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Rockstar: Supernova - the state of play
Monday, Aug. 14, 2006, 13:30

I don't watch much TV but one thing I have become addicted to in the last month is "Rockstar: Supernova". Normally I loathe reality shows but this is not "Big Brother" or "Love Island" - these are talented people with something to offer me in the form of great new music.

Fifteen hopefuls line up at the beginning of the series in front of a studio audience, millions on TV and three future Supernova band-mates: Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue), Jason Newsted (formerly of Metallica) and Gilby Clarke (former of Guns N Roses). Each of them perform a rock track chosen by Supernova and the public vote on who their favourites are. Each week the bottom three have to "sing off" with their own chosen track and "The Hatchet Man" Tommy Lee then tells one of them that they are going home.

The first series of "Rockstar" saw INXS choose their new lead singer, JD Fortune. For INXS it was a shot in the arm - national exposure, a world tour (sold out in hours) and their biggest ever Billboard hit in the US - "Pretty Vegas" - with lyrics written by JD.

But the Supernova show is very different. This is something of a superstar band with three of rock's big names. Clark, Lee and Newsted might not be A-list musicians but they bring decades of experience to the plate. It differs significantly from the INXS show in that whoever is chosen at the end does not have any shoes to fill like JD did in INXS.

But what about the competitors? Well there are 11 of the 15 contestants remaining (note: we're a few weeks behind in Ireland so don't post a comment spoiling the future weeks for me!).

Already eliminated are Matt Hoffer, Chris Pierson, Jenny Galt and Phil Ritchie. Out of these only Phil Ritchie was a little unlucky. Tommy Lee announced that he felt Richie "lacked committment". The announcement was met with bemusement by both Richie and his fellow contestants.

So who is left? Well in reverse order in terms of my favourites.

Zayra is a fiery Puerto Rican who has appeared in the bottom three several times but has survived by the skin of her teeth. Her best performance was of REM's "Everybody Hurts". But I can't see her fronting this band and I don't think the band do either. How Phil was eliminated ahead of her is beyond me.

I don't buy in to this guy, Ryan, at all. He seems a bit mouthy and quite frankly his performances have been mediocre. The band thought he "brought it" with his cover of "I Alone" by Live but it just didn't feel right at all and vocally I didn't enjoy it. He won't work.

Dana seems a nice little thing but she has had a hard time, Tommy Lee condemning her performance of a Steppenwolf classic by saying she was "Born to be mild". It didn't get any better the following week when she bored us with the decent "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi but she finally stepped up to the plate with an excellent performance of Nirvana's "About a Girl". She is not right for fronting an arena rock band.

Lovely Patrice from Texas. She is really pretty in a rock way and has a great voice. As Supernova said to her in last week's episode "your voice has kept you in this". A great performance of Radiohead's magnificent "My Iron Lung" saved her after so-so versions of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" and Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box". The poor girl got a lesson in humility when told by former Red Hot Chilli Pepper's guitarist (and show co-host with Brooke Burke), Dave Navarro, that she didn't change it up enough. "Do you do different things on stage, Dave?" she asked. "The difference is," he replied, "I have a job." There's definite potential there and unlike those above, Patrice could do the job. It'd really only be a "last resort" type appointment though.

New York City's Jill has become more famous for her defensive stance behind the scenes when criticised. She walked out of a song-writing workshop when co-contestant Magni unceremoniously told her that she was taking the wrong approach to writing lyrics. On stage she has been erratic only really coming to life when performing the Stones' "Brown Sugar" with Gilby Clarke - and she was heavily criticised for "grinding" and also hitting Gilby with her mic stand. But she's a stunning looking girl with a great voice and that has to be worth something.

New Hampshire's Josh Logan has a leaning to soul and an angelic voice and taking all that in to account, he may not suit Supernova. But he's brave and he keeps pushing his soul influence on to Tommy and Co. His opening effort, "She Talks to Angels" by the Black Crowes, was beautifully sung and he put out a strong version of Nirvana's "Come as You Are" too. He probably won't get the gig but he has talent coming out of his soulful ears.

Storm Large? Real name? I'd be shocked. She's got the looks, the presence and the voice to front the band. If it wasn't for the lady you're going to meet in a minute she would be the top female for consideration. Next week she is to sing a brave, stripped-back version of David Bowie's "Changes" and it could be a show-stealer - or it could backfire.

Personally I think the top four are out on their own. Magni is the first of them, an Icelandic singer with six albums - two of which went gold - in his back catalogue. He definitely takes things seriously and although he started shakily with a "Vegas" performance of the Stones' "Satisfaction", he has ramped it up with brilliant versions of "My Generation" by The Who, Stone Temple Pilot's "Plush" (that was amazing) and Bowie's "Heroes". Reminds me, vocally and visually, of Ed Kowalczyk of Live. Footage of him shedding tears over a CD sent to him of his baby son walking for the first time will probably win him brownie points with those who thought he was a little harsh and uncompromising with Jill.

Toby is a far too-good looking 28 year old Australian with a wonderful voice and great stage presence. His version of "Knocking on Heavens Door" re-kindled my interest in the song; the Killers "Somebody Told Me" was awesome and he did Billy Idol's "White Wedding" no dis-service at all. He's right up there.

If Magni and Toby make up the A- list, then Lukas is in the A list. After tearing it up with his version of the Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" (re-arranging it against the house-band's advice) Lukas was told by Dave Navarro that he "seemed kinda arrogant up there". The crowed "oooh'd" before Navarro yelled "...and that's awesome!". There is no one more arrogant or messed up than Lukas on the show. He seems to have little regard for his co-contestants and is intent on doing things his own way. Whether screaming Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell" or bringing angst to Brit-rock classics from Coldplay or The Verve, Lukas has quite an amazing way about him. He has a great voice, wonderful presence, strong communication with the fans, good moves on stage and a two-finger attitude that can only serve you well in rock n' roll. The only problem he may have is with Jason Newsted who is convinced he is not opening up his throat enough when he sings.

Dilana has been MVP most of the four weeks of the show so far, singing Nirvana's "Lithium", Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire", "Zombie" by the Cranberries and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". Behind the deeply powerful voice, punk look, piercings and shock of red hair Dilana is probably also the sweetest person on the show. There's no doubt her talent is immense and even if she fails to convince the band that she is for them (and I would say that's unlikely unless she completely collapses performance-wise), she will be in the charts and on tour nationally within 12 months.

So there you go. I hope to update every week with what's going on. Even if you're not watching the show I hope to give you a sense of what's happening and maybe you'll even search your listings for it! It's on CBS in the USA, Star TV in Oz, Global TV in Canada and Sky here in Ireland/UK. That's just from initial searches. Not 100 percent sure on that. Correct me if I'm incorrect.

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