold lamé gloves, leopard-print halter, and thigh-high black boots. When Dave told her she gives the judges something to look forward to every week, he wasn’t talking about her vocals. Tommy offered to mud-wrestle her in his dressing room. (This is what you’re in for, chica, if by some miracle you get the job. Run, Zayra, run, back to your spaceship!)

Magni clearly wanted to be elsewhere, but his homesickness lent a poignance to his performance of Coldplay’s ”Clocks,” with its final refrain, ”Home, home, where I wanted to go.” Jill, whom Gilby Clarke chastised last week for her bump-and-grind performance, kept her hips in check as she sang Simple Minds’ ”Don’t You Forget About Me,” but her vocals had the same overwrought, shrieky quality as her version of Hole’s ”Violet” a few weeks back. Dave said this would have been a good time for the audience to go to the bathroom. Tommy, in perhaps the most constructive bit of criticism he’s given all season, said he’d like to hear more of her sexy alto register instead of her high-pitched squeal.

Ryan pulled off the evening’s cleverest turn, making something safe seem risky and dangerous. He performed R.E.M.’s ”Losing My Religion” as a solo ballad, accompanied only by his own piano playing. This not only had the appearance of boldness, but it also helped him smartly avoid his biggest weaknesses: He didn’t have to try to smile or dance. Jason called it Ryan’s best performance yet. Tommy said he’d written a piano ballad for Supernova that he could imagine Ryan singing. (In the spirit of Spinal Tap, I imagine it’ll be called ”Lick My Love Pump.”) ”That performance is so gonna get you laid, dude,” said Tommy. At the very least, it earned Ryan Wednesday’s encore slot.

Storm also went mellow, with a surprisingly demure, unsexy performance of David Bowie’s ”Changes.” Dave called this his favorite Storm performance, noting that for once, she didn’t go bug-eyed (or, as he put it, ”You weren’t doing the whole crazy, possessed-by-the-music eyes thing”).

Lukas gave his weakest performance yet, forgetting many of the words to Hole’s ”Celebrity Skin.” You’d think that would have landed the Lemur King in the bottom three, but instead, the voters frowned upon Dana, who delivered a solid version of the Who’s ”Baba O’Riley.” ”Are you ready to be a rebel?” asked Gilby. ”Oh, yeah,” she answered. ”I’m getting a tattoo tomorrow.” She showed it off on Wednesday: a treble clef, etched into her hip. In just a month, Dana has gone from Southern-belle ingenue to snarling, beer-chugging, tattooed rocker. Her parents must be very proud.

Early voting placed Jill, Zayra, and Toby in the bottom three, but by Wednesday’s final tally, Toby and Zayra were surprisingly safe, with Patrice and Dana in their places. Jill saved herself with a canny move, performing ”Alone,” by Heart. It showed off the lower register that Tommy likes, and it kissed up to Gilby, who used to play with Heart and who had contrasted Jill’s tarted-up performance last week with the more modest stage movements of Heart’s classier frontwoman, Ann Wilson.

Tommy was among those who seemed stunned that Patrice was in danger. Still, she did herself no favors with her song choice, Jeff Buckley’s obscure ”Eternal Life.” Dana, however, rocked out with a guitar-driven version of the Animals’ ”House of the Rising Sun.” Dana has the more powerful voice, and Patrice, for all her experience, is the less colorful performer. Nonetheless, the judges decided that for all her growth to date, Dana still has too much ground yet to cover, and they sent her back to Georgia.

What do you think? Did the judges send the right person home this week? Can any of the remaining performers keep Supernova from upstaging them? And who will rise or fall next week, when the contestants have to write and sing their own lyrics to a Supernova track?

Rock Star: Supernova

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