You don’t like this album, at least you’re not supposed to. Every bone in your body tells you this album, on general principle should sound only moderately more pleasing than fingernails on a blackboard.
Michael Hutchence is irreplaceable. It goes without saying, and that very fact is reason number one why this album should be ignored, cast aside, and generally avoided. But for several weeks this summer, thousands of Americans watched Rockstar:INXS like Gapers at the scene of a grisly auto accident in morbid fascination as Dave Navarro and Brooke Burke hosted INXS pompous and generally overblown search for their new front man.
As the field narrowed we found ourselves left with Marty Casey and J.D. Fortune, two very different singers with very different styles, both quite talented vying for the impossible and unenviable job of filling Michael Hutchence’s shoes. We watched knowing that the 2 choices would take INXS in two very different directions. J.D. was a Hutchence clone, a budget-Michael if you will. Marty Casey, the bolder of the two choices would have taken the band in a new direction, it would have shown the world that the band wasn’t going to replace Michael so much as honor him and strike out in a different direction and take some chances.
In the end, they played it safe… and that choice is reason number two why this album should have gone straight to the cut-out bin, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, go directly to that purgatory of all music stores—branded with that ever so undesirable “Nice Price” sticker.
But much like the show, which was supposed to have been a ratings train wreck, being shuffled into ratings purgatory of Saturday night and quickly forgotten, this album is a surprise. The unexpected and unprecedented success of the show is the very reason INXS is selling out their 2006 World Tour and the very reason why this album is actually selling well.
In going commercial—INXS exposed themselves to a whole new audience, they did the ultimate PR move in giving the fans a say in their new lead singer, and it surprisingly paid off in spades.
Michael Hutchence will spin in his grave, die-hard INXS fans will throw tomatoes at me, they’ll accuse me of blasphemy, and condemn me to the stocks—so I’ll only say this once. This is the BEST INXS album since their smash hit, Kick. That’s right, as much as I want to hate this album, I find myself falling in love with it.
Despite all of the reasons not to like this album, if you listen with an open mind rather than with pre-conceived notions and the long list of reasons you’re not supposed to like it—if you actually give it a chance, you might find yourself reacting the same way I did—pleasantly surprised that it IS actually that damn good!