Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rock Star: INXS

INXSINXS really has their work cut out for them. Ever since their lead singer, Michael Hutchence, died in 1997 (under quite peculiar circumstances), they've had tons of trouble getting back into the limelight. Granted they haven't had anything resembling a hit since "Suicide Blonde", but ever since Hutchence left this earth, they've been totally defunct.

Unfortunately for the remaining members of the band, INXS has never been known for fantastic musicianship (although "Devil Inside", "New Sensation", and "What You Need" do have pretty cool licks). So without their charasmatic frontman to bring in the crowds it's been a fierce downhill. After all, does anyone know anything about the other members of the band except for the fact that a lot of them have the last name of Farriss (don't look at me - I saw them play with Hutchence on the Kick tour)?

So what to do? Call in the big guns by hiring reality TV show guru Mark Burnett, who creates a show, Rock Star: INXS, that will find them a lead singer American Idol style. At first I thought this was a clever idea - they get a new singer and lots of publicity at the same time. Unlike Idol, there would be a real talent search ahead of time, and no dwelling on fools like William Hung.

But as it got closer to show time, I started to get nervous by what I was hearing. First, the show was going to be shown three times a week, which is just overkill (twice a week for Idol was more than enough). Second, Jane's Addiction guitarist (and my hero) Dave Navarro was hired to act as a mentor and coach for the singers. I had always considered Navarro a bit on the fringe for this sort of thing, and feel that this is a move for self-promotion, and I'd rather see him making more music (yes, I know Dave could care less regarding what I want him to do with his life). Third, Brooke Burke was chosen as the host, who I find to be beyond blah.

But the r0x0rz in me means something, so I sat down yesterday to catch the second episode, which was going to be all performance based.

True to form, Brooke was awful. Worse than I expected. She has no energy coming off her as she speaks to the audience, and never bothers to engage the performers, Navarro, or INXS. When a singer finishes their tune, she sounds like she was just woken up as she limply reannouces their name to the audience. Call me gay (Howard Stern would), but Ryan Seacrest is a charisma machine compared to her. Why didn't they simply do the obvious and hire Dave's wife, Carmen Electra, to host? Hell, she was able to convincingly mix it up with the contestants on Battlebots!

Thankfully the general caliber of the singers is a few notches up from the majority of Idol finalists (plus the house band is decent), but the love fest going on between them, Navarro, and INXS is repulsive. Most of these contestants simply aren't worthy enough to have been plucked from their local club gigs, but Navarro and INXS generally refuse to acknowledge this. Simon Cowell type diatribes would probably be too obvious to include, but a show of this sort needs this kind of candor. C'mon guys, have some standards: we're looking for a replacement singer to a multiplatinum selling band, not "Joe Schmoe and the Funky O's" (but woe to the O's in case Joe ever goes).

I saw perhaps two people last night who gave performances that are worthy - Marty and Mig. The rest were subpar for a major label band, and certainly didn't have that special quality to gel properly as part of INXS. I really wanted to stick knives in my ears during the rendition of Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box", and knives in my eyes during 3/4s-naked, scrawny Neil's performance (have some respect for the love of all things good and decent in this world - keep your shirt on!).

It should be really something to hear these folks do INXS songs. Somewhere in there do we have the next Sammy Hagar (a mixed blessing at best)? Or perhaps simply Gary Cherone (a true disaster for Van Halen) or Tim Owens (the Priest cover band thing fits, but more like O.J.'s glove, after heavy scrutiny)? Stay tuned.


Anonymous flynn_42 said...

Just hearing them constantly refer to themselves as "our band...INXS" instead of just "our band" or "INXS" is worth watching three days a week, for my money.

Luckily, it seems you can just watch on Tuesdays and catch the performances. I'm waffling between Ty and Mig at the moment.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Hollow Man said...

I'm not a Ty fan. The mohawk with the "classy" outfit rubs me the wrong way.

The guy they axed deserved it. I wish I had seen the episode, because I didn't understand that the band would pick the person to be booted based on the bottom 3 performing INXS songs. That's rather slick.

10:23 PM  

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