Sitting in the critic's chair today is my sister S (and her fiancée K) on the TV show 'Rockstar: INXS'. Enjoy!
Let us descend together to the circle of Hell where "Rock Star" lurks. I was highly disappointed to see that one of my favorite blogs, TVgasm, was not going to delight us with humorous recaps of this program, thus sparing me the indignity of actually watching it or polluting our DVR with the series. However, thanks to years of unspeakable abuse, my stomach is stronger than steel, and I willingly snatch up the gauntlet!
Sorry to jump into this approximately 3 shows into the series, but we only caught this premier episode and didn't realize there were 2 more shows last week. My mind is protecting me from recalling most of the first show- but I'll give some preliminary thoughts on why this isn't working.
My recollection of INXS- fine, I was a fan 20 years ago. I bought their records, and actually saw them in concert at Jones Beach Theatre (back when it was only the Jones Beach theatre, now the Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theatre. Oh really- is he there all the time? He has his own reality show... are they all somehow linked in evil, like the Bilderburg group?). I remember being pressed up against the stage, surrounded by screaming female fans, and almost having my skirt yanked off by the force of people leaping and carrying on around me. Michael Hutchence had the requisite sinewy form, disheveled hair, and leather pants of a proper rock front man, and he did indeed have that "thing" that the men don't know, but the little girls understand. He didn't play an instrument, only sang and writhed, and had enough presence to carry it off and drive the ladies wild.
In the first episode, we met the remaining members of INXS. This show has the same problem as "The Rebel Billionaire" did a few months back- the hosts are simply too nice to be doing this. They lack the requisite straightforwardness needed to tell the contestants that they suck. Imagine if you can "American Idol" judged only by Paula Abdul- it wouldn't work. They seem genuinely eager to find a new lead singer, and have the annoying habit of smiling sheepishly at the camera. Predictably, the subject of Michael Hutchence's is glossed over- it almost seems as though he just wandered off and did something else instead of ending up dangling from his hotel doorknob. So far, the harshest thing they can say about any performer is "I'm just not feeling it"... I need some bile spewing in my reality TV!
Then, there is the almost unspeakable horror that is Dave Navarro (must note- K's subtitle for this program is "Who wants to blow Dave Navarro? It is truly a joy to be witnessing this show with an actual musician- his POV is invaluable). I believe that a true rock dude should be loud, sweaty, unafraid to get dirty and possibly laughable in his posturing, and mostly concerned with PLAYING MUSIC. Dave Navarro looks as though he spends most of his time keeping up with weekly facials and waxing appointments. His hair is a suspicious coal black that does not occur in nature, and his sideburns and facial hair are so carefully shaped that one imagines the stylist has stencils. The only musicians that can get away with such a high degree of grooming and attention to clothing are David Bowie and Prince, but they are both so insanely talented that they can do whatever they want and still have their music be the thing you'd remember most. All I can remember about Dave Navarro is his incredibly stupid eyebrows. Also, he has a giant lollipop head on a little body, which I find disturbing.
Another huge complaint- where's our audition show? We have been cheated! How dare they pick these people and not show us the rejects? They searched "around the world" ( you know, the world that consists of Australia and the USA) and picked these people. So unfair.
So, the contestants. So far, none are really standing out too me except Ty, an African American with a careful mohawk who is almost impossibly gay- in last night's show (which focused on"Personal Style"- but more on that later) he unsurprisingly admits how much he loooooves clothes and shopping, and says how "dope" the clothes are... one gets the feeling that he actually said something like "fabulous" and was prompted by the show producers to take it down a notch. Then there is Mig, who has an oddly shaped face and head, which is accented with exceedingly bad hair choices (slicked back, ala Planet of the Apes wigs). There's the dude who lived in his car, who grossed us all out with his full-on crotch grab and fluttering hand gesture in his first performance. There is Heather, who had loudly red hair. There's some girl (Dana?) who always seems to have some odd shiny goo covering her nose and mouth. I am irritated by the inclusion of women in this show in general- obviously, they will not make it, and were only included for the obvious tensions that will inevitably arise between men & women living together. Especially "musicians". There is Brandon (?), who seems like the shoo-in to win. He is tall, hairy, good-looking enough, and is shown partying hard from day one. He also might be Australian. My mind is a blank on the rest. All contestants fake loud enthusiasm when they first see and hear INXS and DN jamming in the house... that whirring noise you hear in the distance is Michael H. spinning madly in his grave.
The house- a big "rock mansion", where they all live together, seemingly supplied with an endless flow of alcohol- they got that right, I guess. There's a pool, which is stupid since everyone knows a real rock person won't wake up until late and won't be up for fun 'n sun as they nurse their hangovers. The "rockers" constantly (and self consciously I might add) burst out singing at random moment to remind us how full of music they are. The daily assignments appear on a bulletin board somewhere in the house- rooms also fill with objects of interest that seem to surprise everyone (lots of "Hey guys! Come look at this!")- isn't there a doorbell, don't they see people coming and going? The most mysterious thing about the house is the dining table- the contestants are often seen toasting each other around the table, which always is seen covered with a big pile of vegetables(?!??!!). I doubt that Keith Richards would approve.
So, onto last night's episode. There's first a helpful recap to show us what's been going on so far- the first elimination (which is too painful to go into, suffice to say the white chick with the bindi who made a horrific noise while sprawled on the floor got the boot), and other 2 shows which had more, uh, performances. K's comments on the clips of performances consist of mutterings such as "this proves that rock as an art form is dead", "bite the bag", and "lower than whale shit". I love K so much!! During interviews, one "rocker" uses the expression "game face"... again, I don't think Keith would say "game face". Note- a definite nip slip at 9:35! We rewound the DVR several times to verify this.
One of the dudes enters a room and does the whole "Hey guys! Come here and look!"... the room is full of Gibson guitars! I asked K if he thought any of them could play- he correctly notes that in order to play the guitar, you should first tune it.. He also points out how disappointed they must be to get shiny new Gibsons, instead of older models that might be worth something. Oh well, they can always unload them on e-bay when they lose. Oddly enough, they don't get any amps with the guitars, so they can't even hear themselves play. There's some kind of awkward sing-along and I have again forgotten what the song was, but rest assured it was painful whatever it was. Is it worth reminding everyone the lead singer they are all trying to replace didn't even play an instrument? Help!
So, this week's focus on personal style- we are shown an interview w/Dave Navarro helpfully explaining how each rocker (I can't keep putting in the ironic quotes "" but I think you can fill them in on your own by now) needs to do a certain amount of "peacocking" (!!!). The contestants burst collectively into a room where DN is draped upon an armchair, clad in a white feather boa and white flared pants. My eyes! He says that although he knows the outfit is ridiculous, there is an almost identical one of his in the Rock 'n Roll hall of fame (with the placard, "World's Stupidest Outfit").He notes the challenge of style and introduces a famous stylist who I've never heard of. There are props all over the room, clothing, accessories and shoes, and they are tasked with dressing themselves. The people begin to choose outfits. Our hands-down favorite is the dude who simply hangs a long raccoon tail over his crotch (so he can lure a small furry animal). Already noted is Ty's exhortation of "dope"... I just threw up a little in my mouth, but I'll try to finish.
The week's song choices appear. Here's where we were treated to the only truly likeable people in this whole painful spectacle- the House Band! I love these guys- they somehow managed to keep straight faces as the contestants tried to direct them with how they wanted the song choices to sound- one guy did a lot of air-drum arm gestures and kept calling out "and then BOMP BOMP PISH!! Alright? BOMP!". The band remains deadpan and individually interview how skeptical they are of the contestant's abilities- especially one sorry chick who chooses to sing "Paranoid". Can't wait for this. Another lady is stuck with "Losing my Religion" and keeps pompously informing the band, "I'm just not feeling it".. one band guy tactfully points out that it's just a very pretty song and she really doesn't need to do much but sing it straightforward, but on she presses on doing the overwrought vocal gymnastics of the insecure and self-conscious. Again the band guy's faces are blank, but you can sense the barely restrained eye rolls and sighs. Go, house band!!! Keep it real!
I'll leave this episode w/a few of my favorite quotes from the show- much suspense for the next round of performances!!!
"Suzie's style needs to catch up with her."
"If I don't rock this week, I'm screwed."
"The correct chess piece to move right now is a rock piece."
Cheers & shrimps on the barbie!