Thursday, August 25, 2005

I'm with the band

Choire Sicha writes about Rockstar: INXS

But still, there's a nostalgia to the show that the fresh-faced contestants aren't quite aware of. For those of us in our 30s, it's like traveling to a beach vacation town where the bars play happy '70s disco, punky '80s new wave. Even the music one hated back then sounds great now — because it sounds like you're young again.

As a TV show, though, it's failing for a simple enough reason: Because the contestants have to sell the idea to INXS that they'd make good, happy bandmates, the show lacks drama. That absence is so apparent that the show's episode slated for Monday night, the "behind the scenes episode" where the reality-show shenanigans would normally take place, recently and untraditionally moved from CBS to VH1, where it will air on Sundays.

And yet on a recent episode, Unga overcame her young nerves; she nearly burst into tears during her stellar version of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World." (As a performance, it was better than even Kurt Cobain's cover of the song.) And that's why I tune in, three bloody nights a week, even if the show generally is about as honestly rock 'n' roll as an Oxnard-based wedding cover band. Sometimes the contestants do more than make me reminisce; maybe they'll reinvent rock all afresh.

Maybe it is just the nostalgia value, but I do enjoy this show. And I’m not much of a fan of reality shows - can’t stand American Idol as it’s just mostly bad singers performing mostly bad songs. The one reality show I did enjoy was the BBC show Castaway.

Back to INXS, probably what I enjoy most about it is its straight-forwardness. There aren’t a lot of gimmicks, just the contestants taking the stage and singing. And how they sing. Most of them are older than the typical AI contestant and have experience performing with a band. These are people with true musical chops and actual stage presence, not some Whitney/Britney wannabe.


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