Saturday, July 08, 2006

For those about to rock...

Well, the writing continues apace. The introduction of my book now is in hand, which leaves just the conclusion between me and a completed manuscript draft. The intensity of the writing has kept me from blogging of late, unfortunately, though I have managed to squeak in some TV time. One of my favorite returning shows is CBS's Rockstar, the latest installment of which features a search for the lead-singer of the band, Supernova.

Supernova, if you haven't heard, consists of cast-offs from Motley Crue (drummer Tommy Lee, a.k.a. "Rocker Tommy Lee"), Metallica (bassist Jason Newsted), and Guns 'n Roses (guitarist Gilby Clark). They're looking for a lead-singer, and, like INXS last year, they decided to find one through the reality television program, Rockstar.

First things first: I like the show a great deal. Last year's installment surprised me, in fact, because it ended up having quite a bit of heart. INXS unexpectedly lost its lead-singer, Michael Hutchence, several years ago and found a worthy replacement on Rockstar in J.D. Fortune. Their new album, aptly titled Switch, is quite catchy.

INXS, though undoubtedly a "serious" band, always had a certain pop-ish dimension to it. At minimum they were more radio-friendly than were Motley Crue and, in their early days, Metallica. As such, it didn't seem so surprising to me that they'd turn to a reality TV show--ostensibly a singing contest--to find a new singer. I'm more surprised to find Supernova doing this. I remember the days when metal acts used to anchor their authenticity in a kind of cool, underground status, whether real or perceived. Supernova clearly doesn't have any such pretensions.

I realize that Rockstar promotes the band and gives its members an opportunity to see which contestant the largest audience will embrace well in advance of their having to make a final selection. The show's an enormously clever marketing and market-research campaign, to say the least, but to tell you the truth, I kind of miss the days when a singing contest would have been uncool for a metal band.


Jonathan said...

That show surprised me too. I'm so tired of American Idol, but somehow Rock Star has something a little more. Maybe it's because it starts with people who already sing?

You know, there's an apocryphal story about metal auditions. Apparently, when Metallica lost Cliff Burton, they auditioned a bunch of bassists including Les Claypool from Primus. Claypool said it didn't quite click, especially when he asked if they'd like to jam on some Isley Brothers tunes. . . .

I just looked and the story's in Claypool's wikipedia entry.

Ted Striphas said...

Hi Jonathan,

I hear you about American Idol. Though I've been known to watch it from time to time, it's never quite engaged me in the way that Rockstar has. The former's a little bit stodgy, I think, while the latter's a little bit rock 'n roll.

Your anecdote about Les Claypool is an amusing one. It kind of reminds me of what happened on Rockstar just this week, after the band eliminated the contestant who covered Duran Duran's "Planet Earth"--this despite his "dropping the guitars down to D."