This rock album, featuring 30 tracks and over 40 guests, is from one of the most well-known and powerful voices in country music. However, at times it seems like a large and excessive effort. The song “Bygones,” which is an original composition, features Parton alongside Rob Halford from Judas Priest and Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe, with the latter competing with Parton for the most hairspray. The cover of “Let It Be” is overdone, with not just Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, but also Peter Frampton and Mick Fleetwood contributing. The lead single “World on Fire” shows Parton passionately speaking out against society’s problems, but it promised much more depth and meaning.
Amidst the hair metal fans and loud, flashy songs, there are several collaborations that put women in the forefront, often with a sharper or more playful tone. The duet between Dolly Parton and Debbie Harry on Heart of Glass brings a refreshing new wave element. And a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven featuring Lizzo – and her famous flute Sasha – is not only clever but also brilliant.
It is not necessary to exert excessive effort to find a convincing feminist interpretation of popular songs like (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, especially when Parton collaborates with Pink and Brandi Carlile. However, as a whole, Rockstar is a cleverly packaged commercial product that misses out on its artistic potential.