Thursday, August 18, 2005

Rockstar: INXS

Because of American Idol and CSI: Las Vegas, I had always been convinced that the middle of the week (Wednesday and Thursday here in Manila) had the best to offer in all of cable primetime programming. I was worried about what would take their time slots once their respective seasons ended, and then Rockstar: INXS came along.

I enjoy rock performances as much as the next person, so I eagerly looked forward to the reality vs. performance segments of the show. Jamming in the mansion was a treat. It's really not hard to predict who would get eliminated along the way. Haven't actually tried voting myself, but perhaps only maybe when the competition is really, really tight.

Jordis, MiG, Marty, JD and Ty, I felt, are all really majorly talented. Suzie, to me, would be a step better than Deanna and Jessica. Suzie reminds me of a young Annie Lennox but with a Sheryl Crow vibe, and I enjoyed her performance of "Never Tear Us Apart", which was my favorite. I mean, if it were posted online I'd download it in a second. She, JD and Ty had a string of mixed quality performances - so I must congratulate the producers of the show for making the competition particularly challenging in terms of song selection. Jordis, MiG and Marty, however, seemed like they could do no wrong. I downloaded Jordis' "Man Who Sold The World" from, it was that good.

Now to MiG and Marty, my personal favorites:

MiG consistently delivers a good performance, rocking hard with "We Will Rock You", and dazzling everyone with "Baby I Love Your Way", where he accompanied himself on the piano. His vocal range is flexible (on the tenor side) and he exercises as much control over it as he can. And he doesn't look half bad, buff in a lean way, and gauging by the reaction of the women in the audience, he inspired major hysteria when he last ripped off his shirt onstage. He's got this easy-going personality, and seems really in touch with his feminine side (read: Sensitive Man who set off my friends' gay-dars. I did explain that he's married to a ballerina who was a long-time girlfriend, so that settled that.). He also gets along well creatively with others, as could be seen in the songwriting clinic. INXS and he being Aussie might be a factor. But best of all, he was born PINOY!!! Now what other reason would I need to root for him? He looks like the frontrunner, since it seems unlikely that INXS would have a female vocalist... (just my opinion).

Marty, while not conventionally cute, is very attractive. His voice, which has really good texture, has something to do with it. This texture was shown to advantage in his performances "With Arms Wide Open" and "Mr. Brightside". He accompanied himself on acoustic guitar for the latter song. He doesn't have a theatre background like MiG, but he has had concert performances under his belt fronting other major bands with his own band. Those two performances were so intense I wished I was in the crowd screaming with approval. When I get that kind of feeling I want to rush out to a store and buy a cd straightaway. Now before you tell me he's a Kurt Cobain or Creed clone let me remind you that being part of a band gives leeway for originality in songwriting, and that what you ought to judge in the end is the final, total overall product. But in the end, my connection with Marty's performance was emotional, and that's strong. MiG's last performance made me emotional too, but mostly my admiration for his overall vocal ability is intellectual. Listening to Marty made me feel like a young college girl. Let me ask you, what price would you set on THAT?

Now onto JD bashing:

Moni emailed me about his dislike for JD. Let me state for a fact that I consider JD highly talented, but perhaps he can develop himself as a solo act if he can land a recording contract. He needs a lot of training to condition his voice so that he can sing a greater range of songs, or he can write songs to fit his voice, but where's the growth there? I can't stand JD either, I emailed back, he acts too needy of the job and says things that make him sound evil and desperate. Actually, "evil" is Rickey's word. And the bitter darkness of it shows on his face.

In the beginning, JD looked kinda cute but that wore thin pretty quickly. I mean, his attitude might provide interesting tension and drama to the show, but in the end, what INXS needs is a lead singer with consistent performance quality, with magnetism, and the ability to get along and work with the other members of the band. If for instance JD won, it would be a shame if he ends up eventually needing replacement because of "personal differences". I mean, he doesn't need to diss the rest in public when it's plainly clear that there are other talented people in the competition, it just makes him stand out and not necessarily in a good way. He is SOOO PLASTIC!!! Making those remarks and then having to live with them in the same mansion!!! Again, let me remind you, this man is talented. Talented, but conflicted. Might be good fodder for a solo album somewhere there. I did think the song he wrote solo after breaking away from Marty's group was even better than the song written by Ty's group, which won. It was more in INXS' groove (now if it sounds like some of their old hits, is that a crime if there is potential to release it as a single? But we also have to think of INXS' growth and credibility...).

I want to shake my head when I think of that scene near the pool where MiG admits to JD that he said in an interview that JD was the most difficult to live with. Then JD says that banal and cringeworthy line, "When we're being human, just remember that we are all human beings." Or something like that. (Now doesn't that sound bite raise your bile?)