DVD Review: Rock Star: INXS The DVD
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: January 10, 2006
When Rock Star: INXS premiered, CBS had high hopes for this competition to find a new lead singer for the band INXS. It was produced by Realitymeister Mark Burnett. It was a musical competition a la Fox's American Idol. It capitalized on the known quantity of INXS, a band that, while no longer in its heyday, was ubiquitous in the late 1980s and had a strong catalog of music to draw on. CBS scheduled Rock Star: INXS for three nights a week -- an episode showing the contestants in their "house" (yes, it had a dash of Real World as well) preparing for the competition, an episode of singing competition (followed by the audience vote), and a third episode where the three contestants receiving the lowest number of votes competed to remain on the show.
Unfortunately for CBS, the ratings for Rock Star: INXS didn't measure up to their grand expectations. The "house" episode was unceremoniously moved to VH-1, and advertisements for the show stopped being broadcast in heavy rotation.
But a funny thing happened. The ratings for Rock Star: INXS picked up. Word of mouth brought people in. Strong singers and excellent variety of songs -- not to mention the Best House Band Evah -- proved that there's a market for quality. By the end of the run, Rock Star: INXS was a hit, and CBS contemplated the possibility of Rock Star: Someone Else.
Perhaps not wanting to push their luck (or perhaps because the music rights would be too expensive), the DVD for Rock Star: INXS is not a duplication of the entire series. In a way, I'm sorry, because I missed a lot of the episodes in the house. But the narrower focus provides a good selection of what made Rock Star: INXS great.
The performances are the centerpiece of the DVD, and, as with The Best of American Idol, the concentration is on the best performances. Only the top finishers are showcased. The set list is as follows:
- JD Fortune - "California Dreamin'"
- Jordis Unga - "Heart Shaped Box"
- Suzie McNeil - "Losin' My Religion"
- Marty Casey - "Mr. Brightside"
- Ty Taylor - "Everybody Hurts"
- Jordis Unga - "The Man Who Sold The World"
- Mig Ayesa - "Live And Let Die"
- JD Fortune - "The Letter"
- Marty Casey - "Baby, One More Time"
- Suzie McNeil - "Bring It On Home"
- Ty Taylor - "No Woman, No Cry"
- Jordis Unga - "Imagine"
- Marty Casey - "Creep"
- Mig Ayesa - "Kiss From A Rose"
- JD Fortune - "Money"
- Marty Casey - "Wish You Were Here"
- Suzie McNeil - "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Everyone has their favorites, and I can't understand the omission of JD Fortune's version of "Hand In My Pocket," but this is still a great selection. I was particularly delighted at the inclusion of Jordis Unga's "Heart Shaped Box," Marty Casey's "Baby One More Time" and Ty Taylor's "No Woman, No Cry." I was also pleased at the menu choices on the DVD, which provide "play all" options either with or without the introductory comments of the competitors (as well, as, of course, the option to select individual songs).
The disc also includes the "first concert" for the new INXS, which took place immediately after the finale. While the band and the new lead ... oh, it's JD! Okay? It's JD Fortune! They have it plastered on the box, and it's not like they even show the finale episode on the DVD ... while the band and JD still hadn't had a chance to develop tight synergy, there's still enough chemistry to show that INXS made a good choice. The mini-concert consists of "Need You Tonight," "Never Tear Us Apart," "Suicide Blonde," "Pretty Vegas," and "Don't Change."
The bonus features are less successful than the actual performances. There are 12 "behind the scenes" segments, most one or two minutes in length. If you haven't seen the show, they won't mean much, and if you have seen the show, they don't really add much either. Even more disappointing are the three "Too Hot For TV" sections. These would barely qualify for an episode of Benny Hill, much less be too hot for TV. I'd thought that the casting interviews would be interesting, and had really been looking forward to hearing auditions, but instead the casting interviews were, well, interviews, and superficial ones at that. Overall, the DVD would have been better served by presenting some of the episodes in the house, as opposed to these random snippets.
Or perhaps they should have included more performances. Because it was the performances that ultimately ended up bringing in the ratings for Rock Star: INXS, and it's the performances that make this a DVD worth adding to your collection -- especially at the one-disc price.