Maybe it's the excessive heat here on the East Coast, but I'm just not turned on by tonight's performances. Even Brooke Burke, apparently wearing a studded bra, isn't doing much to lift my spirits. So instead of flipping off everyone's performances, I'll focus on giving the thumbs-up to the five singers I think best represented the essence of rock and roll. After all, I do try to be a pint glass half-full kind of guy. Herewith, I raise my goblet of rock to:
Neal: This guy is the real deal. And he even plays guitar! He's just totally natural. The lambskin to the latex, if you will. Last night's take on "Summer of '69" may have been a bit ragged, but it was oh-so-right. Both Bryan Adams and Ryan Adams should take note.
J.D.: I haven't been exactly enthusiastic over J.D. thus far, but he's changed my mind. I always felt that every great performance should give you chills, if only for a brief instant. I call it the "chill moment." J.D.'s inventive arrangement of Alanis' "Hand in My Pocket" was last night's chill moment, hands-down.
Tara: Get out the holy water. Sometime between her rehearsal of "Paranoid" and the actual performance, Tara must have become possessed, cause she sang the hell out of this Sabbath classic. Tara, I give you the devil-horns salute.
Jordis: Picking Hoobastank's "The Reason" was a super-risky move kind of like wearing a Justin Timberlake T-shirt to Ozzfest. It is one tough song to sing. Even Hoobastank themselves can't pull it off. (Check out their attempt at the 2004 Video Music Awards to hear what I mean.) Fortunately, Jordis showed 'em how it should be done.
Brandon: When given the chance, play some Skynyrd! Brando is obviously aware of this Rule of Rock. There's just something about "Sweet Home Alabama" that brings out the Southerner in all of us. Heck, I'm from the Poconos, but they just as well might be the Smokies when I hear that opening riff.
Finally, I'm taking bets on what the increasingly eccentric Dave Navarro will wear on Wednesday night. Any takers? Monday found him in feathers, while last night he was decked out in a fur-collared leather jacket. I say he ends up in scales, if not wrapped in the serpent itself. Ride the snake, Dave.