From their unimpressive audition in which they barely managed to muddle through a cover of the Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop, one of the simplest tunes ever, we’ve been filled with contempt for the all-girl band Rocket. Peter and I dread all-girl bands from experience. It’s not that an all-girl band is has to be bad: there have been plenty with the talent and style whose music is in my iTunes library. But these days an all-girl band reeks of gimmickry and novelty. After all, I can think of dozens of talented women who are major figures in rock bands, and they don’t need to hang exclusively with other girls. For instance, Eisley is led by two young women: their support is the best musicians they can find, not random girlfriends. Karen O has so much girlpower, it doesn’t matter who’s backing her up, as long as their talent can keep up.
All too often, when we do see an all-girl band, it’s a motley collection of people who can barely play their instruments and who wear dorky matching costumes. Rocket is all that, and hopelessly clueless to boot. We were shocked and surprised that they got through at all, solely on a cover. In the auditions, nearly every other band presented an original song, since supposedly the criteria included song-writing ability, and most of the bands also chose a fairly complex song to show of their musical chops. And now we’ve seen Rocket 2 weeks in a row, struggling through their insipid originals, and struggling even more with the requisite covers. We can only think they got in because The Next Great American Band producers demanded an all-girl band, perhaps to reach out to some desperate demographic of tone-deaf horny hetero men (and lesbians) without a Friday night date.
While the judges aren’t afraid to nitpick the slightest infractions of the talented competitors, at the beginning, they flattered Rocket. There’s nothing left to praise, but the judges clearly want to keep Rocket in, because instead of pointing out how horrible they really are, they’re giving the band the best possible constructive criticism. Repeatedly, the lead singer has been told put anger and vitriol into her lyrics. That is, after all, how punk bands who couldn’t play their instruments and with untalented singers thrived: no one thinks the Sex Pistols, X, or The Dickies were musical virtuosos, but their attitude was so withering, it made the band worth paying attention to. That easy change alone could save Rocket, but the band isn’t listening to the judges any more than they are to each other’s rhythms on stage. The lead singer is absolutely convinced she’s Gwen Stefani, and sings like a mall girl. She just can’t understand that she’s not that good, and if she were, she wouldn’t fit in with the bad musicians behind her.
So we were all pretty miffed that they made it through this week, and presented Peter with exactly the scene he feared: a breathy, out-of-tune cover of “Rocket Man.” Well, we learned from our mistake. This week, we gave every band that wasn’t Rocket, or Light of Doom, at least one vote. I really hope to never see them again.