If you’re not old enough to hum along to the Bob Seger classic that this recap title refers to, then you’re definitely not old enough to remember any of the songs of tonight’s featured songwriters, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Host Dominic Bowden isn’t old enough, but he can read the teleprompter competently – so believe him when he says that Leiber & Stoller have written music history. Or tune him out, like I did, and groove to the Big Mama Thornton version of “Hound Dog” that plays in the background during the video intro. But I don’t need to sell these legendary songwriters to you – I’ll let the top seven bands of TNGAB do it, instead.
They’re trying to make me go to rehab, I won’t go, go, go
According to Dominic, there have been several million votes for the bands of TNGAB thus far. Methinks someone might have accidentally entered an extra zero on that teleprompter. Oh, but those few of us that watch the show like to pretend that we’re not the only ones watching, so sure, let’s go with that million-plus “estimate”. There’s eight bands currently cooling their heels in the green room, and only seven will perform a Leiber and Stoller hit this evening. For our continued amusement, the bands will dish the dirt on each other during their video intros.
First to be called this evening are our junior-high hairband kings, Light of Doom. What dirty little secrets can this group of youngsters have, anyway? It’s revealed that drummer Mitchell is an ‘80’s metalhead (the hell you say!), Lucas is hippie who has a talent for “scatting”, vocalist Erik is “always mad”, and Dillon is a poser. Nothing you can’t find in any eighth-grade classroom.
What you don’t find in most classrooms, though, is a group of enormously talented young musicians who, in spite of their tender ages, can totally tear up a cover of “Jailhouse Rock”. Possibly it’s because they don’t really know Elvis and therefore have no basis of comparison, but the boys turn in what very well might be their best performance yet. Solid musically, and harder-rocking than the original – but still keeping the melody intact – LOD scores big on both musicianship and showmanship. The judges are hugely pleased with tonight’s effort – rocker John Rzeznik is “speechless”, and jokes that it must be hard for them to relate to a song written before their grandmas were born (the boys nod in agreement). Sheila E., drummer to the stars, calls it “fabulous”, and gives special props to the guitar solo and to drummer Mitchell, but shakes a motherly finger at Erik for cursing. Dicko Dickson, music marketing guru (you can read about his thoughts on the remaining bands here) tells them they made a very good song choice, and quips that if they stay together for another 10 years, one of them will likely end up in the jailhouse. LOD looks comically concerned at the comment, and Dicko softens up to tell them it was a great performance.
I know families that have lots of boys, and I almost expect the Clark Brothers to be wrestling and giving each other nougies in their video. However, the brothers are a laid-back bunch – Adam is the irresponsible one, Austin is the “babysitter”, and Ashley is the slowest. No, not that kind of “slow”, he just doesn’t move very fast. Except, apparently, when he’s on the stage singing L&S’s “Saved”. We already know the Clarks are premiere musicians, so it’s almost redundant to say the performance is peppered with virtuoso doble guitar and fiddle solos. The tempo is most definitely up from the previous two weeks, and if they played this song in a bar, guys would be pounding their beers on the tables that the girlfriends were dancing on. But the real star of this performance is lead singer Ashley, whose vocal performance is so impassioned, it has an almost evangelical fervor. Hell, I don’t want to wait until the end of this competition – I want to buy their CD right now. John ribs them about their dislike of drummers (except for the lovely Sheila, natch) and says they always bring it, and that it’s great as per usual. Sheila calls, ”Magnifico!” and raves about the passion of the performance. Dicko reiterates his love for the Clarks, saying that the song “even saved a wretch like me”.
This love potion really works
Apparently we’re already up to the point in the competition where Dominic is forced to kill a little time with inane chatter in the green room. He’s surrounded by Dot Dot Dot, who look like a New York Dolls hit squad clustered around the clean-cut Kiwi. Dom asks the band about their style, and Adam shows his girly side by giggling that he likes anything glam, and anything out of Rose’s closet. Ah, thinks Rose, so that’s where my pink fishnets went. But enough teasing – Dot Dot Dot is in the top seven, and the fact that Adam is like a “5-year-old kid” probably won’t surprise anybody. Guitarist Rose is described as a “ninja”, which apparently means, “chick with some mean guitar chops”. Dot Dot Dot’s song choice is “Love Potion #9” – a great pick, as it suits the band’s style very well. Adam is again on his best behavior, and is even playing guitar tonight, allowing Rose to shine with a blazing solo. The band sounds great overall, and it’s hard to believe this is the same group from a couple of weeks ago. John thinks they pulled it off really well, and gives a shoutout to Rose’s guitar playing. Sheila says it was fantastic and exciting, and cheers that girls rock! Dicko tells the band that they’ve turned the corner, and tonight was their best yet, but recommends to Adam that he work on putting a little more personality in his voice.
This No. 7 is getting old
Cliff Wagner of Cliff Wagner and the Old No. 7 isn’t just the name behind the band, he’s the emperor, according to bandmate Lucas. Yep, Cliff is The Man – he writes all the songs and books all the gigs, while the others meekly follow. Except, perhaps, for Devitt (and yes, he’s the one who looks like an extra from Deliverance), who has a habit of running off at the mouth. I imagine that Emperor Cliff punishes him afterwards, out of sight of the cameras. Cliff and co. have opted to cover “Poison Ivy” – it’s kind of weird, but somehow kind of cool. I dub thee “psychedelic bluegrass”. On the positive side, Cliff’s vocals seem more in the forefront than usual, and I suddenly find that he’s actually a pretty good singer. John thinks they adapted the song really well, but would like them to go a little harder and push the boundaries a bit more. Sheila agrees, but says they were superb tonight. Dicko is disappointed that they’ve done slack, lazy versions two weeks in a row, and urges them to prove that they can be more “relevant”, so as to give them a better shot at a recording contract.
Layin’ down the boogie
Someone out there sure does love the big bands, because Denver and The Mile High Orchestra have somehow managed to crack the top seven. Denver’s bandmates accuse him of being a bit of a “diva”, and Denver fires back at trombonist Justin, calling him the group’s “rock star”. Well…with twelve guys in a band, things are bound to get bitchy, I suppose. Denver and TMHO are covering “Ruby Baby”, and I’m completely prepared to hate it, but – it’s not bad at all. The boys put a nice, funky edge to their big-band sound, and the only real problem is with Denver himself, who looks a big silly trying to mug to the camera like Elvis. John is unimpressed, saying their “funk skills are limited”. He also calls Denver’s vocals “stiff”, and berates him for letting the horn section blow him away. Sheila cackles out a chorus of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music, White Boy”, and likens the sound to Steely Dan. Dicko is in John’s corner, and snaps that neither he nor anyone else is going to “buy funky sound from super-straight white guys in business casual”.
Far Far Away Idol
Get some water for those hot flashes, ladies, because the manly men of Sixwire are up next. Head hunk Andy is shown diligently managing the band’s finances (they have eleven dollars in their account – it’s fortunate that Andy is good-looking). Their cover is “I Keep Forgettin’”, a song that even Leiber & Stoller likely forgot. It’s, um…well, hey, Andy’s hair is particularly fluffy tonight. (Anyone remember the night that the American Idol stylists got poor Bucky Covington done up like a Breck ad, with all those bouncing blonde curls? This is the way that FOX emasculates handsome young country singers, apparently.) Oh, right, the performance. It’s…nice. Kind of the way that vanilla ice cream is nice, but you wish you would have gotten the caramel sauce and chopped pecans with it. The judges are similarly underwhelmed – John admits they’re technically great, but it seemed like they were going through the motions. Sheila chuckles that she saw in the news (what, TNGAB made the news? Must be, because you sure don’t see FOX giving any advertising airtime to the show) that Sixwire has been dubbed “Sexywire”. Now I almost feel sorry for the guys. Sheila, who proposed to Andy just last week, is meh about the song choice and performance. Dicko likens Andy to “Prince Charming from Shrek – you need some of his edge”. And a fairy godmother for a mom wouldn’t hurt, as the judges’ negative comments probably won’t do Sixwire any favors with the voting public.
Mop tops mop up the final spot
For those not counting, there’s two bands left – judges’ darlings Franklin Bridge, and retro rockers Très Bien! We’re short of time, so Dominic cuts the suspense by announcing with little ado the final band of the top seven – Très Bien! And that exclamation point denotes surprise, as we’ve finally got a Shocking Elimination on our hands. Sheila is P.O.’d and makes no bones about it, saying that she thinks America got it wrong and that Franklin Bridge should have been the finalist. Franklin Bridge, however, appears to take their ouster with good grace, and wave cheerily at the cameras as Très Bien! takes the stage. We don’t do sappy video journeys for the losers here, though – these are BANDS, not teary-eyed teens fresh from choir practice and the local talent show – so on to the diverse personalities of TB, who are like a little family unto themselves, with an OCD mom (Crowe), a square dad (Ryan), a messy little brother (Cody) and an obnoxious older brother (Mikey). Hey, if they added a smart, pretentious middle brother, they could be the cast of “Malcolm in the Middle”.
TB dedicates their song to Franklin Bridge, a gesture no doubt meant to be respectful of FB’s superior skills and talent. The song is “Some Other Guy” (I can’t believe no one had the guts to do “Charlie Brown”, one of my personal favorites), and it should be great, because it’s right up TB’s musical alley. It’s not bad, anyway, though vocalist Mike is weak at times. The main problem with TB is that they always sound like they haven’t quite practiced enough, and tonight is no exception. John likes their performance, however, praising it for being high energy. Sheila calls them “fun”, and suggests that they should have their own cartoon show on Saturday morning. Ooooh, like “Josie and the Pussycats”? (I loved that show, and I confess, I wanted to be Melody. Damn Pam Anderson for beating me to it.) Dicko notes that it was the perfect song, from the perfect era, but compares the performance to something from “Hairspray”, quipping that they already have Nikki Blonsky on bass. Awww, Dicko – Nikki dances way better than Cody. Who really does look like a bloated Ellen Degeneres.
Next week, it’s the challenge to end all challenges, as the top six will take on the music of The Greatest Band In The World – that’s right, folks, the songwriting talents of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards will be featured next week, and you KNOW you’re not gonna see this stuff on American Idol, so join the
fewmillions already watching and get some reality viewing satisfaction, already!
Need some emotional rescue from Franklin Bridge’s ouster this week? PM me.