Clash of the Cover Bands – 80s Icons
On Week 7 of Clash of the Cover Bands 80s Icons battle it out as Poison and Depeche Mode tribute artists take the stage. tWitch hosts the series. Adam Lambert, Ester Dean and Meghan Trainor sit on the judges panel.
With the big hair, make up and theatrics, 80’s Icons is a theme right in Adam Lambert’s wheelhouse. He loves it! Meanwhile, Ester Dean and Meghan Trainor only seem vaguely familiar with the era.
Strangelove pays tribute to great electronic rock band Depeche Mode
The lead singer speaks with an English accent, which lends an air of mystique. They have been performing for over 10 years. One of the members grew up in Russia. His father left a bag of cassettes to him, including Depeche Mode. He didn’t understand the language, but he loved it. The band leader, described by band members as a “hard task master,” carefully curated the band, choosing members who could physically and emotionally embody each band member. The gig, which Strangelove members do full time, takes them all over the world.
The group sings “Enjoy the Silence” for the judges. The band’s sound is painstakingly recreated, as are the vocals and stage movements. No tribute is going to sound exactly like the original, but they do a pretty good job. It’s obvious what they do is not a side gig, as it is for their competitors, Shot of Poison.
Ester felt very entertained. Meghan gives them A++ for the commitment. Adam believes it felt real, and not like a cartoon recreation. But he wants the lead vocal to be stronger and richer. So the band will be paired with vocal expert Kuk Harrell.
It’s a SHOT OF POISON
Four blue collar guys from Massachusetts are living their 80s dreams. The band got together in 2017. They played rock music in the 80s when hair bands were huge. In contrast to Strangelove, these guys all hold down day jobs. They are mostly in business for themselves and do tribute stuff on the weekends. One of the members met his fiance while performing. He proposed to her on stage.
The band plays “Nothin But A Good Time.” Musically, they rock pretty hard and are accomplished sounding musicians. And vocally the lead singer resembles Poison’s front man, Bret Michaels, more than expected, considering it’s only a side gig. Meghan acknowledged the fiance watching from the wings. She loves the love story. Ester didn’t seem that familiar with the band, but she loved it. Adam is complimentary, but he wants the performance to be messier, dirtier and NASTIER. So he’s pairing them with both the movement AND vocal experts, Ray Leeper and Kuk Harrell.
Poison and Depeche Mode Meet the Experts
Kuk calls the Depeche Mode vocals hard to imitate. “Think in terms of confidence,” he suggests. He also gives him pointers on breath control and phrasing. “Lessen your vibrato and sing it smooth.” Kuk keeps reminding them to keep the tone round.
Poison meets with Ray and Kuk. Kuk thinks their sound is too soft for rock n roll. “Get gritty with it,” he suggests. He coaches the backup singers to “sing from the gut” and “put some edge on it.” Kuk says, “You’ve just taken it up 10 notches.
Ray joins in, and gets them “vibing” first to hype up the energy. Together, Ray and Kuk push them further and further. “Have a good time,” says Ray, “The audience will feel what you’re feeling.” The band realizes they are up against pros in Strangelove.
Time for battle
The bands now face off, trading snips of popular songs.
Strangelove start off with “Just Can’t Get Enough,” Dang, they are vocal dopplegangers! Next Shot of Poison sing “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” Vocally, they don’t mimic as well. Strangelove perform “People are People” next. The operatic lead is kind of weird. Now, Shot of Poison sing “Fallen Angel.” And then Depeche Mode sings one of my favs, “Personal Jesus.” And the battle ends with Poison’s “Every Rose Has its Thorn.”
Ester says rock n roll makes her want to travel the world like a groupie. Adam notes the bands are totally different vibes. He appreciated Poison’s energy and rocker edge. And he feels that Strangelove’s lead vocals improved after the session with Kuk. Meghan compliments them for taking the experts’ notes. She feels that it shows how bad both bands want to win.
The Panel choose a winner
Meghan feels both bands did what the judges asked, so it’s a hard decision! But in the end, the panel choose the pros, Strangelove to win. It’s the correct decision. Too bad Shot of Poison were completely outgunned by dudes wh0 have been at it full time for 10 years.
Strangelove wins $10,000 and a chance to perform live on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.
Next week it’s Queens of Country: Carrie Underwood vs Dolly Parton!