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''Rock Star'' Tonight, A Bit of ''Celebrity Duets''

By RD Heldenfels Published: August 29, 2006

The Dilana melodrama continued tonight, and I'm not buying it. As the field of singers gets smaller (six tonight), the show wants more narrative to fill the hour. And, I still suspect, the show would like to dampen Dilana's vote totals some, or at least give the appearance of dampening it, so viewers go to the final show with a little suspense. But she still comes across as the most logical person to front Supernova, and by drawing out her drama, ''Rock Star'' also let her close the show. Though she wasn't, to my great surprise, the best performance of the night, maybe not even second best.

To the scorecard: Lukas led off with ''Lithium,'' prefaced by the acknowledgement that Dilana had done it before. In fact, this ''fan vote'' night found a lot of singers performing songs that other singers had done before. Maybe that's meant to let fans see the contrast in styles and ability more clearly, but it still makes me think the show didn't license many songs.

Anyway, Lukas did a lot of posturing, showed a lot of attitude, went from mild to menacing -- and I was still pretty much bored by it. (And to all of you would-be musicians in the audience, if you believe in doing that soft/screaming/soft contrasting stuff, check out the legendary Cactus performance of ''You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover.'' From 1970. All groundwork laid. Hard to top, too.) Lukas gets a C.

Magni. ''I Alone.'' OK, I like Magni, and not just because he downplayed the scratch on his head. He's able to invoke Cat Stevens and rock hard. But when he went into the crowd, it felt phony -- strolling through but not making contact. Reminded me of a time the bride saw Jim Brown at Cleveland airport; he walked through the crowd, and the crowd carefully made way for him. C plus for Magni.

Ryan, ''Clocks.'' By this performance, I made a note about ''comic book night,'' because all three of the performances so far had their cartoony moments, and Ryan was the worst caricature. I'd give him a C, and most of that is for the House Band, which killed. I'd go see them play this song anywhere, with or without Ryan.

Storm. ''Bring Me to Life.'' The no-argument best performance of the night. Amazed that the judges were harsh. She's a terrific singer and dramatic to boot, and this was high drama. If the House Band was playing ''Clocks'' on one side of town, and Storm was starring in ''Evita'' on the other, I'd go see Storm in ''Evita.''

Toby got a double-dip tonight, backing Storm and then doing ''Rebel Yell'' on his own. Doing it reasonably well, too. But bringing the women onstage was clumsy, broke his momentum in the song and made the remainder look terribly unspontaneous. I didn't buy the women's enthusiasm for a second. This would have been a B, but the stunt dropped it to B minus.

Dilana. ''Mother Mother.'' Technically, pretty good. And the showmanship -- aside from some hokey climbing on the set and the band -- was another reminder of why she'd fit with Supernova. But it didn't do it for me overall. B, maybe, B minus. Too much melodrama setting it up.

The quickie vote results at the end of the show had Ryan, Lukas and Storm in the bottom three.

All told, I was disappointed in ''Rock Star,'' especially after sampling ''Celebrity Duets.'' So many things wrong with that show. The judges -- David Foster, Little Richard and Marie Osmond -- were giving a lot of the singers a free ride on this special premiere. Marie is calculatingly sweet and Little Richard was obviously told not to talk too much, but Foster was a tart presence on ''American Idol'' and I expected more here. I also fear one of those how-they've-grown arcs is already in the works, keeping the hideous Carly Patterson around just to chart her progress from bad singer to -- well, based on that first number, I'm not convinced she'll grow all that much.

I have more of the show to see, but in what I've seen, my favorite moments were Lucy Lawless singing (because she can), Smokey Robinson (because Hal Sparks at least had the good sense to know Smokey was going to crush him long before the duet began) and Chris Jericho's awkward body language with Lee Ann Womack. Womack was having none of his reaching out during their song, and had to be stopped from fleeing the stage when the song was over.

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