Rock Star Supernova
Well, it’s finally here. After an entire summer filled with its reality TV show, Rock Star Supernova released their debut album.
All the ingredients are correct – rock veterans Tommy Lee, Gilby Clarke, and Jason Newsted and their hand-picked singer, Lukas Rossi, who has a distinct style. It’s a great combination. So can someone please explain why this is a train wreck?
The album starts with “It’s On.” Good title, it hints at some sort of fighting anthem where skulls are a crackin’. The instruments are pretty solid and relatively fast, but the vocals are just Rossi howling for three minutes. During the TV show, he was criticized for not having enough range. Well, apparently he wants to prove he does.
“Leave the Lights On” debuted on the TV show and was sung by a female contestant so hearing the official version is a hard adjustment. Rossi is essentially talking, but manages to shine during the chorus. The catch? His voice is layered by weird voices and it’s over-stylized.
But my biggest gripe with the album? Gilby Clarke’s self-indulgent guitar solos. This becomes really noticeable in “Leave the Lights On.” Everything just stops so Clarke can get solo time. It’s ridiculous.
Now it’s time for the power ballad section. Ushered in by “It’s All Love,” Rossi starts to sound like the man the audiences loved over the summer. The song crawls along but has a catchy tune and Rossi’s signature sound gives it an edge – wait! Guitar solo. Okay, continue.
“Can’t Bring Myself to Light This Fuse” is a disaster. Rossi sounds like a little girl, the piano is almost as laughable as Rossi’s voice, and the lyrics are pathetic. Can this really come from a band that has members of Metallica in it?
They picked a good song to follow that disaster – “Underdog.” Clarke is trying to steal the show, of course, and it’s hard to pick out the surprisingly great bass line. Lee’s drumming is pretty unremarkable but here Rossi is amazing. He shows his gritty side and is able to swing into a high register seamlessly without sounding ridiculous.
The saving grace of the entire album is “Social Disgrace,” for which Clarke actually gets some props for having an exquisite guitar riff. Rossi employs the same vocal tactic as “Underdog,” where he sings low then swings into a higher voice, showing that he’s not just a gruff mumble-mouth like he was on the show. Rejoice SNL lovers, Lee gives us more cowbell! It’s a little odd, but the bell does make an impression.
Then comes the slap in the face. For some reason, a church choir starts singing on the last song. Why they’re there is anyone’s guess because the song is called “The Dead Parade” and is about people who go their own way. Dumb lyrics return, with a melodramatic wailing of “my life is a roller coaster!” Shut up. Clarke remembers that it’s the last song on the album, so he smashes on for a minute of extra nonsense. Rossi sounds good despite the moronic lyrics, and Lee does a great job, just like on every other song on the album.
“Rock Star Supernova” is one of those albums that must be listened to several times for the artistry to be appreciated. At face value, it sounds like some commercial romp for a bunch of has-been rockers and one guy who desperately wants to be rich and famous. But in a society that worships fast food and fast cash, who has time to listen to the same thing over and over again just to start liking it?