REVIEW: Rock Star – Music from the Motion Picture (2001)

Scan_20150812ROCK STAR – Music from the Motion Picture (2001 Warner)

I remember dragging my long-suffering girlfriend at the time out to see this movie.  She had every right to complain.  The movie was a stinker, absolutely.  Not to mention, it had no idea when it is taking place.  Vaguely, the 80’s, but then after this guy (Marky Mark) leaves the band (Steel Dragon), he goes and becomes the founder of grunge?  The movie sucked!  It was very, very loosely inspired by the story of Ripper Owens being discovered by Judas Priest, by being in a Judas Priest cover band.  In the movie, Marky Mark becomes the singer of Steel Dragon after their original singer (who also happens to be gay, hmmm?) quits.  It was supposed to be a really inspiring story of the everyman with talent who succeeded, but it ended up being just a normal everyday turd.

But listen, we’re not talking about the movie.  We’re looking strictly at the soundtrack CD.  I ask you one simple question: If you were to pick one band to write and play the title anthem for a movie about a heavy metal band in the 80’s, who would it be?  Obviously the answer is Everclear.  (I say “obviously”, because a whole bunch of suits who get paid a whole lot more than I do picked it, so they must be right.)  Actually, their tune “Rock Star” isn’t bad.  It sounds a bit like an old Canadian rock band called Deadline, actually.

Scan_20150812 (3)

It’s astounding, but Zakk shaved his beard to get that 80’s look back!

The main attraction of the CD is actually the original tunage by the fictional band Steel Dragon.  On record, the lineup was:

  • Zakk Wylde – lead guitar
  • Jason Bonham – drums
  • Jeff Pilson – bass
  • Nick Cantonese – guitar
  • Mike Matijevic – lead vocals
  • Jeff Scott Soto – lead vocals

See why I dragged that poor girlfriend out to see this movie?  Zakk, Jason and Jeff were in even the movie, as the band Steel Dragon.

They had two lead singers, while Marky Mark mimed.  Jeff Scott Soto sings the raspy, mid-rangey stuff such as “Livin’ the Life”.  This isn’t a bad rock tune, but it’s Zakk’s guitar that makes it perk up a bit.  Mike Matijevic (Steelheart) sings the smooth and screamy stuff, with his impeccable range.  “We All Die Young” is a bonafide  great songs.  Matijevic’s stunning vocals meeting Zakk Wylde’s leads is probably a wet dream for some folks!  The only problem with it is that it doesn’t sound accurate to the period.  The movie is supposed to take place in the early 80’s (I think) but “We All Die Young” sounds early 90’s.  But wait…we’re supposed to be talking about the CD, not the movie.  Fuck the movie!

“Blood Pollution” (written by Twiggy Ramirez, interestingly) has Matijevic singing, but as with “Livin’ the Life” the song isn’t that special.  It sounds like Motley Crue, except with Zakk Wylde on guitar and a better Vince Neil.  Jeff Scott Soto helms “Stand Up”, which is way heavier than you’d expect considering Sammy Hagar wrote it!  This version actually came out before Sammy’s, on 2002’s Not 4 Sale and has different lyrics.  “Stand Up” kicks ass, and along with “We All Die Young” is one of the soundtrack highlights.  Just listen to Zakk killing it in that fast part! It’s also one of the few tunes with that patented, genetic Bonham Stomp.

Another track right up Motley Crue’s alley is “Wasted Generation”, and with its Desmond Child co-write it’s a lot heavier than expected. Jeff Scott kicks ass on the anthemic punchy chorus, and Zakk’s shredding is tasty. The final Steel Dragon tune on the disc is a Rainbow cover — “Long Live Rock and Roll” with Matijevic singing. I never understood why the band Steel Dragon would be playing a Rainbow cover, since it is implied that Steel Dragon were active in the 70’s too, contemporaries with Rainbow. But we’re here to talk about the CD, not that piece of shit movie. “Long Live Rock and Roll” with Zakk Wylde on guitar…it’s not what you’d hope it would be. Bonham’s awesome though, and remarkably Ian Paice-like.

The rest of the disc contains various hits from various bands from various years.  The Verve Pipe – “Colorful” (2001), check!  INXS – “The Devil Inside” (1987), check! Why? Who the fuck knows. I like some INXS, it’s completely out of place. I suppose that a soundtrack for you. More suiting to the tone of the CD are Kiss’ “Lick It Up” (1983), Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” (1986), Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” (1975), and Motley Crue’s “Wild Side” (1987). I do wonder why “Stranglehold” seems to be the only Nugent that ever shows up on movie soundtracks.  At least Marky Mark doesn’t have any songs.

The final song, Trevor Rabin’s “Gotta Have It” sounds like end credits music, but I’m not going to watch that crummy movie to find out. Rabin’s track is excellent, as should be expected. It sounds like Rabin, which is all I can really say to describe it!

So: Rock Star, a shit movie, gave us a pretty OK soundtrack. Considering I (and probably you) already had the Nugent, Kiss, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue songs, I salvaged seven tracks from the album as keepers: the six Steel Dragon tunes, and Trevor Rabin. There are 14 songs, so this time the math is easy.

2.5/5 stars

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42 comments

  1. Aw, I didn’t think the movie was that bad, not that good but I didn’t hate it. I watch movies secure in the belief that Hollywood doesn’t give two shits about historical accuracy. That’s why I was so fanatical about it when I wrote Rock and Roll Children. At the end, when Marky makes up with his former cover band guitarist, I thought they were forming an acoustic band, to which my reaction was “no they wouldn’t.” The end does spoil the movie. As for the soundtrack, I like it although I have the same reservations about INXS being on it. Another thing about the movie, one thing they did get right about the 80s, although you only saw them for a second, was the Jesus Freaks who used to plague concerts back then. Nowadays, it seems like they’ve been written out of history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Still have to get Rock and Roll Children — I know I keep saying it. So you cover this movie in the book?

      Good point on the Jesus Freaks. I have a story about that from when I was a kid. I was the kid who wore a Judas Priest shirt to Catholic school. You can imagine how that went over.

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      1. No I don’t mention the movie in the book. What I meant was that when you watch a film, historical accuracy isn’t a focus point. Basically, Hollywood doesn’t care about things like that. I didn’t want to do that when I wrote the book because I wanted to make sure I was 100% historically accurate. Like you pointed out, there are so many historical goofs in Rock Star that it doesn’t even come close.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ahh, I understand what you mean. Yes, that bugs me about movies. I got that from my dad. He’d be watching a film set in the past, and he’d say, “That car hadn’t come out yet,” and pick out all these problems. He’s big on war movies. If a war movie is historically inaccurate, he wants nothing to do with it. I think he hates U-571 for that reason alone!

          Liked by 1 person

        1. It was pretty bad though. I’m going to write the story about it. It was NO FUN being the kid called out for wearing the Priest shirt. But I was so innocent and naive that I never realized it was “offensive” to anyone…even at my Catholic school. I really did not know any better and that’s the truth!

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  2. A rare disagreement, as I love this movie. It’s not a work of art and there are many plot holes, issues with accents, etc,, but the first hour or so (through the scene at the party following his first gig with Steel Dragon) is as fun as a music movie can be. Most of the music is a blast as well. My favorite scene is actually a subtle one. During the press conference introducing “Izzy” they show his old tribute band watching it on TV. When they get to his best friend, he slowly cracks a smile showing how happy he is (while all the others are insanely jealous).

    Perhaps my love for Rock Star stems from the circumstances of seeing it for the first time. As a New Yorker dealing with the 9/11 attacks, it was the first movie I saw in a theater and it allowed me to breathe for the first time in a few weeks. For that I’ll always be grateful.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Totally remember seeing this movie, by myself (no girlfriend at the time, no friends or family actually interested in seeing this) on the day of its release, September 7, 2001, at the first showing of the day at a theater complex that has since been razed. I actually was really looking forward to it, and remember the long gestation period that took to get it OK’d and finished, by this time WITHOUT the cooperation of Judas Priest! Of course, the following Tuesday changed our world forever, and this movie always has a weird feel to it for me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I remember that long gestation period too! It went through many permutations, and did Priest ever distance themselves from it afterwards.

        With your comment and Rich’s…and the timing with 9/11…I have a new perspective on this. I never put the two together in my mind before.

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    2. Wow Rich. Having heard from you and uncleb13, about the timing with 9/11…I now have a whole new perspective on this. I’m very glad to have posted this, to get your comments and his too.

      I do love that press conference scene. I know you moment you mean. The “friendship means most” moment.

      Trivia — The singer that Marky Mark picks out of the crowd to replace him is Myles Kennedy!

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    1. Probably! See, I always confuse Timothy Spall in Rock Star with Timothy Spall in Still Crazy. Except in that one, he was the drummer. Still looked the same though. In that one, Billy Connolly was the roadie. Just awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never seen this. Remember it, but never ever seen it. Can’t believe this is 14 years old, though. Jings! Anyhoo, the soundtrack is interesting … and it’s got me thinking I might check out the movie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well considering the positive comments, you probably should check out the movie! I sold my copy a while ago.

      I think this is the most disagreement I’ve had yet in a review (not including trolls of course).

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  4. Hollywood should make a movie about a Rockstar being replaced by a lookalike, and the real Rockstar hiding in a bloggers basement. It could be called Rockstar 2, the theme song could be Rockstar by Nickelback, and the fake band could be from Europe.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “If you were to pick one band to write and play the title anthem for a movie about a heavy metal band in the 80’s, who would it be? Obviously the answer is Everclear. ”

    Dammit, and I was gonna guess Third Eye Blind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw this movie, at my in-laws, and I don’t think it was all THAT bad… not GREAT, but not BAD. I mean, put Marky Mark and Rachel from Friends in a movie and you’re really taking your chances, but it surely could have been worse. I never heard the soundtrack, though from your description I think I’d agree with your rating (given the tracks included). I can’t remember – was there Verve Pipe and INXS’ music in the movie? Maybe that’s why they’re there?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know for sure INXS was in the movie…but still…why not just pick another song, from the actual time period instead of 1987?

      Funny how I seem to be the only one really down on this movie! I really didn’t expect that.

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