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TV Review: Rock Star Supernova – The Choice

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Rock Star: Supernova finds itself in the final week of the Mark Burnett Productions' search for a lead singer to front the Tommy Lee project. The reality show has four out of the fifteen contestants vying for the top spot. House Band, a supernova caliber talent themselves, is scheduled to open for them, with the possibly of multiple performers from the show in featured sets.

This has not been confirmed, but could be an excellent idea. It would multiply the number of fans interested in purchasing tickets and provide a way for viewers to see their favorites perform even if they are not 'the chosen one'. MBP is more than likely considering this move; look at the success this format has had for the American Idol franchise. Dave Navarro's band, Panic Channel, will be included on this tour, providing a full rock music revue.

The remaining contestants are four different artists with diverse stylings. The band members of Supernova will select the singer they consider the best fit to represent the type of sound they are creating. Naturally, marketability of the winner will be a big factor. The choice of singer in this show will come down to which direction this motley bunch — put together by Motley Crue's Tommy Lee — has chosen to ride into.

It's necessary and part of the plot of this rock tale to revisit some of the members of Supernova's past credentials. Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx developed Motley Crue with Mick Mars and Vince Neil and they created history with their development of a new genre of rock, dubbed 'hair metal' with an emphasis on arena anthems, theater, glamor, and notoriety. This band has sold 40 million records, and to their credit, all are still alive and performing. Motley Crue experienced the effect the lead singer has on a band, and this gives Tommy Lee real-world experience to add to his decisions in determining the right sound for Supernova.

Jason Newsted of Metallica joined the band after the passing of bassist Cliff Burton, and proved himself a talented bassist. Gilby Clark served as a replacement guitarist with Guns N' Roses following Axl Rose's parting with the original band members after a feud.

Here's a basic rundown and insight on the remaining contenders for the Supernova top spot, beginning with Lukas Rossi. Canadian Rossi has shown himself to be a savvy performance artist, borderline avant garde. He can be captivating and engaging with a style melding a combination of pop/emo/heavy rocker. He's an ingenue with an instinctive ability to use color and spatial dimensions theatrically, both in his physical presentation and his ability to work the stage. Bonus, he's a photographer's dream subject.

His first performance, Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," had me convinced this guy could win the show. At times, Lukas' vocals have not been great. He's had performances some weeks   in which his vocals came through tight and constricted. His throat was closed, and sounded like he was singing through his teeth, lyrics undecipherable. Overall though, Luke has played this game very well.  He obviously knows when it's time to keep your mouth shut. He kept a low profile in his relationships with his fellow contestants and handled matters intelligently in the media circus, leaving little room for crafty show edits.

Hailing from South Africa but calling Texas her recent home is Dilana. Entering this competition hot and strong, she impressed with vocal pipes that are a haunting throwback to the late, great, Janis Joplin. Her first performance was Nirvana's "Lithium", a song she impacted viewers with by her stunning, dramatic vocal treatment, and controlled, savage performance.

This first performance, an unforgettable Rock Star moment, established Dilana as one of the contestants to beat. The weeks have taken a negative toll on her. A combination of creative show edits and incredibly bad lapses of judgment on her part have seen her faltering under the pressure. Dilana's vocal stylings and song choices have seen a definitive downward spiral. She landed in the elimination portion of the show in week nine, following a dramatic performance of "Mother, Mother".

Elimination night she took on the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," which was a psychotic train wreck. Dilana's "Psycho Killer" could easily rate the worst performance on Rock Star. Week 10 featured songwriting abilities of the contestants, and it was obvious she felt out of her element, protesting on air she did not know she'd be required to write. This may indicate her creative abilities are limited, although, to her credit, there are many lead singers unable to string together two sentences much less write a song.

Adding insult to injury or perhaps more fitting, injury to insult, the period between Week 9 and Week 10, she injured her leg in rehearsals. This week also found Dilana in an angry state of mind. Her original song contribution, "Super Soul", concentrated on an 'up yours' message with lyrics directed at targeting and rifling shots at her online detractors. She returned to the bottom three and in the September 6 elimination round dedicated "I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick to her fans.

Unfortunately, this was yet another manic performance with her vocals struggling to keep up with the music.  To top it off, her performance, which included shrieking and blowing kisses, created the atmosphere of one of those famously gone wrong auditions on American Idol. It's obvious they still like Dilana. She remains in this hunt after her past few weeks of struggling, and Tommy Lee has her featured on his webpage. With her looks, she's a good fit for Tommy Lee's image.

Dubbed the "thunder from down under", Australian Toby Rand has been a homestretch surprise on Rock Star. Many critics dismissed Mr. Rand early on, but this handsome blue-eyed singer has emerged from the middle of the pack to become one of the front-runners. Mr. Rand has endeared himself, especially to his female fans, by showing spunk, sass, savvy, and exuberant energy, even streaking nude to score a desired song choice.

He's initiated America to the Australian term, "evs", the equivalent to 'whatever', and his fanbase has taken that up by wearing it on their hands as a show of support during his performances. More importantly, he showed creativity with his original song, "Throw it Away," which brought him the encore spot and sported as a prize a spanking sweet Honda Element. (How I'd love one of those).

Toby Rand has let Supernova and the television viewers see him as not just a pretty face. He's displayed adroitness in communicating that he is a highly commercial talent. Toby Rand could give them a back to the '80s spin; he's a regular girls, girls, girls magnet, but, to his credit, would put a modern twist to their sound. His rearrangement of Eric Clapton's "Layla" serves as a good example of the kind of modern touch he could bring.

"The Immigrant Song" from Led Zepplin III ran through my mind as I reviewed past performances of Magni. Magni comes from Iceland, and the lyrics, "We come from the land of the ice and snow, From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow", are a fitting theme for this man. (I love the song anyway.)

Nicknamed The Iceman, Magni has remained cool under pressure, composed in his dealings with everyone on the show. But beneath the cool exterior flows a river of molten fire. Magni began his journey on Rock Star tentatively, with a debut performance of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". Since then, he has solidly and consistently upped the ante. Magni delivers charismatic, incredible vocals — full and powerful. He retains tonality no matter the force of the vocals, never breaking note or screaming the lyrics. He can deliver softness one moment, and the next infuse his delivery with intensity and emotion that permeate the studio rafters.

Magni is a performer in the style of Bono of U2 and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. He's been criticized for his stage presence. He eschews trite glam rock antics, instead he prowls the stage, fluid personification of a powerful cat. He draws on the strength of his magnificent vocal prowess to engulf the audience. Magni has stayed true to himself and what he's about as an artist and musician through criticisms of his performances. He exudes an aura of knowing exactly who he is. He's not threatened by critiques to become anyone's puppet or dancing to anyone's organ grinder's box.

His amazing vocal abilities are highlighted in his performance of "I Alone", a song by Live. Magni's vocals swamped Ed Kowalczyk's, dampening the original song. Magni gives the song increased value and depth, reverberating with more emotion, making it fuller. His confidence was not destroyed when he landed in the bottom three during weeks 7 and 8; he had quite the opposite response. Week 7 he gave a mesmerizing performance of "Creep" that took my breath away. Week 8, during the elimination performance, he came out fighting, guitar in hand and sparks flying during his performance of Jimi Hendrix's, "Fire". A killer performance, he effortlessly melded with the House band and created a massive online buzz.

In Magni there simmers greatness, and thanks to Mark Burnett, we've been introduced to a real rock star with talent similar to that of a man I've admired since the '80's from Ireland. Bono came on the music scene with a little band called U2 and has made history with his sound. Rock Star: Supernova has been an excellent venue to serve as an introduction to the incredible talent of Magni.

For Gilby Clark, Jason Newsted, and Tommy Lee, Supernova is a great opportunity for them to prove to the world they are able to do something successful artistically on their own, as opposed to riding the successes of their former bands. Supernova has potential to surpass being simply a reality show project and, instead, expand into becoming more than may have been originally conceived for this show. They may become one successful group comprised of members from other bands — Velvet Revolver is a great example of rockers joining together to create something possibly more promising and greater than their previous bands.

It's also quite possible the band and person they choose will be based on the short term gain not long term goals. Choice of performer may very well be determined by media exposure and audience reaction, not what may be best in creating a full and real band. One thing Mr. Burnett and his staff has provided on Rock Star is an entertaining second season and some truly interesting and valid talents.

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  • http://www.knownjohnson.com Tom Johnson

    Just some nitpicking: I’m pretty sure Supernova, the band, was put together by Butch Walker (the music producer) and Mark Burnett, not Tommy Lee.

    As for Jason Newsted, he proved himself a talented bassist long before Metallica had heard of him when he was playing in Flotsam & Jetsam, and he’s a lot better off now in Voivod. Both he and Gilby are the real musicians in the band – Tommy Lee is mostly there to draw attention, more than anything, because his name is so big. He’s not a particularly talented drummer by any means. The House Band drummer, however, is FAR superior to Tommy.

  • http://www.jewels-richardson.blogspot.com Jewels

    Hi Tom, Butch and Burnett created the concept, they approached Tommy Lee about it, but he picked out his choices for bandmates. House Band’s Nate is incredibly talented as all the HB musicians. No, T.Lee is not the best drummer, but he has the most experience in the media (in several venues…reality show, uhm, let’s not forget his “home movies”) so my point is that over Gilby and Jason he’s been more exposed to this type of situation.

    I’m not familiar with Flotsam and Jetsam, so I’ll go look them up. I like Newsted the most of the group to be honest, he seems the most sensible and intellectually inclined, but he was not as long term with any band, nor Gilby, like T. Lee has been.

    Thanks for your bringing up Flotsam and Jetsam and your other good points. I think I’ll go google now…

  • http://www.jewels-richardson.blogspot.com Jewels

    Flotsam and Jetsam website and information. Thanks again Tom, this for anyone else who hasn’t followed thrash metal bands in depth. Apparently Newsted was quite the man in this band.

  • Sandra

    I like Magni just fine. However, comparing him to Robert Plant is laughable at best.

  • http://bonamassablog.us Joan Hunt

    Congrats! This article has been placed on Advance.net

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Supernova now finds itself searching for a new name as they lost in a lawsuit brought by the OC punk band of the same name. After the show’s over, they can’t use the name any more. Not sure if there will be any appeals.

  • http://www.chocolateshow.com Savvy

    The Real Supernova

    San Diego Judge Forces Supernova To Change Name 09-13-06 at 9:20AM

    They are looking for a new lead singer, and now, rock star Supernova is looking for a new name, too, thanks to a ruling issued in San Diego. Judge John Houston said the super-group will have to call itself something else. The decision comes after another band called Supernova filed a lawsuit. The ruling will take effect immediately after the finale of Rock Star Supernova Wednesday night.

  • http://www.chocolateshow.com Savvy

    The Real Supernova

    San Diego Judge Forces Supernova To Change Name 09-13-06 at 9:20AM

    They are looking for a new lead singer, and now, rock star Supernova is looking for a new name, too, thanks to a ruling issued in San Diego. Judge John Houston said the super-group will have to call itself something else. The decision comes after another band called Supernova filed a lawsuit. The ruling will take effect immediately after the finale of Rock Star Supernova Wednesday night.

    ORIGINAL SUPERNOVA ROCK BAND GRANTED INJUNCTION IN BATTLE WITH SUPERNOVA SHOW

    A Californian rock band yesterday (12SEP06) won a preliminary injunction against producer MARK BURNETT and US TV network CBS, who have been told they must stop using the group’s name SUPERNOVA for a band being formed on reality television show ROCK STAR: SUPERNOVA.
    Supernova are best known for contributing the song CHEWBACCA to the cult 1994 KEVIN SMITH movie CLERKS. They filed for an injunction in August (06) in the US District Court in San Diego, California after the collapse of settlement talks, which followed the June (06) filing of a lawsuit on the matter.
    Judge JOHN HOUSTON barred the TV band – comprising MOTLEY CRUE drummer TOMMY LEE, VOIVOD bassist JASON NEWSTED, ex-GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist GILBY CLARKE and an as-yet-unknown vocalist – from “performing rock and roll music, or recording, or selling rock and roll music recordings under the same (name), pending a trial of this action on its merits, or until otherwise ordered by the court”.
    Rock Star: Supernova follows the success of ROCK STAR: INXS, which saw the Australian band pluck JD FORTUNE from obscurity to replace late frontman MICHAEL HUTCHENCE.
    The band formed on Rock Star: Supernova is set to tour the US from to December 2006 to February 2007.


    Background info on Supernova “band name” lawsuit…

    Supernova are still together and currently performing…
    supernovaarmy.com/
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova_%28band%29

    1 really good Wikipedia (link)…
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova_(Rock_Star_band)
    states how Supernova I found out that Butch Walker informed Supernova II about the Superova band name already being used, via a Butch Walker MySpace blog post…

    2 really good MTV article

    2 really good Chart Attack article (links)…
    July 2006
    August 2006

    2 from
    GOOGLE

  • http://www.jewels-richardson.blogspot.com Jewels

    Lukas the Winner. Check out my first review. Some on target a few off:
    Rock Star Supernova Sees First Light.

    My only issue giving Zayra too much of a break ‘cuz I’ve seen her In Deep Ellum (Dallas) and Magni; his worst performance of the competition.

    Man, T.Lee had it in for him. Too much talent for the T. Lee to handle, plus it was obvious they were looking for a Lukas.

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