”Rock Star”: Psychodrama among the singers
It was around the time that Magni’s head started bleeding from a wound Dilana had inflicted that I decided Rock Star: Supernova had finally gone off the rails. As stellar as Tuesday’s viewers’ choice episode was, the psychodrama back at the musicians’ mansion was eclipsing the drama on the stage.
Dilana, still distraught about her public shaming last week over her dissing her peers to the press, fell into a fit of despondent rage back at the mansion and smashed a wine goblet. A shard of glass hit Magni’s bald scalp, and suddenly blood was dripping down his forehead. Magni later downplayed the wound, saying he’d cut himself worse shaving, but Dilana, having added injury to insult, now felt even worse. After an abject public apology to Magni and the others on stage Tuesday (”I love my friends, and I’ll never do anything to hurt them ever, ever again”), Dilana seemed back in the good graces of her fellow contestants, as well as the judges. (After all, no band that includes Tommy Lee, who graciously called himself ”the King of Mistakes,” can criticize an aspiring employee for publicly embarrassing herself.) Whether the viewers at home would forgive her was another matter.
With only six contestants left, Tuesday’s episode had time for a more in-depth look at each singer. Lukas offered some shocking secrets (he once worked at Hooters, presumably not as a waitress) but insisted that he was an ordinary guy. (”I am everybody else. I just wear more makeup than everybody else.”) Lukas kicked off the episode with a rendition of Nirvana’s ”Lithium” that made even Dilana (who knocked the song out of the park the first week) dance and cheer. Gilby Clarke called it the Lemur King’s best performance to date, the first of many superlatives that the judges would distribute generously over the next two nights.
Magni said he was approaching the rest of the competition like a campaigning politician, urging viewers from the U.S., Canada, and Australia to vote for the Icelander instead of their own countrymen. The fans had chosen for him to sing Live’s ”I Alone,” and he continued his campaign among the crowd, glad-handing audience members and judges alike. Tommy responded by grabbing at Magni’s ass once his back was turned. Please, somebody, saltpeter this man’s food.
Ryan’s fans gave him a challenge: Sing in a major key. They gave him Coldplay’s ”Clocks,” which the brooding Dark Horse performed at a grand piano. In fact, he treated the piano as a jungle gym, climbing atop it, leaping off it, sliding across the lid, and wriggling around all over it in ways that even Michelle Pfeiffer never thought of in The Fabulous Baker Boys. The crowd ate it up, booing Jason Newsted when he groused that Ryan ”lost the plot” whenever he wandered away from the piano. Hard to believe this contortionist is the same guy the judges criticized a few weeks ago for seeming duct-taped to the stage.
Compounding Storm’s fears that it was going to be her turn to be kicked out this week, the fans chose to have her sing Evanescence’s ”Bring Me to Life,” a song she said she didn’t really know, even though Jill and Zayra had both sung it in past weeks. She enlisted Toby to sing backup for her, which was a mistake, as he all but upstaged her. Gilby grumbled that her version wasn’t as memorable as Jill’s.
For his own song, Toby got to sing Billy Idol’s ”Rebel Yell,” another week 1 triumph for someone else (Lukas). Toby’s version, however, was even more charismatic, as he pulled several girls out of the audience to dance on stage. Tommy was impressed, suggesting that Toby bring the girls back to the dressing room for a party. We may have to see some IDs first, Toby wisely responded. Cheesy? Yes, but it was also brilliant showboating, and it earned Toby the encore slot on Wednesday.
Dilana’s fans selected Tracy Bonham’s ”Mother Mother,” a perverse choice, not because Jill sang it a few weeks ago but because Dilana had said that she hasn’t spoken to her own mom in years. So her performance of the tune, whose lyrics have the singer reaching out to her faraway mother to tell her half ironically that ”everything’s fine,” was both poignant and terrifyingly angry. Dave Navarro called Dilana’s electrifying cover his favorite performance out of both seasons of Rock Star. But was it enough to return Dilana to front-runner status?
On Wednesday, after Lukas did a credible job fronting Supernova on their just-okay new track ”It’s On,” it was time for a difficult elimination round, since half of the six performers had to end up in the bottom three. Early voting Tuesday had placed Ryan, Lukas, and Storm at the bottom, but further votes put Toby and (for the first time) Dilana in danger as well. Only Magni was safe; as Brooke Burke noted, it was the first time in two seasons that voting had determined who the single most popular performer was.
At the end of voting, however, Ryan, Storm, and Dilana were the ones who had to defend themselves. Ryan sang the Who’s ”Baba O’Riley,” again starting his arrangement in the middle of a song, again marking his performance with acrobatics (leaping off a stack of amplifiers) that detracted from his vocals. The crowd loved it, but Gilby looked bored.
Storm actually expressed enthusiasm at being in the bottom three; it gave her another chance to rock, she said. She seemed to try every crowd-pleasing gimmick in her arsenal for her cover of the Beatles’ ”Helter Skelter,” including giving Tommy a lap dance (and a good view of her coin slot, since her jeans kept threatening to slide off her hips).
Dilana marked her first trip to the bottom by singing a song she said she chose at the last minute, Talking Heads’ ”Psycho Killer.” She dedicated the song to herself, as if the judges needed a reminder of her meltdown. Her performance was a disaster, marked by shrieks, yelps, and long passages where she forgot the lyrics. It was definitely psycho, and it should have been a killer, but the judges decided that it was Ryan who was wrong for the band.
The decision was a shocker, first because of Ryan’s vast improvement over the last few weeks and his crowd-pleasing antics, second because even Storm knew she’d been moving in the opposite direction in recent weeks, and third because Dilana had so obviously crashed and burned. In retrospect, it’s clear that the fix was in for Dilana early in Wednesday’s show when the judges asked her how it would feel to say goodbye to any of the others this week. Her answer (horrible, she said, like losing a limb) was less important than the implication that she was safe and someone else would be ejected. I still think she’s the best singer of the bunch and the one I’d most happily pay to see in concert (with or without Supernova), and it’s certainly the judges’ prerogative to keep her around if they think they’d like to hire her, but her miraculous survival this week suggests that she’s become the new Zayra, the crazy girl that the judges and producers keep around primarily because her batty behavior makes for compelling TV.
What do you think? Was Ryan booted unfairly? Does Dilana still have an inside shot, or will one of the others get the gig? And which ousted contestant would you vote for to return to perform at the finale in two weeks?