I feel the need to write something (anything) in support of Rockstar:INXS. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the very hot Dave Navarro (and my other little obsession, Brian Molko, thinks he's hot too), but I am totally, utterly hooked on the show.
Now, I will admit to being a bit of a reality TV junkie; I am a fan of The Apprentice and The Amazing Race, but normally anything to do with music makes me want to deafen myself with the nearest skewer. NZ Idol, in particular, is the lowest kind of dross that approves of barely disguised hiphop and painful sounding vocal gymnastics while reviling a good rock performance whereever it may be found.
I hadn't planned on watching Rockstar. I had actively planned on not watching it, in fact. But, some friend of mine had their second baby the day it started showing here. I was babysitting their first, and waiting for the Dad to get home from the hospital. There was a TV guide on the table, and I foolishly read the article about the show, decided Dave Navarro was compelling (but not hot at that stage), and foolishly didn't change channel when the show came on. Now I am completely and irrevocably hooked. Even though the show is three nights a week, even though NZ for some reason is getting the show two weeks behind the civilised world and therefore can't vote, even though some of the so-called rockers irritate the snot out of me. I live for the nights it is on, and spend the other four nights a week wishing it was on. I've never felt this way about a TV show before.
Why do I like it? I love the music, and I love the fact that it is not butchered (generally speaking) by the rockers -- they are true professionals, not Joe-Schmo off the street. Dave Navarro is hot. The little guy from INXS who plays the bass is too cute for words. The show does not focus on the backbiting jealousies of the individual rockers (in fact, as far as I can tell apart from JD pissing nearly everyone off, there aren't any), but rather on their development as stars. And there are some genuinely likeable people on it (Mig Ayesa, if you're reading this, I am talking about you).
None of that, however, makes my absolute love of the show defensible from any sane person's standpoint. I've thought a lot about the show and why I don't feel like it is a sellout for INXS, and why I find it in any way bearable. I think it is a great thing for INXS to do. It has been eight years since Michael Hutchence died, and in that time INXS has sung with a number of people and not found a new lead singer.
This is not a show they have done right off the bat -- it has been in consideration for three years leading up to production. INXS wanted to find the very best person for the job, and they wanted to hear who the public thought was that person too. I don't see how they can do that without a TV show. And yet, INXS have maintained the ultimate creative control -- they make the decisions, not the public. The rockers are also very much in training to be rock stars, each week they do something that will be useful for them in any future rock career, and for the person who is the most right for INXS mean that INXS doesn't have to teach them all that stuff. They are not looking for an idol-type singer, they're looking for someone who can play an instrument and write songs, who can really contribute. And I think they are looking for someone to help move them forward; they responded well to a rocker who decided to take things in their own direction, and then explained that they could not and would not subvert their own personality to INXS.
INXS is not going to be the same animal it was when Michael Hutchence was the lead singer, that much is certain. But what is also rapidly becoming clear, is that INXS accept that, and just want the best new person for the job -- and it is also certain that they will be getting someone very talented indeed. In fact, unless there are weird contractual obligations, I have no doubt we will be hearing from most of the final six or seven regardless of who wins.
In the end, this is the only way INXS could attract talented people and get public input. They are genuinely seeking a new lead singer with a personality. They have maintained creative control over the final choice -- and have exercised it in getting rid of two people in a single show when they felt neither was good enough. And let's face it -- this isn't reality TV; there will be no sequel, and the prize is not a million dollars and go back to your normal life -- the prize is a job, and respect that the person who gets the job will have to earn. Reality TV always makes things way too easy. This is real TV. And I love it.