Does anybody remember Rock Star: Supernova? It was the TV show that introduced the “super band” Supernova, featuring Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, and former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, and a lead singer who would be chosen from a group of hopefuls in an American Idol-type show where the winner would be based on a mix of audience voting and band member selection. As it turns out, Canadian Lukas Rossi won the contest, and Supernova released one kinda okay album that nobody really cared about, and broke up like everyone expected.
One of my favorite talents to come 0ut of the show was Ryan Star, a native New Yorker with a scratchy voice that caught my attention with some great soulful singing and original songwriting. The lead singer of the 90’s band Stage, Ryan Star released an acoustic (mostly piano-based) album, Songs from the Eye of an Elephant in 2005, before competing on the show.
Star didn’t win the show, obviously, but he seemed to have caught the attention of show host Dave Navarro, and Mark Burnett, the show’s producer, set up Ryan and the show’s House Band to record a live album, to help Ryan jump start his career, after he was eliminated. The goal of the album was to supposedly keep Ryan in the limelight (he also did an appearance on the show’s finale) until he could finish recording his big album, supposedly for release later that year (2006).
It’s 2010, and the damn thing has finally been released. 11:59 finally came out recently, featuring 10 tracks (3 bonus tracks if purchased through iTunes) and, I hate to say it…but it wasn’t worth the wait.
Don’t get me wrong, Ryan Star still has a damn distinctive voice. Once you’ve heard his singing, you’ll be able to pick it out easily. The problem is that the passion and feeling that were in his previous releases (pick up the Stage album and thank me later) has been replaced with poppy overproduction and Avril Lavigne-esque beats that…well, I hate to cry “sell out,” but damn. It’s such a departure from previous releases, it’s hard to think of it as anything but.
That’s not to say it’s all bad – the album is catchy, and it’s not a horrible listen. Tracks like “Brand New Day” (the theme song for Fox’s “Lie to Me” TV show), “Start a Fire,” and “Back of Your Car” are standouts, and there really isn’t a bad track on the album. It just…doesn’t feel like four years worth of effort. Not only that, of the 10 tracks, five have been previously released, and two are remakes of tracks from Songs From the Eye of an Elephant. So, we essentially get 3 actual new songs, and 3 bonus tracks (if you pay for the deluxe edition), one of which is also a remake.
I’m a fan, but I’m also not a blind fan, and the release feels skimpy, considering the wait, and the amount of actual new material on the album hardly feels worth the price of admission. I hope for the best for Star, but I think he needs to go back to the music that gave him a devoted fan base in the first one. Let’s compare: