On ''Rock Star: Supernova,'' the contestants sing their own tunes: Toby triumphs, Dilana hops back on track, and Storm makes a ''Ladylike'' departure

By Gary Susman
Updated September 07, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Toby Rand: Monty Brinton
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”Rock Star”: The rockers sing their own tunes

A skeptic once asked Rabbi Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while the man stood on one leg. ”What is hateful to you, do not do unto others,” said the sage. That’s all, he added. ”The rest is commentary.”

This week on Rock Star: Supernova, it was up to Dilana to save herself from elimination while standing on one leg, having torn a calf muscle in the other during rehearsal. Miraculously, she was able to dig herself out of the hole she’d dug for herself with her recent behavior. No doubt, it helped that she’s no longer insulting her colleagues or injuring them with shards of smashed glassware. Rabbi Hillel would be proud.

To be sure, former front-runner Dilana had other problems, some not of her own making. Planning to cover the Who’s ”Behind Blue Eyes,” Dilana said at the mansion that she didn’t know the song and planned to change the arrangement. That prompted the leader of the house band, Paul Mirkovich, to make his first on-camera comment of the season, grumbling that Dilana would be making changes ”from a position of ignorance.” Considering that once she actually sang the song, she didn’t change anything except for one line (in an apparent bid for sympathy, she sang, ”No one knows what it’s like to be the bad girl, to be the sad girl”), it’s unclear why the producers included that Mirkovich complaint unless they’re trying to make Dilana look bad. (Am I paranoid for continuing to think this way, after all the unflattering Dilana moments we’ve been shown over the last three weeks?)

But the real action this week was in the five remaining rockers’ own compositions. Dilana noted nervously that all the contestants who’d sung their own songs to date (Zayra, Ryan, and Patrice) had been immediately ejected. And as for her own lyrical skills, demonstrated during a songwriting clinic with Gilby Clarke — well, there’s no TV trickery that can make ”control-alt-delete” sound poetic. Gilby said her lyrics were too literal and not imaginative enough, a complaint he repeated when she sang her own song, ”Supersoul,” during Tuesday’s performance episode. Still, it was an angry, defiant anthem, and while Dave Navarro said it wasn’t his favorite performance of hers, Tommy Lee said he found it ”bangin’.” Jason Newsted commended her for singing through the pain, performing both her Who cover and her own song while dancing on one leg.

Magni’s cover of the Beatles’ ”Back in the U.S.S.R.” was perfectly fine, and his own rocker, ”When the Time Comes,” was decent, but neither performance seemed distinctive — a problem that has plagued the Icelandic singer throughout the season. Tommy asked why both tunes sounded so similar. Because they were both performed by me, said Magni. Oh, said Tommy. Which of them was the more obtuse?

Storm’s performance of David Bowie’s ”Suffragette City” lured Dave out of his chair for the first time all season to play guitar. Her original, a funk-rocker called ”Ladylike,” had lyrics that challenged traditional notions of femininity; as usual, Storm reinforced the lyrics with her costume, a mannish suit and a fedora. Dave said sharing the stage with her compared favorably to backing some of the world-class frontmen he’s played for, and he also thought her own tune was the best original song he’d heard on both seasons of Rock Star. Tommy liked it so much he was at a loss for words, saying, ”That track is…vvvvvvvvvvvvvvv!”

Lukas turned Bon Jovi’s anthem ”Livin’ on a Prayer” into an austere solo guitar ballad; his own original, ”Headspin” (a song he said was inspired by his mother), was a harder-rocking ballad. Both were filled with the vocal swoops and growls that are the Lemur King’s trademark, but the judges didn’t find him overly mannered. In fact, Dave said, he could imagine Lukas’ song inspiring a stadium full of kids to wave their lighters, or their cell phones, or whatever the youngsters wave these days. (Yikes, is Dave Navarro that old?) Gilby said he gets inspired when he watches the Lemur King perform. Me, too — I get inspired to put on a Cure CD. (Now, there’s a band that knows Goth rock and silly haircuts.)

Toby did a decent enough version of the Killers’ rapid-fire ”Mr. Brightside,” then performed an even more ferocious original tune, ”Throw It Away,” that had the audience chanting along with its ”oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” hook. (He also had Tommy grabbing at his ass. I was worried a few weeks ago that Supernova would never pick a woman singer for fear of the inevitable sexual-harassment suit, but Tommy is an equal-opportunity harasser.) Dave praised Toby for creating a tune so instantly memorable that the audience was singing along by the second verse. You always put the fun in rock & roll, said Gilby.

Another first: At the end of Tuesday’s early voting, Brooke Burke listed the ranking for all the rockers, not just the bottom three. Toby led the pack, followed by Lukas, Magni, Storm, and Dilana. (As Brooke noted Wednesday, all of the rockers ended up in the bottom three at some point during the voting — another first.) One more first: On Wednesday, the rockers got to drive to the studio in five pimped-out black SUVs, arriving in rock-star style, as Brooke put it. (Um, Brooke, rock stars don’t drive themselves.) And the winner of this week’s encore slot would get to keep his or her car. Deservedly, the winner was Toby, who dedicated his second-night performance of ”Throw It Away” to his fellow Aussie, the late Steve Irwin.

Toby’s song was better than the blah new Supernova track ”It’s All Love” (performed Wednesday by Magni and the judges). In fact, all the contestants write better tunes than what they’ll be singing if they get the gig. Fortunately, the band announced that its forthcoming tour’s opening acts will be Dave Navarro’s Panic Channel and the Rock Star house band, fronted by various ousted constestants, as on the American Idol tour. At this point, I’d rather see just about any of the finalists fronting their own band than lending their relative youth and energy to these three vampires.

Still, someone’s gotta get the gig, and on Wednesday’s elimination show, only Toby and Magni were certain to move on to next week’s finals. Making her case for survival, Storm chose Pink Floyd’s ballad ”Wish You Were Here.” Beautiful song, poor choice (Supernova is a hard rock band, remember?). She may have chosen the song just so she could dedicate it to her mom. (What is it with the mom thing? First Dilana, then Lemur King, and now Storm. Instead of giving away SUVs, they should give the rockers phones with free anytime minutes.)

Dilana chose what she said was her first punk number of the season, Cheap Trick’s ”I Want You to Want Me,” a song I’d never thought of as punk until I saw Dilana blister through it at a speed the house band could barely keep up with, as she tossed aside her flower-strewn crutches and pogoed on her good leg throughout the whole tune. It was a thoroughly wild cover, free of her usual gloom, and it seemed to put Dilana back on top while making Toby and Lukas wince nervously.

For his part, Lukas pulled a Zayra move and chose to redeem himself by singing the same song that had earned him the voters’ wrath. Still, his ”Headspin” proved the right choice to convince the judges he should stay.

That meant one of the women had to go, and for once, Tommy couldn’t bear to drop the ax and passed the buck to Jason. To the surprise of probably no one, including Storm herself, it was her turn to go. She was completely gracious about her ejection, as were Dave, Tommy, and Jason, who all offered to back her should she record ”Ladylike.” And when Brooke reminded viewers that they get to vote for one ousted rocker to return to perform at next week’s finale, the crowd’s chant suggested that Storm won’t be apart from her friends at the mansion for long.

So, Rock Star watchers, which of the final four deserves to win? Who actually will win? And which eliminated rocker should get one last moment of TV glory?

Rock Star: Supernova

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