The Next Great American Crap
Raise your hand if you watch American Idol. Okay, fair enough. Now, raise your hand if you have been watching one of their latest spinoffs, The Next Great American Band. You know, I was sort of excited for this show, to be perfectly honest. The problem I have with AI is it’s little more than a diva singing competition. I’m not a big solo performing artist fan anyway, except in cases where people I already respect from established groups expand their repertoire through solo stuff. Except Scott Strapp. DIAF Scott Strapp. You suck.
If you can’t tell from my tone yet, the only reason it’s on right now is because there’s nothing else on worth watching. I have an antenna and get a total of four channels. And crap like this is the reason I don’t even bother paying for cable. First off, the title for this show is all wrong. It should be: The Next Great American Cover Band. How the hell can you really tell how good the groups are if you never get to hear any original stuff? And if you know anything about music, you know you can’t throw a dozen bands together and ask them all to perform a single artist next week. Come on, asking a metal band to do Elton John? They’re doing it wrong.
So I want to just do a quick once over on this week to show you what you are “missing” out on. Don’t expect this to be a weekly occurrence, I don’t think I have the stomach for it.
Dominic Bowden: Well, he’s from New Zealand. He hosted New Zealand Idol. Apart from that, if he has any musical background, it’s not really a top career note for him. But he’s a host, so no big deal.
Sheila E.: She’s a 50 year old drummer. She’s never been in a notable band (unless you count Prince’s backup band). She’s worked with the likes of Prince and Ringo Starr, but a lot of performers have worked with lots of famous people. Doesn’t give them instant credibility. When you hear about great drummers, you will never see her name along with the likes of Neil Peart, John Bonham, Shinya. But by Buddha, she’s helping find the next great American band.
Ian Dickson: He’s a producer and essentially a counterpart to Simon Cowell. Because that’s how the formula has to work. He’s not as much of an ass, but he does have an accent (English or Australian, depending on the night, but in all fairness he is an English born Australian citizen. Double points!) .
John “How Emo is My Hair Now” Rzeznik: How can I put this delicately? If I had to choose a top 25 of band frontmen to judge on this show, I would lay down $20 that he wouldn’t make my list. The Goo Goo Dolls are okay. I know their singles alright. I have several of their albums. But seriously, they haven’t had a good one since 1998. The only reason Rzeznik still has a career in the first place is because people like spelling his name on stuff. He’s an average vocalist and an okay guitarist, and little more. He’s right at home next to Sheila E. anyway, because neither one is fit to pick from talent that should, in theory, be leagues beyond them. Then again…theory….
Dot Dot Dot: Jesus Christ…this band is the Sunjaya of TNGAB (that’s my clever way of shortening The Next Great American Band, because I don’t want to write it over and over). They refuse to die, despite all apparent logic. Their “frontman” is so androgynous that he gives David Bowie a hard on. Not to mention he’s a terrible singer, and their bassist looks like a used up 40 year old hooker. They’re like the special ed. version of My Chemical Romance. And I hate My Chemical Romance too. Every week I wait for them to go down in flames, and they keep coming back because every 12 year old idiot with a cell phone votes for them.
Denver and the Mile High Orchestra: I actually kinda like these guys. I like the big band quality to their music, and respect the work that goes into coordinating that much instrumentation. But the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones have been there, done that, and kicked these guys’ asses. Not edgy enough and too plain. Probably #2 in the show at this point though, however probably too unique of an arrangement to carry votes that far.
Sixwire: After week one (yes, I watched more than just this week’s episode, but I swear to Buddha that I don’t do it regularly), I said these guys would win. With who’s in the top 5, it’s a certainty now. The problem? Too country-rock. Big and Rich have already done it. But the fact that they are actually country doesn’t really come through, since 80% of the show performances are covers. They are a very tight, well rehearsed, generic band. They cover well, and play well together. I predict two albums before fading into obscurity.
The Clark Brothers: An acoustic three piece. Except…no. In fact, hell no. Sheila E. was speechless after their crappy rendition of You’re in My Heart. I can understand I suppose, I was pretty surprised by how awful it was too. Let’s name some famous three pieces, shall we? Rush. Green Day. ZZ Top. The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble. Cream. See, a three piece is pretty hard to screw up. Bass, guitar, drums. That’s sorta the essence of a trio. When you don’t have drums, and you don’t have bass, that pretty much makes you a novelty. They are pretty boys. They play their instruments fine, but there is no way that an acoustic three piece is the next great American band. I would stop listening to music if they were to win. If it weren’t for the musical poison that is Dot Dot Dot, these guys are at the bottom of my list.
Light of Doom: Okay, I am pulling for these kids. They are like Hanson, if Hanson was fueled by Satan. But seriously, this is a metal band comprised of 12 and 13 year olds that rock harder and play better than people I’ve seen twice their age. The down side, there’s a lot of growing up to do there. They can’t win, I don’t think, no matter how hard they try. In fact, I could see them dropping at any point. They didn’t even know who Elton John and Bernie Taupin were, not that I’d expect them too, but it was certainly funny when they had to say Bernie’s name. But you gotta admit, it’d be cool to be doing something like that at that age. But in the words of Denis Leary: “There’s a giant rehab festival just waiting to happen. Those kids are going to crash and burn, and it’s gonna be great. That drummer, what is he, six? They’re gonna find him in a hotel with an eight-ball and a hooker.”
Franklin Bridge: These guys got dropped three weeks ago. I only mention them, because they were my original #2. And in all fairness, I think they were the “surprise elimination.” They were probably the best band on the show, and the only reason I pegged them at #2 was because of Sixwire’s broader, generic appeal. Look them up, because they were very underrated, and sure as hell deserved to be on longer than Dot Dot Dot, Très Bien, and Cliff Wagner and the Old #7. They had a rocky-rap, funk rock, Lenny Kravitz kind of thing going on that worked really well for me.
So that’s that. I hope I didn’t spoil the fun for you. But really, there aren’t many reality shows that bug me like this one. Maybe because I enjoy music, and the fact that they think one of these bands deserves the break they’ll be getting is a mockery. In fact, none of the top 12 could really hold a candle against the likes of Aerosmith, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, or any other of the dozens of bands who’s music will live on longer than any of their members.