The Next Great American Band: Top 4

I was so pissed off that Tres Bien! were eliminated last week, that it took me awhile to watch last week’s episode. Actually, I finally watched it Friday night while I was recording this week’s episode. In a nutshell–Ashley Clark is an incredible singer. The Clark’s version of “You’re In My Heart” was goosebump material. Dot Dot Dot–were still raising their game. Light of Doom’s lead singing improved. Sixwire were impeccable as always. But, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra–still a decent band playing lounge music fronted by Wonder White Bread. Which is why I thought Tres Bien’s demise was so untimely–particularly after their energetic performance of the Stones “Get Off of My Cloud” the week before.

Well, you know, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra came into this contest with PEOPLE. They already had a large following in the Contemporary Christian music community, and those people are watching and voting, voting, voting.

This week, the remaining bands sing a song by the band Queen in the first half of the show, then come back in the second half to perform an original. The videos feature the band’s impressions of Los Angeles.

The Clark Brothers – Apparently, the rules allow for band members to come and go. Last week, Dicko told the Clark’s they should invite a few more of their brothers to join to fill out their sound. Instead, the brothers called up a couple of Nashville session musicians to join them this week.

“These Are The Days of Our Lives” by Queen – The added musicians weren’t necessary, but they were a nice touch. Although, I’m drawn to the intensity of the band as a folk/gospel act. When it’s just the three of them, the energy that flows between them is spiritual, passionate, intense. I’m not interested in hearing them molded into a commercial act. The song is a good pick for them. Ashley’s singing and fiddle playing rules. John says, “I’m so happy you got the two other guys…now you can really take your place to the front where you belong.” Dicko says to Ashley, “You were probably the best front man to enter this competition…don’t be such a reluctant rock star–don’t fight it mate, you’ll love it.”

Oh wow it’s the Garnier green room. That explains why it’s such a hideous shade of green. It’s kind of bad that I’m just noticing that, isn’t it?

Light of Doom – And the metal tots live to see another week. Of course. In their video package, one of the tot moms says she wants to make sure the kids don’t grow up too fast. Whoops! Too late for that!

“We Will Rock You” by Queen – The tots start out playing big tom-toms during the introduction, and then scramble back to the stage to launch into a speed-metal version of “We Will Rock You.” It’s pretty much devoid, not only of melody, but of any fun or sense of humor. John thought the vocals were lacking and that the interpretation of the song wasn’t very well thought out. Sheila agrees with John. Dicko thought it was dumb. Whoa, de-pimping the tots!

Sixwire – These guys are the oldest of the surviving band members and they have much at stake in this competition. I think they need this  competition more than any of the competitors.

“Fat Bottomed Girls” – Andy sings the song with a sly grin. This song has to be sung with a wink, or it just comes off dumb. Nice instrumental break at the end. These guys are pros. John says they work a song “really really well” and “put some muscle on it.” Sheila says Chuck, the drummer, “is always right in the pocket.” Dicko says he thought they were a bit boring earlier in the competition, but that they’ve learned to bring out their “inner naughty boys.”

The four bands performing two separate sets forces the results to be revealed in the middle of the show. Dominic says, “America has voted, and the final band to make it into our Top 4 tonight is…Denver and the Mile High Orchestra!”

“That means, Dot Dot Dot is leaving us!”

“If you are a fan, then please continue to support them…blah blah blah…” And the band never gets to say goodbye or get words of encouragement from the judges–which sucks. Denver lives to see another week.

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra – Last week the band went on and on about the difficulty of finding songs that fit their Christian values. And this week, they’re all “yakety yak, we’re Christians in LA, yakety yak.” So what? The Clark Brothers, also clearly devout Christians, don’t seem to be having any issues. Or, they don’t feel the need to make a federal case out of their personal beliefs. Or, maybe they just allow the music to tell their story.

“Sleeping on the Sidewalk” by Queen – Queen gets the cheesy wedding band/lounge singer treatment! Sob. Denver tries to put a couple of growls in his vocal delivery, but it’s still Opie-as-front-man. Not buying it.

John thinks Denver is doing great with his vocals, “They get better every week.” Sheila thinks they should add some choreography. Yikes. Dicko criticizes their wardrobe, and leaves it at that. Fun Fact: Denver’s kids are named Boston and London. Seriously.

The second half of the show has the Top 4 singing original songs.

The Clark Brothers – “Homestead” – I’m not in love with their original songs. However, Ashley is a phenomenal singer–that coupled with excellent musicianship that’s vibrant and alive–makes almost everything they perform exciting. John thinks the band has the total package–great songwriting, singing and playing. Dicko thought the execution was excellent as always, but he says, “That was a crap song…those lyrics were country 101.” “Push yourselves.” he says.

Light of Doom – “A Matter of Time” – Hmmmm. I’ll just say that the tots youth and inexperience are really evident in their songwriting attempts. I have no idea what this plodding, melody-free song is about, (I dunno, school sucks? I don’t wanna clean my room?) and I don’t really care. These kids are in over their heads. John says, “I don’t really hear a big hook in this song.” That’s the understatement of the night. Then he adds, “I’m hearing all of your influences, but none of you.” Dicko suggests that they try to write their songs with acoustic guitars. The tots look at him like he has three heads.

Sixwire – “Go On” – Hands down, these guys are the best songwriters of the bunch. They write melodic songs that have commercial appeal, and I imagine Sixwire is the band the label would really like to sign. “Go On” has a giant hook and strong harmonies. And of course, the band delivers their typically pro musicianship. I think these guys will get signed whether they win or not. John says, “The song is a hit, it’s as good as anything on the radio.” Sheila says, “That’s an amazing song…you have to win, I want that song now!” Dicko says, “Really good song, perfect for your market…well done.”

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra – “Big White House” – Wow. That did not suck. Denver and the Boys need to sing their own songs. This is actually pretty good, and Denver finally looks comfortable and commanding as a front man. It’s a real good thing they don’t turn their own songs into cheesy lounge tunes. John said it was nice to hear a song with a “little grease on it.” because they “tend to be a little square.” Sheila says the band is really great, but there was “no hook to the song.” Dicko thought is was “a good album track” and that Denver does “a really good angry lyric.” However, Dicko does not think the song is a hit.

Next week: Top 3, for the “Big Prize”…

About mj santilli 35015 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!