It was kind of embarrassing when the host of The Next Great American Band touted the two million votes received by the show’s phone lines last week, although you had to give him credit for trying: Compared to this year’s record sales, after all, two million does sound like a big number. (Which makes one wonder: Is the prize of a record deal really all that great? Another question for another time, I suppose.) Anyway, with only three bands remaining, each band got to perform three–three!–songs; two covers selected by the show’s powers that be and one original. And the post-show voting would be not for the purpose of saving a band from getting voted off, but to allow one band to declare victory! Which fanbase would sacrifice its Friday night for the chance to make their band No. 1 on one of prime-time TV’s lowest-rated shows?
WELL, FIRST OF ALL, HERE’S WHO’S OUT: Light of Doom. Which was inevitable, but a little sad, if only because their getting voted off meant that …
NO NO NO: Denver and the Mile High Orchestra would be sticking around. And for their first song, Sheila E. cruelly had them perform Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” Which started off decent–the band’s brass section is nothing if not competent–but fell down on the falsetto-rich chorus. Could Denver have any less charisma? Would the crowd members who booed when Dicko said that the band seemed like more of a novelty act than an album-oriented one actually shell out money for their full length?
Denver et al’s second song was
Vehicle’s “Ides Of March,” Ides of March’s “Vehicle,” about which less said the better, although I should note that Denver had less charisma and sounded even more honkified on this song than his previous outing. But Sheila liked it. (I think it’s the church thing, I really do.) Their third song was an original that sounded like every other one of their performances, since their specialty isn’t “making songs their own” as much as it is “shoehorning anything they can find into their narrowly defined template.”
CHANGE THE (POP) WORLD(?): The Clark Brothers were first given Eric Clapton’s “Change The World” as their cover by Johnny (because the lyrics were “very, very deep,” he said), and they gave it a slightly nervous, but typically smoky, picking-heavy rendition. Sure, their take would never make it on the call-out-research-heavy radio landscape of today, but you at least have to give them credit for “making the song their own” without turning it into a cheesefest.
That doesn’t mean that they can turn every song into something good. After all, it’s sort of hard to steer clear of the dairy mines when you’re saddled with Lonestar’s “Amazed,” which was their second track. Can I call sabotage? They raised themselves out of the fondue swamp with their third performance, a frenzied version of “This Little Light Of Mine,” but wait… why do I feel like I’ve heard them do this before? Oh, wait.
WALKING THE WIRE: Dicko gave Sixwire “Reeling In The Years” by Steely Dan, and they once again gave the song a totally competent bar-band take on it, with slightly rickety harmonies and a somewhat decently executed double-guitar riff. Have I mentioned that I fucking hate Steely Dan so much that they make my teeth hurt? It’s like… between this and the Rod Stewart episode, the powers that be make me want to not like this show. And I may not have a PeopleMeter, but I do count! I’m one of the few people watching this show until its bitter end!
Anyway, Sixwire’s second song was “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & John Ford Coley. The one thing about these producer-picked songs: I’m finding out who actually sang songs that I had a vague knowledge of thanks to my incessant radio-flipping. Their third performance, the original “Good To Be Back,” was a choogly rocker that had a lot of big harmonies and sounded good… but it was also the song they performed at their audition. So now I’m guessing that the producers are just figuring that no one has been watching all the way through, or that anyone who is has put the audition episode out of their heads. Maybe? Yes?
WHO’S GOING TO WIN: It’s a crapshoot, really (and the lousy numbers and nonexistent online buzz for the show don’t help much as far as helping predict a winner). For radio-readiness, Sixwire’s the clear winner; as far as cuteness and an “it” factor, the Clark Brothers have the advantage. But given the craptasticness of this show, there has to be only one winner, and I’m talking about the one remaining band that has God on its side and a really cheesy guy serving as its frontman.
Next week: The finale! Where the winner is announced–and there may be a Goo Goo Dolls performance!